- Professional bodies
The counselling process often involves sharing our deepest and most intimate thoughts and feelings with an individual we know very little about on a personal level. It may sound strange - daunting even – but this neutral environment will mean that you are able to explore your feelings without guilt or fear of judgement.
Taking into account the extremely personal nature of counselling, finding a counsellor who is well suited to both you and your needs can seem like an intimidating process.
If you are seeking support and advice from a counsellor or psychotherapist, it is always reassuring to know that they are working to high standards of practice within the profession – after all, you will be placing a huge amount of trust in them.
It is really important that you always check the qualifications and experience of your counsellor or psychotherapist, so that you can feel rest assured that they are who they say who they are, and that they are indeed qualified to the advertised level.
Additionally, you may also find it comforting to know that your counsellor or psychotherapist is a member of a professional body.
What is a professional body?
There are various professional bodies in existence that have taken on the role of self-regulation of counselling/psychotherapy. Whilst counsellors and psychotherapists are under no legal obligation to become a member of a professional body, membership will mean a member has met certain requirements set by their professional body and must abide by a code of ethics and complaints procedure.
All professional bodies differ in their requirements for membership; some require very strict standards for all their members and others provide different categories for their members (e.g. Associate Member, Member, Accredited Member). Counsellors and psychotherapists who are a member of a professional body will make this clear on their profile.
Being registered/accredited with a professional body means an individual must have achieved a substantial level of training and experience approved by their member organisation. Counsellors and psychotherapists who are registered/accredited with their professional body will have our stamp on their profile. To find out more information about registration/accreditation visit the professional bodies’ websites below. Each will have information on their requirements.
Membership requirements for professional bodies and information about registration are subject to change, so for full details please visit the professional bodies' websites directly.
The BABCP is the lead organisation for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in the UK. Membership is open to anyone with an interest in the practice, theory or development of CBT. BABCP also provides accreditation for CBT therapists.
BABCP accredited members adhere to the Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics in the Practice of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies, and are willing to be scrutinised in this adherence as required.
BACP is one of the UK’s largest professional bodies for counselling and psychotherapy. The Association is made up of a number of different membership categories, e.g. Associate Member, Member (MBACP), Accredited Member (MBACP Accred), with the different categories standing for different levels of training and experience. Accredited Members have achieved a substantial level of training and experience approved by the Association.
In 2013 the BACP Register was the first register to achieve Accredited Voluntary Register status with the Professional Standards Authority.
All members are bound by a Code of Ethics & Practice and a Complaints Procedure.
The British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC) is a professional association, representing the profession of psychoanalytic and psychodynamic psychotherapy. The organisation is itself made up of twelve member institutions which are training institutions, professional associations in their own right and accrediting bodies. Individual psychoanalytic and psychodynamic psychotherapists are members of these organisations and are 'registrants' of the BPC, eligible for entry into the BPC's register.
BPC registrants are governed by a Code of Ethics, a policy of Continuing Professional Development, a statement on confidentiality and a complaints procedure. The BPC is a Member Society of the European Federation for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy in the Public Sector (EFPP).
COSRT members offer a range of treatments encompassing sex therapy, psychosexual therapy and relationship therapy. The Association has different membership categories, e.g. Student Member, General Member, Accredited Member, with the different categories standing for different levels of training and experience.
COSRT has a Code of Ethics and Principles of Good Practice for members, and a Complaints Procedure.
COSCA is the professional body for counselling and psychotherapy in Scotland, and seeks to advance all forms of counselling and psychotherapy and the use of counselling skills by promoting best practice and through the delivery of a range of sustainable services.
It is a requirement of all individual and organisational members of COSCA to abide by its Statement of Ethics and Code of Practice and be accountable to the Complaints Procedure.
FDAP is the professional body for the substance use field and works to help improve standards of practice across the sector. Membership of FDAP is open to individual practitioners and managers, service providers, academic institutions and commissioning bodies and there are different categories of membership.
FDAP members are bound by a Code of Practice and subject to a Complaints & Disciplinary Procedures.
The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) are a UK-wide health regulator, responsible for the statutory regulation of 15 different professions. Within those regulated professions, the HCPC are in control of setting standards in professional training, performance and conduct, as well as ensuring that protected titles are only used by those who are entitled to use them.
It is a criminal offence for anyone to claim to be registered with the HCPC if they are not, or to use a title protected by law if they are not permitted to.
The HCPC keeps an up to date register of health professionals who have met their standards, and they will take action if any of the registrants fall below the required standard.
Registration with the HCPC means that a health professional has met national standards for their professional training, performance and conduct.
The Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP) was established in 1981 in order to develop and maintain professional standards of excellence in the counselling and psychotherapy profession.
The organisation is made up of a number of membership levels, including Affiliate, Pre-Accredited and Accredited – each representing a different level of training and experience.
All members of the IACP are required to abide by the associations Code of Ethics & Practice and a Complaints Procedure.
The National Counselling Society is a Not For Profit professional association for counsellors and psychotherapists. Established in 1999, the Society plays a significant role in developing and supporting the counselling profession, members and training organisations.
In 2013 the NCS register was accredited by the Professional Standards Authority under the Accredited Voluntary Register Scheme. This scheme was set up by the Department of Health (DoH) to provide assurance on the standards of voluntary registers.
The UKCP is the leading professional body for the education, training, accreditation and regulation of psychotherapists and psychotherapeutic counsellors. Its register of individual therapists is accredited by the government's Professional Standards Authority.
As part of its commitment to work for public benefit, UKCP strives to improve access to psychological therapies, to support and distribute research, to improve standards and to respond effectively to complaints against its members.UKCP holds a national register of psychotherapists and psychotherapeutic counsellors, listing those practitioner members who meet exacting standards and training requirements. It also holds a specialist register for psychotherapists working with children and young people.
UKAHPP is a national accrediting organisation for all those who apply the theories of Humanistic Psychology in their work. The UKAHPP is an independent member organisation of the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) and the UK Register of Counsellors.
The Association is made up of a number of different membership classes e.g. Associate Members, Affiliate Members, Full Members, each with different requirements for entry. Full Members may use the initials 'MAHPP' after their names, and have undergone a rigorous accreditation procedure relevant to their discipline.
All members of the Association of Humanistic Psychology Practitioners must commit to acceptance of the UKAHPP Code of Ethical Principles, the UKAHPP Code of Practice, the UKAHPP Ethical Review Procedure and the UKAHPP Complaints Procedure.
This list of professional organisations is not exhaustive, and more can be found on our Useful Resources page.
Here at Counselling Directory we recognise the value of being a member of a professional body, and for those of you who are wary about visiting a counsellor or psychotherapist we would suggest choosing one who is a member of a professional body. This way you know they are part of an organisation that offers a code of ethics and a complaints procedure.