I wanted to do a post about accreditation, and what that word even means. I have recently reached this point in my career and wanted to reflect on it. I have worked so hard to get here, so I feel a need to shout about it! I also share a sense of loss about that goal ending, and I’m trying to sit with that as best I can. It was a rocky road, full of ups/ downs, disappointments, wins, fear, vulnerability and so many tough endings… but ya know what….I got here eventually in one piece.
Choosing a therapist can be so tricky. Do you go for like-ability? Competence? Sincerity? Gender? Speciality? Accreditation status?! In my experience not many people focus on the accreditation status, so why did I feel the need to obtain this level of profile? After all, it is voluntary! Many therapists do not ever become accredited, and manage just fine.
When you search for a mental health professional, the language and descriptions can be confusing and overwhelming. You are first likely to see these professional titles Counsellors, Psychologists, Psychotherapists, Counselling Psychologists, Art therapists, Life Coaches and so on…..Then you will notice that there are people who are affiliated with certain regulatory bodies such as: IACP, BACP, IAHIP, UKCP, NCS, HCPC, CORU…. the list is endless! Within these groups people will either be registered, pre accredited or accredited.
All these organisations serve to regulate the profession, and each organisation has a set amount of standards that the clinician needs to meet. There are multiple organisations doing that as the terms Counsellor/Psychotherapist are not yet protected in the UK or Ireland. Sadly this means that individuals can use these titles ( Counsellor, Psychotherapist) fraudulently, advertise their services and meet with people in need….often doing more harm than good.
Guaranteeing an ethical service, is one of the reasons I wanted to be accredited, to ensure that my practice is safe and bound by an agreed ethical code and a complaints process. It also provides assurance to the public that I am accountable to a regulatory body. Accreditation is the stamp that says I have jumped through all the hoops to meet the standard, and vow to continue that to keep the title.
I have recently been accredited by the UKCP, which holds pretty high standards to meet their requirements. My journey to accreditation started in 2016. In order to meet the requirements I needed to complete specific training (4 years @ masters level (7) UK), supervision and clinical practice components. Over a 3 year period I completed 450 free therapy hours with Mind in London, this required approx 100 hours of supervision. I completed over 100 hours of my own therapy and further personal development work. This is something I continue to do by the way! A further 100 hours of mental health familiarisation is also required, which I was not required to complete as I worked full time in mental health services from 2015-2021 as an Occupational Therapist.
These are the requirements to get the accredited status, however one needs to continue to maintain agreed standards in order to keep that status! In order to maintain accredited status, attendance at 250 hours of CPD is required within a 5 year period, this suits me because I love to learn, and am probably a serial course taker 😊I attend on average 2 hours of supervision per month to discuss how I work and seek guidance as needed. I hold professional liability insurance to protect myself and the public. I also pay for annual memberships of my original training institute (Beeleaf) and UKCP. So it’s plenty to keep me going, and by no means the end.
I know there are plenty of amazing therapists and counsellors out there that are not accredited, and that doesn’t take away from the great work they do. The therapy space is constantly changing and we are all doing our best to keep up with systemic changes in the profession, and future proofing ourselves. I wanted to share my journey to accreditation with you to practice what I preach and acknowledge the hard work and effort I have put into this. I’m dedicated to this work and so grateful
to have the opportunity to share more with you going forward 🙏🏼♥️😊