13 July 2012

Counselling and BACP Membership

Lately I have been embroiled in an incredibly difficult ethical dilemma, the nature of which I am not currently at liberty to reveal.  Unfortunately there are a few therapists out there that risk tarnishing the profession and may cause clients harm.

One of the BACP's roles is to protect clients. I would not consider being a counsellor without being part of a professional body. 

"The British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP) is a membership organisation and a registered charity that sets standards for therapeutic practice and provides information for therapists, clients of therapy, and the general public. As the largest professional body representing counselling and psychotherapy in the UK, BACP aim to increase public understanding of the benefits of counselling and psychotherapy, raise awareness of what can be expected from the process of therapy and promote education and/or training for counsellors and psychotherapists."

The point of this blogpost is to urge those seeking a counsellor or psychotherapist, or those helping others find a counsellor or psychotherapist, to make sure that the person they choose to go with, or the organisation they seek counselling with is a member of the BACP or the UKCP (a similar organisation with similar aims). Without this, in the event of a complaint there is no recourse or accountability. Seeing a member of either the BACP or UKCP offers some protection, as if you feel that your counsellor/psychotherapist has acted unethically towards you then there is a complaints procedure whereby you can make an official complaint and it will be investigated. If there is a serious breach of ethics then the practitioner may be struck off the register.

The sad thing is, anybody can set up to become a counsellor without insurance or membership of a regulatory organisation. Hopefully, government policy will change on this, because as it stands, there is nothing to stop unethical practitioners from abusing vulnerable clients or acting unethically.

Amanda Williamson is a professional counsellor working privately in Exeter, Devon.

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