Last month, the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and the British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC) announced the latest phase of their joint collaboration; the creation of an education and practise framework for the counselling and psychotherapy professions.

In this latest initiative, these three membership organisations are hoping to create a joint Scope of Practice and Education (SCoPEd). This initiative follows the joint Statement of Intent issues in October 2015, in which they declared their intention to work together to regulate the professions, promote training and research, ensure that talking therapy is accessible, promote and build an evidence base and to ensure adequate mental health funding.

The UKCP, BACP and BPC registers are all accredited by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) under its Accredited Registers’ programme. Each of these bodies currently has its own standards of training and practice, leading to possible confusion in the minds of those who are employing, using or commissioning the services of a talking therapist. This position can be neatly contrasted with the situation for professionals that are regulated by one statutory regulator, like doctors or dentists, whose titles are protected by a single regulatory body. These professionals are only subjected to one set of standards for education and training. This is no doubt reassuring for the public, employers and commissioners; they can be confident that those using a title that is protected by statute will have satisfied the same regulatory standards of education and training.

The PSA’s Standards for Accredited Registers requires that accredited bodies set standards for education and training that take into account factors including “standards set by other relevant bodies for the same or similar occupation and where different, can offer a reasonable justification”. Presumably, the PSA’s expectation that bodies with voluntary registers explain any differences in training is the remedy for any confusion caused by having several different regulatory bodies for talking therapists.

It is hoped that the joint framework will develop generic standards of training and practice for the counselling and psychotherapy professions and bring clarity to the differences that currently exist between them; it will be interesting to see how the bodies go about explaining any residual differences between their regulatory regimes.