For the last five years, along with the British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC) and United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), BACP has been engaged in the unenviable task of determining a shared framework of training requirements and practice standards for counsellors and psychotherapists working with adults across the profession as a whole.
This joint project, SCoPEd (Scope of Practice and Education), has expanded to include a further four membership bodies registered with the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) – the Association of Christian Counsellors (ACC), Association of Child Psychotherapists (ACP), Human Givens Institute (HGI) and National Counselling Society (NCS) – and all seven partners are currently consulting on the final iteration of the framework, published in July 2020.
I say ‘unenviable task’ because, given the range of therapeutic modalities, options of training pathways, and treatment approaches that constitute our profession – from time-limited, evidenced- based, manualised protocols at one end of the spectrum to long-term, open-ended, psychoanalysis (with appointments up to five times per week) at the other – attempting to map minimum training standards, knowledge and experience across such a broad church of treatment options must inevitably prove challenging.
As Julie May writes in her feature on SCoPEd, a motivating factor behind the project is to ensure that our skills and training are better understood, valued and trusted by the public, thereby supporting clients in making better informed decisions when it comes to selecting a practitioner suitably experienced and qualified to meet their needs.
We will all be aware of the confusion in the minds of many of those who seek out our services when it comes to knowing whether or if there’s a difference between counselling and psychotherapy, what the vast range of therapeutic modalities actually mean in practice, and what (if any) difference there is between accredited and non-accredited, registered and non-registered status, or how a level 7 counselling qualification compares with a postgraduate diploma, or a psychotherapy master’s or doctorate compares with a psychoanalytic qualification.
Added to which is the question of how the work of counselling psychologists compares with that of counsellors and psychotherapists. Unlike the majority of counsellors and psychotherapists, they are state registered through the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and, in contrast to their fellow professionals, have protected title status, which means it’s illegal for anyone not properly qualified to call themselves a clinical or counselling psychologist.
Meanwhile, as we know, anyone can call themself a counsellor or psychotherapist, with no recourse to the law, whatever their level of training, or lack thereof. So some clarity on these complex questions must surely be necessary.
Unsurprisingly, given the evident unlevel playing field when it comes to training that currently exists within the membership of the seven partner organisations, BACP acknowledges that the response to the project to date has been mixed, with some members expressing fear of how SCoPEd might impact their livelihoods.
Over the coming months, BACP will be working to communicate the progress of SCoPEd and the benefits it can deliver for members and the wider society. As part of this process, the SCoPEd team would like to hear about any specific concerns you have relating to SCoPEd and working in private practice. Please send your questions or concerns – up to a maximum of three – to me at the email address below by 30 June 2021.
We will aim to publish as many questions and answers as we can in the September issue.
John Daniel, Editor firstname.lastname@example.org