September 2009

HPC - where are we now?

The PLG recommendations for the statutory registration of counselling and psychotherapy are now out for consultation. The deadline for responding is October 16th. Details of the consultation are available on the HPC website.

You can view CPCAB’s response here.

We urgently recommend that all our centres and tutors should also respond to this consultation - whether your views coincide with CPCAB or not. The summary of the PLG recommendations are as follows:

Draft Standards of Proficiency

The consultation includes the draft standards of proficiency for safe and effective counsellors and psychotherapists at the point of entry to the register. These standards are organised in 3 layers:

1.The shared HPC standards (in black). These are for all the HPC regulated professions. Although not written in language friendly to therapy they cannot be changed until a formal HPC review which is promised in the near future
2.The shared standards for counselling and psychotherapy (in blue)
3.The differentiated standards for counsellors and psychotherapists (in red)

Click here to view the complete set of HPC draft standards of proficiency.

Please note that these standards are about what a counsellor/psychotherapist needs to be able to do at the point they go on to the HPC register. Entry level counsellors are expected to work with common/general mental health problems (see draft standards of proficiency section 3a.1 in blue writing) when they first go on to the register whereas psychotherapists are expected to be able to work with more complex problems (see red standards for psychotherapy). However, counsellors may well go on to work with more severe problems and presentations when they are more experienced but NOT at the point of entry to the profession.

Similarly, psychotherapists who have undertaken appropriate trainings will be able to work with mental health and obstacles to mental health (proposed as standards for counsellors only) and could potentially register under both titles – counsellor and psychotherapist - at no extra cost if they can meet both sets of standards.

Please read CPCAB’s response here to see our views on the standards (see section 11 of our response).

Key issues for CPCAB

1. ‘UK approved course’ designation

Under current definitions awarding body qualifications will not automatically be regarded as ‘UK approved courses’ as they do not offer direct entry to a voluntary register.

We strongly recommend that all our centres/tutors take time to respond to this consultation to make the point that such qualifications should be regarded as UK approved courses; firstly, because they have historically offered entry to the profession and access to professional body registers and secondly because counsellors with these qualifications have been working ethically and safely for years.

Such a decision would protect past, present and future students on CPCAB level 4 and 5 diplomas. All UK approved courses (including those at level 4) will then have additional time to meet the new HPC standards.

Note: once on the register individuals do not have to do further training (other than the annual CP requirement) even if the threshold entry level is set higher.

2. Draft standards of proficiency and the decision to recommend level 5 entry level qualifications for counsellors

CPCAB believes that the draft standards of proficiency proposed - particularly those relating to knowledge and understanding of research, research methodologies, psychopathology and the wider context of counselling - seem to be more appropriate to level 5 than level 4 when compared with level descriptors for the NQF/QCF and other frameworks. Although we have challenged some of these standards (see our consultation response to question 14), level 5 reflects the position that CPCAB has always held – that training to be an autonomous practitioner (as opposed to an agency counseller) is a level 5 achievement.

However, HPC reserves the right to approve courses both above and below the recommended entry level provided they meet the standards. UK approved courses will have to meet the new standards after the opening of the register. HPC will visit individual centres to ensure the new standards are being met. It is therefore likely that future trainings will be at level 5 although there will be time for centres to make the necessary changes.

Please let HPC know your views on the draft standards of proficiency and the level 5 decision by responding to the consultation.

3. Implications for CPCAB qualifications on the QCF

If the PLG recommendations are adopted, CPCAB will need to amend and re-title TC-L4 and amend PC-L5 and CBT-L5 to ensure that between them they meet the HPC SOPs. It is not possible to be more specific until the final standards have been agreed.

If you have any questions about these issues please contact CPCAB.

Telephone: 01458 850350
HPC consultation: