Sunday, May 13, 2007

BACP Research Conference in York

Entry for 10 – 12 May (Written 13 May):

The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) is the main professional organization for counsellors in the UK, with something over 29,000 members. Some years back they established a Research Office to, naturally, encourage counsellors to get more engaged in research. Under the leadership of John McLeod at the University of Abertay, they created a journal, Counselling and Psychotherapy Research (CPR), and then somehow engineered things so that all members of BACP automatically get the journal as a benefit. This makes CPR the largest-circulation scientific journal in the world devoted to publishing psychotherapy/counselling research. By contrast, Psychotherapy Research, the journal that I used to edit, has 1000 – 1200 subscribers, and the top journal in the field, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, has about 4100 subscribers! (Whether BACP readers actually read CPR is a different story, but the same can be said for Psychotherapy Research or practically any other scientific journal.)

As part of this process of increasing the profile of research within the BACP and also to increase research awareness and skills in counsellors, the BACP also holds an annual Research Conference. So when Nancy Rowland and other BACP research office folks heard that I was moving to Scotland, they asked me to give one of the keynote speeches at this year's conference. I sent in my IPEPPT research framework talk, and that suited their needs, so we were on.

Diane and I got up very early and took the train down to York on Thursday, so I could go to the CPR Editors’ Board meeting, which I definitely enjoyed more than the last time I went, last October. It’s a nice little journal, by which I mean, it publishes short articles, mostly on qualitative research, and is still finding its feet and educating readers, authors and reviewers. It reminds me a lot of the early days of Psychotherapy Research, when I when editor there. At any rate, I enjoyed myself at the meeting, and we covered a lot of ground.

I have presented once before to the BACP Research Conference, in 2002, when Dave Mearns brought me over to the give the Mary Kilborn lecture. On this previous occasion, in London, I presented an HSCED study of the treatment of the client with borderline processes, which I didn’t feel went over very well. On that occasion, some of the psychodynamic members of the audience interpreted the mostly positive outcome data as not credible, and then complained that I had brought in a treatment failure to show them. I found this particular take on the case rather annoying, and I was left with ambivalent feelings about presenting to this audience again. I was also more nervous than usual when I got up to present last Friday morning.

However, the presentation when well and seemed to have been better received than the one I did 5 years ago. Furthermore, since my talk was the first regular scientific presentation of the conference (after the usual opening speeches), I could then relax and enjoy the rest of the conference.

Compared to UK-SPR (which I went to in March), the BACP Research Conference was larger (150 vs. 40 attendees), busier and more intense, more formal, and better organized. (On the downside, the hotel wasn’t great, and the view of the York Race Track could not compare to the stunning cliffs of Ravenscar.) As a result, by the time we got home late last night, we were pretty much wiped out, and have been taking it easy today. All in all, though, it was an interesting and successful experience, and I learned a lot and met a lot of people. It’s all part of the process!

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