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Welcome, and SCoPEd updates and info - where next?

by LJ
Published on 11 February 2023

Good morning all,


Probably as a result of the SCoPEd result, which has shown that it has little regard for the competencies of the PCA, we at tPCA have seen a significant increase in our membership (along with several membership bodies, as they are reporting on twitter). Welcome if you have recently joined us!

I wanted to write something of my own feelings about SCoPEd here, and also list some avenues that individuals who feel let down by BACP and NCS might wish to go.

In my opinion, SCoPEd is divisive and discriminatory. NCS have adopted the framework, with around 30% of its membership (we think - there are numbers floating around, but NCS haven't confirmed what percentage voted) voting for SCoPEd. Of those who voted, 500 more people voted for SCoPEd than against it. As a member of NCS I found out what the result was because of the BACP email that came to my course. Not a good look for my membership body. For those of us who joined NCS because it wasn't signing up to SCoPEd, this is something of a kick in the teeth.

SCoPEd places particular focus on the medicalisation of distress. I am not suggesting that we as PCA practitioners shouldn't be aware of the arguments around this - I think that being able to 'speak the language' is helpful. But SCoPEd isn't particularly asking for that. It's asking us to buy into this, rather than the humanisation of distress.

SCoPEd says that person A who qualified yesterday from a column C training is automatically better placed than person B who qualified a decade ago, who runs a complex counselling service, and who has done a significant amount of CPD over the years. There will now be jobs that person B can never apply for, but that person A will automatically be able to apply for.

SCoPEd is also divisive in that, 20 years ago you could have done a 'column A' course (and let's face it, there were few other options around at that time). If you are older and have been a therapist for a longer amount of time, you cannot choose to do a new initial training. Although apparently people can move to a new column with retraining (looking at you column C) there is no training I'm aware of in the UK that is a column C-level training aimed at individuals who are ALREADY counsellors.


SCoPEd is discriminatory in that the higher up these levels you go, the more privileged the courses will become: People from racialised backgrounds, queer people, disabled people, people from working classes, people who can be oppressed on a 'characteristic' are less likely to be able to afford the higher level courses, which can easily reach £40,000 in costs. Of course, that's a generalisation, and there are more, and less affluent people in every category, but broadly speaking, those people who face more structural inequality, are going to have less money to spend to (re) train as a counsellor. 

SCoPEd therefore reinforces this structural inequality, by ensuring that those who can least afford their training will forever be trapped into the bottom level(s).

SCoPEd was introduced to 'make it easier for the public', but clients who come to me have often never been to a therapist before. They barely know what a membership body means, let alone what accredited means. SCoPEd doesn't map to accreditation in any way (nor do its courses now. I wonder what the merit of remaining an accredited course will be), and clients will either continue to not know what SCoPEd means (I look forward to the day when we as therapists know...) or they will have to grapple with a whole new set of understandings when all they want is to talk to someone who can help.

SCoPEd will make a difference in that employers will likely start asking for counsellors to be B or C columns (an irony, when many of these employers are charities who will accept a trainee with 0 hours' experience to do the same job), but that is not about the public. At this point, a member of the public expects an organisation to hire people who can do the job they say they can.


Where can you go?

Well. It depends.

If being on a PSA register doesn't matter to you (BACP and NCS both are) then there are small organisations such as the International Society of Psychotherapy and Counselling. They have an ethical framework and a complaints procedure.

There is the Independent Practitioners' Network, which is a very different concept to a membership body, but pracititioners aim to hold themselves accountable (rather than be HELD accountable). A complaints process here would look quite different and there is a 'client Q&A' page that discusses some of this.

If being on a PSA register does matter to you, then if you did a humanistic training there is the UK Association of Humanistic Psychology Practitioners

There will be others not listed here. Counselling directory has a decent list of bodies. They will have varying frameworks, and focus on various modalities, and some are PSA-registered and some are not.

A note: We are being asked why tPCA cannot become a membership body. Firstly, we cant become PSA-accredited easily (it costs upwards of 60,000 to become PSA-accredited) and that would mean there's no immediate incentive to counsellors to join (because we'd have to fund that with membership fees, so people would have to join us as a non-PSA-registered org). Whilst PCA people want a person-centred membership body (a concept I can empathise with), more and more courses are becoming integrative, so I think fewer people in years to come will want a person-centred membership body. But even if they did, we're currently volunteers doing this in our spare time. We'd have to change significantly to become a membership body, and a) it would split our membership - many people want tPCA to stay what it is to them currently, and b) even without the PSA costs, the costs of a professional conduct hearing can also be prohibitively expensive. No doubt it will be discussed again at our next trustee meeting, but currently we don't see it changing.


We hope some of this was helpful, and we are standing in solidarity with those who feel equally downhearted about this.