Many members will be aware of the collaboration between BACP, the British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC) and the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP). One of the most important strands of this work is a project to map professional competencies for our professions.

Here we give a brief explanation of what the work is, why we are doing it, and the professional context in which it is being undertaken.

What the work is

The Scope of Practice and Education for the counselling and psychotherapy professions (SCoPEd) is a collaborative project being jointly undertaken by BACP, BPC and UKCP.

The project is systematically mapping existing competences, standards, training and practice requirements within counselling and psychotherapy. It is using an evidence-based approach to identify the different and overlapping competences between them.

The initial mapping has been completed and the project has now moved on to working with an Expert Reference Group. The Group comprises members who have been nominated by each partnership body, allowing equal representation of interests. The Group has an impartial, independent chair.

The Expert Reference Group will advance the mapping process by consulting the counselling and psychotherapy literature to ensure that gaps are identified and that further evidence is sought. This will enable the Group to produce the final, evidence-based competence framework.

Why are we doing it?

Counselling and psychotherapy are not statutorily regulated. Professional bodies can apply for their own registers to be accredited by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) under its Accredited Registers programme.

The PSA sets standards for organisations that hold a register in a health or social care profession, and the focus of their programme is public protection.

The PSA-accredited registers in the field of counselling and psychotherapy each has its own distinct standards of training and practice. There are also no agreed common entry or training requirements to enter the field.

This causes confusion for the public, for clients/patients, for employers and for commissioners of services about what training and experience to expect when employing a counsellor or psychotherapist.

There is also confusion amongst those who are considering training in this field as there are disparate standards, with a wide range of courses available at differing academic levels geared to different client groups and professional roles, and sitting within different qualifications frameworks.

And why now… the professional context

We are undertaking the ScoPEd project now because it is simply time to do this work. There was complete agreement between BACP, BPC and UKCP that a proactive leadership role was needed in the development of generic standards for the counselling and psychotherapy professions.

The Department of Health recently held a consultation seeking views on proposals to reform the regulation of healthcare professionals in the UK. While no one knows where this will lead, we will be in a better place to navigate any future changes if we do this work now.

For further information

If you have any further questions, or to give us feedback, please email