Standards of Qualification and Professional Qualification in the UK for psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, counselling, hypnotherapy
The UK has two primary types of regulation – statutory regulation and “light touch” voluntary regulation, the so called Accredited Register (AR) schemes. Each is applied differently depending on the therapy offered. Therapists are usually subject to one or another in their “core” therapy. It is normal not to be listed for all therapies offered, just the core one or two. Otherwise you duplicate and run up bills!
Statutory regulation in UK Therapy
Some areas are subject to statutory regulation, usually via the HCPC (Health and Care Professions Council). These include certain areas of psychology (not general, holistic or psychoanalytic psychology). Statutorily regulated therapies are listed on the HCPC website. It is an offence to claim to provide these therapies or use these job titles unless registered.
Voluntary Regulation of Complementary Therapies
In 2011 the UK Goverment supported and part funded the creation of the CNHC – Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council to apply voluntary regulation to the complementary therapies. A range of therapies are subject to this regulation, including hypnotherapy. A full list can be found on the CNHC website. Registration is voluntary, but being listed on the regulator list means you have achieved a recognised standard of competence in qualification and practice. membership is via accredited professional bodies for each therapy, and the standards applied were created through consultation with lead bodies in the industry. For example UKCHO (UK Confederation of hypnotherapy Organisations) took the lead for hypnotherapy standards. Standards are also linked to NOS or national occupational standards, the good practice standards for the industry. CNHC is also an AR.
Other voluntary registers also occur including the GRCCT, which is completely independent and does not appear to have made great headway in the field, and ROHCP which is fairly new, quite comprehensive and has told us that they intend to apply for PSA AR status when they are ready.
AR Accredited Registers
These registers, of which CNHC is one, are overseen and maintained by the Professional Standards Authority. Note: these are registers and not regulators, with CNHC being the exception, being both. Nevertheless AR’s are seen as light touch regulation by another name. these were renamed from Accredited Voluntary Registers (AVR) to Accredited registers (AR) in December 2014 to make it more clear that the standards enforced are comparable to statutory standards.
‘The PSA is an independent body, accountable to Parliament. The PSA was asked by the Government to set up the AVR (AR) scheme in 2012, to offer enhanced protection for anyone seeking health and social care services that are not statutorily regulated.’
(PSA statement: Professional Standards Authority)
Membership of an AR for your core therapy means that you have proved certain strict standards of qualification and practice and are subject to agreed ethics and codes of conduct which apply across all AR schemes.
Frankly it does not really make much different which AR a practitioner is registered with, as long as it is in a core therapy. All AR’s have common strict standards and therefore provide a benchmark of quality.
There is however a major problem with the AR scheme. It is expensive to register a professional body as an AR. This means many smaller, highly professional bodies in specialist areas simply can not afford to take part. Fortunately those bodies who have a therapy regulated by the CNHC can allow their members to register with that AR scheme as long as the professional body meets the strict criteria of both the CNHC and AR.
Which professional bodies apply in regard to Stuart and Denise at Scotlandtherapy?
Stuart is a Fellow of the National Council of Psychotherapists, another accreditation route for CNHC.
Stuart and Denise are members of the Federation of Holistic Therapists, again an accreditation route for the CNHC, and also an AR scheme.
Stuart and Denise are members of the National Association of Counsellors Hypnotherapists and Psychotherapists, another accreditation route for CNHC.
Stuart and Denise are registered hypnotherapists with the CNHC, an AR and voluntary regulator.
Stuart and Denise are both AR listed and regulated under the core therapy of hypnotherapy, simply because of their core therapies this was the first one to achieve voluntary regulation, in 2011, several years before the others.
What other professional bodies hold AR’s?
At the time of writing this page, March 2014 there are 10 AVR schemes, with several including CNHC, UKCP, BACP, NCS, NHS and FHT all representing psychological therapies of one core type or another. A full up to date list can be found on the PSA Website.
Why are all therapists simply not subject to statutory regulation?
Statutory regulation is ideologically flawed since it seeks to over regulate what is essentially a very personal yet professional relationship and conversation between therapist and client. Therapy is part science and part art or intuition and it is simply not possible to create rules and standards so tight that it defines a flexible conversation unique for each client. HCPC tried and failed to statutorily regulate counselling and psychotherapy, and the draft set of standards they produced were hailed with horror among many therapists (especially analysts and humanists) as being alien, false and unfit for purpose.
There is no concrete evidence, in fact hardly any credible evidence at all that there is any hidden mountain of client abuse to protect the public from. When abuse does happen, it often involves “rogue” therapists to evade any professional registration at all and who would simply evade regulation as well. Conversely therapists subject to statutory regulation such as clinical psychologists and medical doctors continue to abuse and commit malpractice, it is not prevented by the regulation.
From personal experience of CNHC and AR, I (Stuart) am required to have enhanced disclosure PVG registration to ensure I am not a criminal offender or risk to the public, I am required to have clinical supervision, and I am required to complete CPD (continuous professional development training) to keep my skills up to date. In order to be registered I have needed to complete approved training in my core therapies of psychoanalysis, stress counselling and clinical hypnotherapy to qualify via my ASM training. My actual registration initially was via NACHP (as was Denise’s) which required approved levels of qualification and practice in counselling and psychotherapy as well. If I was to commit malpractice, I would be subject to proceedings, and if found guilty and struck off an AR, I would be prevented from joining any other AR in the future. Therefore the level of standard is pretty much identical to a statutory scheme, just with more flexibility of style and practice. This is achieved since each professional body that becomes a route for AR, although they have to meet strict standards as mentioned, they can maintain their unique style and approach, maintaining choice and diversity in the industry.
Legal bit: The above information is correct to the best of my knowledge at the time of printing. Readers should follow the provided weblinks and check for themselves the current and correct state of play. The views expressed are those of Scotlandtherapy, not of any other organisation mentioned or listed.
CNHC have issued a new Conduct, Ethics and Performance brochure which applies to all CNHC registrants. It is extremely comprehensive. It covers information handling, tax reporting, prevention of disease spreading, health and safety. It is active from June 2014
People listed with CNHC are subject to extremely high levels of regulation.