To become a BACP member, a therapist must be professionally trained and commit to practising in line with our Ethical Framework.

But sometimes members may not meet the professional standards we expect.

We rely on clients, the public and members to bring complaints about poor or unethical practice to our attention so we can take appropriate action. Ultimately this protects both the public and the reputation of the profession.

What we can do

Our professional conduct procedure (PCP) is our main process for considering complaints about poor or unethical practice by a BACP member.

We can deal with complaints about:

  • a therapeutic service (including counselling or psychotherapy) provided by a BACP member
  • concerns over a member’s conduct which is not related to a therapeutic service, for example if the therapist has been convicted of a crime or behaves inappropriately

We can’t deal with complaints about:

  • individuals or organisations who weren’t BACP members at the time of the event
  • matters of a legal nature or claims for compensation

We can accept complaints from:

  • clients
  • a client’s representative
  • a parent or guardian representing a child under 16
  • a representative for an adult who lacks mental capacity

If you are making a complaint on behalf of someone else, we may need their consent to consider the complaint.

Sometimes we may bring complaints against members ourselves if we receive information that makes us question a member’s conduct or whether they should remain in membership.


We must receive complaints within three years of the event you're complaining about, unless there are good reasons why it has taken longer.

If you were under 16 when you received the service, the three years start from your 16th birthday.

What action we can take

Our aim is to ensure that members address the poor practice that leads to complaints. If a complaint is upheld then, depending upon the seriousness of the issue, we can:

  • advise a member on how they can improve their practice
  • impose a requirement for specific changes or improvements in their practice
  • withdraw or end their BACP membership
  • publish details of the complaint and any sanctions (see our Publication policy)

If they fail or refuse to comply with sanctions, we may withdraw their membership.

We can't stop a practitioner from continuing to practise or help you to get financial compensation.