The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) is pleased that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are advocating for mental health, but warns against people who are “home and feeling bored” during the ongoing coronavirus crisis doing short online training courses to become a counsellor.

“This is a matter of public protection, and we feel strongly that an Instagram post encouraging online training to become a counsellor is irresponsible,” said our Deputy Chief Executive Fiona Ballantine Dykes.

“Our counsellors complete rigorous training, and adhere to high ethical and practice standards to ensure they help their clients to improve their psychological wellbeing. You have a huge responsibility, as a counsellor, dealing with someone’s mind – we don’t think an online training course is enough.”

As the professional association for members of the counselling professions in the UK, representing more than 52,000 counsellors and psychotherapists, we feel their social media post could cause harm.

Counsellors and psychotherapists are needed more than ever before during the coronavirus crisis, but they need to be appropriately trained and held to a regulatory framework, like the one we have in place to protect the public.

We would always encourage people to learn more about mental health and ensure they’re looking after their wellbeing. Listening, offering support and using counselling skills can help people but this is not the same as seeing a trained professional. This point is crucial - you need to know when a qualified therapist is needed to protect someone’s mental health.

We only accept onto our register counsellors and psychotherapists who have completed an approved training course which meets minimum standards and includes a supervised placement of at least 100 client contact hours.

In addition, our members have often undertaken prior qualifications in counselling skills and theory needed to meet the entrance requirements for practitioner courses. Accredited members on our register will have met higher requirements and practice hours.

We ensure our members 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 would always strongly 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.

You can find a counsellor or psychotherapist who can help you by visiting our Therapist directory.