BACP recognises play therapy as an important therapeutic tool in helping children in distress and play therapists can be admitted to membership and registration by BACP if their play therapy training meets the requirements for membership/registration with BACP. That is, that it constitutes a core practitioner training as defined by BACP. What BACP does not recognise are less substantial Continued Professional Development (CPD) courses alone, that are not built on a foundation of a core practitioner training.

A core practitioner training in counselling and psychotherapy is an in-depth professional practitioner training programme based on recognised standards of quality and competence. These standards have a coherent theoretical and philosophical rationale for practice, and are designed to train individuals to be reflective, competent and ethical counselling or psychotherapy practitioners. Less in-depth play therapy trainings are regarded by BACP as Continued Professional Development (CPD).

BACP does not evaluate a core practitioner training by title alone but takes a more complex approach to the assessment of the content based on the aforementioned standards. In brief, the core practitioner training should encompass a definable mix of the following elements:

  • knowledge based learning
  • therapeutic competencies
  • research awareness

To meet the requirements of BACP membership/registration a core practitioner training would be based on face to face (as opposed to online) tuition and need to be a minimum of a one year full time or two years part time in duration and include a supervised placement, of a minimum of 100 contact/client hours as an integral part of the course.

BACP firmly believes that in order to work safely and ethically with this vulnerable client group counsellors and psychotherapists working with children and young people (CYP) must be able to demonstrate the additional competences identified in the BACP Counselling with young people competence framework.

This is because counselling children and young people differs from counselling adults, particularly in terms of the developmental and communication stages of this client group, as well as the methods and context of delivery. It is also vital that counsellors or psychotherapists working with CYP have knowledge of safeguarding and specific aspects of the law to work safely with CYP. (see competence framework above)

In summary, BACP requires CYP practitioners to have a specific professional CYP counselling qualification, which may include play therapy and to be a registrant on an accredited register, or have the equivalent experience of working with young people, under the supervision of an experienced supervisor (who themselves have specific knowledge and competence in working with children and young people).

All such practitioners are also required to take part in regular, relevant CPD. BACP through its Counsellor/Psychotherapist Accreditation Scheme enables experienced practitioners with a minimum of 450 hours of supervised practice to submit their practice to a robust process of scrutiny to attain the award of BACP Accredited Counsellor/ Psychotherapist. CYP practitioners are encouraged to aspire to accreditation to demonstrate mature and specialist competence.

Register standards

All BACP members practising in the UK are also required to be on BACP's Register. Being on the BACP Register demonstrates that a counsellor and/or psychotherapist exceeds the minimum level of competence that a client should expect from a practitioner, as well as protecting the health and safety of the public by ensuring rigorous standards in the practice of talking therapies.

The route to the register is through BACP's Certificate of Proficiency (CoP). The CoP is an assessment which enables members to demonstrate their awareness of the knowledge, skills and abilities required to be a professional counsellor or psychotherapist. BACP's Register is currently accredited by the Professional Standards Authority for Health & Social Care and, as such, has been independently assessed and approved as meeting the Accreditation Programme's standards.

BACP is committed to setting high standards of entry, practice and public protection. We believe that members of the public should be able to choose a counsellor or psychotherapist with every confidence that they have appropriate training and experience and are bound by a robust ethical framework and conduct procedure.

All BACP members are bound by the Ethical Framework for Good Practice for Counselling and Psychotherapy. (From 1 July 2016 this will be replaced by the Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions.)