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BACP? UKRCP? What's it all about?

posted 22 Feb 2012, 05:47 by Christine Schneider   [ updated 23 Feb 2012, 00:50 ]
Unfortunately, at the time of writing, the terms Counsellor and Psychotherapist remain unprotected in the UK. This means that pretty much anybody can use these titles regardless of how, where,when and if they trained. (You can read more about this dilemma here.) At the same time there are several professional bodies who offer membership and accreditation to therapists. The main accrediting body in the UK is the BACP (the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy).  Practitioners who are accredited by the BACP follow specific set guidelines, including for example how their work is supervised, how many hours of ongoing professional development they agree to do each year, and the way they work in general. BACP accredited therapists also have undertaken specific training back when they qualified. It doesn't mean that their training was better or worse than that of therapists who aren't accredited by the BACP, it simply means that there is a way of moderating how many hours of training they had, what subjects were included in their training and how much experience they have in general. As of 2012, all BACP accredited practitioners, together with practitioners who have accreditation from other professional bodies*, have been included on the United Kingdom Register of Counsellors/Psychotherapists (UKRCP), which is a voluntary register of Counsellors/Psychotherapists held by BACP. (You can find more information about this move here and more about the UKRCP in general here.)
So, what is it all about? It simply means that you'll find that rather than advertising themselves as accredited by specific bodies, therapists may  list themselves as UKRCP Registered Independent Counsellor/Psychotherapist. Hopefully, this should help reduce the amount of different names and titles that are currently in use and make it easier for clients to recognise  registered practitioners. Keep in mind though that this is a voluntary register and that not all counsellors who have the necessary qualifications and experience may decide to be listed. Remember that if you're not sure about a practitioner's qualifications or experience, you can always ask them - if they're genuine they won't mind answering your questions. If you haven't done so yet, have a look at the article I wrote a while ago on how to find a good counsellor or psychotherapist and what kind of questions you should ask.

*These are Counselling & Psychotherapy in Scotland (COSCA), the United Kingdom Association for Humanistic Psychology Practitioners (UKAHPP) and The Federation of Drug & Alcohol Professionals (FDAP)