- Update from SCoPEd Independent Chair
Please see an update from the SCoPEd Oversight Committee, Independent Chair, Paul Buckley below.
As independent chair of the SCoPEd Oversight Committee (SOC), I would like to update SCoPEd partners, members and registrants on the progress of our recent phase two work.
This work has included:
- conducting an impact assessment of the SCoPEd framework
- creating a shared set of principles – based around fairness, inclusion and transparency – for implementing the framework
- working towards agreed shared ‘column titles’ (which are not included in the SCoPEd January 2022 framework)
- agreeing transparent and evidence-based mechanisms for members and registrants to progress between the columns of the framework as they develop their training, skills, knowledge and experience throughout their professional journey.
- The independent impact assessment was commissioned this summer following a competitive tender process. The contract was awarded to Eastside Primetimers, a consultancy and recruitment provider in the charity sector who advise on development, funding and growth, and have a strong track record of conducting impact assessments.
- The assessment comprised a qualitative element of interviewing various stakeholders including clients and patients, practitioners, trainers, awarding bodies, employers and commissioners, membership body staff, and the Professional Standards Authority (PSA). A variety of viewpoints were covered, including critical voices from those within counselling and psychotherapy, some of whom were contacted due to their specific skills and experience which included professional networking and campaign groups.
- It also comprised a quantitative element which involved statistical consideration of some of the data held by partners and data in the public domain.
- The full report from Eastside Primetimers is available to download here.
- You can also download an accessible version here.
- The partners will now reflect on, and digest, the full impact assessment report which will influence the ongoing work. There will be further updates from the partnership in early 2023.
Mechanisms and shared principles
- The Technical Group (TG) has commissioned a new working group to discuss the mechanisms of how the framework might be used for membership pathways should SCoPEd be adopted.
- This new Mechanisms Group (MG) is comprised of staff and representatives from across the partnership bodies responsible for professional standards and membership. This will ensure they bring the skillset and proximity to the operational detail that matches the requirements of the work.
- The group is collaborating to ensure that the pathways to transition between columns are clear for those members and registrants who wish to do so, including how to make these accessible and how to ensure they capture the requirements of the framework as well as reflecting a partner’s own specific traditions and requirements. Each partner will also conduct their own consolidation and review of the schemes that emerge from the collaborative work.
- The MG will then take their work back into the TG for consideration and sense checking, with final recommendations to be signed off by the SOC.
For now the column titles remain as published in the January 2022 framework – A, B, C. The commitment remains within the partnership to look at titles. Working to agree titles would help ensure consistency across the profession and aid wider understanding. To date, the focus has been on the work for both the impact assessment and the mechanisms of the framework.
The impact assessment interviews included some discussion on titles with a variety of stakeholders. The feedback will inform any future conversations on titles along with other new evidence sources and it looks likely now that the work on titles will be a longer-term goal.
It’s important to remember that even if a SCoPEd framework contained alternative titles, the profession does not have legally protected titles and the advice for therapists remains to use the titles they have the skills to ethically use.
Some of you may be aware of recent announcements from two partners regarding leadership changes. I want to take this opportunity to make clear that this has not affected SCoPEd partner relationships and the desire for collaborative work. This work takes place across a number of working groups and there are strong ongoing relationships and a commitment to the work in all of these groups as well as a considerable knowledge base that has been built over the years. With that in mind, I hope I am able to reassure anyone who is uncertain of what these leadership changes mean for the continuity of the work that the Boards concerned have confirmed their support for longstanding Technical Group members to deputise at SOC and make recommendations back to their Boards until the appropriate handover for CEOs can take place. Similarly, new members have been added to the Technical Group to replace departing members. The SOC has approved both courses of action.
If you have questions regarding any of the above, please contact your membership organisations via their usual channels.
Paul Buckley, Independent Chair SCoPEd Oversight Committee.
If you have any questions please email firstname.lastname@example.org
- NCS Launches Coaching Register
You will hopefully have seen that we recently launched two new registers to sit alongside our main Accredited Register: the Children & Young People's Therapist (CYPT) Accredited Register, and the Relationship Therapist/Psychosexual Therapist Register. We are now launching a third register: the Coaching Register (CR). In order to be included in any of these new specialist registers you must already be a Registrant on our main Counselling and Psychotherapy Accredited Register.
Why have you launched these new registers?
Over the past few years, we've seen an increasing number of calls from members, organisations, and employers, to recognise in an official capacity the difference between counselling one adult, to counselling more than one adult at the same time, or counselling children and young people. There are significant differences in the skills required to work in these ways, all of which certainly require specialist training and experience. Coaching and counselling, while complementary, are different skill sets, too. Many of our members are skilled and experienced coaches, but there is currently no Register or way for our members to highlight their skills and training in this area of talking therapy.
We know that training and experience is vital in working to the best of our abilities in these different areas, so it became important to clearly show where people had that training and experience.
Those who have undertaken specialist training in working with CYP, relationships, or coaching, can now demonstrate that this additional training meets the standards for inclusion in our Registers, and we can also signpost members of the public and organisations directly to these specialist registers when appropriate - for example, when speaking with Education Authorities about employing counsellors in schools.
This doesn't take away from the fact that practitioners on our core Accredited Register are well-trained and experienced counsellors and psychotherapists and remain at the heart of the profession. It is an acknowledgement of the changing face of therapy in the UK, and a development of how we can support our members now and in the future.
What is the Coaching Register for?
We have heard from many members over the years that they also offer coaching, but that it isn't really recognised within the counselling & psychotherapy profession due to some key differences in the way it is practiced. We recognise that coaching is often used by counsellors and psychotherapists to complement the non-directive work that they do and wanted to offer recognition of that as well as the ability for clients searching for coaching to be able to contact practitioners on our Register that are also skilled and experienced coaches.
How to join?
Please visit the members' area. We will assess all applications and the Register will launch at the beginning of next year.
- NCS Launches Relationship Therapist Register with Psychosexual Sub-Register
We are pleased to inform our members that, following several very fruitful discussions with the charity Relate, we have launched a Relationship Therapist Register with a Sub-Register for specialist training as a Psychosexual Therapist. This is a purely voluntary Register and fees are kept to the absolute minimum to meet costs.
The new Register is only available to counsellors and psychotherapists on our main Accredited Register (AR), and at launch it is not part of the Accredited Registers programme. However, we will be applying to the Professional Standards Authority for AR status this year.
We are launching this Register after member requests to have a Register to highlight their additional skills and training in this modality. Many of our members specialise in relationship issues and work with Relate and other organisations and have asked for additional support and recognition in their work.
Whilst all counselling training involves working with relationship s, this specific Register has been developed for those that specialise in relationship / couples therapy. Relationship/couples therapy will normally involve 2 or more clients in the sessions. It can include sessions with individuals if the clients have come for relationship therapy. It does not include work with a relationship focus where the contract is with only one client.
We are really grateful to Relate for their support and partnership in developing this new Register.
We're delighted that the National Counselling Society (NCS) is launching a new specialist Relationship Therapist Register with a Sub-Register for practitioners who have also trained as a Psychosexual Therapist. It’s great to see that the specialist work done by Relationship Therapists and Psychosexual Therapists is now being formally recognised. Providing Relationship and Psychosexual therapy requires dedicated training, not least because working with more than one person in the room is a very unique skill.
This Register will give clients confidence that the therapist they're seeing is properly trained and experienced. This means they will have completed a lengthy and comprehensive specialist qualification which combines relevant theory, skills practice and assessments, along with supervised client work. It also ensures the therapist is committed to continuing professional development after qualifying.
For more information on specialist training in Relationship Counselling and Psychosexual Therapy, please visit relate.org.uk
Aidan Jones, Chief Executive, Relate
- Call for CPS to reconsider guidance allowing use of therapy notes in court
The National Counselling Society joins forces with other professional bodies to speak out about the potential ‘devastating impact’ of releasing therapy notes for use in court cases.
Led by the British Psychological Society, we co-signed the following letter to the CPS, alongside BACP, UKCP and the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
- SCoPEd Update: Members will vote on September 1st
We will hold our vote as to whether to adopt SCoPEd on September 1st 2022. The ballot will close after 14 days and the result will be declared in September.
If you wish to join the Society and be guaranteed the right to vote, we must receive and acknowledge your application no later than July 1st. Applicants for membership after that date may be given the right to vote but this cannot be guaranteed.
Our final SCoPED Bulletin containing the most up to date information will be sent out in August 2022. Submissions for this must be sent before August 1st to email@example.com. We will send out more information on this soon and we want the best possible range of information made available to our members.
In February we wrote to set out the three remaining issues on which we hoped to see progress before proceeding to a vote. It is clear now from the direction of SCoPEd that these issues will either take a much longer time than anticipated to resolve, or indeed will be resolved in time to inform you fully prior to making your decision.
The current situation on those three issues is:
1. Impact Assessment. The SCoPEd partnership has agreed to do an impact assessment and has put this out to tender to suitable parties. There are applicants for this work who are being interviewed and we trust the work should commence shortly.
2. Titles. It's clear that the direction of travel is that SCoPEd titles are going to be closely aligned to our current membership grades, with a remaining question mark over whether or not the title "psychotherapist" would be reserved to Column C.
When we hold our vote in September, if this issue is undecided, we will ask our members to cast their vote on the understanding that it's possible that the title "psychotherapist" may or may not be reserved to Column C. (We will fully explain this nearer the time but it's worth noting that nothing in SCoPEd can legally prevent members using this title -rather it would be about whether your professional body recognises you as such.)
3. Methods for transitioning up the columns. We hope to have more information on this as work continues to be done. Essentially there are likely to be few surprises as column progression would be linked with membership grades and so members would be subject to similar upgrade processes as are in place now should you wish to upgrade your membership level. As previously indicated, we envisage minor tweaks only for our first two tiers of membership, with criteria for our Senior grade probably undergoing more work. The fullest possible information will be given before the vote.
In scheduling our vote, we have to weigh two factors. The first is the difficulty of having incomplete information to give our members at the time of the vote. We have to make a judgement call here that we can give enough information to members to make an informed decision in September, and that any remaining unknown areas at that time can be signposted so that members understand what the possibilities may be.
The second factor is that the decision for our partners will rest with their Boards and therefore will have a different process.
Simply put, if the NCS delays our vote until all of the 3 elements above are 100% decided and complete, our partners could have long since implemented SCoPed. Our team needs to understand our members' wishes so we can also allocate time and resources to either continue with SCoPed or move in a different direction. Clearly we don't wish to spend significant time and resources on continuing the SCoPEd partnership if you don't want us to implement it. On the other hand, if you do want us to implement it, you'll be disadvantaged if you can only make that decision many months or years after our partners have adopted the project.
As ever, we welcome any questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
- The National Counselling Society Launches the UK’s First CYP Therapist Accredited Register
The NCS is pleased to announce that the Professional Standards Authority has approved our submission for our new specialist Register for counsellors and psychotherapists working with children and young people.
Society CEO Jyles Robillard-Day says:
“Following the development of our well-received 2020 competency framework for counsellors and psychotherapists who work with children and young people, we’re delighted that the Authority has approved our new CYPT register, which will go live in March 2022.
Children and young peoples’ mental health is rightly at the forefront of national attention and concern, especially due to the huge disruption to education and family life caused by the pandemic.
The NCS campaigns for universal access to counselling and psychotherapy for all children and young people and we sit on parliamentary groups in all four nations of the UK. Our Child Ambassador, Kate Day, is a founding member of the Children’s Alliance and sits on the All-Party Parliamentary Group for a Fit and Healthy Childhood. Kate is currently co-chairing a parliamentary report on the impact of Covid-19 on children and young people’s mental health.
Counselling and psychotherapy have a crucial and central role to play here, whether in schools and colleges, the charity sector, or in independent practice. Recognising the skills and competencies of NCS CYP Therapists via a new Accredited Register is, we feel, a huge step forwards in offering public assurance in this area.
We’re helping employers recognise therapists with specific skills, and parents seeking professional support. We’re also helping our members gain more recognition as they continue to offer their excellent services in this crucial area.
The NCS has responded to the national need for support for children and young people in these difficult times, and our new register is a professional solution for CYP therapy across the UK.”
FAQ For Members & Trainers
What is the NCS CYPT Register?
The CYPT Register exists for all registrants of the NCS who can demonstrate competent and ethical working with children and young people ages 4-18. Clients aged 19-25 are also acknowledged to benefit from the specialist competencies of CYP Therapists.
Why have you launched a CYPT Register?
There is significant demand for mental health support for children and young people, and this demand is currently met by a wide variety of roles both within and outside of the counselling and psychotherapy profession.
In order for our profession to be competitive, gain the attention of employers, and ensure we’re at the forefront of future opportunities for our members, we wish to provide a Register in which the Government, employers and other stakeholders can have confidence and recognise when making hiring decisions in this sector. Gaining an Accredited Register is especially important as the Professional Standards Authority works to integrate the AR programme further into health and social care in the UK.
Just as important as these professional concerns, we felt there was a need to recognise the different skills and professional journey that is undertaken to offer counselling and psychotherapy to children and young people, rather than to adults.
Many of our members see both adults and children; some work exclusively or almost exclusively with children. It’s important for us to recognise, increasingly, that additional skills, training and experience can be required to offer best practice to younger clients. The vast majority of our members have already undergone specialist training, CPD and/or supervision on their journeys into CYP therapy, and it’s only right that this now emerges as a specific and recognised sub-discipline of counselling and psychotherapy.
When will this happen?
The Register will go live in mid-March 2022, and all members will be informed of the application process.
Do I have to be an NCS Registrant to join?
Yes, you will need to be on our Register of counsellors and psychotherapists prior to joining our CYPT Register.
How much will it cost?
An additional charge of £25 per year is being charged for the CYPT register.
Where will this money go?
All monies are ringfenced for the CYPT register. After any administration costs are deducted, all funds raised via the additional fee will be spent on promoting the CYPT register to stakeholders and the public.
What are the criteria to join?
For the first few months, our existing registrants can apply for “grandparenting”, and applications will be treated on a case-by-case basis.
“Grandparenting” is a way of acknowledging that we are starting something new, and don’t want to prejudice existing members who are working with children and young people already, and who may not have met our future criteria for training and so forth.
Full details of how to apply under this route will be sent to all registrants in March.
What happens after grandparenting?
After grandparenting, entry to the Register will be on the basis of either a suitable CYP qualification at Ofqual Level 5 or equivalent, or a “portfolio route” which looks at a combination of qualifications, supervised practice, CPD and other methods such as a case study. Final details of these post-grandparenting standards and routes will be published once the Register launches.
Can I still see children and young people as clients but not join this Register?
Yes, you can – however, we do encourage you to join the Register. Over time our main Register for counselling and psychotherapy, which currently includes CYP practice, will become a register for adult counselling and psychotherapy only. This will mean in the future that you would not be on an Accredited Register with the NCS for your CYP work unless you were also on the CYPT Register. This is some time away.
What will Registrants be called?
The title for the Register is NCS Certified CYP Therapist. You will also be able to refer to yourself as an NCS CYP Counsellor or NCS CYP Psychotherapist as appropriate.
Will I receive an additional membership certificate?
Yes, but this will be delayed a few months to enable us to launch our new website and process our name change.
Will I receive a separate logo for this Register?
Yes, one will be supplied if your application to the Register is successful.
How long will it take for my application to be processed?
During our grandparenting phase, you should allow around 3 months for processing. This is because we will be looking at applications on an individual basis. After grandparenting we anticipate reducing this time significantly.
How do I pay?
We can only accept Direct Debit payments for this Register.
Is this a separate Register from the main Accredited Register?
This is a “Sub-Register” of our main Accredited Register, which requires you to be on the main Register to join.
How will my CYPT status be displayed on the website?
On our current website, clients searching the Accredited Register will be able to apply a filter for CYPT and even to display only CYPT Therapists. Our new website will have additional functionality.
As a training provider, can I apply for recognition for my training as a route to this Register?
Yes. We will be providing specific course routes to this Register as well as a system for approving appropriate CYP training (e.g., CPD) that could form part of a portfolio application. We will be releasing information about this shortly.
- 10th February 2022 - SCoPEd: What next for our members?
The SCoPEd Group had a “SOC” meeting recently which involves the chief executives of the group’s partners and its Independent Chair. The next meeting is in May.
We thought it would be useful for you to understand the next steps in the development of SCoPEd and to give a preliminary indication of when the vote is likely to happen.
Our goal is to hold our vote when we have all the information needed for our members to make a fully informed decision. We want to be able to understand the final shape of the project and hold a vote with the confidence that there would only be minor changes (if any) after the vote took place.
There are three remaining issues and areas of work which we feel will get us closer to that point:
1. The Impact Assessment. The discussion for that should occur in May with the Assessment beginning once an external expert has been appointed. We will keep everyone informed of that, and how you can contribute to the assessment.
2. Agreement on titles if possible. The intention of the project is smooth integration into the existing way the different organisations use membership grades. In practice we are already confident that if SCoPEd is adopted there will be little noticeable change to Accredited Registrant and Accredited Professional Registrant grades. Much of the change would be in the background, for example, working with Accredited Training Schools to ensure that their training explicitly maps to the competency framework.
3. Agreeing mechanisms for transitioning up the columns. This will be looking at what is taken into account in terms of qualifications, experience and so forth for a member to be able to move from Column A to B to C if they wish to do so, and how this relates to membership grades.
Once we have clarity on the above issues, we will execute the following timetable:
- We’ll write to members ensuring that you have the most up to date and relevant information
- We’ll notify members of the vote date. The vote will be conducted via an appropriate third party electoral system
- We’ll hold a “last call” for members who feel we have not provided information either for or against the project, collate any such information and circulate it to the membership at large
- We’ll give members a final opportunity to ask questions which we will answer
- We’ll run the vote allowing sufficient time for all to vote and using multiple communications channels to ensure members don’t miss out
- We’ll announce the result and explain next steps
Who can vote?
To be guaranteed a vote, you will have to be a either a Registrant member or Student member in good standing by the Eligibility Date.
What's the Eligibility Date?
Our Membership Services Team normally needs a certain amount of time, which varies throughout the year based on application volume, to assess a membership application. Therefore anyone that wishes to become a member and exercise a right to vote in this ballot would need to allow several weeks between their application and the ballot date to be guaranteed a vote.
We anticipate this being eight weeks before the ballot but this could change. This will mean that we cannot guarantee anyone applying to join the Society a vote if their application is submitted under eight weeks beforehand. While we'll try to process their application, we can't guarantee it. Anyone applying under eight weeks before the vote will be informed of this.
We'll continue to keep you informed.
As ever, please do continue to send questions or comment to email@example.com.
- NCS SCoPEd Update - 2nd February 2022
We’re writing to inform you that the SCoPEd Group, which you’ve supported us being a part of, has today released the next iteration of the project, which you can view below.
Working together with other organisations on this project has been an informative and interesting journey. At all stages we have sought to represent our members’ interests as expressed to us, either via online surveys or in individual communication. Please rest assured that we have raised your interests and concerns at every group meeting. Dialogue between the partner organisations has been challenging – naturally so given different starting points, values and principles - but also respectful and engaging.
If we were to highlight some areas in which we feel we have contributed to positive change in the latest document, this would be in the areas of the academic nature of the project, the emphasis on the therapeutic relationship, and in other areas of wording and clarification.
We were aware that you, our members, had raised concerns about separating people into groups based upon academic competencies, and so we raised issues where the previous iteration embedded academic rather than therapeutic points of differentiation. We were conscious of wanting to refocus on the therapeutic relationship and ensuring that the document reflected that. We also challenged some elements of the columns where language wasn’t helping, and, for example, looked at some issues reserved for “higher” columns where we felt were competencies shared by all. The other group partners also had their own issues and points of view, and the current document is of course, the result of a group effort conducted in what we feel has been a constructive spirit.
We wish to reiterate, of course, that our members are the ones to weigh up carefully the benefits of adopting or rejecting SCoPEd. What is clearly emerging now is that, if adopted, the three SCoPEd Columns would be mapped onto existing membership grades with relative ease. We anticipate that the only one of our current grades likely to be significantly affected is that of Senior Accredited Registrant. We will provide further information about this as soon as it is known. Our other membership grades are already so closely aligned to Columns A and B that we would not anticipate any significant adjustments for existing registrants. We should also state that the gateways between the different grades, once developed, could provide a smoother and easier to understand upgrade path for registrants than our current processes.
This said, it is important that we acknowledge the significant proportion of our membership which does object to SCoPEd, and should our membership vote to accept SCoPEd, we will explore every avenue to ensure that those dissenting from the project continue to have a voice and that we explore alternative ways of offering milestone recognition for practice, e.g., through experience based acknowledgments if our members want this.
The remaining issue is one of titles. As members are aware, the original draft of SCoPEd mooted the titles Counsellor, Advanced Counsellor, and Psychotherapist. This resulted in some considerable concern and these titles were removed from the second iteration of the project (shortly before we joined the SCoPEd group). It is fair to say there is of course a difference of opinion between the view of psychotherapy which, pointing to its training routes and job roles, sees it as different from counselling, with more in-depth work and deeper training; and the view which sees counselling and psychotherapy as interchangeable umbrella terms.
The SCoPEd group will, we hope, reach a joint view on this and again, you, our members will have a vote on whether to adopt SCoPEd.
Of course we welcome any comments and questions on this iteration to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The National Counselling Society
- SCoPEd Partnership - Publication of January 2022 Framework
The SCoPEd framework is a ground-breaking shared standards’ framework, developed by six Professional Standards Authority accredited bodies representing over 75,000 counsellors and psychotherapists.
It transparently sets out the core training, practice and competence requirements for counsellors and psychotherapists working with adults.
You can view or download the January 2022 version of the SCoPEd framework using the links below.
- Joint Statement from the SCoPEd Partners - February 2022
We’re pleased to announce that the latest version of the ground-breaking SCoPEd framework has been published today (02/02/2022).
This January 2022 version of the framework is the first to be developed jointly by our six Professional Standards Authority-accredited counselling and psychotherapy organisations. Together, we represent over 75,000 counsellors and psychotherapists. We’d like to thank all the members, registrants, partners and staff who have contributed to its development.
This latest framework version reflects our better mutual understanding and a closer working alliance, underlined by our shared passion and priority of protecting the public. It has been a real pleasure to collaborate with one another, and we are bound powerfully by our joint commitment to promoting the skills and competences of all our members and registrants, at a time of acute societal need.
We are already seeing the positive impact on how the counselling and psychotherapy profession is perceived, with significant engagement at this early stage from bodies such as the NHS and Health Education England.
The publication of the January 2022 framework marks the delivery of our phase one work on SCoPEd – a joint commitment to map the current reality of the core training, practice and competence requirements. The framework is written at a high level, is not modality specific, and it is about working with adults over the age of 18, and not about working with children or young people.
We are now moving on to phase two of our collective work. This means working towards the potential adoption of the framework by each partner organisation, and in due course we will also populate the framework with titles, gateways and much more.
We want to achieve a basic high-level recognition of the rigour and standards of counselling and psychotherapy as a whole. This is because we are still at an early stage in making sure policymakers, commissioners and the public have a fundamental grasp of our profession.
As we enter phase two, we have jointly committed to:
- continuing to develop the framework to provide essential information to clients, patients and service users to make informed choices about the support they seek
- conducting an impact assessment of the SCoPEd framework
- creating a shared set of principles – based around fairness, inclusion and transparency – for implementing the framework
- working towards agreed shared ‘column titles’ which are not included in this version
- agreeing transparent and evidence-based mechanisms for members and registrants to progress between the columns of the framework as they develop their training, skills, knowledge and experience throughout their professional journey
The expansion of the SCoPEd partnership to embrace new organisations, and the excellent working relationships we have formed, have made a very positive impact on the framework, and have further emphasised the need for it, its purpose, and its benefits.
We are looking forward to moving ahead collectively on this phase two activity in the coming weeks and months.
What are the key changes in this version of the framework?
There have been a number of significant updates and improvements made to the content and the language of the framework since the previous version was published in July 2020. These have been made as a result of:
- feedback from members, registrants and stakeholders on the previous version
- input from all new and existing partners and the independent experts by experience recruited to support and review the development of the framework
- greater emphasis on the role of the therapeutic relationship and the qualities of the therapist
- further focus on equality, diversity and inclusion as a theme embedded and integrated throughout the framework
- additional standards relating to online and phone therapy
- more consistent use of language that is inclusive and more accessible to a wider audience
- the addition of a glossary of terms
The key changes include:
Who are the SCoPEd partners?
The partner organisations collaborating on SCoPEd are:
- Association of Christian Counsellors (ACC)
- British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
- British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC)
- Human Givens Institute (HGI)
- National Counselling Society (NCS)
- UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
Collectively, the SCoPEd partners represent over 75,000 counsellors and psychotherapists from a diverse range of backgrounds, approaches, philosophies and professional training.
The SCoPEd Oversight Committee (SOC) is the governance body for the framework. The SOC was established when ACC, ACP (Association of Child Psychotherapists), HGI and NCS joined the original SCoPEd partners BACP, BPC and UKCP in November 2020.
It meets regularly to oversee, guide and scrutinise the work of SCoPEd. It includes the six Chief Executives of the participating partners, three independent experts by experience and Independent Chair Paul Buckley who was appointed in spring 2021.
- Diversity and Inclusion Coalition
The Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion brings together organisations with a shared mission to improve diversity within the counselling, psychotherapy and psychological therapy professions.
Coalition joint statement
Its current focus is promoting inclusive and anti-oppressive professional training as part of a greater vision to address further barriers to inclusive practice, particularly in relation to supporting racially and ethnically minoritised communities.
- Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families
- Association of Christian Counsellors (ACC)
- Association of Child Psychotherapists (ACP)
- British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
- British Association of Art Therapists (BAAT)
- Counselling and Psychotherapy Central Awarding Body (CPCAB)
- Muslim Counsellor and Psychotherapist Network (MCAPN)
- National Counselling Society (NCS)
- Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility (PCSR)
- UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
Following a consultation with trainers and training providers in February 2021, the Coalition partners have agreed to commission and deploy an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit for Counselling and Psychotherapy programmes.
This will support the development of skills, knowledge and understanding for delivering inclusive counselling and psychotherapy training across a range of learning organisations. With an initial focus on race and ethnicity, the primary objectives of the toolkit will be to provide support on three areas of course provision: the institution; the training programme; and the individual tutor (launching in 2022).
- NCS LAUNCHES CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE (CYP) REGISTER
We are pleased to inform our members that, as previously announced we are launching our CYP Register which will become live in January 2022 at the latest.
We are launching this register in response to member demand, and in recognition of this growing area of importance. There is an increasing recognition from both within and outside the profession that CYP counselling should be seen as a specialisation with additional safeguarding and training.
The register will be based upon our existing CYP Competency Framework which can be viewed here.
A grandparenting period will shortly open which will allow members with experience of working with CYP to join the register.
The register will also launch with specific qualifications routes which will allow registration.
This register will not form part of the Society’s Accredited Register but will be an additional accredited register which runs alongside it, and belonging to the Society’s main AR will be a condition of joining the CYP register. We will not be accepting applications to the CYP register from practitioners who are not NCS members.
We will keep costs of this additional register to an absolute minimum needed for administration purposes and anticipate that these costs will be approximately £25 a year.
- Covid-19 Coronavirus Guidance - See the Covid-19 Hub
In order to ensure the guidance that we publish around the Coronavirus public health crisis is easy to find and navigate, we have created the Covid-19 Hub.
Please check the Hub for any future updates.
- 19th February 2021 NCS Open Letter to The Health and Social Care Select Committee
The NCS recently wrote an open letter addressed to The Health and Social Care Select Committee in response to the request for submissions regarding Children and Young People’s Mental Health. You can read it below:
- 11th February 2021 - NCS response to PSA Strategic Review Consultation
Please find the Society's full response to the PSA's Strategic Review Consultation here.
- 11th December 2020 - Consultation with the PSA
You will be aware that the Society holds an Accredited Register with the Professional Standards Authority and has done since 2012.
In our survey of 2018 an overwhelming number of our members supported the Accredited Registers programme and the Society continues to consider the programme to be the best way of delivering public assurance, as well as providing well deserved recognition for our members.
We and the other Registers have recently been meeting with the Professional Standards Authority and discussing the future of the programme as it enters its second decade.
The Authority has just launched a major public consultation on the future of the programme. Full details can be found here:
The key points in the consultation centre around how the programme could possibly be strengthened, giving more status to Accredited Registers and delivering more integration between Accredited Registers and our national health and social care programmes.
The main focus of the consultation is:
- How should we determine which occupations should be included in the scope of the programme?
- Should we consider the effectiveness of occupations in decisions about accreditation?
- Should there be greater consistency of standards of competence across Accredited Registers, in particular for individual occupations?
- Should we take into account proportionality and risk?
The Authority wishes to ensure the programme can:
- Support the delivery of NHS healthcare and social care workforce plans in England, NI, Scotland and Wales. This includes a greater contribution to personalised care for patients and to the Covid-19 recovery in health and social care. The pandemic has highlighted the need for greater integration of health and social care, and of the value of mental health care delivered by unregulated roles.
- Become a requirement for employers using healthcare practitioners in unregulated roles in the UK, and social care in unregulated roles in England
- Support innovation and be able to respond quickly to change. This is an advantage that voluntary assurance has above statutory regulation.
These are big questions. Of particular interest to members will be the question around consistency of standards for individual occupations. How might consistent standards be delivered in counselling, for example, while still assuring the diversity and complexity of the profession?
Another big question is over considering the “effectiveness of occupations.” To set some context here, members may be aware that a wide variety of complementary therapies (homeopathy, for example) are engaged with the AR programme. There are opposing views as to whether this is appropriate. On the one hand, the argument in favour states that offering an AR programme for complementary therapies ensures that practitioners are held to account and that complaints can be made. On the other hand, the argument against states that, where there is no evidence for a therapy, it is harmful to give what members of the public may consider to be a “seal of approval” from the AR programme.
Why this is a big question for counselling and psychotherapy is how is “effectiveness” to be assessed? Is it the same as evidence based or evidence informed practice? For counselling and psychotherapy these are loaded questions and we trust that the Authority will, of course, continue to view counselling and psychotherapy as a whole with many modalities and approaches, many of which are not appropriately assessed in a narrow empirical manner. We have no reason at present to believe otherwise.
Also of great interest will be that the Authority wishes being on an Accredited Register to be a requirement for employers using healthcare practitioners and practitioners in social care roles.
In the consultation document, the Authority references the concept of setting up a licensing body in order to ensure that unsafe practitioners could no longer practice. This, if applied to counselling, psychotherapy or hypnotherapy would see a fundamental shift from a voluntary scheme to one in which you held a licensing requirement to practice and your license could be revoked; for example in the event of a complaint. This, it is mooted, would be less of an imposition on practice than full statutory regulation while offering greater public assurance
The Authority also refers to a potential future for “umbrella bodies” where professional associations, perhaps, feed in to a centralised body for each occupation. Following current models, this could see, for example, NCS membership being a route to gaining your “umbrella body” licence. We are engaging with the Authority as to how this might work, but there would be a central role for current Accredited Registers.
The Society will shortly launch its own consultation with our members on the Authority’s proposals, so that we can submit to the Authority our members’ democratic views and be guided by your voices as things move forward.
We would like to end this bulletin with a note of reassurance to our members. We have been dealing with the Authority since 2010 and throughout that time, as a regulator they have been flexible, fair, professional and supportive. We have every confidence that the Authority will engage with Accredited Registers, and indeed Registrants, fairly and openly, that they will listen to concerns, and we trust that the AR programme will emerge in a strengthened form beneficial to our members in the long run.
- 9th October 2020 - SCoPEd Members' Update
Since April 2018 the Society has raised fundamental questions about SCoPEd and we referred in August 2020 to the issues with its Second Iteration. You can find all previous letters in this Important News section of the website.
In August we also stated that the collaborating partners appeared willing to consider including the wider profession and that together with 4 other Accredited Register holders, as previously stated, we invited concrete proposals for this.
We are now in the position to update our members on further developments.
The originating partners of SCoPEd have offered the NCS, together with the ACP, ACC, PTUK and Human Givens Institute, the possibility of participation in the project. The details of what this participation will mean are still being finalised and we await the outcome of discussions on various issues such as governance.
While remaining aware of the widespread opposition to SCoPEd as expressed by a large number of our members, the Society is willing to participate in the project subject to our full understanding of exactly what that will entail, and also, importantly, subject to our members' final approval of the outcome.
While we will attempt to influence and engage with SCoPEd in as positive way as possible, and to achieve as much positive change as possible, things remain unclear on a number of issues- for example, as to whether the widening of other Accredited Registers' participation in SCoPEd will allow for retrospective change to the current form of the project.
Whereas the Society agrees with the concept of common standards, it remains to be seen in which direction this project will evolve, and what impact the wider inclusion of five further Accredited Register partners will have on its final shape.
We continue to note particularly for example the concerns raised by the person centred community and remain concerned about the direction of travel that the project in its current form sets out for person centred counselling. We are seeking to safeguard this vital aspect of the counselling profession to ensure that any eventually agreed standards fully respect, understand and protect person-centred counselling. It is vital that common standards do not lead to a homogenisation or diminution of modalities in the future.
We are also engaged in the end result of the “scope” of SCoPEd. The project's rationale has been presented as largely about certain aspects of the workplace and specifically about ensuring counsellors and psychotherapists can integrate properly into the wider NHS "psychological professions" workforce.
If a shared set of standards can indeed increase work opportunities for our members then the Society is duty bound to explore this and report to you, our members, on any potential benefits.
However, fundamental questions remain about whether SCoPEd should simply be a mechanism for these specific workplace issues - such as for example "workplace certification", rather than a total overhaul of our membership grades or even further, as previously suggested, a fundamental change in the use of core titles such as "counsellor" and "psychotherapist." All these issues remain to be explored and you will have a say.
Our acceptance of participation in this project is primarily motivated by the need to ensure our members’ future unrestricted access to all aspects of employment opportunity - something you have asked us to view as the highest priority. We acknowledge that, with or without our participation, SCoPEd is likely to impact employer choices in the long term and it is our responsibility to protect our members’ rights and opportunities to work now and in the future.
The NCS did not create SCoPEd. However, If explicitly shared standards lead to further opening of opportunities for our members then you have the right to make a decision on whether the Society adopts these standards when we are in full possession of the facts.
The question of whether the eventual benefits of the NCS adopting SCoPEd in some form outweigh the arguments against such an adoption is for you, our members, to decide. We promise to ensure that all our members' views are heard and that our members understand all the arguments before making your decision.
In the meantime we will engage with this project in good faith alongside both the originating and new Accredited Register partners, and keep you informed on a regular basis as and when progress is made.
- 16th September 2020 - Open Letter to the Health and Social Care Select Committee
An Open Letter from the National Counselling Society:
Addressed to The Health and Social Care Select Committee: Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt, Rosie Cooper, Dr Luke Evans, Barbara Keeley, Sarah Owen, Laura Trott, Paul Bristow, Dr James Davies, Neale Hanvey, Taiwo Owatemi, Dean Russell
Dear Committee members,
We are writing from the National Counselling Society, one of the leading professional bodies for Counselling and Psychotherapy in the UK, to raise our concerns about the provision of counselling in the community. We ask your committee to look into this matter and would be more than happy to work with you to find ways to address this crisis. We are members of the APPG on a Fit and Healthy Childhood, chaired by Baroness Benjamin, and actively lobby for equal access to mental health services for all those in need.
There is an increased need for counselling to be made more readily available in the community following the emotional and psychological impact of Covid-19, Lockdown, and Bereavement. There is little or no funding for counselling services in the community, yet the demand continues to increase. There is a desire to provide emotional based counselling as opposed to the use of drugs for a number of issues.
Unfortunately, there is no co-ordinated approach or policy for the funding of primary care counselling. GP practices either have to use funds from their existing budgets or seek extra funding from their CCG. Whilst it has been shown to be cost effective in the long run to use counselling as an early intervention (Mental Health In Childhood, page 26-27), it has an immediate impact on the GP practices budget. It is estimated that approximately only half of the General Practices in England provide counselling services and support.
Claire Murdoch, NHS England’s national director for mental health said in 2018: “Joining up talking therapy services in primary care settings is another big step forward for our patients and a key plank in putting mental health at the centre of the long-term plan for the NHS. We are on track to deliver 3,000 therapists in primary care, with over 800 in surgeries at the end of last year and this handy guidance should convince those practices that are yet to take the plunge of the benefits.”(Mental health therapists in GP practices could be the norm, NHS England, 2018)
In 2018 NHS England published Guidance on co-locating mental health therapists in primary care and in the General Practice Forward View (2016) committed to investing in an extra 3000 mental health therapists in primary care by 2020. However, this investment was to be in the expansion of IAPT services and for the use of one of the IAPT specific modalities. Whilst the expansion is welcome, we are finding that experienced counsellors are losing their jobs within the NHS setting because they do not practice certain IAPT modalities. Thus the expansion appears to be at the expense of well-trained, qualified counsellors and psychotherapists who have a vital role to play in the community.
Indeed, current NICE guidelines recommend that clinicians should consider counselling for people with persistent subthreshold depressive symptoms or mild to moderate depression, and state that for all people with persistent subthreshold depressive symptoms or mild to moderate depression who are having counselling, the duration of treatment should typically be in the range of six to ten sessions over 8 to 12 weeks.
The General Practice Forward View had a stated goal to have an average of one full time mental health therapist for every 2 – 3 typical sized GP Practices. Putting aside the definition of a Mental Health Therapist and the benefits of person-centred counselling, this stated goal still fails to provide the funding for a growing mental health pandemic that the NHS has identified. The Guidance on co-locating mental health therapists in primary care states, “the number of patients needing help with mental health problems is increasing. A survey of more than 1,000 GPs by charity Mind (June 2018) found two in five appointments involved mental health, while two in three GPs said the proportion of patients needing help with their mental health had increased in the previous 12 months. Research also shows that every week one in six adults experiences symptoms of a common mental health problem, such as anxiety or depression, and one in five has considered taking their own life at some point.”
We ask your committee to look at how targeted funding can be provided to General Practice surgeries to allow them to increase the availability of talking therapies for their patients.
Our members, and those on other Accredited Registers for Counselling & Psychotherapy, are already expert at providing the kind of support recommended in the NHS’ current advice. There are tens of thousands of highly experienced practitioners able to fulfil that need immediately.
The Accredited Registers programme provides assurance that those on the Register are qualified, supervised, insured, and that the Register holders themselves have evidenced that they meet the rigorous standards needed to hold such a Register. This is an initiative set up for the Department for Health and run by the Professional Standards Authority who also have oversight for Statutory Regulators; it is a legitimate programme that is already recognised within the NHS.
PSA Accredited talking therapy Registrants represent a valuable national resource, many with years of experience. We would like to see their skills being fully utilised to help those struggling with their mental health, and in turn protect our health service now and in the years to come.
- 28th August 2020 - Open Letter to NICE & the NHS
An Open Letter from the National Counselling Society
Addressed to Dr Adrian Whittington, National Lead for Psychological Professions at NHS England, Judith Richardson, Acting Director of Health and Social Care at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), and Amanda Pritchard, NHS Chief Operating Officer
We are writing to you from the National Counselling Society, one of the leading professional bodies for Counselling & Psychotherapy in the UK, to address some serious concerns that have been brought to our attention regarding talking therapies provided by the NHS.
As stakeholders within the IAPT programme we believe it is our duty to ensure that the programme is functioning to the best of its ability, respecting the skills and expertise of the practitioners that have been employed to provide the service, and acknowledging the excellent training and continual development that Registrants on Accredited Registers have undertaken.
It is pertinent at this point to provide a snapshot of talking therapy in the UK, including what we need, what we have, and how best to unite those two things.
We’re sure you’re aware that a recent release from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), updated on the 18th of August 2020, shows that:
- Almost one in five adults (19.2%) were likely to be experiencing some form of depression during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in June 2020; this had almost doubled from around 1 in 10
(9.7%) before the pandemic (July 2019 to March 2020).
- One in eight adults (12.9%) developed moderate to severe depressive symptoms during the pandemic, while a further 6.2% of the population continued to experience this level of depressive symptoms; around 1 in 25 adults (3.5%) saw an improvement over this period.
- Adults who were aged 16 to 39 years old, female, unable to afford an unexpected expense, or disabled were the most likely to experience some form of depression during the pandemic.
- Feeling stressed or anxious was the most common way adults experiencing some form of depression felt their well-being was being affected, with 84.9% stating this.
So what should we be doing about that?
Current NICE guidelines recommend that clinicians should consider counselling for people with persistent subthreshold depressive symptoms or mild to moderate depression, and state that for all people with persistent subthreshold depressive symptoms or mild to moderate depression having counselling, the duration of treatment should typically be in the range of six to ten sessions over 8 to 12 weeks.
Current advice from the NHS about what people should do if they are worried about coronavirus includes talking about our worries and staying connected with people.
The NHS Long Term Plan indicates that more funding will be allocated to mental health services over the next five to ten years, to “enable further service expansion and faster access to community and crisis mental health services”.
The situation is clear: we need to be providing six to ten sessions of counselling to those diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Furthermore, given that growing mental health services is a stated priority for the NHS, now is the time that we should be developing what we’re offering to the nation.
Our members, and those on other Accredited Registers for Counselling & Psychotherapy, are already expert at providing the kind of support recommended in the NHS’ current advice. There are tens of thousands of practitioners able to fulfil that need immediately.
The Accredited Registers programme provides assurance that those on the Register are qualified, supervised, insured, and that the Register holders themselves have evidenced that they meet the rigorous standards needed to hold such a Register. This is an initiative set up for the Department for Health and run by the Professional Standards Authority who also have oversight for Statutory Regulators; it is a legitimate programme that is already recognised within the NHS.
I trust you agree that all of the above makes sense, however we continue to receive reports of experienced counsellors losing their jobs in the NHS because they do not have the one particular accreditation or training (i.e. Counselling for Depression (CfD)).
NHS services are being told that counsellors who have not completed the specific IAPT Counselling for Depression training should not be offered work within the NHS because they could be "dangerous", despite holding more significant qualifications and having had years of experience in supervised clinical practice.
We urge you to consider that:
- There is no conclusive evidence that the particular trainings and accreditations currently favoured by IAPT are any guarantee of safe and effective counselling practice, nor that PSA Accredited Registrants are not equipped to provide the support so many now need.
- There is currently a large pool of safe, capable, registered counselling practitioners available at this time of unprecedented need for mental health support.
- It is unacceptable in the current climate, and in the future, to significantly impair overstretched services by including only practitioners holding a particular accreditation or those CfD trained.
PSA Accredited talking therapy Registrants represent a valuable national resource, many with years of experience, going to waste. We would like to see them given the acknowledgement and respect that they deserve, and being called on to provide their services immediately within the NHS to all those struggling with their mental health. We believe that doing anything less than this is a huge disservice to our entire nation, and look forward to supporting the NHS in rolling out a programme of support effectively using the Accredited Registers.
- Almost one in five adults (19.2%) were likely to be experiencing some form of depression during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in June 2020; this had almost doubled from around 1 in 10 (9.7%) before the pandemic (July 2019 to March 2020).
- 6th August 2020 - National Counselling Society Statement on Second Iteration of SCoPEd
In commenting on the first iteration of the SCoPEd project, whose claim to “set common standards for the profession” has been made by its three collaborating partners, the NCS in April 2018 made two key points:
- There were serious issues with a project apparently subscribing to hierarchical differentiations in our profession based upon three tiers of professional (counsellor, advanced counsellor and psychotherapist) which were assigned distinct competencies or “abilities”. Our member survey in 2018 revealed an admixture of competencies across the three potential tiers which did not match with the proposed standards. And:
- The exclusion of Accredited Register holders and other stakeholders from any meaningful participation in this project, rendered it incapable fulfilling its stated aim of setting profession-wide standards. Our conclusion was that any attempt to set standards for the profession must be accomplished by the profession, failing which SCoPEd is an internal exercise for those who wish to participate – albeit an exercise with, no doubt, far reaching consequences.
We have been asked by many members to comment on the second iteration of SCoPEd. We can confirm that we have been contacted by both UKCP and BACP to talk about SCoPEd and have had several informal discussions with BACP. These discussions have been mutually respectful while differences have been acknowledged.
On 21st July, the collaborating partners held an online meeting at which ourselves and other Accredited Register holders were present to discuss SCoPEd. We were invited to comment on the specifics of the second iteration.
We were concerned that this meeting was called only a few days after the second iteration was reached. We wish to place these concerns on record, particularly the lack of time to consult with colleagues or members. However, we do recognise the meeting as a sincere attempt at engagement by the collaborating partners.
A representative of the Professional Standards Authority was present in an observer capacity, and has also agreed to attend a meeting of the Partners for Counselling and Psychotherapy which will discuss a wider range of views.
During this meeting, we declined to comment on the details of the second iteration of SCoPEd when invited. This is because we do not see our role, or any benefit to our members, in being consulted in a context of exclusion. Other Accredited Registers present agreed.
We reiterated our position that SCoPEd is, at present, an internal matter for the three author organisations, albeit with widespread impact. If they wish to set standards “for the profession” then we believe that the correct method for this is, eventually, via the AR programme with participation from other stakeholder groups. Such standards could then, in principle, be adopted with the consent of the profession as a whole.
We continue to invite the SCoPEd authors to take the leap of faith required to include the wider profession. The collaborating partners now appear willing to consider this and this was discussed in the online meeting. Accordingly we and 3 other registers have jointly written to the collaborating partners asking for concrete proposals on this by the end of September, with the intention of establishing and adopting a structure for an inclusive approach by the New Year.
Our members have widespread concerns about SCoPEd and it is helpful now to frame some of these in view of the second iteration. The main questions raised by our members are as follows:
- How can we understand “Therapist A B and C” without context? Titles have been removed and we are left with “Therapist A, B and C.” However, BACP have confirmed that titles will be added back later in a form to be agreed by the 3 organisations. However, without understanding the intentions of mapping the three “tiers” onto membership grades or titles like “psychotherapist” it is impossible to gauge the effects of the project. Fundamental to SCoPEd would be a prior understanding of what this actually means for registrants, accredited counsellors, psychotherapists etc. What grades will these tiers connect with? What titles? What work? It is impossible to arrive at an informed view of the impact of SCoPEd without this understanding.
- Will there be an evidence based Impact Assessment? SCoPEd requires an Impact Assessment before implementation. Issues of power, work and social capital remain unaddressed. We note introduction of “gateways” which will enable therapists to progress from A to C. This feels like progress from the first iteration. But how much will this cost in practice in time and money? Who will be able to afford it? What jobs apply to which levels? Will this make getting work at Tier A easier or harder? How will this impact remuneration? Will it actually deflate wages? Is getting from Tier A to Tier B cheaper, easier and quicker than moving from “Registrant” to “Accredited” – or more expensive and harder? What about membership fees? Will the pressure to volunteer increase or decrease? It is normal practice in regulation to require an evidence based impact assessment to fully understand the impact of proposed changes on professionals before those changes can take place. This is especially important because it impacts human rights such as the right to work and have a professional life. Regulatory changes, even voluntary ones, must demonstrate that any impact on those subjected to it is proportionate to their rights and livelihoods.
- Will SCoPEd have unintended consequences for ethical practice?. For example, how do complaints processes and Codes of Practice fit in with SCoPEd? Does a Tier A therapist reported for using a Tier B ability (e.g. addresses “unconscious processes” cf 3.6.a) risk sanctions for attempting to work “beyond their capacity”? Can a Tier A therapist use a Tier B ability, or would they face sanctions? If this scenario was an ethical breach, SCoPEd in its second iteration could appear restrictive to, and unreflective of, lived practice. If it is not an ethical breach, then we acknowledge that all these abilities are in fact mixed in each individual practitioner, then how are the different tiers of practice to be meaningfully assessed or mapped onto ethical frameworks?
- How can we support SCoPEd without a clear end goal? What are the fundamental benefits for the profession (rather than the benefits accruing to the collaborating bodies by agreeing a mutual recognition scheme)? If it is jobs then which jobs? NHS workforce? If it helps with regulation, then how? What model of regulation is envisaged?
- Why aren’t standards set via the AR programme instead? Why not just work truly collaboratively to agree common standards within the only common framework that has ever been set up for this profession?
- How can we understand “abilities” or competencies without context? A Tier A therapist can “undertake team work”, but not have an “active role” in a team or express a professional opinion. (cf 1.12.) What’s the context here? A private clinic? A hospital setting ? A college? Private practice? Without context the current language appears to be distilled and decontextualized and, as has been noted, could actually cause offence (“you can’t express an opinion because you’re Tier A”). What’s the context of these abilities? Would language such as “service levels” make more sense? Or language about professional journeys? There is a need here for better communication of context and intention.
- Why does SCoPEd appear not to be modality neutral – particularly in regards to person-centred counselling? How would a person centred counsellor progress to Tier C when many of the abilities are framed in a manner which person centred counselling simply does not use? Do you have to change modality to access higher tiers? How are all modalities to be safeguarded?
- How can SCoPEd account for individual practitioner experience? Practitioners are individuals. As our previous members’ survey showed, members from all Scoped iteration 1 tiers professed and admixture of abilities across the range of mapping columns which Scoped provides. How is individuality and individual development taken into account? In reality, what happens to practitioners who can do 100% of column 1, 40% of column 2 and 30% of column 3? How does that work? How does Scoped provide for individual differences and acknowledge that the wide variety of individual practitioner experience which may not be easily reflected in their training?
The above represents a sample of our members’ most often repeated key concerns.
The Society will continue to engage with the Collaborating Partners and our members on all of the above. We will continue to signpost all aspects of the SCoPEd debate to our members.
August 6th 2020
- 1st March 2019 - Survey Results on Key Issues and Policy
We have surveyed our members for their opinion on key issues regarding the profession. The full report can be read below, including how the Society has responded to our members voices.
- 1st March 2019 - SCoPEd Consultation Response
Letter to BACP, UKCP and BPC Re: SCOPED
To Whom it May Concern;
The National Counselling Society has now concluded a consultation with our members on competencies within counselling and psychotherapy. Full details can be found HERE on our website.
Members were asked a series of questions on proposed competencies for the profession based upon the framework established by the Scoped consultation. Members were asked to consider which competencies should be reserved to “advanced counsellors” which we defined as those having received our Professional Accredited grade (or equivalent) and/or for psychotherapists. We sought to establish how our membership at large views their actual competencies to practice in specific areas.
Our methodology was to list those competencies which your draft SCOPED document reserved to advanced counsellors and/or psychotherapists, and ask our members to express their professional judgement as to whether these competencies should be so reserved.
Our members’ professional judgement as to the competencies which actually apply in counselling and psychotherapy do not support the draft Scoped document.
On the contrary, in essence as our consultation demonstrates, the competencies reserved by that document for psychotherapists or advanced counsellors are actually, on the examination of professional counsellors’ actual lived experience, competencies which hold true for qualified counsellors also. Our members’ view is that the differentiation of these competencies into three purported levels is contrary to how the profession actually works.
We invite you to reproduce our consultation exercise with your own members to take their detailed views on the draft competencies on a question by question basis.
In addition, it is worth alluding to our many members’ who have stated that this kind of competency framework has no resonance with their practice or modality. We recognise this and reconfirm that our conducting this exercise was not the prelude to adopting such framework.
The Society takes instruction from our members on matters of policy, and we view our consultation with them as instructive in this regard. On instruction from our members, therefore, the Society does not believe there is an evidential basis for distinguishing three tiers of professional competencies along the lines of “qualified counsellors, “advanced counsellors” and “psychotherapists”. Our members confirm that, irrespective of professional title or membership grade, that they are able to demonstrate competencies across a framework without generally reserving those competencies.
The Society therefore considers that your draft competency framework creates artificial distinctions not reflective of practice or training, and clearly contrary to the expert evidence already set before the HCPC by BACP in 2009.
The Society reconfirms its position that while we would welcome common standards across the profession, this can and should be achieved through the Accredited Registers programme, reaching common agreement amongst all Register holders and other important stakeholders, in full consultation with members and trainers, that can be communicated to the Professional Standards Authority. It is only through such an inclusive approach that any “public confusion” would be fully addressed and the maturity of the profession be communicated to the wider world.
Accordingly we invite you to participate in a new, inclusive approach to set out common standards agreeable to all.
National Counselling Society
- 8th February 2019 - SCoPEd: AN OPEN LETTER TO BACP by the NATIONAL COUNSELLING SOCIETY
Read our full response in the below document.
- SCoPEd: Open Letter to BACP (1MB)
This document requires the free Adobe Reader software (or another, compatible PDF viewer).[link opens in a new window]
- SCoPEd: Open Letter to BACP (1MB)
- Members Survey on Regulation – The Results
What do our members think?
We asked our members for input about an important issue facing our profession.
The Society consulted our members to determine if there is a settled view amongst our membership regarding the issue of counselling regulation.
The last time we asked our members to comment on this issue was prior to the then proposed statutory regulation of counselling via the Health and Care Professions Council approximately ten years ago. At the time, our members, by a substantial majority, opposed HCPC regulation. The NCS, alongside other organisations, were successful in challenging the plans, including via a successful Judicial Review. A change of Government then led to the decision to create the Accredited Registers programme.
However, we have now worked under the Accredited Registers (AR) programme for six years. The programme has had time to develop and so we are able to look at the results and weigh up the pros and cons of the programme.
In addition, there are still those who support statutory regulation. For example, in the wake of the Government’s survey on conversion therapy, some Members of Parliament made renewed calls to regulate counselling via the HCPC in order to prevent counsellors from offering this therapy. In addition, there are those who pose the question “how do you stop an unsafe counsellor from practising?” This is a question which needs to be addressed by those supporting a voluntary scheme.
It is important for us, therefore, to understand the views of our current membership in order to ensure that our policies take into consideration your voice and views.
Below are the options we set out to our members for the possible options of regulation in the future as we saw them, with some pros and cons by each option.NB the pros and cons are offered as views commonly shared by proponents and opponents of the options whilst debating the issue, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Society.
We included a brief impact assessment with each option which helps explore how the option could work in practice and how it could affect you as a counsellor or psychotherapist.
Option 1: Keep the AR programme as it is, as a voluntary programme
Impact: You can choose whether or not to join any organisation. Unsafe practitioners can't be stopped from practising unless they commit a criminal offence.
- Popular scheme with counsellors
- Protects diversity of practice and experience
- Keeps the profession at the heart of regulation
- Risk assessment of counselling is low risk with low numbers of non-compliance
- Profession has already invested vast resources in the scheme (as well as public money)
- Anybody removed from an Accredited Register is published on the respective Accredited Register's website and cannot join another related Accredited Register under standard 10e
- The profession can't prevent a struck-off counsellor from practising
- The responsibility is on the public/client to source ethical counsellors
- Accredited Registers can have widely different ethos
- Not enough standardisation of practice
- What happens when two complaints procedures produce different outcomes?
- Maintaining a voluntary scheme vulnerable to the wrong sort of regulation in the future.
Option 2: Keep the AR programme, but make it compulsory for counsellors to be on an AR.
Impact: You will have to be on an Accredited Register to practice. Unsafe practitioners can be stopped from practising by being removed from the AR programme (complaints are likely to have an independent process to ensure registrants can't be removed unfairly).
- Gives counsellors a choice of Register, even when compulsory
- Keeps the profession at the heart of regulation and allows good standards to flourish
- Protects the title "counsellor", "psychotherapist" etc
- Prevents struck-off counsellors from practising
- Ends the need for a debate on statutory regulation
- Need for standardisation of different registers' complaints processes
- Not enough standardisation of practice
- Need to ensure that Accredited Registers' decisions are open to independent review and appeal
- Primary legislation required
Option 3: Keep the AR programme voluntary but with a "negative register" e.g. the DBS scheme
Impact: You can choose whether or not to join any organisation. Unsafe practitioners can be banned from practice by being barred or added to a "negative register." This process would be independent of the profession.
- All the pros of the AR programme as already described
- Prevents unsafe counsellors from practising
- Has been discussed by the Authority
- Decisions removed from the profession
- Too complicated - why run two processes.
- DBS scheme not set up for private practice
- DBS scheme would need primary legislation to adapt
Option 4: Keep the AR programme voluntary but create a new over-arching licensing body
Impact: You can choose whether or not to join any organisation, but need to obtain a separate license to practice. This would be easy to obtain but would incur additional costs. Unsafe practitioners can have their license revoked and thus can be prevented from being able to practice. This process would be independent of the profession.
- Potentially low cost and easy to obtain
- All the benefits of the AR programme as already described
- Licensing could be extended across all health and social care professions
- ARs can refer complaints outcomes to licensing body
- Licensing body can act on its own, e.g. after criminal complaint
- New licensing body would require time and money to create
- Is there political will and funding for a new creation
- An extra layer of red tape for counsellors
- How to juggle AR complaints with licensing body complaints
- Is there political will or funding for a new licensing body.
Option 5: HCPC regulation
Impact: You will have to register with the HCPC and ensure that your qualifications and continued practice meet the standards they set. This would incur a fee to the HCPC. Unsafe practitioners can be prevented from being able to practice by removal from the HCPC register. The AR programme would end with standards and complaints done by the HCPC rather than professional associations.
Details – Members were surveyed and given the option of making their top 3 choices in order of preference. Left to right = 1st choice , 2nd choice , 3rdchoice , No opinion
Members were also given the opportunity to make individual comments, and we have included a wide range of comments made anonymously.
I strongly vote and urge for NCS to do something .perhaps Option 5 is the way forward, to join the forces with HCPC as at the moment BACP is monopolizing everything. Wherever I go for work or seminars or CPD, if I am not BACP or HCPC accredited, public looks upon with a little credit or respect on NCS. We need a strong pathway and this is possible with HCPC.
The current DBS scheme is not a full proof method - it needs to be maintained to have any value and also a person could 'offend' just after receiving the DBS .therefore, although helpful, it will not solve this problem and adds another red tape layer of complication. If a counsellor works within an organisation it is probable that they would have a DVD via the organisation anyway.
In addition much emphasis on qualification may emerge with any new legislation. Whilst I believe in suitably qualified counsellors, the emphasis shifts to just that rather than an ability of the person to be totally congruent and more importantly to have worked sufficiently on their own issues in training. I see many clients who have seen other qualified counsellors who have not acted in congruent way, leaving the client confused and hurt.
Option 1: would prefer this to remain but it has flaws and it leaves it open for future pushes for regulation.
Options 2: seems to be a positive step up from option 1 but would need standardisation.
Option 3: how would clients access the 'negative register' information for private therapists? Clients are not always capable of looking for this information, they don't always use the professional organisation websites to find therapists as it is.
Option 4: this looks like a positive option as far as clients are concerned as the therapist would presumably have a physical form of this license to show to them or organisations. I liked the idea that it could be extended across other health/social care professions. My concern that stopped me listing this option as my first choice was the time/money that would be needed to implement. If this idea was pushed forward would it be used by the government as a way to push the HCPC regulation through instead.
Option 5: is just a no!
Whilst I don't favour regulation I agree there is definitely a large movement towards it.
The HCPC register is geared towards healthcare professionals and counsellors/psychotherapists don't appear to meet all of their "health care" criteria.
I am strongly committed to our profession not being overtaken by the medical model - which I fear HCPC will inexorably move towards.
I think it's really important that all the membership bodies are visibly seen to have equal status by the public.
I am also against any MB being allowed to promote itself as 'the leading body of our profession'.
It would be good to introduce something that will iron this out and prevent any MB from assuming an inflated sense of authority.
I do think we should have to be PSA registered to practice.
I would like to be known as a PSA Snr Accredited counsellor/psychotherapist who is registered with NCS.
I am still unclear as to how this can happen.
I think it's important to be able to keep the diversity within our profession as this allows for counselling to creatively move forward and progress.
I am not against being licensed or DBS checked if it will help counsellors to increase their professional status.
I definitely don't want to see HPCP regulation.
I feel that with any big decision like this that the emphasis should be on the safety of the customer e.g. clients, particularly as where counselling is concerned we commit to doing what is in the best interests of the client.
As the accredited register is already in operation and is common across all counselling associations e.g. BACP, UKCP etc., we already have something in place that acts as a standard and shows any potential client that the counsellor has received appropriate training. The only bit missing is that it is not compulsory for counsellors to be on this register to practice.
Therefore making it compulsory for any counsellor to be on an accredited register seems to me to be the simplest, most cost effective way for the profession to become more regulated, without the need for lengthy, costly and complicated new rules and regulations.
My view is that the current AR scheme works and works well. Unless there is compelling evidence to change something (which I haven't seen produced by anyone) why change something that is actually working, the allows for a degree of flexibility, that is affordable and for which there is NO evidence that it is being abused.
Options 4 and 5 seem to allow counselling to become dominated by the HCPC and medical model. I strongly prefer options that allow variety in counselling practice, and recognition that the counselling relationship is an important aspect of the work. I prefer self-determination by counselling professions.
I feel it would be more prudent to putting in effort to ensure the public ask the right questions and ask for evidence regarding each counsellor. Most counsellors would want accreditation and to practice in a professional manner and be happy to share their training route, supervision, CPD, Insurance, accreditation.
There will always be those few, as in any industry, who are dishonest. Educate the public to do their research into their prospective counsellor and the right questions to ask.
I found it hard to prioritise my 3 preferred options as they all had valid pros and cons, plus weighing up potential benefits for therapists/organisations and clients could work in opposition at times
Option 1 is not an option.
Option 3 likewise - it only excludes people who were on it in the first place - the problem is primarily people who are not / cannot be on an AR.
Feel the HCPC regulation option would not eradicate unsafe practitioners but would discriminate against some or many good practitioners who did not meet the HCPC Qualification standards set.
Option 2 would be my preferred choice. It maintains the standard of the profession as those who are struck-off cannot continue to work. I think it is vital that the profession is kept at the heart of regulation to ensure there is a real understanding of our role and that those who are currently practising effectively and ethically are not penalised by new legislation which may require a higher level of qualification.
I would like to positively NOT choose options 4,5 (i.e. it is not that I have no preference) - this form does not allow me to indicate that.
I think the existing AR program is a good thing. Especially the NCS has an excellent service for its members. I don't know how this could be improved through more regulations.
I know counsellors and therapists who do this work for years, but still I would not feel safe with them.
Putting more and more regulations does not necessarily improve therapeutic quality, since regulations will never be able to really value the true personal development of a counsellor or therapist.
Option 5 is really the only option I favour. I have only stayed 2 other options because I have to.
A lot of work has gone into the present system. It is not perfect, but neither are the other options. I think diversity of practise is a key issue. Counsellors work in very different ways, as befits their personality and experience, and a range of ARs facilitates this. I believe that spending a lot of time, effort and money on other approaches is wasteful, because it will not make things a lot better. As the saying goes: "If it is not broke, don't fix it".
Both Option 3 and Option 4 require either a significant adaptation (Option 3) or significant work to create (Option 4). Both, I'm sure would require extra cost to set them up and maintain. This would put further pressure on counsellors to fund these I suspect.
Option2 is the only viable and sensible Option especially given the work that has already gone on over the last few years to reflect on and create the accredited voluntary registers with all their positive elements..
I believe that the introduction of licensing for counsellors would help weed out those who are deemed unsafe/unfit to practice.
Option 5 would be a disaster for the future of counselling, for both clients and practitioners.
My main concern with option 4 is that other professions under the same regulation will be able to sway policy and may not understand the principles at the heart of our proffession
IMHO its a question of balancing public protection with therapeutic flexibility and public choice. I think option 2 is the only one that really offers this; assuming that the status quo will not remain.
I think you are taking the wrong approach in looking at what suits counsellors - I think this needs to be viewed through the lens of the client and offer maximum protection to them, In addition I also feel that the counselling is not cuurrently given the same level of respect as other professions and this would change if the profession comes under HPCP
Being brought under the HCPC shows we wish to be considered equal to all the other protected health professionals and are prepared to be treated the same as they are. The message and confidence that gives clients far outweighs any inconvenience we may have. Graduate entry should be the minimum with courses approved independently and retrospectively by the HCPC. The BACP can then be put out of its misery.
I choose compulsary AR programme, on the proviso that this maintains existing choice, and potentially broadens choice. The current PSA requirements seem absolutley enough as they are, and leaves room for increased diversity of AR providers.
I would prefer statutory regulation of the profession and protected title. That said I doubt whether any future government could afford to invest in statutory regulation of the profession. I consider that employers would be more interested in employing counsellors if we held statutory titles.
As a social worker I am regulated by the HCPC. It is cumbersome, expensive and overly bureaucratic and does nothing to support practitioners, only punish them. I would be totally against having to register with them as a Counsellor.
I like the idea of separate licensing in addition to AC register. It feels as safe and as structured as possible without the potential negative restrictive cons of full governement regulation.
If there must be change, as seems to be the case surly option two would serve the profession best as it maintains our present form of regulation but as you said makes it compulsory for counsellors to be on an AR. If acceptable a win, win for service users, practitioners and for the profession as a whole.
I feel the current AR programme is working well but fear further regulation in the future, therefore I feel it would be better to move to a compulsory scheme while we still have influence over our own profession. I don't believe titles need to be protected, I believe public awareness of the AR needs to be increased so that clients can make their own informed decision as to who they work with.
I feel that statutory regulation is needed. I don't believe that it will impact diversity and creativity in the field. I believe that the profession will be taken more seriously at a time when I see counselling provision being replaced with 'wellbeing and 'signposting services. Counselling has become too general a term and something that can be incorporated into other professionals roles rather than a specialist intervention by skills practitioners
Anything that attracts extra cost will be very hard for therapists - it is already a tough market to be in and in many cases unless there is an additional source of income, impossible to survive on a therapists income alone.
I am qualified in a range of fields on on various registers. My concern is unintended consequences. Over regulation could become problematic for many charities offering counselling. I am already HCPC registered psychologist and it has only protected specific titles - anybody can still call themselves a 'psychologist'. A new over-arching licensing body would lead to less practitioners being members of professional bodies. The current PSA system works (& do note that the PSA regulates HCPC).
Titles need protection. There must be legislation to prevent unqualified people practicing. This could enable equality across the bodies which there is not at the moment. May also bring a minimum standard and quality of training.
I am definitely not in favour of the licence option. I believe Counsellors have enough to pay for as it is with ongoing CPD, insurance and register memberships. We also have a lot of paperwork to keep on top of as it is and I feel that the licence option will increase this future potentially causing more stress and burn out.
In Conclusion – Our thoughts
NCS members in general appear to support the Accredited Registers programme as it stands, but a majority of respondents wish to go further and make the programme compulsory (put it on a statutory footing) in order to further protect the public. Whereas 44% of members are happy (first or second choice) to maintain the status quo of this voluntary programme, we have a clear indication (81% first or second choice with 53% first choice) that our members view making the Accredited Registers programme compulsory is their preferred direction of travel.
As a member-led organisation, this survey will be put to Society Council for ratification that the Society’s official policy on regulation shall be to support the adaptation of the existing Accredited Registers programme from a voluntary programme into a statutory requirement of practice.
The Society believes that this approach will best balance equality and diversity in counselling and allow many different approaches to publish, with the ability to prevent unsafe counsellors or psychotherapists from practice and protect the public where necessary.
- June 2018 - Launch of the APPG Report 'Mental Health in Childhood'
An All-Party Group dedicated to finding ways to improve children’s health and wellbeing has called for a positive approach to the Government’s Child Mental Health proposals.
Publishing its 10th report (sponsored by the National Counselling Society, and giving a speech at the launch alongside our Children and Young People Ambassador Kate Day): ‘Mental Health in Childhood,’ the APPG on A Fit and Healthy Childhood described the Government’s green paper on Child Mental Health as ‘a work in progress,’ and said it should be strengthened by:
- Championing early intervention rather than relying unduly upon expensive later-stage crisis services
- Ring-fencing funding for antenatal, postnatal and early years’ mental health provision for children and their parents
- A properly funded CAMHS with statutory referral times and a national in-school counselling service staffed only by professionally accredited counsellors on an Accredited Register
- Compulsory initial training and ongoing CPD for all teachers and other professionals dealing with the mental health of children and young people
- The Designated Mental Health Lead in schools to receive guaranteed remuneration commensurate with the responsibilities of the post
- Government to initiate dialogue with media concerns about the screening of potentially inflammatory and contentious material; combined with Government regulation of social media where appropriate for child safeguarding purposes
- Speedy, responsive new services for students/apprentices embarking upon an FE place, degree or mix of work and training who currently ‘fall between’ sources of available provision
- Mental health service funding to reflect the needs of culturally diverse and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities
- Inter-Departmental collaboration on child health and wellbeing ideally co-ordinated and audited by a Secretary of State for Children, heading a Department for Children and scrutinised by a new Select Committee.
Introducing the report, APPG co-Chair, Baroness (Floella) Benjamin said:
‘We welcome the green paper and some of its core recommendations such as early intervention and counselling services in schools, but green papers are necessarily ‘works in progress.’
Our report shows that there is much more to do. Now, all people and organisations who care about children’s mental health must help to make the forthcoming legislation as good as it can be by supporting the ideas outlined in our report and especially concerning the internet and smart phones, funding essential school counselling services and ensuring that we don’t have services in some parts of the UK forced to play ‘ catch up’. We agree with the Education and Health and Social Care Committees that this challenging policy area should be supported by new initiatives and co-ordination across government.
The ‘new initiative’ that we propose is the creation of a Department for Children, headed by a Secretary of State with responsibility for cross Departmental audit and held to account by a new Select Committee.’
We believe the report helps to highlight key issues that need to be dealt with when considering any implementation of new policies by government. We hope this report will be widely shared in order for as many people as possible to be aware. The report has also been covered by the following page online
- June 2018 - Children first – politics in the best interests of the child
Children first – politics in the best interests of the child
Will your organisation endorse the following statement?
CALL FOR A CABINET MINISTER FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE
‘What sort of society are we becoming when four and five year olds are starting school unable to utter more than a few words, understand basic instructions or even use the toilet?’
(‘The Daily Mail’, 1st June, 2018).
Ofsted Head, Amanda Spielman, categorises children as either born ‘lucky’ or facing ‘disadvantage right from the start … unable to follow what’s going on. Unable to keep up with their classmates. Unable to reach their potential.’
Menaced by five 21st century ‘evils’
- obesity and physical inactivity
- adverse childhood experiences
- rising mental health issues
- dominance of social media and screen time influence
- socioeconomic disadvantage and cultural/ethnic divde
Our children may become the least healthy adult population in living memory.
We need an authoritative voice within the Cabinet to bring all these issues together and devise solutions that will be more than just firefighting on an individual policy front and so we call upon Government to appoint a Cabinet Minister for Children and Young People.
Need to know more? A full supporting document is available from https://royalpa.co.uk/children-first/
Please let Phil know by email if we can add your name to the list of endorsements.
- June 2018 - Update regarding SCoPEd
We have received a response to our further request of an inclusive approach to SCoPEd project. Unfortunately, we are disappointed to see that it seems the collaboration are unwilling to discuss with the wider profession, we shall continue to monitor developments and of course provide updates ourselves.
11th June 2018
Thank you very much for your email setting out your further concerns about the SCoPEd project.
As you know this project evolved from work already being undertaken as part of the collaborative work between BACP, BPC and UKCP. Our three organisations have been working together for some years as part of a formal collaboration – the CCPP. This project is one of several things we are working on together.
ScoPEd is not creating anything new – it is an evidence-based research project mapping existing competences and professional standards. So, the project will set out what already exists. We hope that in the future a wide range of bodies will find the generic competence framework useful.
Thank you for getting in touch. We appreciate your feedback.
Chief Executive BPC
(signed on behalf of the SCoPEd Steering Group)
- May 2018 - Response to open letter regarding SCoPEd
Following our open letter (which can be found further down this page), we have now received a response from the SCoPEd collaboration.
Thank you for your letter which was discussed at our Steering Group meeting on 25 April. We are pleased to hear that you recognise what an important piece of work this is but it is not exactly as you state. The project evolved organically from the collaborative discussions between our three professional bodies over the last few years and is specifically to map the current landscape, expressed in evidence-based generic competencies and then to identify any gaps or areas where further clarification is needed using the Roth and Pilling methodology. It is not about developing standards. We have researched the evidence comprehensively and systematically, and continue to do so, in order to ensure that a complete a picture as possible is drawn.
Once the Expert Reference Group has completed its work there will be a consultation with practitioners and external stakeholders. Although the exact form of the consultation has yet to be decided, it will be presenting the work done so far and asking for feedback and input on any further gaps or omissions.
Chief Executive BPC
(signed on behalf of the SCoPEd Steering Group)
The response concerns ourselves and we are very surprised that the response letter claims that the SCoPEd project is not intended to set standards for the profession. It specifically states on both BACP and UKCP websites that 'BACP, BPC, UKCP are jointly working on a groundbreaking project to set out the training requirements and practice standards for counselling and psychotherapy', in the very first sentence, as well as the below statements;
'There was complete agreement between BACP, BPC, and UKCP that a proactive leadership role was needed in the development of generic standards for the counselling and psychotherapy professions.'
'The project is systematically mapping existing competencies, standards, training and practice requirements within counselling and psychotherapy.'
Clearly, the publically stated view of two of the scoped collaborators is that this project is seen by them as a fundamental attempt to "set standards for the profession" without prior consultation or consent with the profession at large.
Accordingly, we have renewed our request in our previous letter for an end to the non-inclusive, ringfenced and top down approach to professional standards, and call upon the collaboration to engage with us and all other interested parties within the profession, to move the profession forwards to an inclusive and democratic approach based upon the good of all.
- April 2018 - Society Response to SCoPEd project
You may have seen the recent announcement by BACP, UKCP and BPC working on a project to set out the training requirements and practice standards for counselling and psychotherapy.
‘Counselling and psychotherapy are not statutorily regulated. Professional bodies can apply for their own registers to be accredited by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) under its Accredited Registers programme.
The PSA sets standards for organisations that hold a register in a health or social care profession, and the focus of their programme is public protection.
The PSA-accredited registers in the field of counselling and psychotherapy each has its own distinct standards of training and practice. There are also no agreed common entry or training requirements to enter the field.
This causes confusion for the public, for clients/patients, for employers and commissioners of services about what training and experience to expect when employing a counsellor or psychotherapist.
There is also confusion amongst those who are considering training in this field as there are disparate standards, with a wide range of courses available at differing academic levels geared to different client groups and professional roles, and sitting within different qualifications frameworks’
Whilst we agree there need to be minimum standards for any registrant working with the public, we are concerned that there has been no consultation or discussion amongst fellow Accredited Register holders, training providers, organisations or importantly its members – despite the collaboration being near completion on their project.
We wanted to make you aware we have responded with the below open letter. We shall also be in contact soon with training providers and members to further discuss this important issue.
We welcome any training providers and organisations to add their details in support, members or not. Please do contact the office, details will be updated in due course.
Re : SCoPEd project
We write to you concerning your stated intention to develop “generic standards for the counselling and psychotherapy professions”. You write that “the PSA-accredited registers in the field of counselling and psychotherapy each has its own distinct standards of training and practice. There are also no agreed common entry or training requirements to enter the field. This causes confusion for the public, for clients/patients, for employers and commissioners of services about what training and experience to expect when employing a counsellor or psychotherapist.”
Our view is that any project to set common standards should be fully inclusive from the outset, with full and equal participation by all Accredited Register holders in talking therapies, alongside other stakeholders such as the Psychotherapy and Counselling Union, Alliance for Counselling & Psychotherapy, Awarding Bodies and training organisations.
It will, surely, only cause further “public, client and employer confusion” for three of the current Accredited Register holders to agree their own new set of standards without reference to the AR programme, especially when NHS guidelines are now focussed on recommending the programme as the one supported by Government.
In addition, we feel that any new setting of standards should be done with full democratic participation by the memberships of stakeholder organisations, using a member-led approach, rather than a top-down approach.
Without these safeguards in place, the SCoPEd project will not succeed in setting standards for the profession, but rather, will be an internal exercise conducted on behalf of particular organisations for their own ends, conducted to the exclusion of many. You are of course, welcome to set standards for yourselves – but not to claim that these should be imposed on, or represent, the profession as a whole, without having equal participation and full support from the wider profession.
We are also concerned that the project could lead to further homogenisation, over -regulation, and further control mechanisms being applied by professional associations on their members. Instead, we would seek to enshrine equality, diversity and the heart of counselling and psychotherapy in any further attempts to define standards. A mechanistic, technical and manualised understanding of therapeutic work can never do justice to the reality of how we practice. We believe a pluralistic approach respectful of diversity, variety and individual client choice is fundamentally important, whilst of course maintaining standards and public safety.
We are also concerned that, unless handled sensitively, any such project could easily lend itself to takeover by a corporatist style of regulation where the profession risks fundamental change with no benefit to counsellors, psychotherapists, or their clients. Do we really want even more prescriptions and controls on practice than there are now?
You speak of the need to avoid “public confusion”. We are not aware of any great public confusion. In the employed sector, counselling in any case has been to some extent bypassed by IAPT where a very limited number of approaches are used in a very prescribed way. This has led over time to a fundamental under valuing of counselling and psychotherapy in its richness and diversity. What we are aware of is the public wishing to preserve choice with access to therapy in a timely manner – to select the practitioner and approach that is right for them; to be able to see value in the therapeutic relationship above and beyond issues of professionalisation. We are also aware that counsellors and psychotherapists seek to preserve choice and diversity, and feel that there already exist robust and appropriate standards which allow a place for individuality, creativity and vocation alongside public protection and good practice. These can be fine tuned by the profession as a whole.
There are already existing standards and reference points including the QAA Benchmark Statement on Counselling and Psychotherapy, The Framework for Higher Education Qualifications, the Regulated Qualifications Framework, Skills for Health National Occupational Standards and the UCL CORE competence frameworks which are not “owned” by any one professional body. These, together with the standards adopted by individual professional bodies, are surely sufficient.
While any organisations are, of course, welcome to collaborate and devise their own standards, what is concerning is that, at the very time that the Accredited Register programme has begun to flourish and allow all register holders to meet, cooperate, and learn to improve standards and governance with the assistance of the Authority, your collaboration threatens to ringfence your own memberships from the wider Accredited Register community, not to mention missed opportunities for equal participation from other stakeholders. The chance to set standards as part of, rather than taken away from, the Accredited Register scheme would have far greater benefits for the entire profession.
We support minimum standards for the profession – if they are, indeed, created by the profession as a whole. The risk of setting standards in a vacuum is that it is seen as an internal political exercise. This risks greater confusion – not less.
With support of -
Jeffery Thomas and Monika Jephcott, PTUK
Tony Ruddle on behalf of Association of Christian Counsellors
Dominic Davies, Pink Therapy
Andrew Samuels, Former Chair, UKCP. Professor of Analytical Psychology, University of Essex
Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy and Counselling Union
Professor Michael Jacobs
Gail Evans, Programme Director at The Academy: SPACE
Leigh Smith, Heartwood Director
Karl Gregory, Severn Talking Therapy
Kathy Raffles, Kathy Raffles Counselling Services
Marie Easden, Chrysalis Courses
Nathalie Asmall, BACP Accredited and Iron Mill College tutor
Professor Stephen Joseph, University of Nottingham
Dr David Murphy, University of Nottingham
Dr Sue Price, University of Nottingham
Lindsay Cooper, Assistant Professor of Counselling, Course Leader BA (Hons) Humanistic Counselling Practice University of Nottingham
Dr Katy Wakelin, University of Nottingham
Laura Davies , University of Nottingham
Dr Laura Monk, University of Nottingham
Kris Black MBACP, UKCP CSTD, IAP, MISA, LLB (Hons)
Denise Gregory MBACP (Accred)
Phil Turner MBACP (Accred)
Amanda Young Dip Counselling
LouAnne Lachman MBACP (Accred)
Page last reviewed: 02 July 2021
Next review due: 02 July 2022