The Health and Social Care Act
The Health and Social Care Act 2012, as amending the Health Care Professions Act 2002, provides for the Professional Standards Authority to accredit Registers of health and social care practitioners which meet the Authority's standards.
The National Counselling Society holds a register of practitioners which is accredited by the Professional Standards Authority under its Accredited Registers programme. As such, the Society's register meets the same robust standards as other counselling registers accredited under the programme and this has been independently verified by the Authority.
An Accredited Register is the result of a programme set up by the Department of Health and administered by the Professional Standards Authority who are an independent body, accountable to Parliament. The Professional Standards Authority accredits registers of people working in a variety of health and social care occupations. The Authority also oversees statutory regulators such as the General Medical Council and Nursing and Midwifery Council.
The programme was set up to provide assurance on the standards of voluntary registers and is the best way to promote quality within the field of counselling.
Being accredited under the Accredited Register programme offers enhanced protection to anyone looking for counselling services which includes:
- Members of the public seeking a Registered Counsellor
- Qualified Counsellors seeking to become Registrants
Counsellors on our register, also known as registrants, will be able to display the Accredited Register quality mark, as a sign that they belong to a register which meets the Authority's rigorous standards.
Members of the public will, from now on, be encouraged to choose a practitioner who belongs to a register which has been vetted and approved by the Authority. The Accredited Register programme was set up by the Department of Health to ensure that the public are able to choose safe, ethical and competent professionals for their health and social care needs.
The Society's position on standards
The Society's standards of entry to the Register are now benchmarked against Ofqual levels, where a Level 4 Diploma or equivalent is required for entry to the Register and further training at Levels 5 and 6 are required for progression in membership, e.g. to obtain Senior Accredited Registrant status. By benchmarking against Ofqual Levels the Society is demonstrating our commitment to ensuring that counselling training is independently verifiable as meeting national standards.
In addition, standards are benchmarked against the Society's Training Standards which draw from a variety of accepted sources.
The Society's Position on Regulation
The Society fully supports the current Accredited Register programme as offering protection to the public whilst balancing this with a right-touch approach to regulation. Allowing counselling and its associated practices to flourish, and promoting competition between registers, protects diversity in and access to training and allows professional associations to be central to the process.
Since 2012 the Society has made wide ranging improvements across our standards, including in governance, accountability, education standards, complaints, and listening to clients, as well as in equality and diversity. These improvements have been as a direct result of our involvement in the Accredited Register programme.