- The National Counselling Society is a Learned Society whose purpose is (1) the advancement of the knowledge of counselling and allied professions, which we do through a number of activities such as conferences and newsletters; (2) the fostering of professional expertise through training, accreditation and continued professional development of our members and (3) public assurance by maintaining a voluntary register and by promoting ethical and competent practice from our members and providing a complaints procedure for clients. Membership is mainly restricted to practising, professional counsellors and those in training. The purpose of the National Counselling Society is to support, protect and promote the vocation of counselling and related talking therapies. The Society is to represent, promote and support these vocations in the United Kingdom for the benefit of its members.
- The Society shall maintain good standards by the promotion of research and education in the field of counselling, by the publication of articles, case studies and other related materials, by the recognition of good practice and by the promulgation of information and advice to its members. It shall maintain good standards of training and CPD by setting and administering the accreditation of training courses and CPD. It shall set the context of standards using the litmus test of "safety, competency and ethics" and shall apply qualitative assessment to all procedures, recognising the subjectivity of counselling and the personal qualities of counsellors as key elements in the vocation.
- The Society shall maintain good professional and practical standards by its accreditation of training schools and courses and by its registration of individual counsellors and by other measures deemed necessary by the Society.
- The Society shall maintain good financial standards by the implementation of clear financial responsibilities for its members, e.g. professional insurance for individual members and training schools; by monitoring the legalities of refund policies of training schools, by giving impartial advice to its members as to the financial implications and responsibility of practice and by other measures deemed necessary by the Society.
- The Society shall maintain good ethical standards and standards of public protection by the maintenance of a voluntary register overseen by the implementation of a Code of Ethics and Complaints Procedure binding on all members, whether organisational or individual and of whatever grade. As a professional membership organisation it shall be bound by an appropriate procedure and its membership functions and complaints functions shall be separated where appropriate in the interests of public protection.
Structure and Legalities
- The Society shall not be run for personal profit, all surplus monies to be re-invested in the running of the Society and for the benefit of its members. The Society shall be run as a Not For Profit Company Limited by Guarantee and its accounts shall be publically available via Companies House.
- The Directors of the Limited Company shall function as a board of trustees bearing responsibility for the enforcement, interpretation and updating of the Constitution. Directors shall be appointed in accordance with the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Limited Company for the time being in force.
- Constitutional Amendments can be made by a majority vote of the Society Council and will be added to the Constitution subject to the approval of the board of trustees.
- Constitutional Amendments can be proposed by a voting member and must be seconded by eight supporting voting members before proceeding to a ballot. A 2/3 majority of the number of votes cast ratifies an Amendment. The Society Council may veto a proposed amendment where it is considered to be contrary to the general purpose of the Society, its aims and interests.
- The method of elections, ballots, proposal and seconding are the responsibility of the Council who may modify same, by majority vote, provided they adhere to the commonly held principles that all voting members justly and fairly receive due notification of their rights to vote, propose, second, and amend the Constitution.
- Members and Trainers have no rights or responsibilities beyond those specifically delineated in this Constitution. Acceptance of initial application for membership, designation of membership grade or training member level of membership, and continuation of membership are entirely at the discretion of the Society Council and any membership may be amended or revoked at any time at the discretion of the Society Council, or by the Chair giving good reason to the Council.
- The Society Council may delegate these powers to the Society's Chief Executive and his or her officers.
- The Chair shall be appointed by the Society Council (or Directors) and will Chair the Society Council and have the casting vote. The Chair shall be appointed as a Company Director.
- The Chair will appoint a Chief Executive to oversee the day to day running of the Society and to undertake other such functions as described below.
- The Chief Executive shall act as the Society Registrar or may delegate this responsibility.
- The Chief Executive shall appoint and oversee the administration of the Society register(s) and any other professional registers which the Society has agreed to oversee. The Chief Executive shall appoint a Public Protection Officer and Professional Standards Officer. The public facing titles of these officers may vary from their constitutional titles.
- The Public Protection Officer shall be responsible for the execution of the Society client concern procedure at the time being in force.
- It is the responsibility of the Chief Executive, reporting to the Chair, to ensure that all Society monies not spent on the running of the Society be disbursed for the furtherance of the Society's aims in accordance with the Memorandum and Articles of Association, and that no distribution of profits can be made.
- The Chair may appoint such employees or officers of the Society deemed necessary to further the Society's goals in relation to professional membership benefits of the Society.
- The decisions of the Society Chair and Chief Executive shall be scrutinised in a manner determined by the Society's Independent Assessor who will make their reports available to Society Council.
- Other Society officers may be created by the Chair and/or Chief Executive at their discretion in order to further the aims of the Society.
- The Society Council shall consist of the Chair and 8 members and shall be responsible for the good management of the Society and the execution of the aims of Section I of this Constitution. The Council shall fall under Article 10.1 of the Articles of Association in that it uses the delegated powers of the board of trustees.
- The Society Council may, subject to the approval of the board of trustees, appoint the Society Chair in a manner determined by itself. The Chair will chair meetings of the Council and have the casting vote.
- The Council shall consist of the Chair, four professional members and four lay members.
- The Ex Officio professional members of the Society Council shall be: The Registrar; The Membership Services Officer; the Professional Standards Officer and the Public Protection Officer.
- Four suitable lay members shall also be appointed with due diligence.
- The Society Council shall establish where possible the following committees:
- A Professional Conduct Committee with three officers: A Lay Chair, a Lay Member and the Society Public Protection Officer (ex officio).
- A Professional Standards Committee with the Chair as the Professional Standards Officer (ex officio.)
- A Membership Services Committee with the Chair as the Membership Services Officer (ex officio)
- A Professional Development and Supervision Committee
- A Governance & Audit Committee to be chaired by a lay member of the Council
- Such other committees as are deemed necessary from time to time by the Council
Committees shall be established by an election of the members other than those roles indicated above. In the case where insufficient members stand for election, the Society Council may appoint those members.
Membership - Individual
- All Membership is dependent upon paid up dues set by the Society and any variance in amount or payment method will be duly notified to members by the Society. Membership is fully defined in the current Individual Membership Guidelines. Members are Ordinary Members as defined by Article 30.1 of the Articles of Association. Article II, 6 of the Constitution applies to all members.
- All Members of all Grades are bound by The Society Constitution; The Society Code of Ethics, & The Complaints Procedure.
- No award of Membership should be taken to imply that the Society is legally responsible for the practice of the practitioner to clients or to the public.
- Members incur no rights beyond those outlined in the Membership Guidelines as current.
- A Voting Member is defined in the Society's Articles of Association. Only Voting Members may vote, propose constitutional changes, or stand or be co-opted to Society committees. Voting Members cannot hold membership in another relevant professional association.
- Honorary Membership may be given by vote of the Society Council or by the Chair for services to the Society or the profession. Honorary Grades should not be considered Professional Members for the purposes of professional insurance, inclusion in the therapist's directory, or any other issue pertaining to professional practice. Honorary Grades should be clearly indicated as such where used.
- Members may be suspended or excluded as appropriate where (a) their dues are not paid (b) they are in violation of the Code Of Ethics and the Complaints Procedure is applied, including any such suspension or exclusion which the procedure allows, including interim suspension and exclusion for non-compliance with imposed sanctions (c) they act in a manner prejudicial to the Society (d) they fail to meet any terms and conditions of membership.
- Members who wish to terminate their membership should do so in writing to the Society and must return their membership certificates at their own expense. Members are responsible for cancelling their membership subscriptions with their own banks and if a member terminating or intending to terminate their membership does not cancel their membership dues, they shall be deemed to remain a member in good standing until the period for which those dues fall expires.
- All Certificates remain the property of the Society and must be returned at the member's expense upon termination of membership or on request.
Membership - Organisational
- Training School Organisational Membership shall be divided into Accredited and Quality Checked. A further category of Affiliated Organisational Membership (non training school) shall apply. All Membership is dependent upon paid up dues for which due reminder will be given by the Society Administrator. Article II, 11 of the Constitution applies to all Organisational Membership.
- All Organisational Members are bound by The Society Constitution; The Society Code of Ethics & The Complaints Procedure.
- No Level of Organisational Membership should be taken to imply that the Society is legally responsible for the practice of the organisation to clients or to the public.
- Quality Checked and Accredited Status shall be defined by and dependent upon the Organisational Membership Guidelines document of the Society, as current.
- Organisational Members may be suspended or dismissed as appropriate where (a) their dues are not paid (b) they are in violation of the Code of Ethics and the Complaints Procedure is applied to them (c) they deliberately act in a manner prejudicial to the Society (d) they are shown to be in gross violation of the standards of accreditation or quality checking, and having been served conditions on membership, have not complied with those conditions.
- Only those Organisational Members current with the Society may advertise as such; no Organisational Member may advertise that any Level of Membership is "pending." unless by permission of the Society.
- Organisational Members incur no voting rights as such; however, proprietors of organisational members who are Voting Members of the Society may vote in the normal manner.
- The Society Chair or Society Council may terminate at his or her discretion any organisational membership without prejudice in accordance with Section II,6; however, said termination will allow any students of the organisation currently in training at the time of the termination to be assessed as if the organisational membership was still in force, unless evidence demonstrates that the course could not have met the appropriate standards.
Ethics & Complaints
- Individual and Organisational Members are bound by the Code of Ethics and Independent Complaints Procedure, as current.
- The Code of Ethics and Independent Complaints Procedure shall be made public.
- The Society Public Protection Officer shall respond to all initial complaints.
- The Code of Ethics and Complaints Procedure shall be amended from time to time as necessary by the Professional Standards Committee, as ratified by the Society Council.
- The Professional Standards Committee shall be responsible for the format of the Code of Ethics and can propose changes to the Code to the Society Council.
- The Society shall retain robust equality and diversity policies and shall proscribe any course of therapy or treatment which purports to undermine equality or diversity of race, gender, orientation, or disability.
- Conflicts Of Interest. A Society Council Member in good standing who becomes appointed or elected to a Society Council position (or similar position of responsibility) of competitor organisation automatically honourably suspends their membership of the Society for the period of their office. This suspension is without prejudice to themselves. No current holder of such an office can stand for the Society Council or any Society committees, except at the discretion of the Chair.
- The Society shall maintain good relations with other appropriate organisations and with government. If the Society affiliates or joins other organisations (for which a majority vote of the Society Council is required), it shall not cede any powers or roles without following the procedures for a Constitutional Change.
- The Society Council may, at its sole discretion, prohibit applications from members belonging to organisations with which it does not wish to affiliate, and remove members who belong to said organisations, at any time.
- The Society shall act to conform to relevant legislation
- The Society shall maintain a cooperation agreement with the Royal Society For the Promotion Of Health
- The Society shall maintain an Accredited Register with the Professional Standards Authority.