Question to the Minister for Health (Dr. James Reilly, TD)
To ask the Minister for Health if he will provide an update on the progress being made on the intended regulation of counsellors and psychotherapists and the HETAC report on education standards in the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter- Jerry Buttimer.
For WRITTEN response on Wednesday, 15th January, 2014
The Minister for Health may, under the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005, designate a health and social care profession if he or she considers that it is in the public interest to do so and if specified criteria have been met. The 12 professions currently designated under the Act are clinical biochemists, dietitians, medical scientists, occupational therapists, orthoptists, physiotherapists, podiatrists, psychologists, radiographers, social care workers, social workers and speech and language therapists.
Six registration boards have been established to date; the registration boards and their registers for the remaining designated professions should be established by 2015.Whilst the immediate priority is to proceed with the establishment of the registration boards for the twelve professions currently designated under the Act, I am committed to bringing counsellors and psychotherapists within the ambit of the Act as soon as possible.While a number of counsellor and psychotherapist national groups have come together as the Psychological Therapies Forum to advise as a single voice for the professions in so far as is possible, a number of issues remain to be clarified. These include decisions on whether one or two professions are to be regulated, on the title or titles of the profession or professions, and on the minimum qualifications to be required of counsellors and psychotherapists. In relation to the latter, Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI), the successor to HETAC, established a Standards Development Group for Counselling and Psychotherapy which aims to establish standards of knowledge, skills and competence to be acquired by candidates for educational qualifications that will be required for careers in counselling and/or psychotherapy. This is an essential prerequisite to regulation of the profession. In addition, the standards of proficiency to be required of existing practitioners for registration will need to be established and the necessary qualifications prescribed. QQI has produced a draft Report to which my Department furnished a response in November 2013.My Department will closely study the final QQI report as soon as it is available and will then engage with relevant stakeholders in order to work through the outstanding issues with a view to achieving regulation of counsellors and psychotherapists as soon as possible in the best interests of the protection of the public.