We’ve been conducting research to look at the skills therapists have as they enter the profession.

The aim of the Scope of Practice and Education project (SCoPEd) is to increase the understanding of counselling and psychotherapy so that people outside our field recognise its value and see our members as part of the solution to meeting the needs of clients as part of an expanding psychological workforce. 

“We want to promote the value of therapy and advocate for opportunities for all our members. This is what this project is about,” said our Chief Professional Standards Officer Fiona Ballantine Dykes, who is chair of the project’s technical group.

The project started with research that looked at existing training and entry levels to our professions. This was put into a framework, which was then sent out to our members and stakeholders as part of a consultation.

Starting point

“The mapping of the existing training was a starting point which then gave us something to consult on,” said Fiona.

A pattern emerged that indicated that courses, competences and practice standards currently provide three entry points to our professions.

“It also captured the huge range of skills that therapists have to offer clients at the point of qualifying. This is then enhanced by further experience – which isn’t included in this project or represented in the draft framework."

Since then we’ve received additional pieces of evidence from our members to include in the work which is on-going.

Welcome all voices

Fiona added: “We’ve been really pleased with the engagement level with this project, and a massive thank you to all those who contributed with evidence that we may have missed in our initial work. We welcome all voices in this important project.

“We believe, from initial conversations with relevant stakeholders in the world of commissioning and employment, that being able to describe these different entry points will help them see what therapists can offer to those in need when they have first qualified.

“But we want to understand if members can see benefits too. This is why we’re committed to consulting with you before any decisions are made.

“A very important part of this work was sharing the initial research findings with our members. 

Work with members

“This project is ongoing, and we’d like to work with members to look at how we could use or improve this framework.”

Fiona added: “Rather like counselling, we are engaged in a process that we expect and hope will be of benefit though we don’t know exactly what the end point will look like.

“We understand that not having answers about how you might fit into any future framework has been a source of anxiety, in much the same way that not knowing exactly how therapy will help can be difficult for a client.

“This is why we continue to involve you at every stage of the process.”

In response to initial feedback the project team has been recruiting additional members to the Expert Reference Group (ERG), which will ensure we widen the perspectives of those involved and give new viewpoints on all aspects of the work, including the language of the competences and the terms associated with each entry point. 

Important lessons

Fiona said: “I think we have learned important lessons about how we could have represented this work better.  Thank you for your feedback so far on how we may improve this.  Recruiting new members to the ERG is just the first step in trying to address some of the concerns you have raised.”

We are committed to continuing our consultation with members on this work.

It will take us time to add all of the feedback into the project but we have published some of the initial work on this.

Fiona added: “One final thing to mention is how much we value our members.  We want to get this right and represent you in the best way possible to ensure you are recognised for your work in changing people’s lives and making a difference.”