May 2006 No. 14

In this Update

Braille papers and subtitles

We are delighted to announce that we are now able to offer students with limited sight the opportunity to order assessment papers and candidate user guides in braille. These are prepared for us by an outside company and there is therefore a charge of £10 per paper and £35 per candidate user guide, regardless of the level of the qualification. Four weeks notice is required for this service; please contact Marina ( for further details.

A reminder, too, that practice and assessment DVDs are available with subtitles for students with hearing difficulties. There is no charge for this service. Again, please contact Marina for details.


A man made a visit to his psychiatrist's penthouse practice. "Doctor, I'm very worried," he confided. "My wife thinks she's a grand piano."

"I see," said the doctor. "Bring her up some time and I'll see what I can do."

"Bring her up here?" exclaimed the man. "How am I supposed to get a grand piano up here in that tiny lift?"

The secretary in a mental-health clinic chose a new screensaver -- a picture of a dancing teapot playing the children's song "I'm a Little Teapot."

Seeing this, the resident psychotherapist posted a message on the secretary's desk: "Your computer is suffering from an identity disorder."

New look

We have now updated the design of our newsletter and changed its name to Update. Previous issues of our newsletter were posted to you, but with this new format we are emailing it. This is not only more environmentally friendly but it also means it's easier to read! You can still expect to receive Update quarterly, but through your inbox rather than your letterbox.

If you'd like to send us any comments or feedback on the new design please email them to

Data Protection Act

A student informed me recently that it is a requirement of the Data Protection Act that counsellors have to tell new clients in the first couple of minutes that they would be taking notes. Steve Johnson of Towergate kindly sought advice from the Data Protection Agency and returned to me with the following information: counsellors need to tell their clients at some time in the first session, that they will be making notes, where the notes will be kept and who will be reading them.

Tutors need to make sure that Counsellors are aware that clients have the right to read their notes. I advise my students to write very brief clinical notes, which could be given to the client, but to keep their ‘process notes’ separate. Process notes, in my definition, are my private thoughts, feelings and ‘wonderings’ that I keep about my clients and take to supervision, and I shred them at regular intervals.

I hope the above is helpful. The criteria guidance has been updated to reflect this. Please note that while it will be good practice to mention this in the external assessment tape, students will not be penalised if they omit it because it technically falls under criteria 1.1.2 which is not one of the external assessment tape criteria being assessed. Many Thanks.

Sue Chance
Deputy Head of Qualifications

Revisions to criteria

As you know, at CPCAB we are always keen to receive suggestions for improvements to our qualifications. We regularly approach tutors, students and others for feedback and the results are always carefully examined.

The feedback questionnaires completed by a large number of tutors last year revealed a number of interesting themes, such as a desire for simplified criteria and language. We have taken all your suggestions into consideration and offset them against the risk of overloading Centres with changes.

The resulting shortlist of revisions has now been approved by the QCA and they will be incorporated in our programme in September 2006. Full details of the changes will be forwarded to participating Centres with the new year’s documentation. The new specifications will be available on the CPCAB website from June onwards.

We hope you find them helpful and appreciate this response to your input.

Fiona Ballantine Dykes
Head of Qualifications

Supervision training

When CPCAB added this qualification to our framework, we believed it would be the logical next step for qualified and experienced counsellors. Supervision would seem to be an obvious “next step”, but the take-up has been lower than we had anticipated. A chance remark at our latest standardisation meeting made me wonder if I have uncovered a reason for this.

There seems to be a misconception that it is necessary to have achieved a level 5 training before progressing to TCSU-L6. This is not the case! CPCAB are very happy for counsellors to move into independent practice once they have sufficient experience and support from their supervisor. Any counsellor with two or three years experience will be eligible to attend supervision training. We have now made this item clearer in our Tutor Reference Manual.

I hope this clarifies the situation and look forward to hearing from Centres. If you have any other reasons for not offering the supervision progression route at your Centre, on the other hand, I would really like to hear from you.

Maybe we can help?

Sue Chance
Deputy Head of Qualifications

Training placements

The BACP Information Services Department is developing a database of training placements for its members. They also have produced BACP Guidelines for trainee placements / FHCP Guidance on good practice for management of counselling placements in healthcare settings. Carol Bradley at BACP, BACP House, 35-37 Albert Street, Rugby, CV21 2SG would be interested to receive information from organisations offering training placements to include in their database.

This initiative would be helpful to BACP student members seeking placements and to the organisations concerned. If you are in a position to help please contact Carol Bradley at the address above. Carol will acknowledge your submission with an acceptance letter, a copy of the Guidelines for Trainee Placements (appropriate to your setting) and a copy of the database.

Maureen Moore
Director of Qualifications Development

Skills (CSK-L2) and Studies (CST-L3) combined

CPCAB has been asked several times recently whether or not it is permissible for Centres to offer courses in Counselling Skills and Counselling Studies concurrently. This has prompted a full debate.

The short answer is that combining the two (rather than running them consecutively) is strongly discouraged for good reasons but ultimately the decision rests with the Centre. Some Centres are clearly managing this successfully and have a sound rationale for doing so, hence our willingness not to be inflexible. However, CPCAB cannot recommend this as a matter of course and strongly recommend that certain issues are taken into consideration. Please click here for further details.

Fiona Ballantine Dykes
Head of Qualifications


The ICSK-L2 Tutor Support Pack and DVD has been well-received by tutors and is the first of a series to support our counselling qualifications ranging from level 2 to level 6. New launches are planned from September 2006 beginning with Level 2 Certificate in Counselling Skills (CSK-L2).

To reserve your advance copy please email or telephone 01458 852054.

Staff and other changes

If you have had cause to telephone us at Head Office recently, you may have noticed that we have joined the technological age and installed a multi-choice answering service.

This was introduced as a result of research showing that an astonishing 85% or more of calls received were destined for either Marina (external assessment) or the Lilac Room (counselling professionals). The system is very simple, with just three choices on the menu, each of which will put you through to a human being. We hope you will find this reassuring!

At the same time we have reluctantly said goodbye to Leonie, our receptionist for the last year. Leonie is a lady of many talents - in particular, she is a highly talented fine artist, and is looking forward to moving her career forward in a new direction. We send her our very best wishes and thanks for her support during her time with us.

Who does what at CPCAB

We have a new automated telephone service at head office so if you need to contact us by telephone you will hear 3 options to select from before you speak to us. Therefore you may find the following information useful:

VRQ Qualification Service Staff Name Contact Details and Telephone Email
Centre Recognition and Approval (Incl. approval for additional qualifications) Lynda or Jackie 01458 850350
(followed by 2 when call answered)
Group and Candidate Registrations Marina 01458 852054
(direct line)
External Verification Service Lynda or Jackie 01458 850350
(followed by 2 when call answered)
Standardisation Training Jackie 01458 850350
(followed by 2 when call answered)
External Assessment & Appeals Marina 01458 852054
(direct line)
Certification Irene 01458 850350
(followed by 3 when call answered)