Mind calls for regulation of counsellors and psychotherapists
Posted Wednesday 10 March 2010
Mind today presents new evidence to illustrate the barriers people face when trying to make a complaint about counsellors and psychotherapists and urgently calls for independent statutory regulation to help protect clients from malpractice (1).
Mind’s snapshot poll found:
- 1 in 5 people were not satisfied with the service they received from their counsellor or psychotherapist
- 85 per cent want to see counsellors and psychotherapists regulated
- 77 per cent did not make a complaint because:
37 per cent said they didn’t know how to complain
32 per cent were worried they’d not be believed
25 per cent feared the complaints process was not independent~
25 per cent stated there was no one to complain to
- 73 per cent of those that complained were unsatisfied with a third finding the process confusing and 65% stating that the complaints procedure had not been independent.
Psychological therapies remain one of the least regulated areas of mental health practice in the UK. Currently anyone can set themselves up as a counsellor or psychotherapist, without formal training or need to join a professional organisation, and there is no single body to monitor practice and to deal with any complaints.
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said:
Independent statutory regulation of counsellors and psychotherapists is a crucial step which needs to be taken to protect the public. Therapy is an important treatment and while most therapists do an excellent job, the people that do have a bad experience have very few options on how to complain and no guarantee that malpractice will ever be held to account. It is clear that self-regulation is not working.
Whilst regulation won’t end abuse, it will provide a mechanism to ensure a basic standard for therapists, provide a unified and unbiased channel for grievances and ensure that anyone struck off is legally barred from practicing under the title of counsellor or psychotherapist again.
People seek counselling or psychotherapy when they are in distress and we would urge the next Government to treat regulation as a priority in order to protect patients who are already in a vulnerable place.
Claire was referred to a counsellor through the University where she was studying. The counsellor breached confidentiality by telling some of her tutors things she had said during counselling sessions, information which the tutors then used to bully her:
After it had happened, I didn’t leave the house for three weeks. I was so embarrassed. Not only was I dealing with the issues I had before, but now all of this too. I tried to complain to the University, and to the organisation my counsellor is affiliated to, but it’s just my word against theirs, and it’s not in their interest to believe me. There desperately needs to be somewhere independent people can go to.
(1) Survey of 181 service users carried out by Mind between November 2009 and February 2010.
Watch Paul Farmer talk about therapy regulation on BBC News