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Denis Postle:

"In parallel with the history of the enclosures of common land in the UK and elsewhere – the psyCommons has enclosures.

In that insidious way that politics can be invisibly present in daily life – I began to see the psy professions, psychiatry, psychology, psychoanalysis, psychotherapy and counselling as enclosures of the psyCommons.

Enclosures are not a new phenomenon in this country. As David Bollier reminds us: ‘by 1876, after 4000 acts of parliament, less than 1% of the population owned over 98% of the agricultural land in England and Wales.

If we think for a moment of the psyCommons as a territory, the psyprofessions fence off sectors of this territory, and claim ownership of them – and as Marxist economists would say – extract value from them through monopoly rents.

Harsh words you might think – but hasn’t the professionalization of counselling and psychotherapy in the last 20 years – the intense pursuit of privileged status through state endorsement – hasn’t this had the agenda of protecting and strengthening these enclosures of the psyCommons – and supposedly in the interests of protecting clients?

As this vision of the psyCommons and its psyEnclosures came more into focus, two other questions arose.

Why has so much energy been put into protecting these enclosures?

Might it be because in recent decades – via business, corporate and public service training, the knowledge and authority held in the professional psyEnclosures has increasingly escaped – it has diffused out into the psyCommons. " (

What might this mean for the future of counselling and psychotherapy?

Denis Postle:

"As the Occupy movement has pointed out, the sequestering of wealth by 1% of the population is unacceptable. I doubt if there are many more than 100,000 psy practitioners in the UK, a lot less than 1% of the population. Might not the psyCommons enclosures have their roots in the same historical, social and political antecedents? And be just as inequitable?

I believe so.

And if I am correct, what can we do about it? How might this vision of a psyCommons point psychotherapy and counselling practitioners in a direction that would be more equitable – and that might bring renewal or refreshment?

The first thing is to acknowledge the scale of the psyCommons, it is a living, growing multitude – a rich ecology of negotiations, conversations, meetings with family, friends and co–workers, and innumerable affinity groups – the myriad conversations of 60 million people in the UK.

And lest my purpose here be misunderstood, while the psyCommons is overshadowed by the enclosures of it, my intention here is to promote psyCommons flourishing. I want us to turn our attention away from protecting the enclosures towards sustaining and enhancing the ‘ordinary wisdom’ and ‘shared power’ of the psyCommons.

This is not to deny the importance of the severe local and current difficulties that many practitioners face and due economic pressures but I think it would be a great pity if, due to the need to maintain and defend the psyEnclosures, we were to miss or misconstrue where we are in social and political history.

Because as practitioners, due the advent of the internet, I believe we are living through a Gutenberg moment – a point in time analogous to the period when the church’s monopoly on the production of texts and, it is easy to forget – being able to read them – was broken.

Googling ‘panic attacks’ produces 28 million pages – ‘depression’ brings up 364 million pages (how much longer will this, to me very problematic category, survive?).

Internet resources have recently been invaluable to our family as we cope with the onset of dementia in a dearly loved relative. As support for intense learning from experience the internet has been great and it has made the input from medical and social services seem archaic and irrelevant.

This is not to argue for some kind of technutopia – all technology amputates as well as extends human capacities – but I don’t think there is much doubt that the professional monopolies of expertise distilled from the psyCommons are being broken.

A post–professional psychological therapies culture that embraces the psyCommons is no longer a dream. I think the future is already here." (

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