We’ve updated and added additional questions to these FAQs following the publication of the next iteration of the draft SCoPEd framework on 14 July 2020.

We've also divided the questions into topics to make them easier to review. Scroll down to see all the FAQs or click on the links below to go to each topic:

You can still send feedback to SCoPEd@bacp.co.uk. We’re unable to respond to emailed queries but all feedback is welcome and anything received will form part of our SCoPEd review process. It’ll also help us to ensure that our FAQs are as up-to-date and informative as possible. Thank you to everyone who has shared their feedback on the SCoPEd project so far.

Project management

Who is involved in the newly widened SCoPEd project group?

The SCoPEd project began as a collaboration between British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC) and United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP).

In November 2020, the project group was expanded to include four more Professional Standards Agency (PSA) Accredited Register bodies; Association of Christian Counsellors (ACC), Association of Child Psychotherapists (ACP), Human Givens Institute (HGI) and National Counselling Society (NCS).

The project is being overseen by a newly constituted SCoPEd Oversight Committee (SOC) which has equal representation of all partners at a senior level and is observed by the PSA. The SOC will also have an independent chair and include representation of Experts by Experience (EBE) to ensure the client voice is brought into the project. These roles are currently being recruited.

What are the next steps?

Now the member questionnaire is complete, we’ve published the top line data in relation to all three partners (BACP, BPC and UKCP). We’ve also recently published the BACP specific data from the questionnaire.

The bulletin board was completed in October 2020 and we’re expecting a full report from the Independent External Research company who conducted this on our behalf. Once received we’ll look to share this data with you in early 2021.

Now the project group has expanded to include new partners, we’ll be working with them to discuss the framework in more detail and visit any evidence they have in relation to their own competences and practice standards, or any other evidence they wish the Technical Group to consider. We will also review all the feedback we’ve received on the current iteration and discuss within the Technical group the evidence this provides for any further changes. At the end of this process, we anticipate that there will be a further iteration of the framework to present to members.

How are you getting feedback from members?

We continue to engage with members and other stakeholders including employers, commissioners, services and trainers to gain their views on the framework and understand the questions that are being asked.

A questionnaire was launched following the publication of the latest iteration of the draft framework in July 2020. This questionnaire was open to members of BACP, BPC and UKCP - you can see data from the collaboration and from BACP members specifically.

The questionnaire had over 8,000 respondents and was used in part to recruit a broadly representative sample for the 'Bulletin Board'. The Bulletin Board was an in-depth qualitative piece of work running over two weeks to enable members to discuss some of the key themes arising out of the feedback that had been received through the questionnaire as well as through the SCoPEd inbox and social media. Bulletin Board attendees then reflected upon the changes made since member feedback was received for the previous draft framework.

Both these pieces of work were conducted by an independent market research agency. The Bulletin Board is currently being analysed and we hope to share findings with members in early 2021.

We’ll continue to engage with you as we progress the work. There’ll be new opportunities to engage with the project during the next phase.

How are you getting feedback from stakeholders?

Since the latest publication we’ve also held a number of roundtable discussions and meetings with PSA Accredited Register holders for counselling and psychotherapy. The result of this has been the expansion of the SCoPEd group to include ACC, ACP, HGI and NCS. With our original partners BPC and UKCP this means there are now seven PSA Accredited Register holders collaborating on this ground breaking project. The expanded Technical Group will now begin the next stage of work to discuss key themes and concerns around this draft iteration of the framework. There will also be opportunity to revisit the published standards and competences from other professional bodies that were analysed and included where appropriate during the earlier literature research stage. These documents are detailed in the methodology document (appendix iv).

Engagement beyond the membership body has increased; we are continuing to talk to other stakeholders and taking part in external activities to discuss SCoPEd. We are holding our first webinar with accredited trainers and have recently taken part in a panel debate hosted by #TherapistsConnect. We’re discussing podcasts and events with a number of other external groups and will signpost members to these when details are confirmed. We are also involved with a stakeholder mapping and engagement activity through the BACP workforce lead and are discussing the project at the NHS National Psychological Professions Workforce Group. And as part of the new governance structure for the widened SCoPEd project group we will now seek to bring the client (or “Expert by Experience”) into both the SCoPEd Oversight Committee and Technical Group.

Who’s undertaking the work?

There are three key groups:

  • a SCoPEd Oversight Committee (SOC), the newly formed Governance group, which includes the chief executives of all the partner organisations and oversees the framework development process. The group includes the PSA as observes, an independent chair and representation from Experts by Experience (EBE) to ensure the client voice is included in on-going work.

  • a Technical Group (Tech Group), initially consisting of representatives of the three organisations who have drafted this iteration of the framework. The Technical Group conducted the main mapping of competences. The group has been expanded to now include representation from all of the partner organisations. Each member of the Technical Group has a range of teaching experience within counselling and psychotherapy training, from level four diploma to MA or MSc programmes.

  • an Expert Reference Group (ERG), comprising academic experts in the field of counselling and psychotherapy, with experience of both Higher Education and Further Education, drawn from the three original partner organisations. This group scrutinised and oversaw the work of the Technical Group, the methodology utilised and the iterative development of the framework. The ERG has and continues to be overseen by an independent chair and was supported in its research by an independent information analyst. Individually the ERG represents a range of different counselling approaches to ensure inclusivity. Members of the Technical Group also form the ERG.

How’s the SCoPed work funded?

Each organisation is funding SCoPEd work from within their existing operational budgets and aren’t receiving any external funding for this work.

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The framework

Is this the final version of the framework?

No, we still see this as a work in progress. Now the project group has expanded to include new partners, we’ll be working with them to discuss the framework in more detail and visit any evidence they have in relation to their own competences and practice standards, or any other evidence they wish the Technical Group to consider. We will also review all the feedback we’ve received on the current iteration and discuss within the Technical Group the evidence this provides for any changes. At the end of this process, we anticipate that there will be a further iteration of the framework to present to members.

How’s this draft iteration an inclusive framework?

One of the clear aspirations of the SCoPEd framework is that it recognises and values different entry routes including the vocational entry point. This currently offers greater inclusivity and greater diversity and is an important feature of the current training landscape for counselling and psychotherapy. This is very different from other professions who have chosen to offer a single-entry point at degree level, which is a barrier to those from minority and less advantaged backgrounds. Ensuring fair access to the profession is critically important for trainees and clients and a key part of BACP’s Equality and Diversity Strategy.

The SCoPEd framework is intended to be an enabling framework that values different entry points but also offers opportunities for progression via clear pathways. The challenge is to develop and support pathways that are affordable and realistic opportunities for progression.

In time, this will help to significantly change the demographic of therapists at those levels which are currently very unrepresentative and difficult to enter unless you do the ‘right’ training. We hope the SCoPEd framework will help and encourage, this change.

What’s different in this draft iteration?

We’ve listened to all your feedback gained through the 2019 consultation, emails and meeting members at Making Connections events, and taken the time to ensure that we’ve incorporated it into this draft iteration where the feedback had evidence to support this change. The main differences in this version are: 

  • titles have been removed
    - so that the focus at this stage is on the evidence rather than titles
    - it demonstrates that all therapists are respected, qualified roles

  • gateways have been added
    - this means the principle of recognising post qualifying training and experience is embedded in the framework
    - it recognises that members can move from one column to another

  • terminology and language has been updated
    - the terminology has become more inclusive of all modalities
    - the language is more consistent

  • methodology document has been updated
    - it reflects the additional stages of the project

How have you addressed concerns around titles and hierarchy?

The mapping shows differentiation between three categories of therapists based on training and practice standards represented by columns A, B and C but this differentiation is not clearly linked to title. This version of the framework, doesn’t include any titles at this stage in order to keep the focus on the evidence of the mapping which suggests that currently those defining themselves as counsellors or psychotherapists could fit into any of the columns.

The further mapping makes it clearer that it is the combination of competences, practice requirements, length and level of training and experience that together indicate differentiation between therapists. It’s not any one factor alone and differentiation isn’t clearly associated with titles currently used by the participating bodies.

What are the implications on therapists practising competences outside of the column they sit in?

The framework is not about stopping or limiting what people can do but about describing the minimum level of competence expected of therapists when they complete initial training or pass through a ‘gateway’ to a new column. All members are valued and trusted, and are expected to work within their limits of competences according to the Ethical Framework – SCoPEd maps existing minimum competences and practice standards but there are many other individual factors which will determine whether a therapists is competent to work with any particular client or content. We recognise that everyone’s experiences are different, and that experience will grow through professional practice and continuing professional development (CPD) and/or additional qualifications.

Will the framework affect therapists' ability to work at depth or long term with clients?

No, the framework looks at what therapists are training to do and their practice experience – but that’s separate to short term or long term therapy. SCoPEd makes no reference to long term or short term therapy and it was not an issue that came up in the mapping. There is a link between length and depth of training and experience and being able to work with complex presentations but this is different from being able to work long term or open-ended.

How have you addressed concerns that further training and experience hasn’t been included?

In response to your feedback that the framework didn’t take into account post-qualifying training and experience, the Tech Group completed a wider and more detailed mapping of training and practice requirements to include the requirements not just at entry point (on completion of initial training), but also at other existing transition points, for example:

  • gateways associated with membership category requirements
  • registration requirements
  • individual and course accreditation requirements

This means that the framework allows for post-qualifying training and experience to be recognised.

At this stage, the framework is still in draft form and only maps existing mechanisms (such as Accreditation) for demonstrating how post-qualifying training and experience meet the competences and practice requirements of each column. If the framework were to be adopted, new mechanisms would have to be developed to ensure that each individuals post-qualifying training and experience can be taken into account.

Every member’s situation is unique. However, we’ve created a few case studies to show how our members, their individual qualifications, post-qualifying training and experience could sit within this draft iteration of the framework. We hope that they’ll help you visualise how you might sit on the framework and how you could move between the gateways should you wish to.

What does ‘mental health familiarisation’ mean?

We understand that it’s hard to define what mental health familiarisation means, in relation to the framework.

The intention is to offer people the opportunity to gain the knowledge, understanding and insight that equips them to work within or alongside other mental health services, with clients who have extraordinary needs and with family members of mental health service users.

This includes a knowledge and understanding of:

  • a working awareness of presentation, diagnosis and treatment in the context of UK mental health care services
  • a range of appropriate models of assessment which include (but are not be limited to) learning about how the medical model understands mental wellbeing and mental illness
  • the influence of socio-economics, class, gender, disability, age, culture, religion, race and sexuality on the incidence, definition, diagnosis and treatment of mental illness and mental health
  • the impact of intersectionality (where a person belongs to more than one marginalised group)
  • the wider contexts of mental health provision in order to develop sensitive practice appropriate to the needs of people who experience greater mental and emotional distress

In relation the wider mental health system it would also include an understanding and appreciation of:

  • the impact on clients and their families of mental health presentations, diagnosis, stigma and social attitudes
  • the different professional and personal roles in mental health care
  • how the role of the therapist sits within the wider system
  • recognising the therapist’s role in provision of non-discriminatory services for people with exceptional needs; preventing additional mental health distress caused by normative social expectations and exclusion
  • relevant ethical and legal considerations, including appropriate familiarity with the Mental Health Act 2007 and the Equality Act 2010

There is no one way of meeting these standards. Training organisations may choose how to fulfil these standards which may be via lectures, videos, a formal placement. Some practitioners may gain this knowledge through first-hand experience in an appropriate setting.

How have you addressed concerns about the language used in the framework?

We’ve worked on making the terminology more inclusive in recognition that all approaches are represented in all three areas of competence. For example, the terms ‘conscious’ and ‘unconscious’ have been used alongside the terms ‘in awareness’ and ‘out of awareness’ to ensure the widest possible understanding of these terms from different theoretical perspectives

We’ve made sure the language is more consistent across the framework, without changing any meanings.

How have you been able to change the wording of some competences and even move them to different columns?

Thanks to your feedback further areas of evidence were identified, analysed, and considered for inclusion into the framework. In some cases, this meant that several different sources were blended to evidence specific competences or their position in the framework. When this happened, the relevant competence was reviewed and where appropriate the Tech Group proposed changes to the ERG, presenting the evidence to support the suggested change.

In some instances, a review of the evidence and consideration of new evidence resulted in competences being changed from one column to another.

What about personal therapy? The mapping shows differences.

Personal therapy is not straightforward because some trainings put more emphasis on personal therapy than others. This is more to do with the theoretical approach than competences and practice standards. It’s therefore not been possible to map a common standard for personal therapy as a requirement. It’s possible that this will continue to be an area of difference.

Are all modalities being taken into consideration with this work?

The aspiration of the SCoPEd project is to agree a generic, shared core framework of competences and associated practice standards for working with adults. The framework is intended to be inclusive and represent all members regardless of their modality and theoretical orientation across all three columns identified in the framework.

The vision is that individual training organisations and professional groups that choose to use the framework will see the competences as a starting point and find appropriate ways of detailing content and associated training which reflects their own theoretical background, philosophy and approach.

The Tech Group and ERG have worked on the language of the competences to ensure it’s as inclusive as possible. Two new members were recruited to the ERG to help with this specific task (August 2019).

If BACP was to adopt the framework, how would it affect me as an existing member?

While we're consulting on the framework, existing membership, registration or accreditation will not be affected. The framework is still a work in progress.

At this stage no decisions have been made about adoption of the framework and will not be made without further member engagement. However, we can reassure you that if the framework were adopted, we would have to find acceptable ways to capture the vast knowledge and skills you’ve acquired since first qualifying. This would be a critical part of any proposed plan. In future we’d expect both core trainings and progression trainings to take account of the framework so that it’s clearer, less expensive and easier to progress if members wish to.

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Which courses meet the competences for each column?

The competences have been drawn from across the field of counselling and psychotherapy. Some of these are amalgamated from different sources. This means that currently there may not be a course that meets all the specific criteria. It’s envisaged that in future, training courses will seek to include all the competences within a column or to provide clear progression opportunities to move from one column to another without having to start again, which sometimes happens now.

Individual courses haven’t been mapped to the framework as part of this work, therefore we can’t identify specific courses that meet each of the levels.

Does the framework include vocational training routes, particularly those at level 4?

The framework explicitly values and recognises vocational qualifications, such as level 4, as an entry to the framework. This is one of the defining features of the framework unlike other professions where a degree is the entry point. The SCoPEd framework will enable us to represent the skills of those in column A better and more strongly than ever before, as well as offering clearer progression routes or ‘gateways’ for those who want to do further training.

What if the course I graduated from didn’t cover all the competences of the framework?

We understand that some of you, who’ve already qualified within existing membership categories, may have undertaken a course that didn’t meet all the competences detailed in the relevant column of the framework. As a minimum, all existing BACP registered members will meet the standards in column A and may have additional training and experience to meet the standards in column B or C.

We’ll be engaging with members and stakeholders further, if the framework is adopted, on how to capture additional competences and associated practice standards needed to move through identified ‘gateways’ or to benchmark the additional training and experience that some members already have.

What impact will SCoPEd have on the course I am considering applying to?

We understand that some of you will be considering initial or additional training and wish to know whether the courses you are looking at will deliver the competences for certain columns.

One of the aims of SCoPEd is to help potential entrants to the profession and those who wish to progress within the profession, understand the routes and programmes available so that they may make the best decision for themselves on training. As a minimum if you become a registered member of BACP then you will sit in column A. While SCoPEd is still in draft form we are unable to provide a definitive answer to specific course queries. Should SCoPEd be adopted then part of the work to be done would include working with trainers and providers to understand the training landscape on a more granular level so that we and they are able to comment on individual courses.

However, we anticipate that having a clear framework will help courses plan for the future and offer clear pathways which are diverse and inclusive.

Will the minimum 100 placement hours remain the same for core training?

Yes, the minimum 100 client hours would remain the same across columns A and B in the framework as this is a nationally recognised standard.

Which column will students be in once they qualify from a mapped course?

Qualified graduates would sit in column A until they have acquired 450 client hours. At this point they can apply for individual accreditation (as is the case now) which will formalise entry to column B. We’re also exploring an alternative mechanism for entry into column B for practitioners who do not wish to apply for accreditation and we’re committed to developing mechanisms for entry into column C.

What will the pathways be to move from one column to another?

Practitioners from courses mapped to the framework (if adopted and implemented) may wish to ‘top-up’ to the next column through further training that covers the additional competences. This can be done immediately after completing core training or later on.

We’re also looking at developing a type of Advance Prior Learning (APL) mechanism that accounts for an individual’s post-qualifying practice experience and CPD. This will be an alternative route for those who do not wish to undertake top-up training. However, these mechanisms will need to be acceptable to our partners and we can’t begin to develop these until the SCoPEd framework is finalised and adopted.

It is important to say here that the SCoPEd framework is an enabling framework that aims to support practitioners with their ongoing development. It isn’t about restricting people.

How does the 450 hours in training work if a practitioner has already got more than that when they join a top-up course?

The 450 hours is a minimum, not a maximum so we fully anticipate that some people joining a top up course may already have this number of hours or more. A top up course’s purpose is also about embedding all the extended competences that are gained between columns A, B and C.

It’s also important to remember that top up courses won’t be the only route - there will be mechanisms to evidence the additional knowledge and experienced gained through other mediums.

What if a course wishes to develop into a column C training? Do all tutors need to have had formal training that aligns with column C, for example a mental health placement?

It will be important that some members of the tutor team are able to deliver the training to the level required of column C. The tutor team should be competent to deliver the course, and this includes tutor teams who have a combined competence rather than all being individually competent in all areas being taught on the course.

If you have the relevant experience to meet the competences in column C this means you won’t necessarily have to do further training. Column C trainings do require mental health placement or familiarisation and so if some of the tutor team have this then this will be acceptable as the column C competence is across the tutor team.

What types of placement would meet the requirements for a mental health placement?

What’s important here is that the placement and the associated teaching and practice experience appropriately prepares the student to gain the competence to work in mental health contexts and contribute towards the broader column C competences.

This will depend on many factors such as the tutor team, the placements that are available in your area and the mental health familiarisation content of the course.

However, please remember that column C competence is much more than the mental health placement. It is also about the length, depth and complexity of the training which is then supported by a mental health placement.

You can find more information on what mental health familiarisation means in these FAQs and how this might relate to members in the case studies. 

If there is a hierarchy of courses won’t everyone want to go for the column C training?

We think this is very unlikely as column C trainings already exist, and they are very lengthy and expensive. We value the fact that - as is the case now - people can enter the profession from different starting points. The big difference with SCoPEd is the routes will be clearer and much more accessible if people choose to go on to further training.

We're exploring how to support members to access further training if they choose to do it, and how they can move from one column to another. Services will want therapists who fit in all three columns - all are qualified, and all should be paid.

What impact will the SCoPEd framework have on training with dual titles, for example Counselling and Psychotherapy?

No decisions have been made about titles just yet. If and when decisions are made about titles - and if the framework is adopted - we would expect trainings to reflect these titles and to align to the framework accordingly.

When will training providers be able to start mapping their trainings to the framework?

Training providers can start to map their courses to the framework once a final iteration of the SCoPEd framework is agreed, and if it is implemented.

Any training provider that would like to make a head start on mapping their course to the framework can focus on some key differences - the competences relating to technology, equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and knowledge of prescribed drugs.

If we do implement the framework, we’ll review and align our course accreditation scheme too – this will take us some time to develop (possibly one year plus) and at the point of implementation, we will be looking at a minimum of three years for accredited courses to transition via the accreditation renewal process.

We would direct your closest attention to points within the framework detailing online working (1.10, 1.11, 2.3 and 2.10), EDI (1.2, 1.9, 3.2 and 4.8) and prescribed drugs (various within theme 2 – Assessment).

Does a three year Masters course fulfil column C?

Not necessarily – the course needs to meet both the competences and the practice requirements to be equivalent to existing trainings that meet the column C elements. And the length of the course alone does not determine whether it meets the competences and associated practice requirements.

Equally, the SCoPEd framework isn’t entirely focused on course level, but on competences at entry level into the profession. However, we’ve found in our research that many courses aligned to column A are generally level 4, and broadly speaking column B might be the equivalent of degree level training and column C post-graduate level training. However, it’s the meeting of all the standards in the column (which includes duration of training, client hours and assessed competences) that is the requirement, rather than a specific course.

Is there a plan to work with the NHS to develop paid apprenticeships as part of its long-term plan?

We can confirm that we are actively involved in an NHS workstream which is looking at pathways into the NHS for counsellors and psychotherapists with a view to removing obstacles and barriers and ensuring there is fairness with other approaches. This means we are advocating paid placements for non-CBT IAPT trainings as a way of therapists entering the NHS – not just for those already working in IAPT services. We will keep you updated on these conversations.

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What’s the impact on employment if you’re in column A rather than column B or C?

We believe there are employment opportunities for therapists in all three columns, as is already the case. Often a therapist in column A will be more suited to the work needed by employers for their client group than someone in column B or C. This mapping of members’ knowledge and skills will make it easier for employers to see which kinds of therapists would be most appropriate for their service. Some services will want to employ therapists from all three columns, as is already the case.

We believe that being able to articulate the knowledge and skills of our members within a clear framework will make it easier to campaign for paid roles for all members which meet client needs.

The same applies to those working in private practice whose ethical commitment is to work within their limits of competence according to where they see themselves in the framework.

How will this work affect employment opportunities?

We believe, if there’s agreement to take this forward, it’d allow us to clearly articulate to multiple audiences the huge range of skills our members have. One of the key aims of this project is to create more paid employment opportunities for you. We believe this could be possible by enhancing the understanding of what our members offer to a wider range of audiences who may not fully understand the field. We want to enhance work opportunities for all our members and raise awareness of the significant contribution that counsellors and psychotherapists make to changing lives. We want to recognise the value that you bring at every level.

Other related professions have raised the entry level to level 6 or higher education only. We’re doing the opposite because we know the value that counsellors and psychotherapists bring from a range of different entry points - including greater diversity which offers more choice for clients.

We believe SCoPEd will also have a positive impact on the commissioning of therapy because it will empower us to talk about the skills and knowledge of all our members to those who find it difficult to navigate the complexities of the current landscape.

What’s the impact if we work in private practice?

The framework doesn’t look specifically at any particular setting rather it is intended to be inclusive of all settings. The framework encompasses all members including those in private practice.

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Methodology and research

What’s in the new methodology document?

We’ve produced a supplement to the original methodology setting out the steps we’ve taken since the previous iteration was published. This document explains the process of the formal member consultation and a summary of analysis of themes that arose from the consultation as areas that needed additional consideration.

The updated methodology shows how we’ve ensured that every item of feedback was included and how each area of feedback was systematically considered by the Tech Group and Expert Reference Group (ERG) in order to further develop the framework in light of the feedback, while also remaining faithful to the available evidence. The new methodology document also includes details of ethical considerations and methodological limitations.

Details were added about the small group clarity check process by critical readers which was undertaken to gain preliminary feedback about whether the revised framework successfully addressed concerns and member feedback, and whether the information has been presented in the clearest possible way.

What do you mean by ‘evidence-based’ when you talk about the SCoPEd mapping?

The project has systematically and comprehensively looked at existing standards, competences and practice standards associated with current training, membership and progression routes as sources of evidence. The project has been focused around evidence from these sources rather than mapping competences from empirical research evidence relating to client outcomes since insufficient outcomes research relating directly to competences currently exists. This decision was reconsidered in light of consultation feedback however the decision of the ERG was not to expand the project to include client outcomes research as it was beyond the scope of the project and also because there is insufficient research directly linking client outcomes to specific practitioner competences. However, within the sources included in the project, the National Occupational Standards (NOS) draw partly on client outcomes research.

Where can I find out more about the evidence used for considering competences and standards?

The complete list of the sources of standards and competences that have been included is detailed in Appendix i and Appendix iv of the first SCoPEd methodology 2019 with further evidence consulted for the second iteration listed in Appendix iv of the SCoPEd methodology update July 2020. Details of the evidence supporting each competence are given in Appendix iii of the first SCoPEd methodology 2019 and decisions relating to additional sources of evidence is shown in Appendix ii and Appendix iii of the SCoPEd methodology update July 2020.

Where can I found out more about the people involved with considering the evidence?

You can find out about the members of the ERG and tech group in Appendix i of the SCoPEd methodology update July 2020.

How did you choose the methodology for the SCoPed work?

The process of BACP competence development, which the collaboration agreed to use, has historically aligned with Roth and Pilling (2008) Methodology and this was the starting point for the project. However, when reviewing the available research literature, it became apparent that this methodology was not broad enough to capture all relevant information about training and practice standards.

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. Direct client outcomes-based evidence was excluded from the research inclusion criteria as this doesn’t relate to competences acquired at the point of completing training and entering the profession. A full list of sources can be found in the methodology document which has been updated.

How have you been able to change competences if the first draft was evidence-based?

You helped us uncover additional sources of evidence, which we’ve consulted. Existing evidence has also been revisited to address feedback about content and gaps including assessment and diagnosis; ethical competences; difference and diversity; suicide and self-harm and medical model language.

In more general terms the ERG has reviewed and agreed changes to the language to make it more inclusive of a wider range of approaches without changing the underlying meaning.

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Gateways and entry points

What are entry points and gateways?

Entry points are where the competences and practice standards can be achieved upon graduation from a course that meets the criteria for the column.

Gateways refers to progression points when further post-qualifying training and experience enable a member to progress from one column to another.

A course may meet the competences for a certain column but not include the full number of client hours or supervision required for that level of practice. These could subsequently be gained through ongoing experience, thereby allowing a gateway from one column to another.

The mapped gateways and entry points in this draft framework reflect existing accreditation schemes, registration points and membership categories but in the future, there could be other mechanisms for recognising post-qualifying training and experience that meet the competences and practice standards.

Is accreditation the only route into column B?

Currently individual accreditation is the main mechanism for demonstrating that a member has met the competences and practice standards in column B. If the framework were adopted we’d need to agree ways in which existing members - who have chosen not to apply for accreditation - could demonstrate that their post-qualifying training and experience meet the requirements in column B. The same goes for members who meet the standards for column C. 

These mechanisms don’t exist yet and we would need to engage with you and other stakeholders further to begin to envision what these may look like.

We’d expect future training to take account of the framework when planning courses for new trainees and for offering top-up and progression courses.

However, each column represents a stage of professional qualification and training which should be recognised and should offer access to paid employment. We’ve put together some examples of how members would fit within the framework if it’s adopted.

Where does senior accreditation sit?

Although individual accreditation is the only existing mechanism for demonstrating the competences and practice standards for column B, the current mapping does not include the BACP Senior Accredited member category.  This is because senior accreditation is a mark of further skills and experience rather than a measure of further training and or qualifications, although some practitioners will have acquired competences in column C during the process. 

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How will a shared framework help clients?

The draft framework in its current form is not designed as a public facing document but the information it contains offers the possibility of making things clearer for the public. If the public understand what you can offer, we believe they’ll more easily be able to get the help they need. We’d like to use this work to showcase the profession. If we can help signpost how therapists can help clients with their concern, we can more easily get them the support they need. 

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Background to the project

What’s the Scope of Practice and Education for the counselling and psychotherapy professions (SCoPEd) all about?

SCoPEd started out as 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 who work with adults.

Our vision for this project is to find a shared way of representing the therapeutic work of counsellors and psychotherapists - which we know profoundly changes people’s lives. The current landscape is rich in different traditions, practices, and associated titles, but it’s also confusing for employers, commissioners, clients and trainees.

If we can agree a shared framework which respects our different traditions, practices, and training routes but which upholds common standards, we’re in a stronger position to talk to external stakeholders about opportunities for all our members. In this way we hope to increase access to counselling and psychotherapy for clients in recognition that they have diverse needs and access therapy in many different settings.

We’re confident in this framework's potential to maximise paid employment opportunities for our members. It’s more important than ever to offer clarity and support for our clients and employers following the recent outbreak of the coronavirus and its aftermath, when counselling and psychotherapy will be crucial in helping the nation to heal.

In November 2020, the project group was expanded to include four more Professional Standards Agency (PSA) Accredited Register bodies; Association of Christian Counsellors (ACC), Association of Child Psychotherapists (ACP), Human Givens Institute (HGI) and National Counselling Society (NCS).

The fact professional bodies are working together to agree shared standards increases confidence and credibility in our members.

What research has been done that highlighted the need for SCoPEd?

We actively promote our members using the current membership categories. However, beyond our own membership, the difficulty is that there’s no common framework for training and standards across professional bodies. Terms such as ‘accredited’ and ‘registered’ mean different things in different organisations. Having a shared framework will actively help us when campaigning for roles and opportunities. Experience shows us the current differences in training and standards is confusing and does cause difficulty when talking about our field to those outside our own memberships. We also know that title alone does not indicate whether somebody is more highly trained or more experienced. The advantage of a shared framework is that it provides a shared benchmark against which these differences can be mapped and explained.

This has been a long-standing difficulty in the field which has been generally acknowledged for many years. In practical terms, the three founding organisational members of the SCoPEd project put historical differences to one side to work together on a shared framework based on the evidence of existing training and practice standards. Our experience is that it is difficult to advocate for more paid roles for counsellors and psychotherapists when we cannot differentiate between our members. We know this means our members being side-lined or passed over even when the counselling and psychotherapy workforce would meet the growing mental health crisis we face. At worst we are seen as offering little more than well-meaning support and at best we are seen as having something really valuable to offer, but our profession is very difficult to engage with because of the myriad of training routes, qualifications, titles, modalities and professional rivalries.

In this respect a formal research project was not needed to identify the issues. Rather our focus has been on finding solutions to the problems we had already encountered.

What’s 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 attitudes that are key to working effectively in a specified area.

By mapping existing competences and associated practice standards, the SCoPEd framework identifies the knowledge, skills and attitudes that are relevant to counselling and psychotherapy. The project mapped existing competences across the field to ensure the most comprehensive results.

Competence frameworks are a starting point and we recognise they don’t capture the full complexity of what happens in therapeutic work. However, they give us the language to promote the knowledge and skills of our members to external audiences; including employers and commissioners.

What are practice standards?

Practice standards include client hours, supervision, personal therapy, and placement requirements.

Due to the complexity of the work and the focus on the three participating bodies, it was decided to limit the mapping of practice standards to the three participating organisations. This could, of course, be extended at a later date.

Why can’t BACP promote its members as things currently are?

We actively promote you using the current membership categories.

Beyond our own membership the difficulty is that there’s no common framework for training and standards across professional bodies. Terms such as ‘accredited’ and ‘registered’ mean different things in different organisations. Having a shared framework will actively help us when campaigning for roles and opportunities. Experience shows us the current differences in training and standards is confusing and does cause difficulty when talking about our field to those outside our own memberships.

We also know that title alone does not indicate whether somebody is more highly trained or more experienced. The advantage of a shared framework is that it provides a shared benchmark against which these differences can be mapped and explained.

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

There’s clear evidence in the draft framework that there are different entry points and progression points within the profession in terms of competences and practice standards.

The levels aren’t saying that one therapist is more important than another, but that different therapists have different training experiences and expertise when they enter the profession and as their career progresses; like any other professional group.

There was a lot of debate in 2009 about the difference between competences at entry point and the practice of individual therapists over time. While the Professional Liaison Group (PLG) was constantly reminded that the work was meant to be about entry level, the debates, including our own at the time, were always about practice - where there continues to be an overlap.

The objective of SCoPEd was to see if we could map what the evidence showed. This more inclusive evidence-based approach is one reason why the debate has progressed from the areas identified during the 2009 PLG discussions.

Is this work about moving towards statutory regulation?

There are no current plans for statutory regulation. It’s not within BACP’s remit to seek statutory regulation nor is there any direct relationship between the SCoPEd work and the likelihood of statutory regulation.

If the government considered some form of statutory regulation in the future, the outcome of SCoPEd, and the collaborative nature of SCoPEd, would put us in a better position to contribute to the clarification of the field and the setting of standards.

Why weren’t other professional bodies asked to join at the beginning of the project?

The existing collaboration between BACP, BPC and UKCP was a starting point to build relationships and encompassed more than just the SCoPEd project. However, other stakeholders, including organisations with PSA Accredited Registers, were invited to comment throughout the first SCoPEd consultation processes and it was always the intention of the collaboration to freely share the outcomes of this work.

Though we didn’t include more professional bodies within the project team to start with; published standards and competences from other professional bodies were analysed and included where appropriate during the literature research stage. These documents are detailed in the methodology document (Appendix iv).

The widening of the SCoPEd project group to include new partners is an important landmark in the project because it brings more voices to the table and increases collaboration between professional membership associations.

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