On Friday 4 September we held a live question and answer session for members about the SCoPEd project. Chief Officer for Membership and Operations Chelsea Shelley was on hand to put your questions to Fiona Ballantine Dykes, Deputy CEO and Chair of the Technical Group for the SCoPEd project, and Dr Clare Symons, Head of Research at BACP.

You can watch the full video of the event below, including a pre-recorded introduction from BACP CEO Hadyn Williams which we were unable to play at the event due to technical issues.

During the event we received over 260 questions from members via the chat box function. Many of the questions covered similar areas which we’ve collated into themes with examples of the types of questions asked.

Question theme 1: Practising competences outside a column

Examples of questions asked:

Are you saying that if someone is in Column A or B they cannot do what is listed in Column C?

What are the implications for working outside of the column competences?

I work in private practice, does this mean that I cannot work with specific clients?

The framework columns illustrate what is in the training competences and practice standards at the point of entry to the level, but it doesn’t mean that therapists may never develop skills to practice other competences. We recognise that everyone’s experiences are different, and that experience will grow through professional practice and continuing professional development (CPD). All members are valued and trusted, and are expected to work within their limits of competence according to the Ethical Framework – SCoPEd is no different in that way.

Question theme 2: Diversity and inclusivity

Examples of questions asked:

How are you ensuring that mechanisms will be as or more accessible?

What processes will be in place to quickly address any disadvantage as a result of changes?

The framework encourages diversity and inclusivity by having different entry points that value different levels of training that can be undertaken in varied settings. We will ensure that the gateways and mechanisms for demonstrating additional competences and practice standards will be accessible as they will be more transparent. BACP is committed to making sure that these will be fair, attainable and affordable. BACP is more widely considering its position and policies on diversity and inclusion which will feed into the work of SCoPEd.

Question theme 3: Accreditation

Examples of questions asked:

Is SCoPEd replacing accreditation?

What’s the benefit of accreditation post-SCoPEd if you will already be in column B without going through it?

If the framework were to be adopted, we would expect to align our accreditation schemes with the framework. For existing members who have chosen not to apply for accreditation, we’ll need to find new agreed mechanisms to enable them to evidence their competences. As the framework is still in a draft phase, we can’t confirm how these mechanisms will look, but we’ll be engaging with members and stakeholders to develop them.

In the longer term, aligning accreditation with the framework would preserve the value of accreditation. We’ll continue to engage with members throughout the SCoPEd project so you can continue to feedback on all areas of the project.

Question theme 4: Personal circumstances

Examples of questions asked:

Can you tell me what column I would be in with my course, experience or contact hours?

What do I need to do in addition to get into a specific column?

We’re unable to answer questions about individual circumstances at this stage of the project. SCoPEd has not been adopted and the processes that would go with adoption therefore don’t exist. We do recognise that this uncertainty is difficult for some members. What we can say is that if SCoPEd were to be adopted, over time we’ll be able to answer these more specific questions. We’ll be able to support those members who do wish to progress through the framework by putting in place agreed mechanisms to enable members to evidence their post-qualifying training and experience to meet the column requirements.

Question theme 5: Supervision

Examples of questions asked:

Are there any thoughts about where the competence of supervisor fits in the proposed framework?

If I understand correctly supervisors are not included and it is supervisors who support and can identify their client's level of competence. Is this being tackled bottom up rather than top down in order that supervisors can also support worried counsellors in this?

The framework does not specifically seek to cover supervision however, supervisors of course play a role in helping therapists identify their level of competence and ability to work with specific clients or issues. You can find out more about our supervision framework here.

Question theme 6: Personal therapy

Examples of questions asked:

Is Fiona able to say anything specific about why the three bodies were unable to agree around personal therapy?

If personal therapy is a crucial part of certain training routes, why has there not been agreement on minimum personal therapy requirements given that most diploma courses require at least 20 hours per year?

Personal therapy competences weren’t included in the mapping as there isn’t consistent agreement on this requirement. The view is that personal awareness can be gained in a number of ways including personal therapy and for that reason personal therapy as a minimum requirement remains outside of the framework.

Question theme 7: PSA register

Examples of questions asked:

Why isn’t the PSA register enough?

To successfully sit on a PSA register, therapists will have met the competences and practice standards of that particular register – which differ from membership body to membership body. What the SCoPEd framework does is map these competences and practice standards and show where therapists may sit in the wider landscape. One of the project aims is that it’ll then make it easier for employers, stakeholders, clients and the public to understand what type of therapists might be best suited to their needs.

Question theme 8: Adoption of the framework

Examples of questions asked:

How will the SCoPEd framework be implemented?

Will members have to reapply to BACP?

Will members have to actively demonstrate where they fit to retain BACP membership?

At the moment the SCoPEd framework has not been adopted, so we cannot confirm how adoption will take place or what it will look like. What we can say though, is that BACP members will not be affected in terms of their membership and we envisage that at a minimum all members will sit in column A and accredited members in column B. The agreed mechanisms that will need to be created will be communicated with members before any work is undertaken and a period of cross over will be accounted for.

We’ve put together some case studies to try to illustrate how we envisage members might sit within the framework.

Question theme 9: Clients

Examples of questions asked:

What are the plans for client or general public feedback on the framework?

How will clients and potential clients be made aware or understand the framework?

As it stands, the project and framework document itself are not designed to be client or public facing. Client understanding of training and modalities is not the same as that of those within the profession, but they should be able to feel confident in understanding the level and appropriateness of their therapist’s trainings and experience. This is ultimately an important aim for SCoPEd. There will be wider stakeholder feedback as we move on with the project and wider pieces of work should SCoPEd be adopted.

Question theme 10: Titles

Examples of questions asked:

Will certain use of titles be banned as a result of the framework?

My title was awarded to me when I became BACP accredited ten years ago. Will this be compromised or taken away under the framework?

Although titles have been removed from the framework for this draft iteration, there is an aspiration that participating bodies will work to agree shared titles based on further member engagement. We appreciate that titles carry huge weight and meaning for individuals and our different traditions, but the evidence shows that the way titles are used currently does not necessarily reflect their training and experience. It would be helpful for external audiences if it is possible to agree titles.

Question theme 11: Democratic process

Examples of questions asked:

Did you seek members permission to do this work?

How do you justify the cost of this work when some don’t want it?

Do the majority of members (across the three organisations) actually want this?

BACP’s Board of Trustees, elected by members, mandated work on the project and continues to keep a close eye on progress. As a membership body we understand that we work on behalf of our members and fully believe that the SCoPEd framework will be beneficial in providing clarity in the current landscape and open up opportunities for all members. Although we’re aware that some members aren’t happy with the SCoPEd framework, there are a vast amount who are supportive of the work we’re doing. We see these responses through our engagement with members around the project and through questionnaires and surveys that go out to all members.

Question theme 13: SCoPEd failure in its aims

Examples of questions asked:

SCoPEd seems to have created significant confusion and concern amongst members.

The aim of SCoPEd is to bring clarity and member feedback suggests that they are supportive of the project aims. We’re aware of the frustration experienced by some members where we’re unable to give specific details of where they may sit within the framework or what evidence they will need to provide to be in a certain column. What we can say is that if SCoPEd were to be adopted, over time we will be able to answer these more specific questions and alleviate member concerns.

Question theme 14: Three partners to amalgamate

Examples of questions asked:

Will there be an amalgamation of the BACP, BPC and UKCP to become one professional body?

There are no plans to merge the three professional bodies and this wasn’t an aim of the SCoPEd project.

Question theme 15: Mechanisms, gateways and grandparenting

Examples of questions asked:

Why can’t gateways be incorporated within the framework and agreed before acceptance?

Will there be grandparenting and what will be the cut off points?

To finalise how mechanisms fit in the framework will only be possible if and when the framework is adopted. It’ll be a huge piece of work to understand all of our members' qualifications, CPD and additional experience as every member will have a different journey. This will all need to be understood before we can commit to how these mechanisms will work. For current members there will be a period of cross over before anything is implemented (if the framework is to be adopted) but we anticipate a form of grandparenting will take place.

Question theme 16: Members leaving

Examples of questions asked:

What is your response to members leaving because of SCoPEd and opting to join other membership bodies?

Members leave BACP and other membership bodies for a variety of reasons and we’re aware that a very small number of members have stated SCoPEd as the reason that they are leaving. The SCoPEd framework maps the current landscape and whether BACP continues with the project or not, the same issues will remain. Our experience shows that the current differences in training and standards is confusing and causes difficulties when talking about our field to employers and stakeholders. Having a shared evidence-based framework to benchmark against will be a major advantage.

We’re currently having conversations with some of the other PSA register holders to discuss how they can be more actively involved in the project and will update members on the progress of this over the coming weeks.

Question theme 17: BACP roles and responsibilities

Examples of questions asked:

Is BACP moving away from a supporting and guiding role to its paying members towards a policing and licensing role?

Why can’t you just promote your own brand and your own standards with confidence?

BACP has always promoted its own members with confidence. However, being able to benchmark to a shared framework will promote greater confidence in the profession and open up more opportunities for our members to work with more clients in more settings. The benefit of the SCoPEd framework is that it will help us to promote all our fully qualified members as it’ll be easier and much clearer to show what they do.

Question theme 18: BACP benefit

Examples of questions asked:

Is there a financial benefit to BACP?

Is this a push to get members to become accredited?

The aims of the SCoPEd project are not to create any financial benefit to BACP or either of the partner organisations. Accreditation is, and will remain, a personal choice for members and the SCoPEd project does not aim to push members to become accredited. One of the mechanisms which will need to be created is to show how members who have chosen not to become accredited can also meet the competences of column B with their additional training and experience since becoming qualified.

Question theme 19: Empirical research

Examples of questions asked:

In column C it says ability to successfully complete empirical research - does that mean we have to do that to be in column C?

Evidence of being able to meet the competences within a column is a requirement so members who wish to sit in column C will need to demonstrate this competency, which is a standard expectation of qualifications delivered at higher levels. How members will evidence that they meet these competences will form part of future discussions looking at mechanisms and gateways as part of grandparenting arrangements.

Question theme 20: Employer consultation and advocacy

Examples of questions asked:

To what extent have the collaboration spoken to employers about how they will use this?

How are you engaging with employers?

The NHS do not seem to recognise our training but want us to re-train in ways that are basically repetitive. How would this framework make us more acceptable to the NHS?

We’re talking at every opportunity to a range of employers about the SCoPEd framework and what effect they think it may have on them in their current form. Early indications are that they could see more clearly the knowledge, skills and experience of all our members at all levels which will enable them to employ the most suitable therapists for their client needs.

This framework will help us advocate for paid employment for our members. The difficulty for employers, including the NHS, is that there’s no common framework for training and standards across professional bodies. Having a shared framework with clear competences and practice standards will actively help us when campaigning for roles and opportunities. Experience shows us the current differences in training and standards is confusing and does cause difficulty when talking to employers. The advantage of a shared framework is that it provides a shared benchmark against which we can describe the knowledge and skills of our members.

Question theme 21: Fundamental principles

Examples of questions asked:

Do you understand that objections might not be around fear of change but that fundamental principles, for example there is no difference between counselling and psychotherapy, are under threat?

There’s clear evidence in the draft framework that there are different entry points and progression points within the profession in terms of competences and practice standards.

The levels aren’t saying that one therapist is more important than another, but that different therapists have different training experiences and expertise when they enter the profession and as their career progresses; like any other professional group.

Overall, the practice of counselling and psychotherapy is a continuum and the different entry points and gateways are not aligned with title. However, it would be clearer for external audiences if shared titles could be agreed - which is why this remains an aspiration.

Question theme 22: Regulation of the profession

Examples of questions asked:

Is there any relationship between the framework and any future thinking about regulation of the profession?

BACP is not aware of any plans for statutory regulation. It’s not within BACP’s remit to seek statutory regulation nor is there any direct relationship between the SCoPEd work and the likelihood of statutory regulation.

If the government considered some form of statutory regulation in the future, the outcome of SCoPEd, and the collaborative nature of SCoPEd, would put us in a better position to contribute to the clarification of the field and the setting of standards.

Question theme 23: Diversity throughout training

Examples of questions asked:

“Diversity is woven throughout the training". That has not been my experience. So, how do you assess that happens effectively in training classrooms and environments?

It is true that currently diversity is often taught as a separate subject in training. The SCoPEd framework actively tries to address this by ensuring that diversity is woven throughout all the themes of the framework and every aspect of therapeutic work. If the framework is adopted this would strongly support the need for training to take a much more integrated approach to diversity which is desperately needed. BACP has already started a project - working with experts to help us get this right for accredited courses.

Question theme 24: Supporting unethical practice

Examples of questions asked:

How does SCoPEd protect against unethical level 7 accredited ‘psychotherapists’? They exist.

SCoPEd can’t change the fact that there are unethical therapists at all levels. This is true of any profession. However, it does make it clear that ethical practice is a requirement for all therapists at every stage of their practice.

Question theme 25: Unpaid volunteers working with complex clients

Examples of questions asked:

Actually, some of the most complex clients present to volunteer placement counsellors. How is it OK that unpaid volunteers work with them, but paid practitioners would have to be in column C to work with any complex presentations?

Often trainees and newly qualified therapists are expected to work with complex clients not always by choice but because of pressure on services. What is likely to be different is the way in which therapists at different levels of training and experience work with complex clients. These kinds of differences are captured in the framework.

Within the questions we received during the live Q&A, a few related more specifically to other work that BACP is engaged with such as support for paid employment, ethics and online training during Covid. We’ve not included them in the themes here but further details about all the work of BACP can be found on our website, in Therapy Today or communicated through our ebulletin.

We always recommend that members look for information on SCoPEd via our ebulletin and on our dedicated SCoPEd web page. Here you’ll find up to date news items, details, regularly updated FAQs and case studies to illustrate our vision of how members could fit in the framework.

If you can’t find the information you're looking for please email us at SCoPEd@bacp.co.uk.

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