Can anyone call them self a therapist or counsellor?

You may have recently seen the following article on the BBC.

A BBC investigation has uncovered there are no laws against anyone operating as a therapist, psychotherapist or a counsellor in the UK.

Cheap online courses allow you to cheat to complete them, meaning qualifications are often meaningless.

BBC reporter Jordan Dunbar has been uncovering the impact of this lack of regulation.

Producer: Katie Inman

Why bother?

When you read of the potential negative effects that some clients have experienced when attending counselling sessions you might ask why bother?

Why not just speak to your friend or family member over a coffee and cake?

The long answer is that whilst family members or friends can be of great support, well trained counsellors offer something more. Counselling is an art but it is also a science.

Trainees should be taught how to listen unjudgementally. They are taught to create a safe place for clients to explore their concerns. They should see each person as unique, and valuable. As well as have a broad knowledge of theories and issues that support a client to find their way through difficult times.

It takes time to learn and develop good counselling skills. Skills that cannot be learnt and tested through a short, £20, online counselling course.

Reputable training will take approximately three years of part time study. It will involve the student being in personal therapy, practicing skills, and working in a voluntary supervised placement for more than 100 hours prior to completing their training.

Beyond this an ethical practitioner adheres to an ethical code and is a member of a reputable awarding body.

What makes a good counsellor?

An ethical practitioner will support the client in finding the “right fit” of counsellor for them. They will know that the relationship they make with the client will, in a large part, determine the effectiveness of the therapy. The ethical practitioner will know if they need to refer someone on for specialist input. They will also refer a client on if they are concerned about their own limits of competency. They will be transparent with the client about note keeping, safety issues, fees, their training, and experience. An ethical practitioner will be willing to answer any questions that the client might have before committing to sessions.

The ethical practioner will be in regular supervision and will attend continual professional development courses as well as keep abreast with current research and thinking.

The above is only part of what is expected. It is not an exhaustive list. Counselling is not just a friendly chat over a cup of tea, wonderful though that is. It is a profession which involves good counsellors in a demanding, challenging, often perplexing, endeavour to support people with integrity, humility, care and kindness.

At Dunamis we offer an entry level Certificate course and a Diploma course. This is a worthwhile profession for those who are able, and willing. A good counsellor will have to put themselves to the test. Undertake courageous self discovery for the benefit of others.

Those who wish to exploit others, have other agendas when joining the helping professions, or are socially or emotional not robust, NEED NOT APPLY. Counselling is no piece of cake.

What else do you think is needed to make a good counsellor? Have you had any bad experiences of therapy? Leave your comments below. We’d love to hear from you.