FAQs for Counsellors and Psychotherapists

 

What is the role of CORU and how does it differ from a professional association/ accrediting body currently in place in the Counselling and psychotherapy professions?

CORU is Ireland’s multi-profession health regulator. Our role is to protect the public by promoting high standards of professional conduct, education, training and competence through statutory registration of health and social care professionals. CORU was set up under the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 (as amended). It is made up of the Health and Social Care Professionals Council and the Registration Boards, one for each profession named in our Act.

CORU’s focus is on the protection of the public. Professional associations/ accrediting bodies act as advocates for the profession. In the case of multiple professional bodies in the field of counselling and psychotherapy, professional bodies also often advocate for specific modalities/ approaches used by practitioners. Once statutory regulation is introduced to the counselling and psychotherapy professions, practitioners wishing to work using these titles in the Republic of Ireland will have to be registered with CORU on the appropriate register.

Why are there two separate registers – one for counsellors and one for psychotherapists?

The Minister for Health, Simon Harris, confirmed on 27 February 2019 the establishment of and appointment of members to the Counsellors and Psychotherapists Registration Board, under the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 (as amended) to regulate the professions of Counsellors and Psychotherapists.

These were the first professions to be designated under the 2005 Health and Social Care Professionals Act by regulation, having not been listed in the original 2005 Act. At the time of designation by the Minister, following public consultation, regulations proscribe that there was to be one Registration Board which would be responsible for two registers – one for counsellors and one for psychotherapists. It is CORU’s role to implement this direction, as set out by the Minister, and we therefore have one registration board and we are working towards the opening of two separate registers. 

What work needs to be completed before the registers open?

There is a standardised process of work to be completed by each Registration Board before the opening of a register. This includes setting the pre-registration education and training standards, approving education and training programmes for new graduate’s entry to registers, making statutory Bye-Laws and setting the Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics for the professions. 

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, Approved Qualifications, Application for Registration, Return to Practice, Restoration to the Register following Removal on Request, and Restoration to the Register following Cancellation of Registration.

What is the timeline for the opening of the registers for Counsellors and Psychotherapists?

Currently there is no date set for the opening of the registers. The Registration Board is currently undertaking the necessary work required for public protection before the opening of the registers. The Board will consult on draft Standards of Proficiency and the draft Criteria for Education and Training Programmes for both professions in 2023. Following consultation, the Board will set its pre-registration education and training requirements which will be issued to the professions. The Board will notify education providers of the timeline for alignment to its requirements before it will commence its programme approval process.

Will there be a grandparenting provision for those already practising in the professions?

Yes, Section 91 of the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 (as amended) provides a path to registration for existing practitioners. This is a standard grandparenting route available to all CORU regulated professions when a register first opens. 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.

It is recognised that those applying under this route may have legacy or historical qualifications that were deemed appropriate for entry to practise of the profession at the time of qualification award. As these are historical qualifications, CORU recognises these may not have been delivered at the same level of qualification that is currently the standard for entry to the professions. The Registration Board will set its standards and the level of qualification required for public protection, for new entrants to its registers, which will be the standard required of future graduates entering the professions.

What are the requirements to be eligible to apply to a register under Section 91 (grandparenting)?

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 proscribed by regulation by the Minster for Health) or have successfully completed a competency test;

- be deemed fit and proper to practise the profession.

Further information can be found on the CORU website in relation to the registration process and requirements including fit and proper requirements, language requirements, guidance for existing practitioners applying under Section 91, and information on supporting documentation required for registration including employment forms and documentation required by private practitioners.

What is the fee for registration and renewal?

The current registration fee is set at €100. The annual renewal fee is also set at €100 per annum. This has been set under the National pay agreement until 2023.

How often is renewal of registration required?

Registration is renewed annually for all CORU regulated professions.

What are grandparenting assessments? What will be involved in these assessments?

This is called an Assessment of Professional Competence (AoPC) and it may be required to be completed by an existing practitioner who does not hold a relevant qualification (as proscribed by regulation under the Act) or a qualification that is deemed by the Board to be sufficiently relevant to that profession. The Registration Board has not set its requirements for an AoPC. Further information on this will be issued in advance of the registers opening.

For grandparenting requirements, does practice for 2 out of the 5 years before a register opens include work as a pre-accredited counsellor or psychotherapist?

Yes, any person currently practising in the profession, as an autonomous practitioner, will be eligible to apply to the register.

What kind of work is counted towards practice for 2 out of the 5 years before a register opens? Does this include client work/ teaching/ supervising/ management? Does it matter if this work is full time or part time?

The Counsellors and Psychotherapists Registration Board has not yet set its requirements for registration. This will be done in advance of its registers opening following public consultation on its Bye-Laws. In general, Registration Boards recognise that those involved in management, education and research directly related to the profession are engaged in practice of the profession.

Full- and part-time employment by a practitioner is accepted.

Will all courses applying for Programme approval with CORU have to be assessed before the registers open and grandparenting opens for existing practitioners?

A vital part of assuring public protection is establishing the correct standards for education and training of the professions. This work is necessary as currently the Board cannot open its registers until such time as an Approved Qualifications 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 grandparenting 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.

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.

If I am registered on both registers will I have to pay double the fees and what are the implications for CPD requirements?

Yes, the fee is €100 per annum per register to maintain your registration on each register and to use both titles.

Registrants across all CORU regulated professions 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 both professions.

Further information on CPD can be found here on the CORU website.

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.

Further information on CPD audit can be found here on the CORU website.

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 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.

How do I prepare to apply for registration with CORU? What paperwork do I need to produce?

Once a register is open, an Individual can apply for registration under either Section 91 (for existing practitioners), this entry route is only available for the first two years following the opening of a register; or under Section 38 for those who hold a relevant qualification (graduates that hold a qualification listed on the Approved Qualifications Bye-Law for the relevant register or applicants whose international qualification has been recognised by the Board).

Further information about the registration process can be found on the CORU website.

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. A registrant may be a member of a professional body but this is not connected to statutory registration with CORU.

Will the CORU 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 for their members but all registered professionals will be required to follow the Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics of their profession. The Code sets out the standards of conduct, performance and ethics which a member of that profession must adhere to throughout the course of their work.

All registrants must abide by a statutory Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics. This Code is the basis for which a Fitness to Practise complaint may be brought against a registrant.

Will membership of a particular professional body affect the success or otherwise of a registration application?

No, it is not a requirement to hold membership of a professional body to be eligible to register with CORU and use the protected title. Membership of any professional body will have no impact on the outcome of an application to register with CORU.

Can education and training courses that are run on a part-time basis come forward for CORU programme approval?

Full-time and part-time programmes can apply for programme approval with CORU. CORU set the minimum programme delivery level for a profession in line with the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) and do not specify programme duration. Once a programme can meet all of a Registration Board’s pre-registration education and training standards they may apply for CORU programme approval.

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. In line with the Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics, registrants must ‘Act within the limits of your knowledge, skills, competence and experience’.

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.

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 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 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.

When will Fitness to Practise come into place?

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 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. 

Any practitioner using a protected title and offering services in the Republic of Ireland must be registered on the appropriate register to allow for use of a protected title. Practitioners using a protected title that are not registered will be subject to enforcement under Fitness to Practise.

Can a psychologist who uses the title counsellor or psychotherapist, register under S91 so they can continue to use the title?

If a practitioner has been engaged in the practice of the profession for 2 out of the previous 5 years before the opening of a register they may come forward for registration under Section 91 in order to continue to use the title. Practitioners must be registered on the appropriate register to continue to use a protected title in the course of their work.

What kind of standards will CORU set for education providers?

The education and training standards set by CORU are made up of

  • The Criteria for Education and Training Programmes which describe how the education provider facilitates and evaluates the achievement of the standards of proficiency.
  • The Standards of Proficiency which 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.

Who will decide the education and training standards required?

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

Who are the members of the Counsellors and Psychotherapists Registration Board?

Information about the membership of the Counsellors and Psychotherapists Registration Board can be found on the CORU website.

General information about all CORU Registration Boards can also be found here on the CORU website.

If an education or training course is currently accredited with a professional/ accrediting body is this taken into account for CORU programme approval?

No, the Counsellors and Psychotherapists Registration Board will set education and training standards that are separate and distinct from professional body accreditation or other types of academic accreditation or validation such as QQI approval. CORU’s standards are set to ensure that graduates are safe to practice with the public. Programme accreditation or validation with any other body is not linked with CORU’s programme approval process and will not have an impact on the outcome of the programme approval process.

What NFQ level will be required by programmes for counselling and programmes for psychotherapy?

The Registration Board has not yet set the level required by education and training programmes for future graduates. The Criteria for Education and Training Programmes will outline the NFQ level that will be required. The level is based on what is needed for programmes to deliver the standards of proficiency that all registrants must have.

 

What will supervision requirements be under CORU’s education and training standards?

The Registration Board has not yet set the requirement for supervision. The Criteria for Education and Training Programmes will outline these requirements once they are set.

What will the hours requirement for practice placement be for education and training programmes?

The Registration Board has not yet set the requirements for practice placement. The Criteria for Education and Training Programmes will outline these requirements once they are set. As a guide, across all CORU regulated professions the hours requirements for practice placement on education and training programmes ranges from 800 – 1200 hours. 

It should be noted that as part of CORU’s education and training standards all practice placement has to be completed within a training programme. Students will build their experience, knowledge, skills and competence within practice placement to ensure they are safe to practice with the public as autonomous practitioners once they graduate.

 

Will there be personal therapy requirements for education and training programmes?

The Registration Board has not yet set the requirements for personal therapy. The Criteria for Education and Training Programmes will outline these requirements once they are set.

Will the pre-accreditation phase still be required or exist once statutory regulation is introduced?

The education and training standards set by a Registration Board require that all practice placement takes place within a training programme. Once a student graduates and gains an approved qualification they will be eligible to apply for registration and practice using the protected title as autonomous practitioners.

Professional bodies can continue to set out their own membership requirements but this will not be linked with eligibility to apply to join a register and work using a protected title. 

Will CORU publish and hold a list of approved education and training programmes for Counselling and for Psychotherapy?

Yes, each register will have an associated Approved Qualifications Bye-Law which will list the qualifications that have been approved by CORU.

Are there any education programmes of study currently eligible for CORU approval?

 As the Counsellors and Psychotherapists Registration Board has not yet set their Criteria for Education and Training Programmes or the Standards of Proficiency for each profession, no programme is currently able to demonstrate that they meet these standards. Once the Criteria and Standards have been set they will be issued to education providers and all providers will be allowed a period of time to implement these standards before CORU programme approval processes commence for education providers who wish to come forward for approval.

Once registered, will there be a requirement for monthly supervision?

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.

How will CORU deal with qualifications gained outside of the Republic of Ireland?

Only professional qualifications awarded within the State can apply for programme approval with CORU. International qualifications are assessed by CORU through the Recognition of International Qualifications process. More information on the Recognition process can be found here on the CORU website. If a qualification gained outside of the Republic of Ireland is recognised, an applicant can then progress to the registration process.

Will CORU registration be sufficient for registered psychotherapists to seek employment?

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. CORU registration may not be sufficient to gain employment in all settings. Employers may continue to set employment criteria as they see fit for the services they provide. It is not under CORU’s remit to set out employment criteria for individual employers.

What if practitioners working in the profession of counselling or psychotherapy do not register with CORU but continue to work using titles such as ‘trauma specialist’ or ‘healer’ or similar?

Statutory regulation with CORU promotes high standards of professional conduct, education, training and competence. Regulation sends a message about a professions’ commitment to consistently deliver to the highest standards. It ensures quality of care and most importantly it protects the public.

It will be important as these two professions become statutory regulated professions that CORU as a regulator and those working within the professions work to educate the general public about what it means to be a regulated professional and how to check if a counsellor or psychotherapist is registered. An individual may be subject to enforcement proceedings if they use a protected title and are not registered on the appropriate register.

Will there be a separate register for supervisors in counselling and supervisors in psychotherapy?

No, there will be two registers – one for counsellors and one for psychotherapists. Supervisors working in these professions should choose the appropriate register to apply to in order to allow them to continue to use the protected title of that register. In line with the Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics, registrants must ‘Act within the limits of your knowledge, skills, competence and experience’.

Does CORU play a role in employee tax relief/ VAT exemption for Counsellors or Psychotherapists?

Tax relief or VAT issues are outside of CORU’s remit as a regulator. These areas come under the remit of the Revenue Commissioners.