Special Edition – Q&A with the National Counselling Society

Special Edition – Q&A with the National Counselling Society

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In this special edition of the Counselling Tutor Podcast, Rory Lees-Oakes interviews two members of the National Counselling Society’s Council – Freya Bottomley (Interim Chief Executive during Chief Executive Meg Moss’s maternity leave) and Jyles Robillard Day (Head of Engagement and Development).

Rory asks questions posed by members of the Counselling Tutor Facebook group. If you aren’t already a member of our Facebook group, do come along and join over 38,000 students, qualified practitioners, tutors and supervisors interested in the world of counselling and psychotherapy.

Could you update us on NCS’s involvement with the SCoPEd project?

At the end of 2020, the SCoPEd group was expanded from the three original bodies that it comprised to the current seven; NCS is now directly involved in this in two key ways:

  • sitting on a group that is mapping training and competences to the SCoPEd framework
  • being part of the SCoPEd Oversight Committee (SOC), to which NCS is putting forward members’ queries and concerns, in particular regarding the impact assessment (looking at the effect of SCoPEd on the counselling and psychotherapy profession).

Key issues that have arisen so far from NCS members are:

  • how SCoPEd will be implemented
  • whether the columns in it will have titles or simply letters
  • how the pathways will work in terms of movement between columns
  • how it will fit with the current Accredited Registers Programme of the Professional Standards Authority (PSA).

NCS is aware that many skills in our profession come from experience, continuing professional development (CPD) or peer discussions rather than from formal training. Work is being done to look at how these competences can be evidenced.

Is it harder to find a student placement if you are a member of NCS rather than the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)?

NCS is working hard to ensure that it is as widely recognised as BACP. As NCS holds a register that is accredited by the PSA, there is no reason why it should be seen less favourably than BACP. If you encounter a difficulty of this type, please contact NCS’s Membership Services for assistance.

NCS offers student members access to a placement provider listing, and believes it is important that placements should be awarded based on skills and abilities rather than your choice of the membership body.

What makes NCS different from other professional bodies?

It’s important to be able to choose between different bodies, as counsellors and psychotherapists themselves are a naturally diverse group, with a wide range of perspectives, modalities, personal politics and spiritual beliefs.

As a member-led organisation, NCS includes its members in key decisions: it believes that its members are its expertise. NCS also prides itself on the quality of service provided by Membership Services, its range of member benefits, the reasonable fees (with no joining fee), and the extensive range of CPD opportunities available.

Do remember too that you can join more than one membership body if you wish.

If a counsellor is accredited by another membership body, do they need to go through the professional accreditation process again if they wish to transfer NCS?

So long as the accreditation is with a body that holds a PSA Accredited Register – such as the Association of Christian Counsellors (ACC), BACP, Counselling & Psychotherapy in Scotland (COSCA), or UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) – then the transfer is straightforward.

You can find out more about this process on NCS’s website or by contacting Membership Services.

Will NCS opt-out of SCoPEd if that is what members want?

NCS believes it is important to be involved in the SCoPEd discussions at this stage, to ensure that it has a say on impact assessment, how it will be implemented, and how the pathways will work. Once this work is complete, NCS will carry out a members’ vote on whether or not to adopt it.

Does NCS accept as members those who have trained via online courses?

Currently, NCS would require at least part of the course to be face-to-face, as well as including appropriate clinical supervision and client hours. However, given the shift during the COVID-19 pandemic towards training having more online elements, NCS is currently looking into this question. While a greater proportion of online training may be recognised (i.e. blended learning), NCS does not expect to accept fully online courses.

How does NCS support students and training providers?

NCS offers students a range of benefits, including:

  • a dedicated student area on the website, offering good-practice guidance
  • discounts with book publishers and insurers
  • access to the TOTUM (previously NUS Extra) card for lots of other discounts
  • discounted supervision and personal therapy with some qualified members

NCS has a core value of being approachable and professional, and students will find this from all teams with which they have contact, including Membership services and Professional Standards.

There is also a student magazine, which is available to all students of counselling and psychotherapy, not just members.

Are there job opportunities out there for NCS members who are qualified?

Yes, there definitely are. Some employers may wish applicants to have 450 client hours and three years’ practice, as is required for professional accreditation.

If an employer queries your NCS membership, do let NCS know so that it can investigate this.

Does NCS work across all four countries of the UK?

Yes, it does, and in various different ways. Examples include:

  • sitting on the All-Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood
  • researching the COVID-19 generation
  • working with an all-party group on mental health in Northern Ireland (with similar groups to come in Wales and Scotland)
  • joining the #123GP campaign for counselling to be available in every GP practice in Northern Ireland
  • working with the National Children’s Bureau to promote a mental-health charter for young people
  • setting up a Northern Ireland regional committee to understand the regional landscape, issues, CPD needs and support requirements. This is a pilot project, and NCs will roll out regional groups to other areas if it proves effective.

What is NCS doing with regard to equality and diversity?

NCS is passionate about equality and diversity and works hard to be inclusive. However, it recognises that more can always be done, and is keen to listen to and learn from members in developing this work.

Following a request by Place2Be in 2017 regarding the demographic profile of members, NCS realised that the counselling and psychotherapy profession as a whole is not representative of the population. This led to the formation of a new coalition for diversity and inclusion, and the first area on which this group is working is race and training – more updates are expected soon. NCS also has its own diversity and inclusion committee.

NCS aims to ensure that diversity and inclusion are part of all areas of its work:

  • embedding this in all it does and all those with whom it engages
  • ensuring all members feel welcomed and supported as individuals
  • supporting counsellors to provide their clients with an inclusive service
  • welcoming members of the public to the NCS website, supporting them to find a counsellor by providing clear and accessible information

NCS also aims to keep its membership fees as reasonable as possible.

Last but not least, it produces all its new documents in different formats, including text-only, audio, Braille and large format – and videos are subtitled. Its complaints procedure is similarly flexible, offering different ways to communicate in order to meet a diverse range of needs.

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