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How to Check if a Counsellor is Legitimate.
Counselling, Therapy & British Law.
A current problem (2011 when I wrote this article, and still current in 2014) in British Law is that counselling, psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, spiritual/religious counselling, alternative therapies (and so on) are not regulated by law.
Anyone can set themselves up as a “therapist” or use the word “counsellor” without (legally) requiring any formal therapeutic qualifications to prove their ability to practice as a counsellor.
This situation leads to counsellors not being required have to have any insurance. They don’t have to be answerable to a professional body to oversee their practice. These therapists can advertise themselves as a “counsellor” without actually having any training, qualifications, nor any actual experience as a professional intended to help you therapeutically.
Some organisations use ‘counsellor’ in forms such as “Travel Counsellor” or a “Debt Counsellor” – and by the true definition of the word counsellor they’re not intending to mislead the public into thinking they’re offering a therapeutic approach to your mental well-being.
Unfortunately, by the lack of British law, that the responsibility lays on the client who is seeking counselling/therapy to find someone who is appropriate for their treatment.
Going through a GP may not be enough (limited to offering only NHS IAPT treatment … often with a waiting list) to gain access to suitable counsellor.
All of this can leave a person at risk when trying to find a counsellor who is not an unqualified fake.
Help in Finding a “safe” counsellor.
There is good news, though.
Finding a qualified, experienced, professionally accredited and insured counsellor can be straightforward if you know some helpful things to look out for. This article describes how to find a suitable counsellor – and offers some topics to check out with your potential therapist.
At your first meeting with your counsellor, most – if not all – counsellors should not be phased by you asking about any of these topics (in later sessions, however, certain therapists may not answer questions about themselves, but be interested with you in the purpose of your question – keeping the focus upon you. This is a legitimate approach to some forms of counsellor (i.e. psychodynamic / psychoanalytical) but I mention it here for your knowledge).
Search Counsellors’ Professional Bodies’ Online Directory.
An easy way to find a suitable therapist is to use a professional counsellors’ body that offers a “find a counsellor” type of service. The counsellors listed may have had to pay for an entry, but would also have had their qualifications checked before being allowed to pay for an entry in the list.
- British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
- British Association for Psychotherapy
- The British Psychological Society
… however, if you wish to find your own counsellor – or you would like some advice on what to check out about your potential counsellor – then click the next page for…
“The iCounsellor’s Guide to Finding a Counsellor“.