July 9th 2019
All counsellors have an ethical responsibility to their clients, some will have signed up to a Code of Ethics with a regulatory body such as the BACP (British Association for Counselling Practitioners), UKCP (UK Council for Psychotherapy), or the NSC (National Society for Counsellors) etc. As with all professions, as they begin to become more widespread, they become more susceptible to mal practices and we find that regulations become the order of the day. It is important to note, however, that for the time being, Counsellors do not have to be registered with a regulatory body.
Of course, it is right, we do need to protect our people. However, regulatory bodies bring their own set of issues and as they begin to grow they expect more from their Counsellors in terms of education, examinations, proof of training, etc, etc. The BACP’s proposed SCoPEd Framework which proposes a hierarchy of counselling practitioners is an example. They have recently consulted their members on a proposal for three levels of counsellor which are loosely described as ‘qualified counsellor’, ‘advanced qualified counsellor1’ and ‘psychotherapist’.
None of this, of course, takes into consideration Counsellors who are not ‘career Counsellors’. So what do I mean by that? I mean, Counsellors who have a genuine passion and desire borne through experiences of their own, to help others. Counsellors who have not just been trained but understand the issues of human frailty on a much deeper level. Possibly the type of Counsellor that you would want to have sat in the room with you whose own experiences of pain, betrayal, injustices, inadequacies and the like, bring a genuine empathy and congruence to another person’s life. That is an unmeasurable quality, and in my opinion, a necessity and not something which can be hierarchically divided up.
Our clients would be well advised at the assessment process, to note whether they are comfortable with their counsellor, that they feel accepted and unjudged and free to go away and think about whether the Counsellor is right for them before making any decisions. We must never forget, that just as with any profession, whether it be school teachers, lawyers, church ministers or doctors and dentists, you get good service and not so good service whether or not you are well learned, well qualified or well accredited with a professional body.