A Deeper Look at SCoPEd: So, What is an ‘Advanced Counsellor’ Anyway?

In the April edition of Therapy Today, the BACP tell us: “The SCoPEd project is looking at entry points to the professions. […] SCoPEd will not limit or devalue your individual journey. This draft framework is not designed to look at therapists beyond entry point. ”

So according to BACP, these are entry-points, and perhaps through some unspecified advancement, counsellors may progress to become psychotherapists (though where this leaves those who possess the skills attributed to a psychotherapist, yet wish to remain a counsellor, we are yet to discover).

But now at least, we know that the terms refer to entry-points. Clarity at last? I’m not so sure. Looking again at training routes into the profession through the SCoPEd lens, I can clearly see a door marked “counsellor” – it is the door I entered through, with my Level 7 postgraduate diploma in ‘Counselling and Psychotherapy’, which is BACP accredited. I can also see a door marked “psychotherapist” – the UKCP website lists a range of level 7 courses which meet their requirement of 4 years minimum training and 450 client hours (see below – image taken from SCoPEd Competency Framework) But where is the door marked “advanced counsellor”? As you can see, in the table below, advanced counsellor is split into two sections – “accredited counsellor” and “psychotherapeutic counsellor”. So let’s look at both of those.

It’s difficult to argue that ‘accredited counsellor’ is an entry point. The BACP themselves stipulate that at least 150 of the hours submitted for accreditation are accrued “post-qualification”. I’m not sure what it is even doing in a framework purporting to map entry-points to the profession.

What about psychotherapeutic counsellor? Looking at the training requirements for this ‘entry-point’, we need to find a three-year-long (at least 450 face-to-face taught hours), level six course, which requires 450 client hours. I’ve done some digging around, and I haven’t yet found a course that meets these requirements at the point of qualification. The closest courses I can find are the CPCAB diploma in psychotherapeutic counselling, which is a level 5 course (I wonder if the students on these courses are aware they will not meet the requirements set out in SCoPEd to call themselves a psychotherapeutic counsellor) and select few other courses, including a course at the Scarborough training centre, SCPTI, which offers a level 6 advanced diploma, however this only requires 250 client hours, still not meeting the SCoPEd requirements for this entry-point. It seems an extra 200 hours are required by UKCP post-qualification, so again, not an entry point.

I invite anyone who knows of a course that meets the below requirements to point me in the right direction – I genuinely wish to understand how and why advanced counsellor is considered an entry-point into the profession, and whether this is an accessible entry-point for trainees. I feel quite sure that those on BACP accredited courses will not meet the requirements for psychotherapeutic counsellor or psychotherapist (even if the BACP accredited course bears the name ‘psychotherapy’), and that is confusing to say the least.

academic requirements scoped

I think this inconsistency between the public message and what is presented in the framework is important to highlight. To say “it is not designed to look at therapists beyond entry point.” just is not true, otherwise “accredited counsellor” would not feature in the framework at all. So it seems to me like ‘advanced counsellor’ is not an entry-point.

I would really like to see some clarity from the professional bodies about the purpose of SCoPEd. Is it really to map entry-points? If so, why any mention of this middle, seemingly unattainable tier?

This framework will affect therapists, it will affect our practices, and most importantly, it will affect clients. That’s the reason I keep chipping away at this stone. I don’t trust this framework to do clients any good, and I don’t think any project with these kinds of mixed-messages and inconsistencies can be a sound basis for policy change.

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