Notice certain official logos repetitively appearing on websites when seeking a therapist? Or read that a counsellor or psychotherapist is ‘registered’? What is this about, and how does it affect you?
What is a ‘registered therapist’?
A registered therapist is a counsellor, counselling psychologist, or psychotherapist who has attained the sufficient advanced level of education, training, and level of experience to be offered a membership with a regulatory board or ‘association’ in their country.
The main membership associations in the UK for counsellors, counselling psychologists, and psychotherapists are highly established and reliable institutions that are all themselves listed with the Professional Standards Authority.
Why should I care if a therapist is registered somewhere?
Yes, therapy associations in the UK act as support systems for therapists, but really they exist for you the client.
The membership associations for therapists exist to make sure counselling and psychotherapy is an accessible, safe, and useful experience for general public.
The BACP has over 40,000 members and was formed over 40 years ago.
BACP accepts members who are students or retired who can then benefit from their resources. But of course they only recommend you work with at therapist who qualifies for their three ‘registered’ memberships, which set very high standards in the industry. They include the following:
Main Category – Registered Member (MBACP)
If your therapist has this membership, they have completed a BACP accredited course. Sometimes, if someone took a course that is not included in the BACP list, they can take a ‘Certificate of Proficiency’ to be at this level.
*If you are on a low budget and are happy to work with someone who is certified but maybe doesn’t have many years of experience yet, then look for this minimum level.
Accredited – Registered Member (MBACP Accred)
To be at the accredited level, a therapist goes through a rigorous application and assessment process over several months.
*A good quality standard to look for in any therapist. It means you are working with an experienced practitioner who has demonstrated their talent for working with clients and for maintaining high ethical standards.
Senior Accredited – Registered Member (MBACP Sn Accred)
This is a high level of membership for those practitioners who not only have extensive experience but have a specialist area they are accomplished in.
*As a client seeking a therapist, this might be important if you have a certain mental health diagnosis and you’d like to work with someone who really understands your issues well.
Representing over 15,000 psychiatrists, this is the professional body to check with if you are choosing to work with a psychiatrist over a psychotherapist (the difference being that a psychiatrist in the UK can prescribe medication and has a medical degree as well as studying psychology).
Look for the following membership levels:
Specialist Associateship (MRCPsych)
Denotes at least five years of experience in psychiatry, and has specialist training which was either undertaken in the UK or has been assessed as an equivalent.
Awarded to psychiatrists who have been members for at least 10 years and who are recognised as having made a significant contribution to the field of psychiatry.