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How RSCPP helps you find the best, most qualified therapists in your area

by Sarah Graham
Friday 10 July 2015
1196 4425

Choosing a therapist can be a minefield of confusing terminology and abbreviations. There are so many different types of therapists, with so many different qualifications, and so many different professional bodies offering so many different types of membership - how are you meant to know which therapists are best qualified to offer the support you need?

Our standards

RSCPP is different from other therapy providers because we have high standards about the therapists we list. It's easy to assume that all therapists who are members of professional bodies are trained and qualified to work in private practice. This isn't the case as students and others can also become members of some professional bodies. Therapists who have been assessed by their body to be trained and proficient are known as 'Accredited', 'Chartered' or 'Registered', depending on which term the organisation uses.

At RSCPP you don't need to worry about this distinction because we only accept trained members of professional bodies, so our listings don't include students or unqualified therapists. This means you can be assured that any practitioner you contact through us can provide you with the best possible support and care.

We also spend time looking at the many professional therapy bodies, and assessing their standards and membership levels, before we accept their members on our site. You don't have to spend hours learning about this complicated area as we've already done the hard work and found the best therapists for you. However, it may be helpful to have a basic understanding of the differences between the membership types you'll see listed on our therapists' profiles.


Membership types we accept

All our therapists are accredited, registered or chartered members of at least one of the following established organisations. Therapists are an accomplished bunch and, as we only work with the most highly qualified, they will often be members of more than one organisation, which each represent different facets of their skills. You can find information on each therapist's memberships in their individual RSCPP profiles, to help you to choose the best therapist for you.

Accredited members of:

  • British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP)
  • British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
  • College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists (COSRT)

Chartered members of:

  • British Psychological Society (BPS)

Registered members of:

  • British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
  • British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC)
  • Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
  • National Counselling Society (NCS)
  • UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)


How therapists are trained and regulated

There are a number of different training routes into the talking therapies profession.

Statutory bodies

The Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care (PSA) was established by the government to oversee the nine statutory bodies that regulate health and care professionals in the UK.

The statutory body that you may see mentioned in relation to therapists is:

  • The Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC), which regulates health, psychological and social work professionals

Professional bodies

Professional bodies don't have the same legal regulatory function as statutory bodies, but certain membership types of these organisations are a good way of verifying that a therapist has been appropriately trained and follows ethical good practice.

Professional bodies assess therapists' training and qualifications when processing their membership applications, and may also make recommendations about which membership types are qualified to work in private practice. Members of professional bodies are also expected to follow a certain code of ethics, and most professional bodies operate their own complaints procedure.

Membership of the different professional bodies is dependent on the type of therapist and their professional interests or areas of study. The differences between each body are explained below, to help you understand what your therapist's professional body memberships actually mean.


Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC)

Therapists covered: Arts Therapists, Practitioner Psychologists

Does HCPC membership require undergraduate or postgraduate training? Yes, HCPC membership requires postgraduate training, from a register of approved programmes.

Does HCPC recommend that all their members can work in private practice? Yes, HCPC registrants can choose to work privately or within an organisation.

RSCPP lists: Any therapists who are HCPC registered.

Do HCPC members follow a code of ethics? Yes, HCPC registrants are expected to meet standards of conduct, performance and ethics, and standards of proficiency.

Are HCPC members subject to a complaints procedure? Yes, and as a statutory regulator HCPC has the power to take action against registrants who do not meet their standards, including revoking their fitness to practise.


British Psychological Society (BPS)

Therapists covered: Psychologists

What membership levels does BPS have?

  • Chartered member
  • Graduate member
  • Student member
  • Affiliate (no relevant qualifications)
  • Fellow (awarded to members who have made a significant contribution to the world of psychology)
  • Associate Fellow (awarded in recognition of several years' experience and contribution to the field of psychology)

Does BPS membership require undergraduate or postgraduate training? Graduate members require undergraduate training. Chartered members require both undergraduate and postgraduate training.

Does BPS recommend that all their members can work in private practice? BPS does not have a fitness to practice role, and for this reason they always advise members of the public to check the HCPC register before engaging the services of a practitioner psychologist, or anyone using one of the legally protected titles.

RSCPP lists: Only chartered BPS members (with HCPC registration for protected titles.)

Do BPS members follow a code of ethics? Yes, all members follow the BPS code of ethics and conduct.

Are BPS members subject to a complaints procedure? No, BPS members are regulated by HCPC.


British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP)

Therapists covered: Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Psychotherapists, who practise Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Does BABCP membership require undergraduate or postgraduate training? No, anyone with an interest in CBT can become a member. However, BABCP is the only organisation in the UK that accredits CBT therapists.

To become an Accredited member, therapists must meet BABCP's minimum training standards, including an approved professional qualification in an appropriate profession (e.g. psychology, psychiatry, etc.), as well as training and continuing professional development in Cognitive and/or Behavioural Therapies.

Does BABCP recommend that all their members can work in private practice? BABCP does not make any recommendations on who can work in private practice.

RSCPP lists: Only accredited BABCP members.

Do BABCP members follow a code of ethics? Yes, members follow the BABCP standards of conduct, performance and ethics.

Are BABCP members subject to a complaints procedure? Yes, members are subject to the BABCP complaints procedure.


British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)

Therapists covered: Counsellors, Psychotherapists

What membership levels does BACP have?

  • Student member
  • Individual member
  • Accredited member
  • Senior accredited member
  • Registered member

Does BACP membership require undergraduate or postgraduate training? Members are required to have completed (or be studying, for student members) an undergraduate (minimum diploma standard) counselling or psychotherapy course. To become an accredited member, therapists are required to join BACP first and then work towards their accreditation.

Which membership levels do BACP recommend can work in private practice? BACP does not make specific recommendations about which membership levels can work in private practice, but does recommend that members 'are well trained and experienced before working in private practice', and provides information sheets to guide members in this regard.

RSCPP lists: Accredited, senior accredited, and registered BACP members.

Do all BACP membership levels follow a code of ethics? Yes, all members follow the BACP ethical framework.

Are all BACP membership levels subject to a complaints procedure? Yes, in line with BACP's professional conduct procedure


College Of Sexual & Relationship Therapists (COSRT)

Therapists covered: Psychosexual therapists

What membership levels does COSRT have? 

  • Affiliate members
  • General members
  • Accredited members
  • Accredited supervisors
  • Fellows of COSRT (nominated by peers for significant contributions to the field)

Does COSRT membership require undergraduate or postgraduate training? Only accredited members of COSRT have training requirements, which can be at undergraduate, diploma, or postgraduate level.

Does COSRT recommend that all their members can work in private practice? COSRT does not make specific recommendations about private practice. 

RSCPP lists: Only accredited COSRT members.

Do COSRT members follow a code of ethics? Yes, all members are expected to abide by the COSRT code of ethics.

Are COSRT members subject to a complaints procedure? Yes, all members are subject to the COSRT complaints procedure


National Counselling Society (NCS)

Therapists covered: Counsellors

What membership levels does NCS have? NCS has two membership categories, registrant and non-registrant, which relates to the Professional Standards Authority (PSA)'s Accredited Register programme.

Does NCS membership require undergraduate or postgraduate training? Registrants must have an undergraduate level diploma or qualification in counselling.

Which membership levels do NCS recommend can work in private practice? Registrants can work in private practice. Non-registrants cannot work in private practice, and for this reason NCS does not give their details on the Accredited Register.

RSCPP lists: Only NCS registrants.

Do all NCS membership levels follow a code of ethics? Yes, members follow the NCS code of ethics.

Are all NCS membership levels subject to a complaints procedure? Yes, members are subject to the NCS complaints procedure.


UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)

Therapists covered: Psychotherapists, Psychotherapeutic counsellors

What membership levels does UKCP have? 

  • Full clinical individual member
  • Trainee therapist
  • Student member
  • Non-clinical affiliate member
  • Organisational member
  • Full non-clinical individual member
  • Retired member

Does UKCP membership require undergraduate or postgraduate training? Membership of UKCP's psychotherapy register requires postgraduate training from one of UKCP's organisational member colleges. Members who are listed on the psychotherapeutic counselling register (but not the psychotherapy register) require undergraduate training. 

Which membership levels do UKCP recommend can work in private practice? Full clinical members are able to work in private practice. 

RSCPP lists: Only full clinical members.

Do all UKCP membership levels follow a code of ethics? The different organisational member colleges of UKCP follow different codes of ethics, so UKCP members will follow the code of ethics set by whichever organisation they belong to.

Are all UKCP membership levels subject to a complaints procedure? All full clinical members are subject to the UKCP complaints and conduct process.


British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC)

Therapists covered: Psychoanalysts, Psychotherapists, Analysts

Does BPC membership require undergraduate or postgraduate training? Practitioners usually require at least undergraduate training to becomes members of one of BPC's member institutions, through which they can become registrants of the BPC.

Does BPC recommend that all their members can work in private practice? Yes, BPC functions as a voluntary regulator of the profession and publishes an annual register of those practitioners who meet their fitness to practise standards.

RSCPP lists: BPC registrants.

Do BPC members follow a code of ethics? Yes, members follow the BPC code of ethics.

Are BPC members subject to a complaints procedure? Yes, members are subject to the BPC complaints procedure.


Choosing your therapist

Because RSCPP only lists therapists who belong to their professional body's highest membership levels, you can choose a therapist from our directory in full confidence that they have been assessed and trained, and follow a professional code of conduct. Each therapist's profile lists their professional body memberships, as well as details of their qualifications, the types of therapy they offer, and the issues they have experience working with. However, if you have any questions at all, please don't hesitate to ask any of our therapists for more information about their training, experience, qualifications and memberships - they'll be happy to explain further.

Finding support

If you are concerned about the issues raised in this article then you may like to read about finding the right therapist for you. If this route is not appropriate for you, your GP can assess you and direct you towards support.

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Updated 16 July 2017