The PTF strongly urges the introduction of statutory regulation and has done since its inception. It warmly welcomes the fact that, in March 2014, the Minister for Health indicated his intention to regulate these areas of practice and requested a report from the Health and Social Care Professionals’ Council (CORU).
The PTF notes that within counselling and psychotherapy there is variety of ‘modalities’ of practice. This, in turn, makes the work of professional regulation, either on a voluntary or statutory basis, challenging. It seeks every opportunity available to work both with professional associations involved in such work, as well as with statutory agencies such as the Department of Health, CORU and QQI, to address the issues of professional standards, best practice and regulatory frameworks.
The PTF believes that there are areas of overlap between counselling and psychotherapy and acknowledges that there is a continuum of expectations in relation to learning and competence that needs to be respected. We proposed that statutory regulation should use the generic terms ‘Psychological Therapist (Counsellor)’ and ‘Psychological Therapist (Psychotherapist)’ to encapsulate both areas of practice and describe the collective and overlapping domains of practice in counselling and psychotherapy.
Currently there are differing levels of expectations of academic and professional training required for professional membership among the bodies who are members of the PTF. The PTF, therefore, is working to regularise all training and educational standards for entry to practice and for continuing professional development among its members.
The PTF defined what all member Associations designated as appropriate entry points to professional practice in 2008, when it made its submission to Government within which it identified standards necessary when working at a deeply personal level with individuals, groups and families. For a variety of reasons, entry to professional practice as a practitioner was recommended as requiring a minimum educational attainment of a four-year process with counselling at primary degree (Level 8 on the NFQ) and psychotherapy at postgraduate level on the NFQ (Level 9). These recommended standards continue to be supported by all current members of the PTF.