Online and phone therapy competences

Our 'Online and phone therapy (OPT) competence framework' (published February 2021) sets out the knowledge, understanding and skills required for OPT practice.

The 'OPT training curriculum' (May 2021), which is underpinned by the OPT competences, is aimed at training providers delivering OPT training. It has different options for student counsellors and qualified practitioners with varying levels of existing competence, ranging from initial core training to an extended course, or top-up training and CPD.

You can use our OPT competence framework to map your existing competence and identify further training and development needs. If you feel you're competent in all areas of the framework, you don't need to undertake further training. However, if there are any gaps in your knowledge or skills, you should take additional training or CPD to comply with the Ethical Framework. We don't currently have an OPT course accreditation scheme so we recommend you look for a course informed by our OPT competences or curriculum.

The speed of IT development means that any published guidance can only reflect a specific moment in time, so practitioners should regularly explore and assess technological innovations and their potential impact. It is a practitioner's responsibility to continually update their practice with regard to OPT competences to ensure they are ‘working to professional standards’ (Ethical Framework, Good practice points 13 and 14).

Online and phone therapy CPD

There are several short OPT CPD courses designed for those already working remotely or to supplement formal OPT training.

How to do counselling online: A coronavirus primer

This online course was specifically developed by The Open University and BACP in April 2020 to enable practitioners to move their practices online when the pandemic suddenly made face-to-face work impossible.

This primer was not intended to act as a replacement for a full OPT training course but can still be used to supplement OPT training.

Video and phone counselling 2.0: advancing your knowledge

This online course is designed as CPD for qualified or student counsellors and psychotherapists who already have some experience of working remotely, or who have completed a core OPT training course.

Developed jointly by the Open University and BACP, it provides real world and practical support to help members build their knowledge and confidence, and improve the effectiveness and safety of the therapy they offer remotely. It includes various activities, films illustrating practice, audios from experts and a quiz to check understanding.

The content is based on and informed by research conducted both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. The OU and BACP research study, conducted in 2020-2021, was the biggest qualitative study to date examining counsellors' experiences of offering video and phone-based therapy.

All content has also been checked by BACP Professional Standards.

This course covers elements of the OPT training curriculum, but does does not include all aspects suggested for full core or extended OPT training. So taking this course will not necessarily mean that you have gained competence in online or phone counselling. Competence is best assessed through evaluation of your online counselling practice by an appropriately qualified supervisor or tutor.