psychologists will not provide more humane mental health service
if given extra powers
by Adam James
psychologists have been warned they should not be misled into believing
they can help deliver a more humane mental health service if granted
extra powers as outlined in the draft mental health bill.
warning came from five clinical psychologists themselves in a letter
in the latest edition of Clinical Psychology Forum.
five also demanded that, because of the "momentous" implications
of becoming clinical supervisors for compulsory detained psychiatric
patients, clinical psychologists should be balloted on whether their
professional body, the British Psychological Society (BPS), should
support the plans.
outlined in the government's draft bill, clinical supervisors would
have the authority to draw up multi-disciplinary care plans for
detained patients, to implement such plans and to decide whether
or not to continue detaining patients. At present psychiatrists
hold such responsibilities, while clinical psychologists do not.
April, Professor Peter Kinderman, then chair of the BPS's division
of clinical psychology, wrote at psychminded.co.uk that clinical
psychologists "relish" becoming clinical supervisors as
it would give them greater leadership, influence and power. Prof
Kinderman said psychologists could, for example, prevent the use
of ECT or the over-medication of patients.
in their letter, clinical psychologists Bob Diamond, Guy Holmes,
John Hanna, Dave Harper and Rufus May argue clinical psychologists
are unlikely to work more "philanthropically" than psychiatrists.
wrote: "Those in our profession assenting to the development
of clinical supervisors appear to see it as an opportunity to have
direct influence in the delivery of care and exercise power comparatively
benignly, despite ample psychological research (e.g. Stanford Prison
Experiment) that shows roles people take are crucial in determining
their (sometimes oppressive) behaviour.
do not believe psychologists will somehow act more philanthropically
and benignly than our psychiatric colleagues once we hold the clinical
five say they fear the division of clinical psychology is supporting
plans for the new clinical supervisor role without proper consultation.
would like to see an official ballot on whether we take up the role
- in short the decision should be a democratic one not an executive
one," wrote the five psychologists.
a ballot would be unusual, we feel that the changes to the profession
that will occur as result of us being clinical supervisors are so
momentous it warrants this. And who would argue against democracy?"
point out that the only consultation clinical psychologists participated
in was a "brief questionnaire" in 2001 with a 16 per cent
response rate. Two thirds of respondents supported having a CS role.
five also argue that because the BPS itself has called the draft
mental health bill "fundamentally flawed", it would be
inconsistent for the society to support the CS role.
government's draft mental health bill (pdf)
13, 2005: Ministers refuse to add "treatability" condition
to draft mental health bill - fears that more people will be
compulsory treated is fuelled by government response to parliamentary
11, 2005: We can do a power of good - Many clinical
psychologists welcome the draft mental health bill because it would
give them extra powers, such as preventing the use of ECT or the
over-medication of patients. Moreover, argues Peter Kinderman,
it's time clinical psychologists stopped clinging to the myth that,
at present, they have no power.
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