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BBC reporter Jordan Dunbar Talks to Amanda Williamson, as well as to Fiona Ballentine-Dykes

JORDAN DUNBAR So what should we do if we are looking for a private therapist?

AMANDA WILLIAMSON At the moment I would say that look at the three main professional bodies. They are well established and they are working together to try and standardise training and competencies. The BACP are the largest professional body. There is also the UKCP and the BPS. It’s – they have registers that you can check. They have good resources. They have complaints processes.

JORDAN DUNBAR Let’s have a recap. Amanda just mentioned the BACP, the UKCP and the BPS. Now pay attention. There is going to be a lot of acronyms. At the moment the government recommends you go to a therapist from one of the accredited voluntary registers which act like trade bodies. They include the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, the UK Counsel for Psychotherapy, the British Psychoanalytic Council. So that’s the BACP, the UKCP and the BCP and there is even the BABCP and more. Are you still with me? So – they will check the members’ credentials and qualifications before letting them join so if you are going to look for a therapist checking their list gives you some guarantee of their level of experience. Having a therapist on these lists also means that if something does go wrong, there is someone to complain to. Accredited only means they are overseen by the Professional Standards Authority – the PSA – which is a government agency. But it’ll only check they are running their complaints and conduct procedures properly and everything else is above board. You can’t complain to them directly.

JORDAN DUNBAR Confused? Fiona Ballantine-Dykes is Head of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy – also known as the BACP. She understands how difficult it is for people to navigate the system.

FIONA BALLENTINE-DYKES That’s one reason why we would really encourage people to go to the Professional Standards Authority list of accredited registers because we do know that those organisations have met standards. That, in this current environment, is your safest way of ensuring that those sorts of standards have been at least scrutinised externally and redressed if things go wrong.

JORDAN DUNBAR Is that really good enough that we are asking vulnerable people to then go to the BACP for the UKCP for all these acronyms - this is so complicated.

FIONA BALLENTINE-DYKES I think you are right. I think it is very, very difficult if you are just Googling where to go, where to start.

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