Awarding Bodies in Context
Professional associations usually:
- Do not award qualifications (this is normally the province of awarding bodies, who are usually - and in current contrast to most professional associations - subject to government regulation / approval / accreditation).
- Run an individual membership system, often involving different categories of membership, providing members (for an annual fee) with a range of services including specialist advice and information, networking facilities, access to conferences and seminars etc. Most individuals - regardless of training, experience or qualifications held - are usually eligible for at least one category of membership.
- Run an organisational membership system, often involving different categories of membership, providing members (for an annual fee) with a range of services including networking facilities, access to conferences and seminars etc. The CPCAB is an organisational member (or similar) of various professional associations. Training centres can of course also apply to a professional association for organisational membership.
- Offer professional accreditation (a listing on a professional register) to individual members who satisfy certain criteria. In the case of the BACP (British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy), for example, it is open for any trainee to apply to the BACP for counsellor accreditation (for instance). Such accreditation is independent of the particular qualifications held by the trainee (and the identity of the awarding body involved), being more concerned with such things as the number of accumulated training and practice hours. Training centres and trainees should not confuse this with course-recognition (see below). Professional accreditation may, in some cases, effectively amount to a 'license to practice' or the closest available thing to this. Note, however, that in the field of counselling there is currently no legal requirement for such accreditation or 'license'.
- Sometimes offer a 'course-recognition' application process. This is the case with the BACP, for example, to whom it is open to any training Centre to apply for course recognition in respect of any particular course (some CPCAB-Approved Centres have obtained BACP course-recognition in respect of courses leading to particular CPCAB qualifications). It is important to note that BACP course recognition is not dependent on the particular qualifications to which the course may lead, nor on the identity of the awarding body issuing those qualifications, but focuses more on such things as the training and experience of the tutor team. Such course recognition is outside the control or remit of awarding bodies, and is a matter for the professional association and the Centre concerned, although most awarding bodies would be happy to supply whatever support they can.
- Give advice - or pass judgement - on certain matters of an ethical and professional nature in relation, for example, to disputes (or complaints) connected to the professional activities of their individual members. Please note that the above list of the usual roles of professional associations is not necessarily comprehensive.
Relevant professional associations
There are a variety of professional associations operating within the UK in the field of counselling and psychotherapy. They include (not a comprehensive list):