Why haven’t I received the draft SCoPEd consultation?

If you haven’t received an email inviting you to take part in the consultation, please check your email junk box. If you can’t find the email, send your name and membership number to us at scoped@bacp.co.uk and we’ll make sure you get a new email.

What is the SCoPEd Project?

The Scope of Practice and Education for the counselling and psychotherapy professions (SCoPEd) is a collaborative project between the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), the British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC) and the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP). The aim of SCoPEd is to agree a shared, evidence-based competence framework to inform the core training requirements, competences and practice standards for counsellors and psychotherapists, working with adults.

We hope this work will help to clarify the professions for the public, trainers, employers, clients and patients and other stakeholders in this field.

We are currently consulting to present the initial findings of the mapping and research of the competences, professional standards and practice standards for counselling and psychotherapy. Our work has specifically focused upon mapping existing competences to identify the minimum requirements for counselling and psychotherapy, as well as areas of overlap and the differences between counselling and psychotherapy.

SCoPEd competency framework (pdf 0.3MB)

We used an evidence-based approach, derived from Roth and Pilling methodology (2008), and the results indicate three differentiated levels of competence for counselling and psychotherapy. 

SCoPed methodology (pdf 0.5MB)

Why is SCoPEd important?

As the organisations representing around 60,000 counsellors and psychotherapists, we felt it important to address the ambiguity within the current landscape.

Counselling and psychotherapy are not statutorily regulated activities. The Professional Standards Authority (PSA) sets standards for organisations that hold registers in health and social care, under its Accredited Registers Programme. However, professional bodies can set their own education and training standards when applying for their register to be accredited by the PSA. Therefore, the PSA-accredited registers in the field of counselling and psychotherapy each have different standards of training, practice and associated entry requirements. This can cause confusion for the public, clients and patients, and for employers.

There is also a lack of clarity for those who are considering training due to disparate entry standards, the wide range of courses available at different academic levels, and the different qualification frameworks. At a strategic level, the three professional bodies agreed to collaborate and take a leading role in agreeing standards within the counselling and psychotherapy professions. This is a ground-breaking first step, and it is hoped that the wide range of other professional bodies will find the SCoPEd competence framework useful as a reference point for their standards and training.

What is a competence framework?

Competence is usually defined as the integration of knowledge, skills and attitudes. Competence frameworks identify and bring together all the relevant knowledge, skills and values that are key to working effectively in a specified area. By mapping existing competence frameworks, the SCoPEd framework identifies the knowledge, skills and values that are relevant to counselling and psychotherapy.

Why is the consultation happening now?

We undertook this project with BPC and UKCP as part of an ethical commitment to agree common standards to reduce the confusion that exists because of the wide range of different trainings, practice standards and associated membership categories of those who hold registers with the Professional Standards Authority. We did this in the best interests of the public, clients/patients and employers and to help trainees navigate the various training pathways open to them.

The draft framework is about the future. It’s intended to inform the future core training requirements, competences and practice standards for counsellors and psychotherapists working with adults.

Who is on the project team?

The project is made up of:

  • a Steering Group, which includes the chief executives of the three organisations and oversees the framework development process
  • a Technical Group, consisting of representatives of the three organisations who have drafted this framework. The Technical Group have conducted the main mapping of competences. The group consists of three counsellors (BACP), two psychotherapists (UKCP and BPC) and one psychotherapeutic counsellor (UKCP). Each member of the Technical Group has a range of teaching experience within counselling and psychotherapy training, from level four diploma to MA/MSc Programmes.
  • an Expert Reference Group (ERG), comprising academic experts in the field of counselling and psychotherapy drawn from the three organisations. This group scrutinises and oversees the work of the Technical Group, the methodology utilised and the iterative development of the framework. The ERG has been overseen by an independent chair and supported in its research by an independent information analyst.

What does the SCoPEd framework show?

The draft framework is the result of extensive mapping of the current competences within the fields of counselling and psychotherapy. What the framework is looking to map is the level of competence of a counsellor or psychotherapist at the point of completing their core training. The aspiration of the framework is that it offers consistency to the training pathways of future generations of counsellors and psychotherapists who are seeking to undertake training.

The mapping has shown that there are three potential levels of entry and to illustrate this the SCoPEd project team has used the terms ‘qualified counsellor’, ‘advanced qualified counsellor’ and ‘psychotherapist’. These are not intended to be considered ‘titles’, rather they are used to describe these three entry points. The SCoPEd framework is not setting new standards, it is simply mapping current standards and competences within the field.

How does the SCoPEd project align with BACP’s previous stance that there is no evidence that counselling and psychotherapy are different?

It’s true that counselling and psychotherapy are a continuum of practice and that over the working life of a therapist differences are hard to define. However, the evidence shows that there are clear differences between counsellors joining the profession at the start of their career with a Level 4 diploma and 100 hours client work, and a therapist on the register with over 450 hours of practice and further training and experience, and a therapist who has undertaken a 4-year training with 500 hours of supervised practice with mental health familiarisation. This is not saying that one therapist is more important than another, but simply different therapists have different training experiences and expertise at various points in their career; this is no different to any other professional group.

The draft framework maps these different entry points and associated competences and practice standards, it doesn’t create these differences but expresses them.

Why are members being consulted after the framework has been developed?

The decision to map the existing counselling and psychotherapy competences and practice standards was made to gain clarity around the current landscape.

At that stage, it wasn’t a subject to consult on because the project group didn’t know what the findings would be. The draft framework is a result of this mapping and we’re now asking for your feedback via the consultation about the potential impact of these findings.

Our members would fall into all three of the mapped entry points, so we’ll continue to consult with you about any future benchmarking as the project develops.

How will the SCoPEd framework affect my existing membership, registration or accreditation?

We recognise that as experienced counsellors and psychotherapists that this exercise may cause uncertainty or even anxiety.

While we're consulting on the framework, existing membership, registration or accreditation will not be affected.

Once the framework is finalised, we will start to look at how to embed it into existing policies and procedures. The vision is that the shared framework would apply to all those entering training routes into the professions and seeking registration with any of the three bodies.

However, over time, existing members may be asked to benchmark themselves against the framework (including any post registration skills and experience), as part of ongoing registration requirements and as evidence of working within their competence. There will be further consultation and engagement as this work continues.

As explained above, the mapping has shown three entry points, which reflect the BACP membership. We wish to reiterate that no member would be disadvantaged by this process. For example, the ‘advanced qualified counsellor’ column demonstrates that a BACP accredited counsellor demonstrates the same standards as a UKCP psychotherapeutic counsellor.  The ‘qualified counsellor’ column demonstrates the qualifications and competences that are evidenced by a BACP registered counsellor.

There are no pre-conceived ideas about how the mapping of the framework affects current membership, but there will be a continuing consultation process. There will be opportunities for your further feedback and input of ideas, so please do get involved.

There are three points of entry in the framework. What would this mean to my practice? Would I be recognised in the framework, or would I need to do more training?

The evidence arising from the mapping exercise shows that there are three different entry points of training. These are not ‘titles’, the terms ‘qualified counsellor’, ‘advanced qualified counsellor’ and ‘psychotherapist’ have been used purely to describe these entry points. Please see above for more details.

Does the draft framework create a hierarchy?

It’s not our intention to create a hierarchy but to match client need to therapist skill.

The draft framework maps existing training, standards and practice requirements for core training in counselling and psychotherapy with adults. For example, there are clear differences between a newly qualified counsellor at level 4 and an experienced practitioner with further training and experience which meet the competences and practice standards of a higher entry point.

The framework therefore, is an attempt to describe the current state of play based on available training standards.

The Ethical Framework requires all members to work within their competence and evidence shows three differentiated entry points to the profession with associated competences and practice standards. 

Under the draft framework, can I be classed as an ‘advanced qualified counsellor’ if I’m not accredited?

There will be further consultation with members about any decisions looking at the impact of the framework on current members.  No decisions have been made, which is obviously a source of anxiety. BACP is committed to ensuring that current members will not be disadvantaged. Any benchmarking or transitional arrangements, if adopted, will take account of the accumulated training and practice experience of every individual in addition to their existing membership categories.

How will this work affect employment opportunities?

We hope that the clarity that SCoPEd offers in the form of an evidence-based competence framework will increase opportunities for paid employment in the future and will have a positive impact on the commissioning of therapy.

Is there a risk that potential clients will be confused by the draft framework?

If the draft framework were adopted by all three partner organisations it would mean a common understanding of what competences are expected at each entry point.

It’s hoped that we’ll be able to make it clearer to anybody seeking the services of, or working with, the professions what it is our respective members can offer.

If you feel there’s a specific area that could cause confusion to potential clients, we need to hear your feedback. Please let us know via the consultation or email us at scoped@bacp.co.uk.

Why was the methodology used for the SCoPEd project chosen?

The Roth & Pilling approach to this research was chosen because it is an established process which has been used in other competence development projects.  However, the methodology was adapted in this case to include the clinical expertise and client preference aspect of being ‘evidence-based’ as well as the evidence of effectiveness from clinical trials.  For example, instead of searching only training manuals, other information was looked at such as practice standards, job descriptions, learning outcomes from training curricula and qualifications at all levels, as well as ethical codes of practice. 

The expert reference group also offered their clinical judgement and experience of working with clients and patients to make recommendations. The SCoPEd framework is not modality based. The draft SCoPEd framework is a starting point and will evolve through undertaking a regular cycle of evaluation to keep up to date with the latest research and methodologies.

Will I have to leave my existing professional body and join one of the others?

The three organisations value and support their members and we plan to continue to offer a professional home to all existing members now and in the future.

Are there plans to merge the professional bodies?

We’re very excited that BACP, BPC and UKCP are collaborating so closely and working together in this unprecedented manner. However, the SCoPEd project is a collaboration, not a merger, and all three professional bodies view SCoPEd in this way.

Are modalities being taken into consideration with this work?

The SCoPEd project is developing a generic, shared core competence framework for working with adults, and is not modality specific.

Is this work about moving towards statutory regulation?

There’s no direct correlation between the SCoPEd collaboration and the likelihood of statutory regulation. We’re not aware of any current plans for statutory regulation, but it might appear on the Government’s agenda in the future. The outcome of the SCoPEd project, and the collaborative nature of SCoPEd, puts us in a strong position to respond to the challenges of statutory regulation if it does happen.

Will I continue to be consulted and when will I know more?

The SCoPEd process involves several elements of consultation and engagement. Once the content of the framework has been finalised later in 2019 there will be further engagement with members. We’ll keep you updated and involved in the project.

Why haven’t other professional bodies been asked to join?

The SCoPEd project between BACP, BPC and UKCP arose from an existing collaboration - the CCPP (Collaboration of Counselling and Psychotherapy Professions) - which has been going on for several years. This project is about comprehensively and systematically mapping the existing competences and professional standards for counselling and psychotherapy to describe the current landscape, it’s not about creating something new. The mapping includes published standards from other professional bodies.

Furthermore, other professional bodies including those with accredited registers with the PSA and other stakeholders have been invited to participate in the consultation process.

How is the SCoPEd project funded?

Each organisation is funding the SCoPEd project from within their existing operational budgets and are not receiving any external funding for this work.

What consultation work are you doing?

In early 2019 we launched a consultation about the impact of the framework with the members of BACP, BPC and UKCP. We also asked stakeholders in the profession for their views.

As the project progresses further consultation will take place.

Who do I contact if I have any further questions?

You can email the team at scoped@bacp.co.uk and we'll get back to you.