Proposed College – Q & A

The PROPOSED College of Counselling Therapists in BC

Questions and Answers

Why the proposed new college is called the College of Counselling Therapists?

In the late 1990's when individual association members (who would eventually become members of the Task Group for Counsellor Regulation, and later FACTBC) were submitting applications to the Health Professions Council, the Health Professions Council saw that many like-minded professions were requesting regulation. In consultation with the Task Group, they suggested the term "Counselling Therapy" to cover all the constituent professionals (Clinical Counsellors, Marriage and Family Therapists, Counsellors, Art Therapists, Certified Counsellors, Pastoral Care Counsellors, Music therapists, Hypno-therapists etc.).

Who sets the required competencies for membership in the College?

Once the ministry has approved the College of Counselling Therapists, the first board will be appointed, whose task it will be, among other things, to set the competencies. This board will be informed and advised and hope to be comprised of the current Task Group representative members, plus appointed members of the public, and various subcommittees. As the Task Group has already done the work of creating the Competency Profile for Counselling Therapists (2007), this step in the regulation process should be fairly easy.

What exactly are the competencies?

The Competency Profile (2007) contains 6 domains with basic knowledge required in all but the Professional and Practice domains, where intermediate knowledge and skill level is required.

  1. Human Development: e.g. normal, abnormal, life span development, emotions, perception, learning, psychopathology.
  2. Theoretical Foundations: e.g. theories of counselling, interviewing, theories of the major therapeutic schools, risk management.
  3. Clinical Practice: e.g. counselling techniques, the therapeutic relationship, and conflict resolution.
  4. Professional Issues: e.g. ethics, practice review standards.
  5. Research: e.g. understanding reading, design, limitations, methods, language.
  6. Practice: e.g. practicum, supervision, reporting.

The entry-to-practice level competencies are broad based enough so that they are as inclusive as possible for all the member groups, but also sets a basic common standard. These competencies can still be altered and will not be finalized until after the cabinet approves the process and appoints the first board.

There are different ways to assess the status of individuals within a College – by credential or by competency. What are they and how do they apply to regulation?

Credential is evidence of a qualification, competence or authority issued to an individual or third party who is assumed by practice, by assumed competence or by law to have authority to do so. This is usually in the form of an educational achievement such as a Masters Degree in Clinical Counselling

Competence refers to a required standard for an individual to properly perform a specific job. It reflects knowledge, skills and behaviour. More generally, competence is the state or quality of being adequately or well qualified, having the ability to perform a specific role. Competencies can be gained through formal and informal learning and are generally integrated. Such as integrating a Counselling Diploma and a second certificate in another area of counseling, years of practice and professional development each year.

Will the non–master level training (certificates and diplomas) provide these competencies?

At this point in time the majority of the listed competencies are covered in the training of some counselling institutes and colleges to a greater or lesser degree. Some institutes providing certificate and diploma, may be required to do a little curriculum upgrading; however this all looks very feasible. Therefore, yes, by the time this is in place, we expect that ACCT members can work towards meeting these competencies.

How will being regulated in BC affect counsellors who move into BC in the future? Is there inter-provincial transferability?

After we are regulated, the new Board will discuss this for the Counselling profession. There will be a process established which will enable counsellors from outside BC to be regulated in BC, as mentioned in “FACTBC - Q & A" The College of Counselling Therapists will be legally required to abide by the Agreement on Internal Trade, a federal law that ensures that inter-provincial mobility is in place.

Does regulation under the Health Providers Act have any impact on the use of the title "Counsellor" or "Counsellor Accredited"?

When a health profession is regulated under the HPA it also means that the designated title Registered Counselling Therapist (or any key words or derivative thereof) is legally protected and may only be used by professionals who are members of that regulatory body (e.g. College of Physiotherapists, College of Massage Therapists, College of Physicians and Surgeons, etc.)

FACTBC is using the working title of "Counselling Therapist" for title designation as this was the title recommended by government.

People who choose not to join (or who do not meet admission criteria) would be required to use other descriptive titles to describe their practice once the designated title is legally mandated.

What will be required for ACCT Members to join the new College?

It is expected that ACCT members who have been registered with ACCT for at least 12 months before the College commences will be 'ported' into the new College. Those who do not meet the porting requirement, of being a member for 12 months preceeding the College opening,  will be required to sit an entrance exam with the College, that will be based on the above listed competencies. 

Will the coming “regulations", change ACCT’s current criteria for counsellors?

YES. We fully expect the College to ask all Counselling Therapists to receive ongoing supervision. ACCT has implemented changes, as of September 15th 2014, that require all new Registered Therapeutic Counsellors (RTC)  to have or start acquiring at least 100 hours of clinical supervision. We hope to implement this for all existing RTCs, and will survey membership to determine if this is accepted by all current members.

Other than the possibly of requiring Supervision Hours, will I need to do anything else to prepare for “regulation”?

YES, all ACCT counsellors may be required to keep track of the hours they have worked as a counsellor, as well as all their hours of clinical supervision. Information will also be coming soon on how to start the task of tracking your hours that you have worked as a counsellor.

How does my joining this new College affect my membership in ACCT?

This new proposed College would change the roles that ACCT has and membership in ACCT will still be important for different reasons. The College would be responsible for professional tasks such as: registration of members for entry-to-practice, mandating continuing education and professional development requirements for members,  ethics, scope of practice and professional standards. ACCT would provide services, access to group insurance and support for job creation and referral, networking, professional development, liaison with external business such as insurance companies and communication for counsellors within the province, consulting with the College about competence requirements for counselling practice within the province, etc.

Currently we believe that ACCT would continue to provide services like access to liability insurance, the annual conference, consulting with the new proposed College on any future changes to the “Act” and, resources such as the newsletter and social networking, web page, etc.

Will my ACCT fees stay the same?

There is a probability that ACCT fees will decrease, and the large task of registering, tracking and issuing annual professional renewals will change.

How is ACCT advocating for competency and inclusively with the new proposed ‘College’?

ACCT has attended all the past Task Force meetings, and are currently attending as members, all the FACTBC meetings. They continue to advocate for regulatory practices that will be inclusive and based on competency levels versus purely academic levels.

How much will membership in this College cost me?

This depends on the number of members in the new proposed College – a minimum of 4,000 members are anticipated. ACCT believes the more members, the lower the costs. ACCT has been told we may expect an annual tax-deductible fee that could be between $400-700.

Why support regulation?

ACCT was formed as an association that fully supports “regulation”, and ACCT willingly and whole heartedly supports FACTBC in our bid to bring higher standards of competency, professional recognition and health profession status to our members. This will be a counsellors only opportunity to be regulated and to gain the benefits as outlined below. After careful consideration, the consensus was to recommend ACCT and its members align with FACTBC.

The following is what are the positives for counselling to be regulated within the proposed College of Counselling Therapists:

  1. Increased recognition for Counsellors professionally
  2. Counselling will be on par with other health professions as more and more professions are brought under the "umbrella" of the Health Professions Act
  3. Increased credibility for counsellors who do not have a master level education
  4. Potential for third party billing (WCB/Worksafe BC, ICBC, insurance companies, etc.)
  5. Potential that our clients could deduct counselling fees from their taxes
  6. Potential for increased employment opportunities with referrals from other counselling professionals within FACTBC (10 other professional associations at present)
  7. Increased opportunities for counsellors to upgrade their skills and knowledge competencies through professional development and continuing education courses
  8. Improve and maintain professional standards for our field
  9. Skill gains from the legal expertise and extensive experience that the FACTBC members have in the process of regulation and government legislation
  10. Being one of the Associations within FACTBC to support regulation will allow us to have input into place standards that will assist our members on the grand-parenting process and time to gain the credentials

On the other side, there are some things that each ACCT counsellor needs to consider:

  1. There will be financial considerations in terms of fees payable to the new proposed College annually will be higher than current ACCT professional fees
  2. Being regulated will mean that counsellors are dealing with additional bureaucracy and administrative organization
  3. The entrance requirements for admission to the new proposed College, will be higher than the current requirements to register with ACCT

For more information: please refer to FACT BC website at: www.factbc.org

For a Chronology of Counselling Regulation in BC, please refer to the FACTBC – Q & A page.