Remote working

Training hours

We’ve introduced changes to our requirements for teaching delivery and placements for new cohorts starting from 1st September, including a requirement for a minimum of 70% of training to be delivered face to face and in person. The remaining 30% can be delivered remotely providing the delivery is synchronous, live and with a tutor. You can find further detail about our guidelines on our website, and these can be incorporated into your planning for teaching delivery after restrictions are lifted.  

If your training institution is unable to provide in-classroom teaching for 70% of the time due to government restrictions, we’ll be accepting live online teaching that is facilitated by tutors in a virtual classroom towards your required training hours for membership and accreditation.

Placement hours

Requirements

The current 100 hours supervised practice requirement is a national standard for entry to the profession. We’re encouraging courses to be as flexible as possible to enable you to complete these hours, for example via an extension or mitigating circumstances policy.

We’re accepting online or phone sessions to count towards your qualifying hours on a temporary basis and we’ve updated our entry requirements to include some remote training and placement hours for any new student cohorts from 1st September, including the ability to carry out up to 50% of placement hours online by video or video and phone. However, it's up to your course provider, as well as your placement, to decide whether this aligns with their protocols and standards. Any practice hours that are not approved by your course cannot be counted towards accreditation or membership requirements.

If you are unable to carry out placement hours face to face because of government restrictions, we’re not putting any limit on the number of remote sessions allowed, provided you can return to face to face work as soon as is reasonable, practical and safe to do so.

Your remote placement hours must still be:

  • carried out with genuine clients, rather than peers from your course for example
  • in an appropriate setting with appropriate clients
  • assessed (or marked) as an integral part of your training
  • supervised

The focus of any training and practice should be on using online video platforms or the phone, not text-based or email counselling which requires additional skills and knowledge.

Competence

From the 1st September or after restrictions are lifted, we’re asking courses to ensure their trainings meet our new membership entry requirements for any new student cohorts, and accredited courses are required to map their trainings to our Online and phone therapy (OPT) curriculum if they want to incorporate OPT competences and remote delivery on a permanent basis.  

If government restrictions are still in place or reintroduced in your area, you may begin work with clients remotely if you’ve been taught and assessed as competent in the elements included in the Core training (option 1) in the OPT curriculum

You must also have appropriate supervision in place with a supervisor who has experience and confidence in working online or by phone. We recommend a ratio of one hour's supervision to eight hours counselling, and that you speak with your supervisor fortnightly.

Assessment of competence to work face to face with clients

If restrictions continue in your area, you may get to the end of your training with only online or phone placement hours. If you’re on an accredited or approved course, your training provider must ensure that your qualification includes assessment of your competence to work face to face. They may do this by extending the training period or adding an additional level of assessment for face to face working.

We’re strongly urging courses that aren’t BACP accredited or approved to follow a similar approach to ensure all students on core practitioner training courses will be competent and qualified to work face to face with clients on completion of their course.

This is necessary to:

  • set and uphold a consistent standard in line with our professional duty to protect the public
  • meet the requirements for BACP individual membership
  • maintain access to face to face employment opportunities and future career progression
  • ensure that those who qualify during the pandemic period are able to work within limits of competence in the future by being ‘competent to deliver the services being offered to at least fundamental professional standards or better’ (BACP Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions, Working to professional standards, point 13)

If you’re unsure whether your course will qualify you to work face to face with clients, we recommend you discuss these issues with your training provider.

See our guidance to find out how your training provider may assess for competence to work face to face.

Working with children and young people training requirements

Training providers must develop measures to ensure that appropriate training and assessment (linked to competences) is in place before trainees can practise online or by phone with children and young people. We recommended that while any government restrictions are in place, students only work with existing clients under 16 who they already have a relationship with.  

There is now more flexibility related to placement hours with the 16 to 18 age group, providing students have:

  • taken part in additional learning provided by training providers and been assessed as competent
  • a placement provider that supports this work and appropriate insurance is in place
  • a supervisor experienced in providing online or phone counselling
  • taken part in additional online training as recommended by us

Once government restrictions are lifted, all placement hours with children and young people need to be face to face to meet current BACP requirements and professional standards. We’re now developing standards for working remotely with children and young people so we’ll share an update on this in the near future.

Clients

Before you begin work with a new client, they must be assessed by an experienced practitioner in the placement for their suitability to work with a trainee and for working remotely.

You may need to register with the ICO if you’re using your own devices to practice.

While you’re in training, clients must be based in the UK as there are additional legislative, insurance and safeguarding issues for practice in other countries.

Support

Your course and placement provider should work together to ensure that you have appropriate support for working remotely. You should:

  • have support in place for debriefing or taking concerns about your remote client work
  • know what to do and where to go if you have concerns about client risk
  • have access to a list of additional support services and referral pathways that can be shared with clients when needed
  • have online or phone counselling sessions adequately spaced to take account of the intensity of working in this way

Supervision

Having supervision online can count towards your required hours, but check the requirements of your training organisation.

Peer supervision alone is not recommended for trainees.

Returning to face to face training and working

Your course and placement provider should enable you to return to face to face work as soon as possible - but only when practical and safe to do so and in accordance with current government guidance. 

You and your training provider will need to consider the ethical implications of undertaking face to face work.