UKCP withdrawal from MoU on conversation therapy


Please see statement below from UKCP 


UKCP’s Board of Trustees recognises and wishes to acknowledge the strength of feeling that has arisen in response to its decision to withdraw UKCP’s signature from the Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy in the UK v2 (MoU) and its membership of the Coalition Against Conversion Therapy.

We want to be quite clear that we are, and always have been, wholly against conversion therapy for any age, whether for adults or for children. This statement explains further the reasons for the withdrawal, which was taken on the basis of concerns relating to children and young people, and confirms UKCP’s firm commitment to the principle that no one should be subjected to conversion therapy, in any form.

The UKCP Board of Trustees would like to reassure all UKCP members, their clients and the LGBTQIA+ community that UKCP strongly believes that conversion therapy is harmful and must not be practised regardless of the client’s age. UKCP members must not engage in conversion therapy in any form. To do so would be harmful, unethical and a breach of our Code of Ethics.


Children and young people

Children and young people require and deserve careful support, that is often different from what is required for adults.

UKCP has been concerned for some time that this is not reflected in the current MoU. The current MoU was drafted to apply to adults and was retrospectively applied to children and young people without consultation with the relevant bodies and child therapists with the specialist and regulatory knowledge of working with children and young people.

Concerns held by UKCP about the current MoU 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.
  • Children and young people need a unique therapeutic approach that acknowledges their developmental stage and capacity for informed consent.
  • The family and social context of children and young people, which is a vital source of information to understand the child/young person, is not taken into account.
  • 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.


UKCP’s concerns unaddressed

The decision to withdraw from the MoU may seem sudden. However, this action was taken following long-standing concerns regarding applying the adult MoU to children and young people. A review of the MoU was scheduled to take place in 2021, which would have been an opportunity for UKCP to raise its concerns, but it was not carried out.

The UKCP Chair and CEO have been trying to engage with the coalition for a number of months, however the issues they wanted to discuss have not been placed before the Coalition members.


Committed to strong governance and safeguarding

As stewards of the organisation, the UKCP Board of Trustees recognised its responsibility to safeguard members, the public and UKCP as an organisation, alongside ensuring good governance and mitigating legal risks and concluded reluctantly that it needed to withdraw UKCP from the MoU and the Coalition.

The Board stands by this decision which is rooted in a commitment to safeguarding and ethical practice when working with children and young people.


Next steps

UKCP wants to see more detailed guidance that considers the complexities of working therapeutically with children and young people.

We are now in discussion with other counselling and psychotherapy organisations, including the British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC) and the National Counselling and Psychotherapy Society (NCPS) to consult on and draw up new guidelines with a focus on being psychotherapeutically informed and led. We would also like these guidelines to be supportive of all LGBTQIA+ people who seek to work with a counsellor or psychotherapy professional. UKCP will consult professionals who work with children and young people during this process, along with LGBTQIA+ UKCP members and members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Alongside this, we will be reviewing and reflecting on the recommendations from the independent Cass Review.

UKCP remains open to discussions with the Coalition Against Conversion Therapy and working with the Coalition to review the MoU to address our concerns. We would also be open to re-joining the Coalition and signing a revised MoU in the future.