Scope of practice and education for the counselling and psychotherapy professions (SCoPEd)

The scope of practice and education for the counselling and psychotherapy professions, known as SCoPEd, is a partnership which has developed a competence framework that maps the core competences and practice standards for counsellors and psychotherapists working with adults.

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SCoPEd partnership update

The six SCoPEd partners are providing this update on the important work currently underway with regards to the SCoPEd framework implementation, governance and impact assessment.

The scope of practice and education for the counselling and psychotherapy professions, known as SCoPEd, is a partnership which has developed a competence framework that maps the core competences and practice standards for counsellors and psychotherapists working with adults. It was adopted in February 2023 by the following six organisations who all hold Professional Standards Authority (PSA) accredited registers:

Our shared vision is for the profession of counselling and psychotherapy to be better understood, valued and trusted by clients, patients, employers, commissioners and society.

The SCoPEd framework can be viewed here.

Implementation

As announced in February 2023, the SCoPEd framework has now been adopted by all six partners and activity to implement the framework across all the partners has started. This includes:

  • work so all partners’ membership categories are fully aligned to the standards of the SCoPEd framework by early 2026
  • agreed mechanisms to enable movement of membership categories and SCoPEd columns, where appropriate and if members and registrants wish to.

It’s important both these are in place to ensure equivalence of the SCoPEd column standards across partners’ membership categories.

The SCoPEd framework maps the minimum standards required for each of the columns and it’s important to note that some partners may have additional criteria which they require to be met.

The framework will be implemented using the column titles A, B and C. In the future, the partnership may consider changing these titles, but work on the titles would not be about identifying or creating protected titles. It would be about ensuring consistency and reducing confusion across the profession.

Impact assessment

Since announcing the adoption of the SCoPEd framework, partners have been reviewing and developing work from the impact assessment report recommendations.

To recap, the impact assessment:

  • was conducted by an independent company in 2022
  • comprised of interviews with various stakeholders including clients and patients, practitioners, trainers, awarding bodies, employers and commissioners, membership body staff, and the Professional Standards Authority (PSA)
  • took into account a variety of viewpoints, including critical voices from those within counselling and psychotherapy, some of whom were contacted due to their specific skills and experience, including professional networking and campaign groups
  • involved statistical consideration of some of the data held by partners and data in the public domain.

The impact assessment report prompted reflection on how the governance of SCoPEd has been structured whilst developing the framework. This has led to a decision to re-structure the governance in recognition that the framework is now adopted by all partners and the focus needs to be on implementation. More information on the new structure is detailed below.

Two of the key pieces of work, identified by the impact assessment, that the new governance structure is focused on delivering are:

  • development of a minimum data set for prospective collection and publication by the partnership, to include demographic data on the make-up of the profession and using the protected characteristics identified in the Equality Act 2010 as a guiding framework
  • work to enhance communications and engagement, such as establishing a partner website and a stakeholder engagement group.

The partnership will issue updates on these pieces of work as they progress.

Governance

To support the implementation phase of the SCoPEd framework, the partners have collectively agreed to restructure the governance of the SCoPEd partnership to better meet the needs of the current work. 

There are four SCoPEd governance groups; the CEO Board, Delivery Group, Clinical Group and Communications Group which replace the previous groups (the SCoPEd Oversight Committee, the Technical Group, and Expert Reference Group) with immediate effect.

  • CEO Board
    The CEO Board provides strategic leadership. It is made up of all the partner CEOs and is independently chaired. Experts by Experience (EbEs), Delivery Group members and the chairs of the Communications and Clinical Groups may also attend to offer advice and input.
  • Delivery Group
    The Delivery Group includes a chair, a project manager and communications lead. With the exception of the chair, all members are from partner organisations. The Delivery Group is tasked with moving forward the actions agreed by the CEO Board.
  • Clinical Group
    The Clinical Group’s main purpose is to help maintain the standards of the framework and provide advice on any future updates or amendments. It includes representatives from each of the partner organisations.
  • Communications Group
    The Communications Group includes representatives from each of the partner organisations and is responsible for developing a joint partner communications strategy and delivering communications in relation to the SCoPEd framework, along with any associated future workstreams.

This new structure will enable the partners to continue their work regarding the SCoPEd framework, as well as other workstreams, including the NHS Pathways project, a pilot programme accredited by five of the SCoPEd partners to provide fully funded training for psychotherapeutic counselling within the NHS Talking Therapies for anxiety and depression services.

More information about these groups is available in the appendix below.

Next Steps

Alongside the work already described above the partnership will also:

  • consider a programme of work to raise public awareness of the SCoPEd framework
  • work with stakeholders to advance the professions of counselling and psychotherapy
  • continue to strengthen already established links with our partners in the NHS.

We’re looking forward to continuing to collaborate on this hugely important initiative and will be providing members and other key stakeholders with regular updates on our work in the future.  

If you have any questions, please contact your membership organisation via their usual channels.

SCoPEd partner CEOs

Kathy Spooner, ACC
Phil James, BACP
Greg Ross-Sampson, BPC
Malcom Hanson, HGI
Jyles Robillard-Day, NPCS
Jon Levett, UKCP


Appendix

CEO Board

The CEO Board meets monthly and is made up of all the partner CEOs. It is independently chaired by Paul Buckley. Paul was previously chair of the SCoPEd Oversight Committee. Additional invitees, such as Experts by Experience (EbEs), the Delivery Group members, the chair of the Communications Group and the chair of the Clinical Group (CG), can also attend the CEO Board to offer advice and input as required.

The CEO Board provides strategic leadership, ensures full integration of the SCoPEd framework within their own organisations, facilitates the collaboration required to enable the framework to be understood and implemented in the wider professional context and ensures ongoing impact monitoring and evaluation, including the development of an EDI strategy. The NHS Pathways project, a collaboration between five of the six SCoPEd partners (ACC, BPC, BACP, NCS and UKCP) to run a pilot programme to provide fully funded training for psychotherapeutic counselling within NHS Talking Therapies services, also reports to the CEO Board.

Delivery Group

The Delivery Group is independently chaired by Paul Buckley. Other members include the chair of the Communications Group and a project manager. The group acts as advisors and support to the CEO Board and carries out work as directed by them. The Delivery Group works closely with the Communications Group and Clinical Group to ensure cohesive working.

Clinical Group

This group is made of up representatives from each of the partner organisations who are practitioners and supervisors with experience in working with standards of education and training, competences, and wider frameworks, as well as having a knowledge of the relevant research and research methodology.

The Clinical Group is a repositioning of the previous Technical Group (TG) whose primary role was to develop the framework. Its purpose is to help maintain the standards of the framework by making recommendations to the CEO Board and in response to commissions from the CEO Board to provide advice on any updates or amendments to the framework which it considers are required in the future. 

Communications Group

The Communications Group includes representatives from each of the partner organisations. It meets every two weeks and is responsible for developing and delivering a joint communications strategy and creating joint communications in relation to SCoPEd and wider partnership work.


 

What has happened so far

December 2022 Publication of the impact report

February 2022 New version of the framework published

November 2020 – January 2022 Development of the SCoPEd framework.

September – November 2020 Analysis of consultation results. Meetings with other PSA Accredited Register holders for counselling and psychotherapy lead to expansion of the SCoPEd group to include ACC, ACP, HGI and NCS.

July – August 2020 Consultation on revised framework with UKCP, BACP, and BPC members conducted by Critical Research.

May – June 2020 Revised framework shared with ‘critical reader’ group of stakeholders from across the sector, framework updated.

August 2019 – April 2020 Revised framework developed, with input from an Expert Reference Group of practitioners and stakeholders from across the sector.

May – August 2019 Analysis of first stage consultation results.

February – April 2019 Consultation with UKCP, BACP, and BPC members on first draft framework conducted by Critical Research.

All six SCoPEd partners have formally agreed to adopt the SCoPEd framework.  

This is a hugely important step for the profession and demonstrates that the six organisations are committed to work together for the benefit of the public. We believe that everyone will benefit from the transparency the framework provides to its many audiences about what UKCP registrants are trained to do. 

We want to thank all members, colleagues and partners who have contributed their time and expertise to the partnership, consultations and research. 

 

Work to date 

In 2016, UKCP responded with great enthusiasm and commitment to co-creating a differentiated scope of practice for counselling and psychotherapy. Each of the organisations involved believed it would help bring clarity to our profession, to the public and to commissioning services. 

Since then, the SCoPEd partners have created a framework using an evidence-based process of mapping existing competence frameworks, professional standards and practice standards to identify areas of overlap and areas of difference between counselling and psychotherapy. 

The six SCoPEd partner organisations are:  

  1. Association of Christians in Counselling and Linked Professions (ACC) 
  2. British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) 
  3. British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC) 
  4. Human Givens Institute (HGI) 
  5. National Counselling Society (NCS) 
  6. UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) 

 

What does it mean for individual members? 

There is no need for any changes to our individual membership grades based on the SCoPEd framework. Some partner organisations need to develop processes for transition between columns, but we already have this within our systems. 

For registrants working with adults, your training is recognised within columns B (for psychotherapeutic counsellors) and column C (for psychotherapists) of the SCoPEd framework.  

For those of you in training, the mapping of existing standards and frameworks means that you can be assured that once qualified with UKCP accreditation you will be recognised as meeting the competences of columns B (for psychotherapeutic counsellors) and C (for psychotherapists) of the framework.   

 

What does it mean for organisational members? 

There is no need for any changes to our individual membership grades based on the SCoPEd framework. The titles psychotherapeutic counsellor and psychotherapist will remain for UKCP registrants and are mapped to columns B and C respectively. 

As part of the scoping work of the partnership, UKCP full-clinical membership grades were mapped against the training standards and competences set out in the SCoPEd framework, which shows the current landscape.  

UKCP’s Education and Training Practice Committee will review the standards of education and training for adults and reference the SCoPEd framework within these documents. We will work with organisations to ensure that our standards continue to reflect the rigour and quality of training across UKCP. 

 

What does it mean for UKCP? 

We continue to represent multiple ways of working. Choice is important.  

But while the framework means little will change for you, it may have huge benefits. We are already reaping the rewards of working closely with the SCoPEd partners on the NHS pathways project. This has been an excellent example of how we can build on those relationships and the collaborative nature of the partnership, while also representing the profession to NHS England.  

We know that not everyone wants to work in the NHS. However, it is the most accessible gateway for people with mental health issues. It is also extremely important for the recognition of the profession and the largest potential employer. The SCoPEd partnership has given NHS England and Health Education England one voice to speak to – it seems to be what they have been waiting for. We have their trust and respect, and they are already referencing the SCoPEd documents. 

We will use the framework and other collaborative work of the partnership to support our policy work so that we can: 

  • communicate to policymakers, such as ministers and MPs, exactly what psychotherapists and counsellors do
  • help psychotherapy and counselling to have more parity with psychology and psychiatry in having more clearly mapped competencies and greater quality assurance 
  • provide clearer routes into NHS training and work so that workforce planners can be assured of the level of training of their recruits
  • address regional inequality by ensuring greater uniformity in the recruitment of psychotherapists and counsellors in different parts of the country.

 

Continued work 

The phase two work continues for the partners. An additional working group has been created to review the mechanisms for transitions between the columns and to set principles shared by the partners. 

Members that hold dual accreditation will need to talk to the other organisations that they are registered with to determine where their training is recognised and how their UKCP accreditation might be accommodated. Each SCoPEd partner is responsible for their own mechanisms and transitions between the columns.  

There is a commitment from the partners to look at titles and this is important for consistency across the profession. This will also help develop a wider understanding of counselling and psychotherapy for commissioners, employers and the general public. 

Paul BucklandAs independent chair of the SCoPEd Oversight Committee (SOC), I would like to update SCoPEd partners, members and registrants on the progress of our recent phase two work.

This work has included:

  • conducting an impact assessment of the SCoPEd framework
  • creating a shared set of principles – based around fairness, inclusion and transparency – for implementing the framework
  • working towards agreed shared ‘column titles’ (which are not included in the SCoPEd January 2022 framework)
  • agreeing transparent and evidence-based mechanisms for members and registrants to progress between the columns of the framework as they develop their training, skills, knowledge and experience throughout their professional journey.

 

Impact assessment

  • The independent impact assessment was commissioned this summer following a competitive tender process. The contract was awarded to Eastside Primetimers, a consultancy and recruitment provider in the charity sector who advise on development, funding and growth, and have a strong track record of conducting impact assessments.
  • The assessment comprised a qualitative element of interviewing various stakeholders including clients and patients, practitioners, trainers, awarding bodies, employers and commissioners, membership body staff, and the Professional Standards Authority (PSA). A variety of viewpoints were covered, including critical voices from those within counselling and psychotherapy, some of whom were contacted due to their specific skills and experience which included professional networking and campaign groups.
  • It also comprised a quantitative element which involved statistical consideration of some of the data held by partners and data in the public domain.
  • The full report from Eastside Primetimers, along with an accessible version, is available to download.
  • The partners will now reflect on, and digest, the full impact assessment report which will influence the ongoing work. There will be further updates from the partnership in early 2023.

 

Mechanisms and shared principles

  • The Technical Group (TG) has commissioned a new working group to discuss the mechanisms of how the framework might be used for membership pathways should SCoPEd be adopted.
  • This new Mechanisms Group (MG) is comprised of staff and representatives from across the partnership bodies responsible for professional standards and membership. This will ensure they bring the skillset and proximity to the operational detail that matches the requirements of the work.
  • The group is collaborating to ensure that the pathways to transition between columns are clear for those members and registrants who wish to do so, including how to make these accessible and how to ensure they capture the requirements of the framework as well as reflecting a partner’s own specific traditions and requirements. Each partner will also conduct their own consolidation and review of the schemes that emerge from the collaborative work.
  • The MG will then take their work back into the TG for consideration and sense checking, with final recommendations to be signed off by the SOC.

 

Column titles

For now the column titles remain as published in the January 2022 framework – A, B, C. The commitment remains within the partnership to look at titles. Working to agree titles would help ensure consistency across the profession and aid wider understanding. To date, the focus has been on the work for both the impact assessment and the mechanisms of the framework.

The impact assessment interviews included some discussion on titles with a variety of stakeholders. The feedback will inform any future conversations on titles along with other new evidence sources and it looks likely now that the work on titles will be a longer-term goal.

It’s important to remember that even if a SCoPEd framework contained alternative titles, the profession does not have legally protected titles and the advice for therapists remains to use the titles they have the skills to ethically use.

 

Partnership update

Some of you may be aware of recent announcements from two partners regarding leadership changes. I want to take this opportunity to make clear that this has not affected SCoPEd partner relationships and the desire for collaborative work. This work takes place across a number of working groups and there are strong ongoing relationships and a commitment to the work in all of these groups as well as a considerable knowledge base that has been built over the years. With that in mind, I hope I am able to reassure anyone who is uncertain of what these leadership changes mean for the continuity of the work that the Boards concerned have confirmed their support for longstanding Technical Group members to deputise at SOC and make recommendations back to their Boards until the appropriate handover for CEOs can take place. Similarly, new members have been added to the Technical Group to replace departing members. The SOC has approved both courses of action.

If you have questions regarding any of the above, please contact your membership organisations via their usual channels.

 

Paul Buckley, Independent Chair SCoPEd Oversight Committee

December 2022

Unanswered questions

Thank you again to everyone who was able to join us for the SCoPEd partner update and Q&A event.

The online event was hosted by the SCoPEd Oversight Committee’s Independent Chair Paul Buckley and the panel included representatives from all partners and one of our Experts by Experience.

Overall we received a positive response from the post event survey from attendees of the event*.

  • 67.4% of respondents thought the structure of the event was good.
  • 67.6% of respondents thought the content of the event was good.
  • 66.2% of respondents thought the delivery of the event was good.
  • 65.2% felt the event helped with their understanding of the potential of SCoPEd.

Half of the respondents felt more positive about SCoPEd following the event, 28% felt about the same and a fifth of respondents felt more negative.

87.4% of respondents agreed it’s important for membership bodies to work together and 72.9% agreed it was valuable to see the partners discussing SCoPEd together. 

Our panel answered a number of questions during the event, some of the questions were submitted prior and during the event via the question box. Due to time the panel were unable to respond to all questions. These questions have been collated into themes that group questions of a similar nature these can be viewed below.

*The survey was sent to all delegates who booked onto the event, the response was 19%

Along with our partner organisations we've answered your questions. Find the full document here

SCoPEd framework: new version published after unique professional body collaboration

We’re pleased to announce that the latest version of the ground-breaking SCoPEd framework has been published today Wednesday, 2 February 2022.

This January 2022 version of the framework is the first to be developed jointly by our six Professional Standards Authority-accredited counselling and psychotherapy organisations. Together, we represent over 75,000 counsellors and psychotherapists. We’d like to thank all the members, registrants, partners and staff who have contributed to its development.

This latest framework version reflects our better mutual understanding and a closer working alliance, underlined by our shared passion and priority of protecting the public. It has been a real pleasure to collaborate with one another, and we are bound powerfully by our joint commitment to promoting the skills and competences of all our members and registrants, at a time of acute societal need.

We are already seeing the positive impact on how the counselling and psychotherapy profession is perceived, with significant engagement at this early stage from bodies such as the NHS and Health Education England.

The publication of the January 2022 framework marks the delivery of our phase one work on SCoPEd – a joint commitment to map the current reality of the core training, practice and competence requirements. The framework is written at a high level, is not modality specific, and it is about working with adults over the age of 18, and not about working with children or young people.

We are now moving on to phase two of our collective work. This means working towards the potential adoption of the framework by each partner organisation, and in due course we will also populate the framework with titles, gateways and much more.

We want to achieve a basic high-level recognition of the rigour and standards of counselling and psychotherapy as a whole. This is because we are still at an early stage in making sure policymakers, commissioners and the public have a fundamental grasp of our profession.

As we enter phase two, we have jointly committed to:

  • continuing to develop the framework to provide essential information to clients, patients and service users to make informed choices about the support they seek
  • conducting an impact assessment of the SCoPEd framework
  • creating a shared set of principles – based around fairness, inclusion and transparency – for implementing the framework
  • working towards agreed shared ‘column titles’ which are not included in this version
  • agreeing transparent and evidence-based mechanisms for members and registrants to progress between the columns of the framework as they develop their training, skills, knowledge and experience throughout their professional journey.

The expansion of the SCoPEd partnership to embrace new organisations, and the excellent working relationships we have formed, have made a very positive impact on the framework, and have further emphasised the need for it, its purpose, and its benefits.

We are looking forward to moving ahead collectively on this phase two activity in the coming weeks and months.

 

What are the key changes in this version of the framework?

There have been a number of significant updates and improvements made to the content and the language of the framework since the previous version was published in July 2020. These have been made as a result of:

  • feedback from members, registrants and stakeholders on the previous version
  • input from all new and existing partners and the independent experts by experience recruited to support and review the development of the framework.

The key changes include:

  • greater emphasis on the role of the therapeutic relationship and the qualities of the therapist
  • further focus on equality, diversity and inclusion as a theme embedded and integrated throughout the framework
  • additional standards relating to online and phone therapy
  • more consistent use of language that is inclusive and more accessible to a wider audience
  • the addition of a glossary of terms.

 

Who are the SCoPEd partners?

The partner organisations collaborating on SCoPEd are:

  • UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
  • Association of Christians in Counselling and Linked Professions (ACC)
  • British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
  • British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC)
  • Human Givens Institute (HGI)
  • National Counselling Society (NCS)

Collectively, the SCoPEd partners represent over 75,000 counsellors and psychotherapists from a diverse range of backgrounds, approaches, philosophies and professional training.

The SCoPEd Oversight Committee (SOC) is the governance body for the framework. The SOC was established when ACC, ACP (Association of Child Psychotherapists), HGI and NCS joined the original SCoPEd partners BACP, BPC and UKCP in November 2020.

It meets regularly to oversee, guide and scrutinise the work of SCoPEd. It includes the six Chief Executives of the participating partners, three independent experts by experience and Independent Chair Paul Buckley who was appointed in spring 2021.

Publishing the framework

Work on the SCoPEd framework is ongoing. The next iteration will be published in early 2022 and will be the first to include the contributions and collaborations from the experts by experience (EbEs) and the new partners. Publication was anticipated to be in December 2021, however moving it to early 2022 will ensure that the updates are finalised across the partners and that the framework design meets accessibility requirements.


Association of Child Psychotherapists (ACP)

Following the collaboration on the latest iteration of the framework , ACP have reviewed their role in the partnership and will be continuing in the capacity of observer to support the ongoing work of the SCoPEd partnership.

Dr Nick Waggett, Chief Executive, ACP said:

‘ACP joined SCoPEd as we believe in collaborating with other counselling and psychotherapy bodies to improve standards, protect the public and increase understanding of our profession. We have decided to step aside from the current process as we now recognise that a framework focussed on work with adults is not able to sufficiently represent the specialist training and practice of ACP registered Child and Adolescent Psychotherapists. As such, continuing with the process would not have met our aims. We have appreciated the opportunity to work with fellow accredited registers on this important project.’


Psychological Professions Network conference

The SCoPEd partners* have been invited by the Psychological Professions Network England to present at the Psychological Professions Week conference in November as part of the ‘Improving career pathways in psychological professions’ session.

BACP will deliver a presentation on behalf of the SCoPEd partners and the event will also include a panel debate.


Next steps

The partners continue to collaborate on finalising the next iteration, and the details of all changes will be communicated when the framework is published. The contributions from members, the EbEs and the partners have been extremely valuable in developing this next iteration.


*SCoPEd partners: Association of Christians in Counselling and Linked Professions, British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, British Psychoanalytic Council, Human Givens Institute, National Counselling Society and United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy

Following my appointment in April to be the Independent Chair of the SCoPEd Oversight Committee (SOC), a number of people have been keen to know more about my views of the counselling and psychotherapy professions and what I hope to achieve as Chair.

We are very fortunate to have on the SOC, in addition to the seven CEOs, four experts by experience who help us see issues from the point of view of service users, patients and clients, as well as registrants. It’s also really good to have a representative from the Professional Standards Authority observing as there is significant read-across to their accredited registers programme as I explain below.

It’s also understandable that as I spent 25 years working for the General Medical Council (GMC), there may be an anxiety that I have an off-the-shelf model for the professions in mind, based on the medical profession, and that I will seek to smuggle it in.

Let’s get that one out of the way first. My role as Independent Chair is to bring the partner organisations together, to facilitate discussions and to support their wish for greater collaboration. There is no question of trying to transplant a medical regulatory model into the very different environment of counselling and psychotherapy – in my opinion, it just won’t happen. But what I do bring from my GMC experience is an understanding of the immense power of collaboration and cooperation across different organisations, especially where there is an aligned view on standards and outcomes for service users, patients and clients. I also bring, I hope, an awareness that an initiative of this kind, which is ground-breaking, is bound to raise questions and concerns for many registrants – and it’s an important part of the job of the SOC to put itself in the shoes of members of the professions who want to know where all this will lead. I’ll come back to that shortly but first some general reflections.

Of the many welcome social changes I have witnessed in my life so far, perhaps the greatest has been around attitudes to mental health and wellbeing. I remember, when I was first becoming aware of politics in the 1970s, hearing about a US vice-presidential candidate who had to withdraw his nomination when it emerged that he had suffered episodes of depression – as if this was a shameful secret. Since then, and especially in the last 10-15 years, there is much greater acceptance of mental ill-health or emotional distress as an unavoidable part of life for many, even a majority of, people at some time.

There is also, importantly, much greater understanding of what can be done to promote better mental health. A few years ago I chaired a GMC staff wellbeing group for a while and I found a 2008 report from the then Chief Scientific Adviser called Mental Capital and Wellbeing: Making the most of ourselves in the 21st century an invaluable source of ideas. It’s still well worth seeking out if you haven’t come across it already.

As for what SCoPEd can achieve, that is a matter for the seven partner organisations themselves to determine (and consult on), not for me. But let me sketch out a few possibilities.

First, there is already a need, and it will inevitably grow larger, for potential service users, patients and clients to be able to distinguish properly trained professionals (those who are members of the seven partner organisations) from people who may legitimately choose to call themselves counsellors or psychotherapists but in fact have done a few days or even hours training. Because those titles are not protected, that is where the PSA’s accredited registers come in, as only a properly trained professional can be listed. The PSA have been taking stock of how accredited registers are currently used, and they recognise that they need to be better promoted and more visible.

Second, with greater visibility of accredited registers (which can only be a good thing) will come demand for greater clarity and transparency around different types and length of training, different practice modalities, different competences and capabilities that practitioners have. In other words, exactly what it is that sits underneath the fact of being on an accredited register, and why. No one in the professions should be afraid of being asked that question and no one should be unable to answer it.

Third, the demand for the services of trained counselling and psychotherapy professionals in the NHS, independent practice and the public and private sector is almost certainly going to increase significantly, as the extent of the damage to the nation’s mental health caused by COVID-19 becomes apparent.

So for me, much of the value in SCoPEd is in enabling the professions to get ahead of the curve and, working together, to be able to respond to that demand for information and understanding in the next couple of years and beyond. I think that presenting a joined-up face to the world, while at the same time being clear that there are and will continue to be different traditions, modalities and trainings within the professions, sends an incredibly important message about the value of solidarity and community. If we have all learned just one thing in the past 18 months it is surely that.

17 May 2021

Partners from across counselling and psychotherapy professions welcome first independent Chair and Experts by Experience for SCoPEd Oversight Committee

The unique SCoPEd partnership has successfully appointed an independent Chair to lead the next phase in the development of the first shared framework of standards for counselling and psychotherapy with adults. Membership of the SCoPEd Oversight Committee (SOC) has been widened to include four Experts by Experience (EbE).

Former General Medical Council (GMC) Director of Strategy and Policy, Paul Buckley, has been appointed to the new role of Independent Chair. He will now Chair the SOC, which leads on and agrees strategic decisions in relation to the SCoPEd framework.

Paul has recently retired after 25 years with the GMC, where he had an impressive track record of leading major reforms, including education and standards. Paul has worked successfully with senior leaders from many major UK healthcare organisations in a variety of contexts.  

The SCoPEd Oversight Committee includes the Chief Executive of each of the seven partners and its role is to lead on and agree strategic decisions in relation to the framework.

In his new role as SOC Chair, Paul will work closely with the Chief Executives of the partners, along with the Chair of the SCoPEd technical group, to help navigate the challenges and opportunities of the shared framework and build on the new collaboration.

Paul said: 'I’m looking forward to working with the seven partners on this important initiative and recognise the unique characteristics of these professions and the importance of reflecting the different traditions, approaches and contexts in which counsellors and psychotherapists work.

'It is a huge privilege to have been appointed as the first independent Chair of the SCoPEd Oversight Committee. SCoPEd is a really important and ambitious initiative that reflects broader developments in the health and well-being landscape as well as my own values, with the recent expansion to seven partner organisations enabling a step change in increasing the reach of the work.

'The counselling and psychotherapy professions are playing a vital role in helping the UK in its post-Covid recovery and the development of SCoPEd is a key part of that. A shared framework that reflects and promotes the very important work therapists do will be greatly valued by clients, employers and commissioners alike.'

In a joint statement, the Chief Executives of the seven SCoPEd partners said: “Paul shares our passion for advancing the profession and our values of equality, diversity and inclusion and will play a hugely important role as the first independent Chair of the SCoPEd Oversight Committee.

“His considerable experience in strategic leadership, change management and professional standards speaks for itself, and will make a real contribution to the future of counselling and psychotherapy professionals working with adults.”

The expansion of the SOC to include Experts by Experience will ensure that the needs of clients, patients and service users from all backgrounds are reflected in the framework. The EbE reflect a rich diversity of genders, ages, characteristics and life experience. Together they represent a variation in mental health journeys, spanning NHS, third and private sectors and various modalities. The project will further benefit from the breadth of their respective service user networks.

The seven SCoPEd partner organisations are;

  • UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
  • Association of Christian Counsellors (ACC)
  • Association of Child Psychotherapists (ACP)
  • British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
  • British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC)
  • Human Givens Institute (HGI)
  • National Counselling Society (NCS).

Dear member,

We would like to announce that a number of meetings around the widening of the Scope of Practice and Education (SCoPEd) project group have taken place over recent months.

As you may be aware, the SCoPEd project began back in 2016 as a collaboration between three Accredited Registers: British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC) and United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP).

More recently the Association of Christian Counsellors (ACC), Association of Child Psychotherapists (ACP), Human Givens Institute (HGI) and National Counselling Society (NCS) have indicated their interest in working together to produce an agreed shared professional standards framework.

The additional Accredited Registers have signaled their agreement to join the SCoPEd project group on the basis of equal participation and shared ownership of the framework and its outputs. This will include involvement in the SCoPEd technical group and the Expert Reference Group (ERG). New governance arrangements will see the current SCoPEd Steering Group replaced by a newly created SCoPEd Oversight Committee (SOC). The SOC will include the CEO of each membership body and its role will be to lead on and agree strategic decisions in relation to the project. This will include ensuring that the project represents the work of counsellors and psychotherapists working with adults within the partnership organisations. A representative of the PSA will also attend these meetings as an observer.
All parties are engaging in the project to ensure that it represent the whole profession.

SCoPEd project group
Association of Christian Counsellors, Association of Child Psychotherapists, British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, British Psychoanalytic Council, Human Givens Institute, National Counselling Society and United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy

Dear member,

As you’re aware, BACP, BPC and UKCP are working collaboratively on the SCoPEd (Scope of Practice and Education) project to produce an agreed evidence-based framework, which represents the breadth of skills, knowledge and experience of all our valued members. We’re continuing to show our commitment to working together to help address the confusion around the current landscape with a framework that will inform the minimum training requirements, competencies and practice standards for therapists working with individual adults.

We’re pleased to let you know that we have today, Tuesday 14 July, published the next draft iteration of the SCoPEd framework on our websites. We’re aware that there have been some delays in getting this draft iteration published but we’ve listened carefully to the feedback and concerns raised in response to the previous draft iteration and wanted to ensure we’d adequately incorporated these before we shared it with you.

A number of important changes have been made to this draft iteration which we hope make some areas clearer for our members. The first key change is that we’ve removed titles from the columns and renamed them Columns A, B and C. This has been done so the focus at this stage is on the evidence, which demonstrates that all our members work in respected and qualified roles. We anticipate that titles will be re-instated prior to the publication of the final version of the framework and each organisation will work individually and collectively on a plan to agree titles.

Secondly, this version of the framework maps not just entry points but existing gateways which reflect post-training qualifications and experience. We’ve noted that it’s incredibly important to recognise the further training and experience of our members and to make it as clear as possible how members can and could move between the columns should they wish to.
Thirdly, concerns were raised that the language used was not consistent throughout the framework and we’ve recognised this, so we’ve made changes to the language to ensure consistency throughout with the help of additional members of the Expert Reference Group who were recruited in 2019. There were also concerns around the terminology used in the framework and we’ve updated this to become more inclusive where appropriate.

We’re keen to gather our members’ feedback on this draft iteration and so all members of BACP, BPC and UKCP will receive an initial questionnaire which will allow you to respond in confidence. Alongside, there’ll be an opportunity to express your interest in attending an online ‘bulletin board’ style focus group where you’ll be able to give more detailed feedback and engage in considered debate around the draft iteration. We anticipate that the initial questionnaire will be sent week commencing Monday 20 July and encourage members to keep an eye on their inbox.

We wanted to reiterate the value we put on your opinion as members and extend our thanks to those who’ve already fed back to us on the SCoPEd framework so far. It is vital that we continue to work with our members to ensure we develop an agreed framework that works to show clearly what our members do and in turn enables us to campaign for jobs and opportunities while also working to help make the profession more inclusive.
The draft iteration of the SCoPEd framework and a methodology update* can be viewed online now. An accessible version of the draft framework is also available.
With best wishes,

The SCoPEd Project Team

For the last two months our main focus has been on providing as much support and as many resources as we can for our members during the COVID-19 crisis.

As we settle into a new normal, we wanted to let you know that we’ll still be working on the SCoPEd project. It’s incredibly important that we continue the project, working with members and stakeholders, to create a framework to provide clarity for the profession.

As an additional quality check, we asked a small group to review the format and presentation of the framework. This group includes internal divisions and committees, certain members of staff (of each partner organisation), members of each of the Boards and external contacts such as training providers and academic researchers. The purpose of this group is to check that we’ve successfully addressed concerns and feedback from members, and to look at whether the information has been presented in the clearest possible way.

Using this feedback, we’ll look to finalise the next iteration and share it with our members and stakeholders for further feedback.

In the meantime, please be aware that the frameworks that are currently on our websites are out of date and don’t reflect the work that we’ve been doing to incorporate member feedback.

We had nearly 1,000 responses from UKCP members to the SCoPEd consultation earlier this year. Of those who responded nearly 50% again left a comment of some form, this was the case across the organisations. We’re very grateful for everyone who took the time to respond and give a wide range of views and it has, understandably, taken some time to process these comments.

We asked the independent research company to identify some of the key themes from your responses to enable us to understand what is working and what needs further clarification or addressing.

Inevitably, different themes were more relevant to members of the different organisations. Below are the key themes that were most relevant to UKCP members. We’ve also identified what, either as a collaboration or individually, we will be doing next in response to these themes.

The public, clients and patients will not understand the framework
This was the most prominent theme for UKCP members with 27 per cent of people who left a comment flagging this as a concern. This was above the average for the three organisations; one member said:
‘I am not sure that a patient or client will consult the level of detail that this framework offers, or if they did, the data might not make sense in terms of what to expect from a counselling or therapy contract’.

As a collaboration, we agree. We believe that this work can help showcase our professions and help clients/patients find the best support for them. However, not in its current form. It was not our intention that it would be shared with the public, clients and patients in this form, but we did not make this clear in our communication.

We will produce documents that take into consideration the audience they are intended for and we will ask the public for their views by including them in any future consultation.

The framework creates structure where previously there was little
Twenty-four per cent of UKCP members who responded and left a comment felt this was an important outcome of the framework, again this was above the average for the three organisations. One UKCP member who has been qualified for more than ten years said:
‘Anything that add clarity to with regard to people’s level of training and experience is to be welcomed’.

People highlighted that the framework had the potential to create order to what can sometimes seem like a jumble of titles, training and experience.
As a collaboration we represent around 65,000 counselling and psychotherapy practitioners, we know that when we can work together, we can provide a stronger and clearer voice for the profession to those in position of influencing. We believe that this framework will help us achieve that.

However, we know this framework could be better so we will continue to work alongside our members to work towards creating a structure that will continue to open doors for our professions, and those working within it.

Previous experience and CPD is overlooked
A concern from our members and across the three organisations was that this framework ignores the range of important experience and skillsets of therapist after they start working in the field.

We agree. This framework only looks at entry level and maps the landscape based on existing standards and literature. We haven’t started looking at how the vast knowledge and skills that members acquire since qualifying could be included in this.

We will start looking at clarifying what the framework could mean after entry point so we can reassure all our members that their skills and knowledge would be valued where they met the standards.

The framework creates a hierarchy
This was a significant concern from members across all three organisations with 36 per cent of member comments indicating an understanding of hierarchy from the research. Twenty per cent of our members identified this as well.

One of our recently qualified members commented:
‘I think it will create an unnecessary hierarchy in the profession and is particularly unfair on counsellors who trained prior to this being brought in. It feels like moving goal posts creating division and hierarchies within the profession that do not benefit counsellors themselves.’

Our intention was to map existing training, standards and practice requirements at an entry level. We used a bespoke methodology to form this framework which is an attempt to describe the current state of play based on what is available. As a collaboration we are committed to all our members and registrants and know that each one of you provides an important and valuable service to your clients and patients.

However, we completely understand that the descriptors for the entry points and layout may have contributed to sense of hierarchy.

We will work with our members in the next few months alongside the Expert Reference Group (ERG) and Technical Group to review the column titles and layouts to make sure they are fair and fit for purpose. In addition to this we are also planning to recruit two new members to the ERG as a direct result of the feedback. We hope they will help us develop the language throughout the framework and ensure we do not create a sense of hierarchy.
These were the top four themes that were most relevant to our members. There were also some specific suggestions to help develop the framework which will be assessed by the ERG and Technical Group as part of the ongoing work.

In addition to this there were other themes that were more relevant to the other professional bodies, as a collaboration, we are committed to working through all the feedback received to help develop a framework that provides the best opportunities for all our members.

As we mentioned there was an overwhelmingly positive response from our members. Fifty-six per cent of our members felt the framework would make it easier for clients or patients to find the right kind of help to meet their needs. Seventy-one per cent believed this would be the case for employers in establishing who to employ in their service, 73 per cent felt that this would help the professional bodies promote the skills and services of their membership and 78 per cent felt it would make it easier for trainees to understand the pathways open to them.

Once again, we would like to thank all our members for their ongoing contribution to this work and will continue to involve you in its development.

We are pleased to announce the initial results of the first stage of consultation around the Scope of Education and Practice (SCoPEd) project. SCoPEd is a ground-breaking project that aims to set out the training and practice standards for counselling and psychotherapy.

The consultation exercise, which was run by an independent research company on behalf of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), the British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC) and the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), attracted more than 7,000 responses from members of all three organisations alongside more than 70 responses from stakeholder organisations.

We would like to thank everyone who took the time to respond to the consultation. We received a wide range of views from members of all the organisations and are looking forward to feeding your views back into the project. We are committed to working with our members on this important project, and your feedback is an essential part of the process.

The initial analysis tells us that

  • 40% of respondents believe the draft framework would make it easier for patients or clients to find the right kind of help to meet their needs. While 24% felt it would make it harder.
  • 54% percent felt the draft framework would make it easier for employers to establish which counsellors and psychotherapists to employ in their service. With 23% feeling the framework would make it harder.
  • 61% of the respondents that the draft framework would make it easier for trainees to understand the pathways open to them for core training with adults. 23% felt the framework would make it harder for trainees.
  • 54% also felt that the framework would make it easier for professional bodies to promote their members’ skills, compared to 21% who felt it would make it harder.

All three organisations felt it was important to share these early results at this stage.

More than 3,000 members and stakeholders submitted a comment as part of the consultation process. These are currently being analysed by the independent research company for the key themes, which will be published in the summer.

We were all very aware of the strength of feeling during the process and wanted to acknowledge this. Further independent analysis is now taking place on the rest of the member and stakeholder consultation. While we can see an early indication that our members feel we should progress this work, it is clear there is more work to do. Once we have understood the detail of the feedback, we will begin a plan of further engagement with our members, registrants and stakeholders to understand how we can develop the work.
This is an unprecedented piece of work, it will have its challenges, but we would like to thank everyone who has responded so far. We look forward to creating something that can be genuinely helpful for everyone involved in, or a beneficiary of the professions.

Andrew Reeves, Chair, BACP
Susanna Abse, Chair, BPC
Martin Pollecoff, Chair, UKCP

Hadyn Williams, Chief Executive, BACP
Gary Fereday, Chief Executive BPC
Sarah Niblock, Chief Executive UKCP

Thank you once again to all of you who took part in our recent joint consultation on the draft SCoPEd framework. We hugely appreciate the time you have taken to respond and for your suggestions. We fully acknowledge that for some members this process has been concerning, and we may not have been clear about every aspect of the project.

Firstly, we want to clarify the reality of SCoPEd. That is the coming together of three leading counselling and psychotherapy organisations to collate, agree and set out what is happening currently at entry level according to the evidence we could find.

We also want you to know that every single one of the over 3,000 comments we received in our initial consultation, which was responded to by over 7,000 members, will be carefully considered and reflected in our next actions – collectively as a collaboration of three organisations, and individually where it appertains to a specific membership body. This will take some time, but we are committed to this.

Our organisations united in 2017 with the goal of providing clarity for the profession and the public. Very soon an additional shared overarching goal emerged: the project could enable us to promote the very high level of expertise of our 60,000 practitioners, a wholly under-utilised workforce within a profession that is too often misunderstood or ignored by policymakers.
This is critically important planning and policy work that we have best chance of achieving together, not separately. More than anything, the framework is intended to make explicit the sheer skill and ability of all our members, when they enter the professions, to undertake highly complex work within a range of employment settings. That’s even before our members have undertaken the considerable development and supervision that typically characterises a lifetime’s work in our profession. Our aim is to promote our 60,000 practitioners by showing what you are, not what you are not with, the aim of maximising employment opportunities.

Times have changed and there is an opportunity for the counselling and psychotherapy professions to demonstrate and establish the considerable benefits we can bring.

We want to reassure you that the draft framework – and it is very much a first iteration – will absolutely be reviewed. Our intention was to set out the existing agreed training levels, research and published standards. We will now look at all aspects of its production and content in close consultation with our respective memberships.

We hope to create a framework that will help to ensure that your skills are valued and utilised to their full potential by employers, commissioners and the public.

Andrew Reeves, Chair, BACP
Susanna Abse, Chair, BPC
Martin Pollecoff, Chair, UKCP

Hadyn Williams, Chief Executive, BACP
Gary Fereday, Chief Executive BPC
Sarah Niblock, Chief Executive UKCP

The Scope of Practice and Education for the counselling and psychotherapy professions (SCoPEd) is a collaborative project being jointly undertaken by BACP, BPC and UKCP.

The project is systematically mapping existing competences, standards, training and practice requirements within counselling and psychotherapy. It is using an evidence-based approach to identify the different and overlapping competences between them.

The initial mapping has been completed and has now moved on to working with an Expert Reference Group. The Group comprises members who have been nominated by each partnership body, allowing equal representation of interests. The Group has an impartial, independent chair.

The Expert Reference Group will advance the mapping process by consulting the counselling and psychotherapy literature to ensure that gaps are identified and that further evidence is sought. This will enable the Group to produce the final, evidence-based competence framework.

Why are we doing it

Counselling and psychotherapy are not statutorily regulated. Professional bodies can apply for their own registers to be accredited by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) under its Accredited Registers programme.
The PSA sets standards for organisations that hold a register in a health or social care profession, and the focus of their programme is public protection.
The PSA-accredited registers in the field of counselling and psychotherapy each has its own distinct standards of training and practice. There are also no agreed common entry or training requirements to enter the field.

This causes confusion for the public, for clients/patients, for employers and commissioners of services about what training and experience to expect when employing a counsellor or psychotherapist.

There is also confusion amongst those who are considering training in this field as there are disparate standards, with a wide range of courses available at differing academic levels geared to different client groups and professional roles, and sitting within different qualifications frameworks.

The aim of SCoPEd is to agree a shared, evidence-based competence framework to inform the core training requirements, competences and practice standards for counsellors and psychotherapists who work with adults.

  • SCoPEd will make it easier to communicate to policymakers, such as Ministers and MPs, exactly what psychotherapists and counsellors do. The existing lack of clarity has been a major obstacle to promoting the unique values of psychotherapy and counselling.
  • The tighter regulatory framework brings psychotherapy and counselling closer to psychology and psychiatry in having more clearly mapped competencies and greater quality assurance. This is important for the credibility of the professions, particularly with limited public understanding of the crowded mental health landscape.
  • NHS workforce planning is built around competency and intervention.
    • SCoPEd will provide clearer routes into NHS training and work by providing a benchmark of competency, making role descriptions easier to formulate and meaning workforce planners can be assured of the level of training of their recruits.
    • It will also help to address regional inequality by ensuring greater uniformity in the recruitment of psychotherapists and counsellors in different parts of the country.
    • Health Education England will be able to map the SCoPEd competencies onto their list of 12 psychological professions, the professional framework for workforce planning around the NHS Long Term Plan.

In 2016 three accredited registers, the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), and the British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC) began jointly working on a collaborative project looking at the training requirements and practice standards for counselling and psychotherapy.

The project, called SCoPEd (Scope of Practice and Education for the counselling and psychotherapy professions), involves systematically mapping existing competences, standards, training and practice requirements within counselling and psychotherapy for work with adult clients/patients.

In 2020, the Association of Christians in Counselling and Linked Professions (ACC),  Human Givens Institute (HGI) and National Counselling Society (NCS) indicated their interest in collaborating to produce an agreed shared professional standards framework. The Association of Child Psychotherapists (ACP) are supporters of the framework and have a role as observers in the collaboration. 

The SCoPEd framework is a ground-breaking shared standards’ framework, created by six Professional Standards Authority accredited bodies representing over 75,000 counsellors and psychotherapists.

It transparently sets out the core training, practice and competence requirements for counsellors and psychotherapists working with adults.

You can view the January 2022 version of the SCoPEd framework and methodology on this page.

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