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About BACP

Our history

The British Association for Counselling grew from the Standing Conference for the Advancement of Counselling, a grouping of organisations inaugurated in 1970 at the instigation of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations. Membership was extended to include individuals when in 1977, with the aid of a grant from the Home Office Voluntary Service Unit, the British Association for Counselling was founded.

In 1978 the headquarters was moved from London to Rugby courtesy of the National Marriage Guidance Council which provided free accommodation to help the association establish itself.

In September 2000, the Association recognised that it no longer represented just counselling, but also psychotherapy. It changed its name to the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). The change of name also acknowledged that counsellors and psychotherapists wished to belong to a united profession that could meet the commonality of interests for both counselling and psychotherapy.

BACP is the largest and broadest body within the sector. Through its work BACP ensures that it meets its remit of public protection whilst also developing and informing its members. Itís work with large and small organisations within the sector ranges from advising schools on how to set up a counselling service, assisting the NHS on service provision, working with voluntary agencies and supporting independent practitioners. BACP participates in the development of counselling and psychotherapy at an international level.

The quality of response that BACP is able to offer has led the Association to being the prime partner in projects with national and local organisations, bodies and groups.

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How is BACP run?

This section is currently being updated

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What does BACP want to achieve?

Vision - to safeguard the value of human relationships through

Mission - being the leading body and voice for talking therapies

Value - with our core values and the Ethical Framework at the heart of all we do

Our objectives
BACP is established:

i. to promote and provide education and training for counsellors and/or psychotherapists working in either professional or voluntary settings, whether full or part time with a view to raising the standards of counselling and/or psychotherapy for the benefit of the community and in particular for those who are the recipients of counselling and/or psychotherapy; and

ii. to advance the education of the public in the part that counselling and/or psychotherapy can play generally and in particular to meet the needs of those members of society where development and participation in society is impaired by mental, physical or social handicap or disability.

The income and property of the Association is used for the promotion of the aims and objectives summarised here. Importantly for our members and the general public, BACP is a Registered Charity, legally recognised as established and existing for charitable purposes only. This means that the funds raised do not profit the Association, its employees or trustees - they are used to achieve the objectives above, developing the Association for the benefit of its members and the community it serves.

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How is BACP achieving its aims?

Our work today

BACP seeks to advise and inform national and international policy and procedures concerned with counselling and psychotherapy, offering information and guidance to those involved in the process. Through regular consultation, the Association continues to offer advice, as appropriate, to the Governments throughout the UK on all counselling and psychotherapy matters. BACP is consulted by government bodies, professional bodies, funding organisations, teaching institutions and many others on important issues concerning counselling and psychotherapy. The association is strongly committed to high practice standards and the protection of the public. This work is of the utmost importance in view of the approaching statutory regulation of counselling and psychotherapy.

The Association sets, promotes and maintains standards for the profession. The Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy with its Professional Conduct Procedure ensures that members of BACP abide by an accepted and approved code of conduct and accountability. This completely revised Framework was introduced in April 2002 and provides a core frame of reference for members to use in their relations with clients, colleagues, fellow members and the wider community. It safeguards both practitioners and members of the public alike. The Professional Conduct Department deals with any alleged breaches of conduct.

BACP sets and monitors its own advertising policy to ensure that both Accredited and non-Accredited members advertise their services in a way that does not misinform or mislead the public. The Association publishes a Find a Therapist Directory, available in hard copy and on the internet. It is the most accurate, comprehensive and accessible listing of counsellors, psychotherapists, supervisors, trainers, organisations and services available. BACP has published guidance to members of the public on choosing the most appropriate counsellor or psychotherapist according to their needs.

The Association has a reduced fee for all grades of individual membership and for its Accreditation schemes. This enables those with limited income to benefit from the support and recognition which accompanies BACP membership and Accreditation.

BACP also sets recognised standards for the delivery of education and training. By awarding accredited status to suitable counselling and psychotherapy courses, BACP enables those starting and advancing in the field to achieve a level of excellence recognised throughout the profession. Those individuals who have successfully achieved BACP accredited status are nationally recognised as counsellors, psychotherapists, supervisors and trainers, practising to high professional standards. The re-accreditation process based on continuing professional development and reflective practice ensures that our accredited members remain at the forefront of the profession.

BACPís Training Directory contains details of course listings for universities, further education colleges and specialist training providers. It also includes an "Essential Information for Students" section, with useful information on funding, bursaries, open learning, accreditation and the principles of counselling. The directory includes lists of awarding bodies, a glossary of terms, a guide to theoretical approaches, and an introductory reading list.

BACP disseminates information to the public about the profession by producing a wide range of books, guidelines, journals and pamphlets. Those include publications for counsellors and psychotherapists, those receiving therapy, purchasers of counselling services and those involved in many other different areas of counselling and psychotherapy.

BACP receives on average 5,000 to 6,000 enquiries each month. Information on locating counsellors and psychotherapists, counselling services, supervisors and details of specialist organisations is provided. Information sheets are produced on a multitude of topics. An Ethical Helpline is available to BACP members, providing a service to those encountering ethical dilemmas in their practice.

A busy programme of conferences, seminars, workshops and other training events is run each year, providing continuing professional development opportunities for counsellors and psychotherapists and other professionals.

Our Media Team†raises awareness among the public of BACP, and of counselling and psychotherapy more generally. This team makes sure that the organisation's public communications are delivered in an appropriate, timely and consistent way. As well as managing the public reputation of BACP, they monitor press activity, deal with incoming media enquiries and collaborate with other departments to release statements relating to topical events. Our proactive media activity draws on the results of regular public surveys, engagement with key media outlets and an expanding network of expert member spokespeople.

BACP also aims to undertake and commission research to encourage informed practice. A very important element of BACPís research strategy is to identify and review the evidence base for counselling and psychotherapy, and where possible to commission or facilitate primary research. The Research department thereby contributes to BACPís overall aim to develop the profession and to make it widely recognised and understood by the general public, consumers, service purchasers, and by members of allied professions. All this is underpinned by the publication of a Research Journal and a variety of Research reports.

The revised Ethical Guidelines for Researching Counselling and Psychotherapy ensure that members of BACP who undertake research abide by an accepted and approved code of conduct, it is based on the concept of trust between researchers and researched. This provides a core framework for members to use in their work.

The Research Network, facilitated by the Research Department, enables its members to make direct contact via the Research Directory. This comprehensive directory is available free to BACP members and is used for information sharing and networking, averting duplication of work. All BACP members, whether beginners or experts in research, can benefit from the Research Network.

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The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy:

  • values integrity, impartiality and respect;
  • embraces a diverse range of counselling and psychotherapy approaches;
  • promotes equality of opportunity;
  • consults widely;
  • advocates accessibility for clients to counsellors;
  • undertakes research;
  • responds to emerging issues and trend;
  • is enterprising.

The above is a brief summary of the structure and aims of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.

Please refer to the governing document Memorandum and Articles of the Association and to the Standing Orders of the Association for complete information on the aims, structure and operation of BACP.

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Additional Information

Additional information about BACP can also be found in the Join BACP section