Today’s post is written by NotaGuru’s personal hero, Liz Kell. Liz is a Low Intensity Guru, and has been a Low Intensity Practitioner since before we knew what that was, she is the chair of the BABCP Low Intensity Special Interest Group (#LISIG), PWP Course Lead at the University of Central Lancashire and Chair of the North West PWP Professional Network. The following words are from Liz and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank her for support and encouragement of this blog, and for her infinite Low Intensity wisdom!
Should PWPs be a registered workforce?
In July 2015, myself and a colleague published a discussion paper through the IAPT Northern Practice Research Network titled “Should Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners be a registered workforce?” We had both qualified as Primary Care Graduate Mental Health Workers in their very first year, starting in 2004, so had already been working in step two/low intensity interventions/PWP type roles for more than 10 years at this point. We had been practitioners ourselves, and also supervisors and managers, and had already seen huge numbers of trainee PWPs qualify in the North West.
Last week something amazing happened, a register for PWPS – and importantly to also include other wellbeing practitioners including Children’s Wellbeing Practitioners (CWPs), Education Mental Health Practitioners (EMHPs) – has finally been launched. I’m still not quite sure that, after 17 years of what has at times felt like shouting into a black hole, this has finally happened!
On Thursday 10th June 2021 at 12 midday, the BABCP and BPS both announced that they were launching a register for Wellbeing Practitioners. The registers are an absolute equivalence, so individual practitioners can choose which is the best ‘home’ for them, and the requirements and expectations are equal in all aspects of the register, and this register is approved by NHS England.
Now, I’m not going to say this is a perfect solution and all problems are now fixed, I’ve been around long enough to know that is definitely not the case, but it feels like such a huge and momentous first step after a really long battle for us to be recognised as a professional role! When myself and my colleague wrote the discussion paper 6 years ago, we highlighted three reasons why it was so important (I would still say essential) to have this register:
- Individual development and professional standing
- Service governance and patient safety
- Workforce planning and Continued Professional Development
You can still go and read the paper yourself in the link above, if you’re interested in what we said then – I really believe all the points still stand even if it is 6 years on – but the fact that we now have a register which will address these three issues feels a bit miraculous to me!
A long road
There have been really long standing challenges for PWPs and others in the Wellbeing Workforce, where we’ve been prevented from accessing so many opportunities because we don’t have a core profession, and I know the register doesn’t completely change that, but as it stands there is a very clear governmental view that there will be no new or additional core professions created, so maybe that’s a battle for another day, or maybe over time the idea of a ‘core profession’ is going to evolve and change, and the value of registers with professional bodies like the BABCP and BPS (click on the blue links for more information) – who are both offering this register for wellbeing practitioners – will increase in their ‘value’ and status which will allow this new and important workforce to grow and develop.
I know there will be people who would identify themselves as part of the Wellbeing Workforce who might not at first glance be eligible for this register, and equally there are still some people who are working as PWPs who won’t meet the requirements as they stand, but please know (and I say this knowing that I’ve had these conversations and raised these concerns), that you are being thought about and considered. What the register is now, as it is launched, is a starting point that is hopefully going to take us so much further as a workforce.
There have always been different views and opinions as to where is the best place for Wellbeing Practitioners to ‘fit’ – the BABCP and BPS have often been the two main options discussed, with the BABCP having an obvious fit in terms of the strong basis of Low Intensity CBT interventions within the role of Wellbeing Practitioners, and the BPS being the accrediting body for the PWP training (and soon to be for the CWP and EMHP training), with others arguing that a separate and independent options would be best. I have my own views and can very much see the pros and cons for both, but ultimately, as we stand now, individual practitioners can make their choice as to where they see themselves fitting best, and that, through some lenses, could be seen as quite empowering!
Serendipitously, as the current Chair of the BABCP Low Intensity Special Interest Group (LISIG), we also held an event this week to begin to discuss what the SIG can and could be. It feels like the perfect time for the Low Intensity SIG to really be stepping up to support a community of practice for Wellbeing Practitioners and those engaged in Low Intensity interventions, enabling a national voice for the workforce, and offering CPD opportunities, and, whichever register you choose to be on, you are absolutely welcome to be part of that (and the CPD is recognised by both registers too!) so please think about joining!
I’m really excited about what is next for the wellbeing workforce, it feels like we’ve turned an important corner this week, and while change never happens over night, I’m looking forward to what might be and could be. Thank you to the Not a PWP Blog guru for once again allowing me to be a guest blogger – and I really believe that this blog is a huge part of the change that is happening, helping to provide a voice and platform for the wellbeing workforce, so I hope she knows how much we all appreciate her help!