I’ve been mulling over some of the counter-arguments to bringing in regulation for counselling and psychotherapy. One of the main objections is that if “counsellor” and “psychotherapist” were made protected titles, practitioners who didn’t want to be regulated would simply switch to other job titles. “Life coach”, “Jungian analyst”, “humanistic therapist” and so on.
The survey I recently did suggests that protecting those titles would have at least some impact. People looking for therapy to help with a mental health problem are more likely to look for a counsellor or psychotherapist than a life coach. So somebody switching their job title could expect to lose business by doing so. That said, on its own this doesn’t seem particularly foolproof as a measure to squeeze out the cowboys.
Another possibility that’s been bandied around is that of protected functions rather than protected titles. Rather than regulate what practitioners call themselves, regulate what they actually do. There are objections to this too. Counselling and psychotherapy aren’t the easiest of professions to define. What is it that a psychotherapist does that differentiates them from an advisor, a coach, a mentor, a sympathetic listener?
So, protected titles, or protected functions, or maybe some combination of the two?
I think I have an answer to this question, but this rather short blog post is going to end on a cliff hanger. You’ll all have to wait until next Wednesday to find out what my answer is, for reasons that will eventually become clear. Watch this space.