Graham Cocking, Registrar of International Society of Professional Counsellors [ISPC], posted the following message on March 11th on counselling.ltd.org
I have today received another letter from the HPC and they included with it a letter that the Dept of Health has or is sending to counselling and psychotherapy Professional bodies.
Open Letter to professional organisations within psychotherapy and counselling
Progress towards statutory regulation of psychotherapists and counsellors
The Government has long accepted the need for psychotherapists, counsellors and other members of the talking therapies to be statutorily regulated in the interests of public protection. This follows complaints over many years of practice by apparently inadequately trained practitioners, and complaints of financial or sexual abuse of clients.
Statutory regulation provides a system enforced by law which sets down:
o standards of competence for a profession;
o standards of education and training by which people may meet those standards of competence;
o a register of those competent, with protected titles which may he used only by those registered;
o a means of dealing with registrants who become unfit to practise either by ill health, misconduct or lack of competence, by modifying or removing their registration where necessary so that they do not remain a risk to service users.
Preparation for statutory regulation
Before a law can be passed to provide statutory regulation, there needs to be an infrastructure in place to allow these functions to happen. The Government's intention is that psychotherapists and counsellors should be regulated by the Health Professions Council. This is a regulatory body operating a common regulatory framework which covers 13 healthcare professions and has developed criteria for assessing whether new professions are ready for statutory regulation. These criteria are:
o Discrete, homogeneous activity undertaken by the profession
o Defined body of knowledge
o Evidence based practice
o One professional body covering most practitioners
o Voluntary register of practitioners who are deemed fit to practise
o Defined entry routes to accredited training
o Externally validated qualifications
o Code of conduct
o Disciplinary procedures applied to registrants whose fitness to practise is in question
o Commitment to Continuing Professional Development.
Regulation via the Health Professions Council
The Government is firmly against the proliferation of regulatory bodies as this causes confusion for the public and leads to lack of consistency across healthcare professions. The Government has ruled out the possibility of a separate Psychotherapy Council. For this reason statutory regulation will be via the Health Professions Council.
Next steps: Mapping training and qualifications
The professions of psychotherapy and counselling cover a number of different roles.In order to meet the criteria for statutory regulation, the first step is to map the number of different roles within psychotherapy and counselling. The Department of Health has funded two umbrella organisations, the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), to carry out a mapping exercise of all current training and qualifications in the fields of psychotherapy and counselling. This will compare all existing training and qualifications to determine how many different roles, modalities, and different levels of practice there are within the two professions. Where roles are identified as substantially different from any other within the field it will be possible to set standards of competence and training for each different role, with protected titles to reflect their different identity. However where roles are essentially the same but accessed through the different organisations' accredited training, the mapping exercise should enable these roles to be identified as similar so that the same standards can be set and applied to all. It is important that all current training and qualifications are compared to ensure that any future application to the Health Professions Council does cover the whole range of the professions.
The mapping exercise is scheduled to finish by June 2005. There will then be a need to identify further work needed to meet the ten criteria for regulation by the Health Professions Council. It is expected that this work will take about 3 years. Statutory Regulation is unlikely to happen befoe 2008.
The mapping exercise needs to be as inclusive as possible if it is to ensure that all current roles are satisfactorily covered. The Department of Health has asked BACP and UKCP to ensure they cover all current training and qualifications within the mapping exercise. If your organisation currently provides or accredits training, or if you have practitioner members whose training should be included in the exercise, either BACP or UKCP should contact you to involve you in the exercise. Alternatively you may wish to contact them direct as follows:
Lisa Wake email@example.com
Sally Aldridge firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note that the Department of Health endorses this exercise by BACP and UKCP and hopes that all psychotherapy and counselling organisations will take part. The Department of Health is unable to enter into individual correspondence with individuals or with organisations while the mapping exercise is in progress.
End of letter