18 November 2009

Update on the potential regulation of psychotherapists and counsellors

The consultation on the recommendations of the Professional Liaison Group (PLG) has now closed. We received more than 1,000 responses to the consultation, the majority from individual practitioners in the field as well as from service users, charities and professional bodies.

Our analysis of the responses we received is ongoing, but it is clear that a variety of different views have been put forward which we need to properly take into account in determining the most appropriate way forward. In particular, the area of potential differentiation between psychotherapists and counsellors has drawn significant interest and debate.

The Council will meet on 10 December 2009 to consider the analysis from the consultation. It is likely that the Council will also ask the PLG to undertake further work.

Subject to a decision from government to proceed with statutory regulation, we would consult again, following the publication of a Section 60 Order under the Health Act 1999, on the proposed standards of proficiency and educational thresholds. The Department of Health itself would also consult on the draft Section 60 Order.

The purpose of statutory regulation is to protect the public. Statutory regulation will protect members of the public by setting standards, protecting commonly recognised professional titles and providing a way in which complaints can be dealt with fairly and appropriately. The HPC agrees with government that the regulation of psychotherapists and counsellors is necessary for the protection of the public. The final decision about whether regulation goes forward is one for government.

Michael Guthrie
Director of Policy and Standards