Paul Atkinson

PRESENTATION: What is the UK’s ‘mental health crisis’ trying to say to us?

Government, with the support of most of our professional bodies, has been campaigning for two decades to regulate counselling and psychotherapy under the rubric of the medical model – diagnosable symptoms of  mental ill-health, evidence-based treatment plans and measurable outcomes. The IAPT service is an exemplar of this model. I want to argue that the medicalisation of psychological experience is not only eroding the relational framework of therapy. It is promoting and reinforcing the transactional culture of modern capitalism, a culture which wants us to believe that we cannot afford to invest in the quality of human relationships. 


Paul Atkinson has been swimming in the intersection of psychotherapy and political activism since the mid 70s – admittedly with many spells of apathy, despair and watching telly. He has five grandchildren and helped set up the Free Psychotherapy Network. Most recently, he is helping organise the campaign for Universal Access to Counselling and Psychotherapy (uACT) –