How do I know my therapist is qualified?

A recent program (Victoria Derbyshire, 2nd November 2017) highlighted the dangers of allowing 'therapists' who are not appropriately trained, qualified or supervised to practice without adequate regulation. Whilst there are registers of practitioners who are trained and qualified, there is no legal requirement for any practitioner to join these registers, and anyone can advertise themselves as a counsellor or psychotherapist without any training, qualifications or experience whatsoever.

This is not true of other professions: physiotherapists and chiropractors cannot call themselves 'physiotherapists' and 'chiropractors' unless they are properly qualified.

Whilst there may be some very good, safe and effective counsellors and psychotherapists who have not completed a recognised course of training and qualification, anyone consulting such a practitioner has no way of knowing just how safe and effective they are. Because there is no statutory regulation, anyone can claim to be qualified, and it is perfectly legal to invent a string of letters to add to your name on a business card. It can be very difficult for members of the public to know what to look for, so on this page I will offer a few suggestions.

Firstly there are some voluntary registers that practitioners can join. BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psycotherapy) and UKCP (United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy) are probably the two principle registers, and these organisations do check the credentials of practitioners who are on their registers. Practitioners who are on these registers are entitled to advertise themselves as members of BACP or UKCP. Of course, someone could falsley advertise themselves as BACP or UKCP registered, but the registers are availble online and it is relatively easy to check the onlie register to confirm that they are definitely registered. There are other registers (apart from BACP and UKCP) but these two are probably the most widely recognised for counsellors and psychotherapists.

Secondly, do not be afraid to enquire into the training of the practitioner you are thinking of consulting. If someone claims to have a Diploma in Counselling from a specific training establishment, do an internet search on that qualification to see just how thorough the training was: how many hours of training did it involve, how many hours of practical experience were required, and whether the practitioner was required to have their own therapy as part of their training.

It is important that anyone offering counselling or psychotherapy has had their own therapy to ensure that they do not 'act out' any of their own issues with clients: you wouldn't want your GP to be suffering from untreated typhoid when you go for a consultation, and you don't want your counsellor or psychotherapist to have an untreated psychiatric disorder when you go for a consultation.

Before starting therapy, arrange to speak with a few different therapists, and ask them about their training. Ask them how long it took them to qualify, ask them how many years they've been practicing, and how many clients they've seen. Make sure they have a supervisor, and ask them which professional register they are on.

All qualified therapists were trainees once, and it isn't necessarily a problem if your therapist is still in training and has only just started to see clients (if they are still in training their skills will be very recent!), but if your therapist is a trainee they should be having their own therapy with their own experienced therapist, and they should be in supervision with an experienced supervisor. Don't worry - the supervisor will not be sitting in on sessions - the supervisor will be speaking to your therapist in between sessions to ensure that he or she is working safely and effectively with you.

The following is from the official UKATA page:

============================================================================================================================================ Why choose a Transactional Analysis Psychotherapist? In contrast to some practitioners who are able to use the title of 'psychotherapist' after only two years of training, a Certified Transactional Analyst Psychotherapist's qualification process is extremely rigorous, as it has to meet two sets of criteria. In addition to those of the 'Gold' standard of the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), which requires qualification to Masters Level, the Certified Transactional Analyst Psychotherapist has to meet the rigorous criteria of the European Association of Transactional Analysis (EATA). Under these two bodies as a minimum requirement a Certified Transactional Analysis Psychotherapist must:

• Have completed no less than four years of post-graduate psychotherapy training of at least 900 hours (including supervision).
• Have no less than 750 hours of previous experience as a practitioner, at least 50 of which must be with couples or groups.
• Have been supervised by a senior practitioner all through the process at a rate of one hour of supervision for every six hours of work with clients.
• Understand mental ill health through undertaking a placement with psychiatric specialists.
• Abide by professional ethics required by both UKCP and EATA.
• Have engaged in their own personal therapy for no less than the duration of their training.
• Submit evidence each year to demonstrate they are continuing their professional development before and after qualification.
• Submit and pass a written Dissertation/Case Study of no less 24,000 words.
• Understand child & adult psychological development.
• Have passed an oral examination with a panel of four Certified Transactional Analysts.


Please click here for my C.V. to view my training and qualifications.

If you have any questions, or if you'd like a brochure or an initial consultation, please contact me by email, by telephone on 01394 278887 or by mobile 07787 980281.