Training and education

Q.1. In respect of points 62 and 67. It seems that trainers and educators need also to be competent therapists in order to be good role models. Is it necessary to be both, and is that asking a little too much of us?

Q.2. Clients should usually know that they are receiving services from a student in training, but does this requirement equally apply to qualified and registered practitioners who are attending CPD?

Q.3. How does the Ethical Framework help us to know who has clinical responsibility in an agency setting?

1. What are my responsibilities as a trainer for ensuring the competence of students?

A trainee may be supported in their practice by trainers and others, typically supervisors and placement managers to achieve the required standard. On a basic training leading to qualification as a practitioner, a trainer is therefore responsible (with others) for:

  • Selection of suitable trainees
  • Supporting the learning of trainees
  • Ensuring the type of work allocated to trainees is appropriate to their level of competence
  • The type of work allocated to trainees is appropriate to their level of competence
  • Monitoring a trainee’s work with clients to support their learning and practice at the same time as ensuring it is being delivered to the required standard
  • Alerting trainees promptly if their practice is falling below a reasonable standard of practice and taking action to ensure an adequate level of service is being provided. This will often require consultation and collaboration with others who share responsibility for the trainee’s work, for example placement supervisors and managers, trainee’s supervisor, or other trainers and tutors
  • Withdrawing a trainee from practice where it is not possible ensure clients are receiving an adequate level of service. Alternative provisions may need to be made for the client by whoever holds the main responsibility for the work with the client
  • Ensuring that only trainees who have demonstrated their ability work at the required standard (or at a higher level) are awarded qualifications that would enable them to work with clients independently of the course.

These broad principles would apply to any training leading to a qualification that includes an assessment someone’s suitability to practice, even at advanced levels. However, some courses do not involve formal assessment of practice with clients, for example introductory programmes or short CPD courses.

This limits the opportunity for trainers to evaluate someone’s suitability for practice with clients. Nonetheless, a trainer retains sufficient ethical responsibility for their trainee’s clients and for the reputation of the profession to alert trainees who cause concerns about their suitability for practice and to discuss possible ways of addressing those concerns.

In order for clients to make an informed choice (27, 28, 28a, 66, 72) about whether of not to take up a service, they ought to know in advance that they are being offered service from a trainee. They can be informed about the additional monitoring and support available to the trainee ensure the quality of the work. Clients may view this additional support and monitoring as added value in the service they are being offered.

3. How should the matter of confidentiality be addressed with trainees and their clients?

The sound management of confidentiality (C3b; GP9, 10, 25, 25b, 32c, 40, 54) is an important part of competence in the counselling professions. Clients will need to be informed about the management of their confidentiality, particularly concerning any widening of the circle of confidentiality to encompass the learning and assessment of a trainee. Anyone receiving information about a trainee’s work with clients ought to be bound to the same levels of confidentiality required of practitioners for that work or only to receive client information on a fully anonymised basis with adequate safeguards in place. Clients are legally and ethically entitled to control the communication of their personally sensitive data through giving or withholding their explicit consent.