Raising standards through the PSA
The Professional Standards Authority (PSA) for Health and Social Care promotes the health, safety and wellbeing of patients, service users and the public by raising standards of regulation and voluntary registration of people working in health and care. They are an independent body, accountable to the UK Parliament.
They oversee the work of nine statutory bodies that regulate health professionals in the UK and social workers in England. They review the regulators’ performance and audit and scrutinise their decisions about whether people on their registers are fit to practise. Read more about the Professional Standards Authority.
The Authority also sets standards for organisations that hold registers for those who work in unregulated health and care occupations, such as counselling and psychotherapy, and accredits the registers of those organisations that meet the Authority’s standards.
There are three things organisations must show in order to be eligible to apply to have their Registers Accredited by the Authority:
- They must hold a register for people in health and care occupations that are not regulated by the state.
- They must demonstrate that they are focussed on public protection.
- They must be able to afford the accreditation fee.
The Authority deliberately set the bar for accreditation high, at the level of good practice, so that gaining accreditation is a significant achievement and registers are proud to display the Accredited Register Quality Mark.
Read more about the Accredited Register Programme
The National Counselling Society’s register is accredited by the Accredited Register programme, which means that our organisation meets all eleven of the Authority’s standards including being committed to public protection, risk management, education and training, governance, providing information, managing complaints and managing the register effectively.
The Society in turn sets standards for our registrants, which include committing to codes of conduct, competence and ethical frameworks, and meeting entry level education requirements. Our Register sets requirements for registrants’ personal behaviour, technical competence and, where relevant, business practice.
This means that when clients choose a counsellor from an Accredited Register, they have the assurance that the counsellor has met the high standards required to be listed on the register.
Registrants are entitled to use the Accredited Register Quality mark as a sign that they are on a register that meets the Authority’s rigorous standards.
Search for a counsellor on the NCS Accredited Register.
- Entry to the Register
The National Counselling Society is responsible for ensuring that those individuals who wish to join the Society and have their details listed on the Accredited Register meet the high standards set for the Society by the Professional standards Authority.
All applications are assessed by the Society and, as well as providing evidence of educational qualifications, references and professional insurance, all registrants are required to be bound by the Society’s Code of Ethics and Complaints Policy.
Full details of the criteria for membership are given in the 'Become a Member' section of the website.
Successful applicants are given a membership certificate that is renewed annually and their details are published on the Society’s Accredited Register, found in the 'Find a Counsellor' section of the website.
- Remaining on the Register
Code of Ethics
Society registrants must have current professional insurance. There are a variety of different insurance brokers who provide insurance for those in private/self-employed practice and this information is provided to all registrants by the Society. For those who are in employment or volunteer with an agency that organisation will provide insurance.
Evidence of insurance will be required when a registrant first joins the Society and at the time of any audit of practice.
Supervision is considered to be vital to the practice of counsellors and is a requirement for those who are on the Accredited Register. In the early years of practice it is one of the best ways in which a new counsellor can seek guidance in their work with clients. It is also the way in which a therapist can be seen, by a more experienced person working in the same field, to be growing and maturing. Supervision is a valuable "checking in" procedure, helping counsellors stay grounded and centred, maintain professional and personal boundaries, avoid "burnout" and thus provide safe, ethical and competent counselling for all clients.
As a guideline for a counsellor in full time practice we recommend 1.5 hours of supervision every month – each person’s level of experience and also the client group they are working with will affect how much supervision is needed. If a counsellor has any concerns about any aspect of their work with a client then they should refer to their Supervisor for further advice. There should be a provision for emergency advice or consultation with the Supervisor over and above the agreed number of sessions.
Registrants are required to keep a record of their supervision hours and evidence of this, verified by their supervisor, will be required at the time of any audit of practice.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
In order to remain on the Accredited Register it is important that registrants can demonstrate a continued commitment to safe and ethical practice and they are responsible for their continuing professional development as a practitioner.
Registrants should complete a minimum of 30 hours Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in Counselling each year, whether or not they are seeing clients, to ensure that they keep up to date their theoretical and practical knowledge and skills relating to their work as a professional practitioner, including any new legislative requirements.
The Society defines CPD ‘as a range of learning activities through which professional counsellors grow and develop throughout their careers to ensure that they retain their ability to practise safely, ethically and legally within their evolving scope of practice’.
Registrants should keep a record of all CPD activities - detailing the number of hours, types of activities, the learning they have gained from each activity. This information and supporting evidence will be required at the time of any audit of practice.
The Society is required to verify that those who are on the Accredited Register comply with Standards to remain on the Register. To do this we carry out a random audit of registrants – this is one of the methods that the Society uses to ensure that our register complies with the standards set by the Professional Standards Association.
As an ongoing process the NCS will select a percentage of individual registrants (on a random basis) to participate in the Society’s audit process.
Those selected will be sent a letter informing them that they have been chosen for audit along with the guidelines on the information that they will need to supply to the Society.
Those who are chosen for audit are required to submit all the information required to the Society within a given time scale.
Breaks in Practice
The NCS will recognise a 12 month period when an individual can take a break from practice. Within this period a registrant can suspend their membership and automatically re-join the Society when they are ready to continue practice.
Any period of non-practice that is longer than 12 months will require an individual to re-apply for membership of the Society.
- Leaving the Register
The Society is responsible for the Accredited Register and may have to amend and update those who are on the register for different reasons.
These reasons may be:
- A Registrant is given sanctions but allowed to remain on the register.
- A Registrant is suspended – the suspension is noted on website, then removed if suspension lifted.
- A Registrant is removed from register due to upheld complaints process
- A Registrant doesn’t comply with audit.
- A Registrant is no longer practicing (change of personal circumstances e.g. retirement)
Last reviewed on: 09/07/2021
Next review due: 09/07/2022