FAQs for Counsellors and Psychotherapists

Will there be a difference between the qualifications historically held (for entry via Section 91) and the qualifications to be recognised going forward (Section 38)?

Section 91 of the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 (as amended) provides a path to registration for existing practitioners.

During the first two years that a register is open - a period known as the Transitional Period - existing practitioners can apply for registration and satisfy the registration board that they meet the requirements for registration.

Those applying under this route may have legacy or historical qualifications that were deemed appropriate for entry to practice of the profession at the time of qualification award. As these are historical qualifications, these may not be the approved qualifications for new entrants to the profession after the grandparenting period.

Will all courses applying for inclusion under section 38 have to be assessed before grandparenting opens? / Will all the existing education courses have to be approved before the register opens?

A vital part of assuring public protection is establishing the correct standards for education and training of the profession. This work is necessary as the Board cannot open its registers until such time as an Approved Qualification Bye-law has been set. The reason for this being that there would be no route for new entrants into the profession (Section 38 applicants) to register as they would not meet the grand parenting requirement of having practice experience (2 years in previous 5 years), as set out in legislation.

It is the decision of the education provider to apply for programme approval to the Board. Institutions should consider an application for programme approval carefully and enter the regulatory approval process when they believe that there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the programme meets the Registration Board’s requirements.

So professional bodies will be more involved in regard to Section 91, and education providers for Section 38?

Counsellors and Psychotherapists are the first professions to be designated by regulation under the Health and Social Care Professionals Act (2005). To date, the qualifications appropriate for grandparenting for other professions have been established in legislation. The Minister for Health has requested advices on what qualifications should be listed by regulation for grandparenting counsellors and psychotherapists to respective registers. The Registration Board are engaging with Professional Bodies/Associations to aid a comprehensive scoping of legacy/historical qualifications to inform advice to the Minister. It is the decision of the Minister for Health as to what qualifications will be listed.

All stakeholders will be encouraged to contribute to the various consultations the Registration Board will undertake to set its standards and requirements, as it progresses its work.

Is there any information on a minimum entry requirement for both registers?

The Registration Board has not yet set the minimum entry requirements for each of the registers and will undertake a public consultation process in advance of setting its standards for entry to its registers.   

Will there be a requirement for monthly supervision for registrants?

The Registration Board will set its Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics in advance of the opening of its registers. All registrants will be required to adhere to the Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics once registered. The Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics is principles based and is not prescriptive with regard to hours. Professional bodies/associations may continue to establish its standards for its members.

Will an individual’s time spent and experience in to the role influence the pathway through section 91?

In order to qualify to be eligible to apply for entry to a register under Section 91, a person must:

  • have been practising in the profession for a minimum of two years out of the previous five years on the date that the register opens;
  • hold the relevant qualifications (as listed in Schedule 3) or have successfully completed a competency test; 
  • be deemed fit and proper to practise the profession.

Have any decisions been made in respect of proposed fees for annual registration?

The current registration fee is set at €100 per annum. This fee has been set under the National pay agreement until 2022.

Who will decide the standard required?

The Counsellors and Psychotherapists Registration Board will set the Standards of Proficiency for entry to its registers, following a public consultation process.

Some bodies have changed and upgraded the qualifications required for practice. I presume you will need all qualifications historic and current?

As part of the scoping of historical and legacy qualifications, the Counsellors and Psychotherapists Registration Board has requested information on both the historic and current qualifications that were appropriate for entry to the professions at the time of award.

Do you have a timeline for all activities leading up to registering?

Currently there is no set timeline for opening the Counsellors and Psychotherapists registers. A number of steps need to be completed before the registers can open. The Board is undertaking the necessary work towards opening its registers.

Can you qualify and register for both the counsellors and the psychotherapists registers?

Yes, it may be possible for practitioners to come forward for registration on both registers, if they can demonstrate they meet the criteria for eligibility to apply to both.

A person will need to be registered on the relevant register in order to use the protected title of that profession once the grandparenting period ends.

Will the educational standards required also include the professional requirements like training hours and personal counselling and ratio of supervision of training?

The Criteria for Education and Training Programmes describe how the education provider facilitates and evaluates the achievement of the standards of proficiency. The standards of proficiency are the threshold standards of practice set by a Registration Board for safe and effective practice. The standards of proficiency detail the knowledge and skills that all registrants must have. The Criteria and Standards will address professional requirements such as practice placement, supervision/assessment requirements and any other requirements deemed appropriate.

Is there any way to ascertain the necessary training standard in a specific decade?

The Registration Board is requesting all relevant information on historical or legacy qualifications to inform its advice to the Minister for Health. This will include the relevant years of qualification award.

Currently supervisors who are qualified counsellors can supervise the work of psychotherapists. Will this practice be able to continue with the introduction of statutory regulation?

The Criteria for Education and Training programmes will set the requirements for education and training of the professions to ensure all graduates achieve the Standards of Proficiency for public protection. This will include criteria for practice placement.

Will the Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics replace the existing codes of practice of the professional bodies?

Professional bodies may continue to have their own Code of Conduct but all registered professionals will be required to follow the Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics of their profession.

What bye-laws are in place when a register opens?

There are a number of bye-laws that will be in place when a register opens. These relate to the Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics, Application for Registration, Return to Practice, Restoration to the Register following Removal on Request, and Restoration to the Register following Cancellation of Registration.

What will the CPD requirements be should a person register as both a Counsellor and Psychotherapist?

Registrants are required to accrue 30 CPD credits in every 12-month period. If a person is registered on both registers, they will be required to demonstrate learning achieved relevant to the practice of the profession.

Will there be any requirements for scope of practice?

CORU regulates by protection of title, in line with other Irish regulatory bodies, not by scope of practice.

Will the registers take into account specialisms or modalities of working?

The Health and Social Care Professionals Act (2005) does not have provision for regulation of specialisms, nor for annotation of modalities of practice.

Will therapy services operating online from outside Ireland be able to offer services here once the regulation comes into place?

The area of online provision of services is a growing field and has come into focus since the move to widespread remote working due to COVID-19. All regulators are keeping up to date with developments in this field, as this will be informed by EU Directive and National policy/legislation with regard to regulation of provision of online or AI services.

Will the Fitness to Practise process begin as soon as the registers open?

All registrants are required to adhere to their Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics. Once registered, a complaint may be received against any professional who may be deemed to be in breach of their Code.

Will professional bodies continue to have a role then in regards to supervision?

Professional Bodies may continue to set their own standards or requirements for its members.

Will registrants have to hold ongoing membership in a professional body?

It is not a requirement to hold membership of a professional body to be registered with CORU and use the protected title.

Who will be responsible for CPD - will it be the individual, professional body or CORU?

Individual registrants are responsible for maintaining their CPD in line with their Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics. CORU is responsible for auditing registrants in line with a Registration Board’s audit period to ensure registrants have a system or process to maintain their skills and knowledge. Registration Boards also provide their registrants with CPD support and guidance documents.

A professional body may set its requirements for CPD for its members and/or offer supports to its members to engage in CPD.

It could be perceived that the process of CORU Registration of counsellors and psychotherapists will in many ways replace the responsibilities and duties of the professional bodies. Will CORUs registration board provide ongoing communication, training access to supervision for registered practitioners or will this be the responsibility of the individual?

CORU is a multi-professional regulator. Its role is to protect the public by establishing necessary standards. It is not the remit or role of a professional regulator to provide training or access to supervision. Professional Bodies/Associations act as advocates for the profession and its development, and as such, may continue to offer supports/services to its members.

Do you anticipate that there will be a decrease in the level of specialisms of courses offered once regulation comes into place? Currently there is for example psychoanalysis, CBT, DBT, family therapy etc.

Education providers may continue to run programmes with an emphasis on particular modalities. The Standards of Proficiency are the threshold standards of practice set by a Registration Board required for safe and effective practice for all those entering the register. Once these standards are being met, a programme may provide training with a focus on any particular approach or modality.

Will there be a clear difference between those practicing with adults and those who work with children or adolescents?

In line with the Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics, registrants must ‘Act within the limits of your knowledge, skills, competence and experience’. The Health and Social Care Professionals Act (2005) does not have provision for specialisms or annotation and therefore there would be no differentiation within the registers.

The legislation is due to change in relation to Garda vetting which is a key step in the registration process, do you have any update from the National Gard Vetting Bureau in relation to this?

CORU keeps up to date with any changes or developments in relevant legislation and will align registration procedures with any legislative changes that may arise.

Will a psychotherapist affiliated to an organisation in the Republic of Ireland but living and practicing in Northern Ireland be able to register with CORU?

If a professional is working and using a protected title in the Republic of Ireland they must be registered with the relevant Registration Board.

Will hiring organisations be compelled to accept counsellors/psychotherapists registered with CORU?

Employers should be aware that those using a protected title must be registered on the appropriate register. Any individual using a protected title that is not registered will be subject to enforcement proceedings following the end of the grandparenting period.

Grandparenting assessment, what are these? Eligibility for assessment and time limits?

In order to qualify to be eligible to apply for entry to a register under Section 91, a person must:

  • have been practising in the profession for a minimum of two years out of the previous five years on the date that the register opens;
  • hold the relevant qualifications (as listed in Schedule 3) or have successfully completed a competency test; 
  • be deemed fit and proper to practise the profession.

The Registration Board has not yet proscribed its requirements for those applying to register who may be required to undertake an assessment of professional competence (AoPC). Further information on this will be issued in advance of the registers opening.

When will the first cycle of CPD auditing begin?

The CPD Auditing period usually commences following the close of the grandparenting or transitional period (2 years after the date a register opens). Registration Boards may set a 12 or 24-month audit period.

Will there be consultation with the professional bodies in relation to Statutory Professional Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics?

There will be ongoing consultation with stakeholders including the professional bodies as the work of the Board progresses. There will be further opportunities to provide input at multiple stages in the process towards opening the registers.