Professional Standards

Professional Standards - 'Standards' on a street sign

Professional registration

Several professional bodies oversee the counselling profession within the UK. These include the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), the National Counselling Society (NCS) and other bodies. Each of the professional organisations maintains an accredited voluntary register (AVR) of therapists registered with them. The Professional Standards Authority (PSA), a government body, oversees the registers to ensure that they all meet the same rigorous standard. Thus you can be confident that all registered practitioners are fully qualified and have met the criteria for registration. The PSA website lists all the accredited registers.

All our qualified therapists are individual members of one of the professional bodies and practice following the relevant ethical framework. While the specific wording varies from organisation to organisation, each of the frameworks aims to ensure the therapists practice safely, following best practices. All counsellors required to undertake regular supervision, engage in continuing professional development and to maintain professional liability insurance.

Occasionally we make take trainee counsellors near to completing the training. While they do not meet the criteria to be listed on an AVR, they are required to be student members of a professional body and to adhere to the same ethical standard.

What we offer

We primarily offer ‘person-centred’ counselling. The person-centred approach is primarily non directive. It aims to help you utilise your internal resources to help you explore and resolve your issues. We also offer a range of other approaches, including Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR). Sometimes it’s helpful to use a mixture of approaches, and that might change over the course of therapy.

We always endeavour to offer you the best and most appropriate therapy according to your need and preference. If you have questions about the approaches we use, please contact us.

We generally offer open-ended counselling, meaning that we do not fix the number of times we will meet at the start of therapy. Instead, we will see you for as long or short a time as necessary. You are free to end counselling at any time, though we ask you to give a weeks’ notice of intending to finish so we can plan a proper ending.

Sessions usually are about fifty to sixty minutes long, with one session per week. However, we can adjust each of the these as best suits you. Some types of therapy require more extended sessions, often when working with trauma.

Most of the counselling we offer is face-to-face in person, meeting within our offices. However, we might offer online or telephone counselling where necessary. Home visits may also be possible in exceptional circumstances.

Confidentiality

Counselling is strictly confidential, subject to the constraints of English law and ethical practice. Your counsellor will talk through the limits of confidentiality to you at the beginning of the first session and give you a written contract you can take away. If you have any questions about confidentiality, or anything else, please ask. But, in a nutshell, everything is confidential unless there is a real and current risk of serious harm to yourself or someone else. By this, we mean a life-threatening risk, rather than self-harm or something similar. Unless your life were in danger, we would not report self-harm or self-destructive behaviours.

Working as a couple

If we were to see you as part of a couple (or another group) and individually, it is a little more complicated. Typically, anything said in individual sessions remains confidential to that context. However, if you disclosed something significant, which the other person did now know, that might make it difficult, if not impossible, to work together as a couple. For example, if you said that you are having an affair while trying to save your relationship, you might have to disclose it if the couple’s work was to continue. If something like that happened, we would discuss how you wanted to proceed. Options might include your telling the other person, or discontinuing the couple’s work.

Ongoing abuse

There is no legal requirement for counsellors to report any form of abuse. However, we have a moral and ethical responsibility to act where someone is at serious risk. In such situations, we would work with you to agree the best way forwards. Most often, this would be helping you to decide for yourself what action you wanted to take (if any), and help you implement whatever course of action you chose.

In extreme circumstances, where someone is at grave risk of imminent, serious harm, we may have to inform the authorities. Wherever possible, we would look to do this with your prior knowledge (and, ideally, consent). However, such occasions are exceptionally rare. Most of the time, we would work with you and leave such decisions to you.

Any questions?

This page cannot hope to answer every question you may have. If you have a specific question, please call us on 0151 329 3637 or email enquiries@counselling-matters.org.uk and we will do our best to answer you.

You can also contact any of the professional bodies listed above and they will be very happy to offer advice.

If you have concerns about a child at risk, the NSCPP operate a 24-hour advice service. Full details are on their web page.

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