‘Our care system is failing the mentally ill’, published on Monday 26 August addresses some important issues that can arise in the care of people with mental health problems and we know that sometimes things can go wrong, especially if this care is not properly regulated.
However, the piece fails to accurately reflect the regulatory framework in place for psychotherapists and the role and commitment of professional bodies, such as BACP, BPC and UKCP to high professional standards and ethical practice. The article also misleadingly portrays a view that simply being a statutory regulated healthcare professional removes any chance of malpractice or being an unsafe practitioner. When serious issues arise, we have robust procedures in place to deal with them.
As the leading organisations for the education, training, accreditation and regulation of 65,000 counsellors, psychotherapists and psychotherapeutic counsellors in the UK, it is important we correctly outline the current regulatory framework that is in place for counsellors and psychotherapists, through the Professional Standards Authority’s accredited register scheme and the high standards we have in place to protect the public.
We only accept onto our registers counsellors and psychotherapists who have completed an approved training course and/or certificate of proficiency. In the case of BACP, which is mentioned in the article, the minimum length of practitioner training is one year full-time or two years part-time, which includes a placement of a minimum of 100 supervised client contact hours. In practice members have often undertaken prior qualifications in counselling skills and theory needed to meet the entrance requirements for practitioner courses. Accredited members on the Register will have met higher requirements and practice hours.
We ensure our individual members and registrants continue to meet standards and practices through regular quality assurance reviews. The protection of the public is upheld at all times by a Complaints and Conduct Process and standards for practice.
We welcome the debate around regulation, and should there be a political commitment to a move towards statutory regulation of counsellors and psychotherapists, we want to be central to developing a system that would deliver the strongest possible level of public protection.
We would urge any member of the public looking for a counsellor or psychotherapist to choose a practitioner from a register accredited by the Professional Standards Authority and a member of a professional body with an ethical framework and complaints procedure.