We’ve contributed to a BBC documentary which has highlighted some of the most important public protection issues within our profession.

The programme, I Can Cure You: Online Mental Health Cures, examines the risks of unqualified and unregistered practitioners offering online treatment for mental health issues.

The documentary features the stories of clients who’ve seen some of these people and the impact it’s had on them.

Trained professional therapists

It highlights the extensive training our members have, the ethical and professional standards they’re required to meet, why people should choose a registered therapist and also explains how positive therapy from a trained, professional therapist can be.

We were invited to take part in the documentary and believe it’s important that our voice is heard on these issues; for our members, for the profession and for the public.

The documentary, which is available now to watch on the BBC’s iPlayer, was produced and presented by journalist Jordan Dunbar, and was prompted by his personal experience of therapy.

Caroline Jesper, our Head of Professional Standards, was interviewed for it and spoke powerfully on the topics.

Safe and trusting

She said: “You should be able to feel safe and trusting of your therapist so you can open up and explore all the things you need to talk about in therapy.

“Therapists need to be authentic, genuine, grounded, and be able to offer empathy.”

Caroline also spoke about the amount of training BACP members need to go through to qualify as therapists.

“The training that I went through was really rigorous , really demanding,” she said.

And she raised her concerns about unqualified therapists who aren’t members of a professional body practicing.


“I feel angry for members of the public who are potentially being exploited by these people and harmed,” she said. 

We’ve issued a statement to the documentary team setting out our position.

It said: “We’re concerned that many members of the public don’t realise the risks of seeing unqualified, unregistered practitioners.

“Our fear is that clients working with unregistered therapists are more at risk of harm, as they’ve no assurance as to the level of training and proficiency of their therapist, who will not be required to meet the standards and expectations of a professional body.

“Therapy provided by trained, registered professionals can have a hugely positive impact on the lives of people, families and communities.

“It’s important people choose a therapist who’s a member of a professional body that has a Professional Standards Authority accredited register – such as BACP’s.

Professional and ethical standards

“This means they know they’re seeing a therapist who’s highly qualified, who adheres to high professional and ethical standards, and that there’s a complaints and conduct procedure in place on the rare occasion that there’s a problem with therapy.”

A number of BBC outlets have reported on the documentary and our concerns, including BBC1's Morning Live, BBC News Channel and BBC online, as well as BBC Radio 1's Newsbeat, BBC Radio 4, BBC Asian Network, and the BBC's regional radio stations Merseyside, Oxford and Ulster. Fiona Ballantine Dykes, our Chief Professional Standards Officer and Deputy Chief Executive, was interviewed live on BBC Radio Kent on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Professional Standards Authority also put out a statement on the programme. It said: “We recommend people choose practitioners from a register we have accredited rather than from an unaccredited register or someone who is not registered at all.”

Read the PSA statement.

Watch I Can Cure You: Online Mental Health Cures.

Video credit: Tom Beal/BBC News

Picture credit: BBC