Psychotherapy regulator quits ‘coalition against conversion therapy’

The UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) has ended its support for the Coalition Against Conversion Therapy, citing concerns about children.

Explaining the decision, UKCP Chairman Dr Christian Buckland admitted the pro-trans group’s call for a universal ban on so-called conversion therapy risked compromising the safety of under-18s.

The regulator has also withdrawn its signature from the coalition’s Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy in the UK (MoU) for including children and young people in its scope.

Protecting children

Dr Buckland said: “As a regulator of child psychotherapy and psychotherapeutic counselling, our main priority must be the safety and wellbeing of children and young people.

“This is because, compared with adults, it is widely accepted that children require different considerations in relation to healthcare.

“The current MoU makes no distinction between adults and children, which we believe is not in the best interest of children and could compromise their wellbeing.”

However, UKCP’s website still states that the professional body remains “wholly against conversion therapy for any age, whether for adults or for children”.

No regulator should be put under pressure to lower the bar on standards of clinical practice and safeguarding for any cohort of children and young people.

Good clinical practice

Concerns held by UKCP about the current version of the MoU, published in April, include:

  • • No safeguarding distinctions between adults and children and young people.
  • • Applying adult-focused legislation and guidelines to children and young people which overlooks their unique developmental requirements.
  • • Due to the lack of child-specific guidance, child therapists face legal risks, including the possibility of lawsuits if a child detransitions in the future.
  • • Policy changes in the Department for Education (DfE) and the National Health Service England (NHSE) and safeguarding implications from emerging evidence and research relating to gender incongruence have not been taken into account.

A spokesman for Dr Hilary Cass’s independent review of gender identity services said: “No regulator should be put under pressure to lower the bar on standards of clinical practice and safeguarding for any cohort of children and young people.”

Bully tactics

An open letter organised by trans activist group Therapists Against Conversion Therapy and Transphobia now claims UKCP has acted against its own code of ethics by withdrawing its support for MoU.

Signatories to the letter urge the UKCP to reverse its decision and are seeking to gather sufficient support from UKCP members to petition for a vote of no confidence in the board and remove them from office.

In response, Dr Buckland said: “It is deeply disturbing that in return for seeking to ensure the safety of children, the board of trustees of the UKCP has been met with a petition for their removal.

“As chair, I will not allow the UKCP to be bullied into turning a blind eye to the safety of children.”

Biological reality

Last year, UKCP vindicated psychotherapy student James Esses, who was ousted from his course after warning against “irreversible” procedures for gender-confused children.

In 2021, Esses was expelled from his Master’s degree at the Metanoia Institute, following complaints about his social media comments. UKCP initially revoked his membership, but, following a settlement, subsequently backed his right to hold gender-critical views.

In a statement, the regulator said: “Psychotherapists and counsellors accredited by UKCP are fully entitled to hold such beliefs and any discrimination against them on this basis, including by UKCP-accredited training organisations, is unlawful”.

Welcoming the settlement, Esses responded: “The statement they have now published clearly recognises the validity of a professional belief in favour of biological reality and against irreversible medicalisation of children.”

Also see:


Scot Govt urged to scrap ‘trans-affirming’ conversion practices law

Peers speak out against vague conversion therapy plans

Christian MP warns new ‘conversion therapy’ law would endanger gender-confused kids

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