A requirement for providers of adoption-related therapy to adults to be registered with Ofsted could be removed.

The Department for Education has published a consultation asking for views on potential changes to regulations to adoption support services.

This includes proposals to end the need for Ofsted registration for those who provide therapy to adoptees, birth parents and adoptive parents aged over 18 in England.

We’ve repeatedly called for this change to be made and it’s a topic that members and clients have contacted us about on many occasions.

We met with Ofsted last year to raise our concerns about the restrictions, and have also worked with other organisations and members to highlight this problem.

We’ve been worried about the lack of clarity for therapists and clients, and that it restricts people’s access to therapy.

One of the issues of the current system is that it’s sometimes difficult to know if counselling will centre around adoption before therapy starts.

If adoption-related issues are unearthed in counselling, under current rules the therapist is prevented from continuing to work with the client.

However, there has been some confusion about whether discussions in therapy that relate to adoption more broadly could continue. 

Martin Bell, our Head of Policy and Public Affairs, said: “We know members and clients have had concerns about the regulations around adoption support for a long time, and it’s something we’ve challenged both the Department for Education and Ofsted on.

“This consultation is a positive first step in making the system clearer and fairer for clients and therapists.

“We hope if changes are made they’ll help increase access to therapy for adult adoptees, adoptive parents and birth parents who need counselling support.

“Adoption can have a life-long impact on people and it’s crucial that anyone affected by it can access the mental health support they need.”

The proposal document refers to a Joint Committee of Human Rights (JCHR) inquiry which said that “therapy is not sufficiently accessible” and that the registration requirement for counsellors “acts as a restriction on the availability of counsellors”.

This report recommended “the Government should consider as a matter of urgency how to make sure that the necessary regulations to protect standards do not prevent mothers and adopted children getting the support they need.”

The document also talks about how removing this Ofsted registration requirement would mean adopted adults would be able to access counselling services in the same way as other adults.

It says that providers will work in line with any usual professional registration and training requirements.

The consultation document adds that providers of other types of adoption support services to adults, including counselling offered as part of intermediary services support, will still be subject to the registration requirement.

We’ll be responding to the consultation as an organisation – and would also encourage therapists and clients to submit their own individual responses too.

The consultation closes on 20 March 2023.

Read more about the proposed changes to adoption support regulation.

Take part in the adoption support consultation.