The Society has been in in consultation with training schools about the potential impact of the coronavirus on counselling training and practice.
The Society’s aim is to ensure that counselling practice and training can continue in an unhindered manner as far as possible in the following scenarios:
- Face to face classes, whether for Accredited Courses, Advanced Specialist courses, Quality Checked courses or CPD, cannot take place for an extended period of time
- Face to face counselling cannot take place for an extended period of time
- Placements cannot take place face to face for an extended period of time
- Registrants have to self-isolate or become ill
- The Society ceases being able to maintain staff at its Worthing Headquarters.
Following consultation with a variety of trainers, the Society is implementing the following:
Training schools can make individual decisions regarding temporarily postponing and rearranging classes where necessary and do not need to inform the Society about this. Trainers are encouraged to consider rearranging classes in a way that catching up does not unduly delay intented graduation dates.
The NCS proposes the following potential options to assist counselling training where trainers feel it is necessary.
- Training schools will be entitled to “front load” theoretical and other non “face to face” elements of their syllabus to delay the necessity for face to face contact until later in the course, if such modification of their syllabus is possible and does not adversely affect course quality. Any trainer implementing substantial syllabus changes should inform the NCS professional standards team and every care should be taken to ensure that the course can still be delivered in an appropriate manner.
- Trainers may interview potential students by phone or Zoom/Skype etc. provided that said interviews are demonstrably thorough and cover all questions expected for due diligence necessary to make an informed decision to commence training. Particular care should be taken to establish the identity of any student admitted onto a course who has been interviewed by these methods.
- In the event where postponing classes or rearranging classes is insufficient, trainers wishing to temporarily vary their face to face training hours and replace a proportion of these with online “webinar” style alternatives may do so provided that it is appropriate for their training and that it continues to allow that training to fulfil its intended requirements (e.g. qualifying as a counsellor.). Trainers should inform the Society and work with us to ensure that accreditation standards are appropriately maintained. We will examine all variations in training on a case by case basis to ensure that the quality of our Accredited Register is maintained.
- We will also be engaging with placement providers where indicated and will be flexible in understanding situations where placement hours have been conducted or fulfilled online or by phone.
- We will do everything possible to support and reassure training schools and to ensure that counselling training can continue during the current public health situation, and would like to reassure students that everything possible is being done to ensure that their training is not unduly affected. Students should feel confident that they are supported and that all training can continue.
Coronavirus Placement Policy
The NCS is implementing the following policy for the continuation of placements during the current public health crisis.
Based on the placement provider's individual assessment of each student's safety and competence to transition their current face to face placement work to an online or phone based alternative, the NCS temporarily permits, for the duration of the current public health crisis, placement work to be continued online or by phone.
Trainers may reserve the right not to accept this and this is an individual decision for trainers to make based upon their own assessment of their students and the way in which they wish them to work.
It is particularly important that trainers and placement providers ensure that their students have specific competencies in place to deal with this change in working, that students are well supported, and that students have the right to decline to work in this way without prejudicing either their placement contracts or training outcomes.
It is also important that the decision to change the manner of working is based upon not only an individual student assessment, but also an individual client assessment, and that where it is considered inappropriate for either student or client to work in this way then it should not be permitted.
This policy is based on weighing any increased risk to clients from abruptly halting (or delaying the start of) their counselling against any risks arising from moving the placement counselling relationship away from face to face work. The NCS believes that, provided that placement providers, supported by robust supervision arrangements, are happy to temporarily conduct this work online or by phone, this will be acceptable.
For the avoidance of doubt, placement hours accrued in this way during the current public health crisis will count towards the hours required for registration and accreditation with the NCS.
Trainers are advised that they may accept online or phone based placement hours as part of their training requirements at this time.
Placement providers, trainers and students are advised to check insurance where relevant to ensure that cover is extended to this eventuality. We have been in communication with two of the major insurance providers, both of whom assure the Society that their cover will be applicable, but the onus remains on placement providers and students to check their insurance policies for confirmation.
Consideration should be given to prioritising online video technology (e.g. Zoom) as this may be preferable to phone base counselling in terms of it more nearly replicating the face to face environment.
The NCS will update this policy as required.