CranioSacral: Possible Emergency – The skeptics are coming!

Posted on September 7, 2010

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This is just a quick post in response to the CranioSacral Therapy Associations (CSTA) ‘emergency warning’ newsletter they sent to their members.

The live copy can be seen here  “Possible Emergency” And a saved ‘freezepage copy can be found here ‘Saved: Possible Emergency’ just in case the original one vanishes!

I’ll ignore the comments about dodgy journalists, unscrupulous journalists, zealous bigots, but I will take their comment of “You can see his comments and deduce what sort of person he must be from his blog” and turn it into a new tag line for my blog header!

The first and most important thing the CSTA needs to do is check their facts.  When they do they will find that Alan Henness had nothing to do with the submission of this complaint and if the CSTA have any degree of professionalism they should immediately retract the comments about Alan Henness (Zeno) and issue a full, unreserved apology!

If nothing else they should make that a priority…………. and my apologies to Alan Henness if this has caused him any embarrassment!

I totally agree with the CSTA when they say:

“The ASA does a great job in many fields and has successfully protected the public from all sorts of innappropriate (sic) advertising.”

But then they go on to criticise the ASA’s processes, with hearings being held behind closed doors & without representation.  I know for a fact the CSTA had lots of opportunity to submit evidence, which they did and they also tried a legal angle to overturn this complaint. What they are forgetting is that the ASA have applied exactly the same set of standards to the CSTA’s leaflet as to any other form of advertising.  The ASA have not ‘got their wires crossed’ simply because the finding of the investigation do not agree with the CSTA’s view of the world.  The CranioSacral Therapy Association are not a special case!

The CSTA say they made a ‘spirited defence’!  Well that isn’t exactly the impression I get from the full adjudication document which will be published tomorrow.  Then people, including the CSTA’s members will get an opportunity to decide for themselves just how ‘spirited’ it seems to have been!

The newsletter tells members to keep the news in perspective and hope it all blows over.  Yet despite the ASA asking for its findings to be kept confidential the CSTA published them on an unprotected webpage!   If they had maintained that confidentiality their advice would not have been freely available and been seen by journalists and people like Simon Singh & Ben Goldacre, along with many others.

The CSTA then go on to issue their members with some advice, some of it good, some of it bad. They say that members should check leaflets and websites for similar claims that would fall foul of the ASA guidelines.  This includes taking down websites and changing the claims where appropriate.  That is clearly good advice and very similar to the approach taken by the McTimoney Chiropractic Association when a large number of complaints were submitted about chiropractic  …….

….. What is not so good is telling members that:

“DO NOT SUBMIT THE WORDING OF ANY LEAFLET OR WEBSITE TO THE ASA TO ASK THEM WHAT IS ACCEPTABLE – THEY ARE LIKELY TO REJECT ALMOST EVERYTHING”

What their members should do is exactly the opposite.  They should be contacting the  CAP Copy Advice team whose role is to offer:

A fast, free and confidential service designed to help you create non-broadcast marketing communications or multi-media concepts that comply with the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP Code).”

At present the ASA’s remit does NOT cover website claims, but that is due to change in the next few months, so now would be a good time to get it right!

There are a couple of points that the CSTA have either overlooked, or chosen not to release to its membership.

They have ‘suggested’ that claims are removed, what they have not made clear is that those who do not remove the claims are in breach of the CranioSacral Therapy Associations own Code of Ethics & Practice Section 17.2 (my emphasis added)

17.2    All advertising in any medium must be legal, decent, honest and truthful and must conform to the guidelines such as the British Code of Advertising Practice.  Your professional advertising may indicate your special interest, but you must not make claims of superiority or disparage your professional colleagues or other professionals. It must not be designed to mislead, deceive or make unrealistic or extravagant claims.  Neither its content, nor the way in which it is distributed must put prospective clients under pressure. Information must be up to date to avoid misrepresentation.

That would therefore leave CST therapist open to complaints and the CSTA would be in a position where they may need to take action against their own membership!

Of course this presents a few problems for the CSTA, it needs to find the right balance between ensuring its members live up to the Code which they have signed up to, whilst not upsetting them and seeing them leave the CSTA and move towards the  Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) who will be opening their doors to CranioSacral Therapists in the near future!

The only Possible Emergency the CSTA face is that the truth about CranioSacral Therapy is now in the public eye…

…… More tomorrow after the full adjudication has been published!

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Posted in: ASA, Craniosacral