The services I have talked about are regulated in different ways. I had a look at the Cambridge Children’s centre and Cambridge counselling service. The professionals I looked at where a social worker and a counsellor. A social worker is regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council. Counselling services are regulated by British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. The health and care professions council regulates social workers by ensuring that they are all registered with them. It is a criminal offence to practice as a speech therapist if you have not registered with the health and care professions council. Their job is to protect the wellbeing of people who use the services of the health and care professions council. They only register people who meet their standards for their professional skills, behaviour and health.
The HCPC hold hearing where health professionals and lay people (untrained people) decide if a registrant’s ability to practice is impaired by their conduct, competence of health. The maximum sanction that they can hold is to strike a person off their register, meaning they cannot work within the UK for a minimum of 5 years. I believe that this is an effective way of regulating social services because it ensures that they all must follow the set standards proposed by the HCPC. If a social worker or service were to not meet that standard, they would be unable to practice in the UK. This provides a good incentive for social workers to meet the standards. However, I feel that it may be more effective if the HCPC were to regularly inspect services to ensure they are of a high standard. I feel that more consequences should be in place for social workers who do not meet this standard such as fines or even a sentence.
Although I believe that it is good to hold a hearing with other professionals in order to make a proper judgement of the service I also think that they need to provide further and more severe punishments. Counselling services are regulated by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. BACP is the largest and broadest body within the sector, its work ensures that it meets its agenda of public protection whilst also developing and informing its members. Its work with large and small organisations within the sector ranges from advising schools on how to set up a counselling service, assisting the NHS on service provision, working with voluntary agencies and supporting independent practitioners. BACP participates in the development of counselling and psychotherapy at an international level. They regulate services similarly to the HCPC by making sure that counselling services are registered with them before they can practice. During the Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE) meeting – 26th January 2012 it was discussed that the voluntary services needed to be regulated more effectively.
Sally Aldridge, Director of Regulatory Policy at BACP, suggested that more work needed to be done on the appeals process and that it was quite likely that, in a two part process, appeals on eligibility would far outweigh accreditation appeals. She also asked for more information on acceptability criteria for registrant activities. I believe that this type of regulation is effective because any counselling service that does not meet the standard will be taken off their register. They also promote education and training within the sector which I believe to be an effective way of making sure that the services provide the appropriate standard. BACP seeks to advise and inform national and international policy and procedures concerned with counselling and psychotherapy, offering information and guidance to those involved in the process. Through regular consultation, the Association continues to offer advice, as appropriate, to the Governments throughout the UK on all counselling and psychotherapy matters.
BACP is consulted by government bodies, professional bodies, funding organisations, teaching institutions and many others on important issues concerning counselling and psychotherapy. The association is strongly committed to high practice standards and the protection of the public. This work is of the utmost importance in view of the approaching statutory regulation of counselling and psychotherapy. However, there have been criticisms as to the effectiveness of the BACP and A number of angry letters in the July issue expressed criticisms of BACP’s stance towards regulation declaring that there was not enough distinction between psychotherapists and a psychiatrist. I believe that in order to regulate services properly it should be clear on the job roles of those in the services they are regulating and that clear distinction must be made between the two professions. Lastly, services are also regulated by conducting DBS checks. This ensures that unsuitable people are not working with vulnerable adults. If someone had a previous conviction this would be flagged up and they would not be allowed to work with vulnerable adults depending on the crime. An example of this would be if someone wanting to go into the counselling profession had a previous conviction of exploiting people. This would also be reported to the BACP and they would no longer be able to practice under them.