Tuesday, October 4, 2022

I'm Rebranding! And A Word About The Politics Of Mental Health Practice

Ellen Whyte, Quality Affordable Therapy

I'm rebranding!  I'm the same person in the same place doing the same thing, but I'm changing my logo, website, blog and titles. The rebrand is because we are currently living in Malaysia, but we plan to move to the UK in late 2023.

Why rebrand? Politics! I think you'll find this interesting, so I'll explain.

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in mental health. Everyone else in mental health, therapists, psychologists, counsellors and so on, are not medical doctors.

While countries agree on legal definition of psychiatrist, they disagree on how to define other titles.

Sooooo, in some countries you can call yourself whatever you like. BUT in other countries, titles are 'owned' by professional associations. If that sounds weird, consider it's the same for certain kinds of engineers, architects and so on.

Here's where the politics come in. Mental health associations that own titles are usually exclusive, meaning they work to keep people out. They typically only take local people or people from a very small number of schools.

Practically speaking, if you work in mental health, your nationality restricts where you can join and the school you go to also restricts who you can join.

For example, in Malaysia, the title 'Kaunselor' is controlled by an association we call the Lembaga. They only accept people with Malaysian degrees.  So you can have a Master's degree in Counselling from Oxford in the UK and not be accepted.

Other titles in Malaysia are not controlled, BUT associations typically don't let foreigners join as full members.

Also, membership is not automatic. You can live locally or even be a local, have local qualifications and still be rejected. It's just like a club.

Note: this is not to criticize Malaysia. Every other country does the same. Mental health is in many ways just like the cartel. (If I am mysteriously killed tomorrow, you'll know why!)

So, as I am British, I am not a good fit for local professional associations. That's why I joined the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. They are the UK version of the Lembaga.

But it left me with a dilemma. In the UK I am a registered counsellor and psychotherapist. But I can't be a Kaunselor in Malaysia.

As we planned to live in Malaysia forever, I branded my work to be in line with local norms and guidelines. On the advice of friends in the profession, I call myself a counselling psychologist. I have qualifications in psychology and counselling, so that works here.

But now we're leaving for the UK in the end of 2023. And guess what? In the UK, the title of counselling psychologist is controlled by an association I'm not a member of! ?? Sod's law, right?

So, I am changing from 'counselling psychologist' to 'counsellor and psychotherapist'. I'm adding in coaching because I've been taking extra courses and planned to add this to my business anyway in 2023.

The rebranding won't happen overnight as it's a big job but I do already have my new logos. Tell me what you think?

new logo Ellen Whyte