BACP Apologises after Falsely Stating that PSA Consider Counselling and Psychotherapy a “high risk” Profession

As part of efforts to paint the controversial SCoPEd project in a favourable light, BACP have been taking part in an increasing number of panel discussions, ‘round-tables’ and interviews in recent months, notably including an interview with influential counselling podcast host Rory Lees-Oakes, whose ‘Counselling Tutor’ Facebook group has more than 35,000 members, and whose output boasts a markedly wide reach.

During the course of this interview, published to the Counselling Tutor website on the 27th February 2021, BACP’s head of professional standards, Caroline Jesper, made the following claim: “Counselling and Psychotherapy are considered high risk professions by the PSA [Professional Standards Authority]”. This claim was highlighted to the CTUK team by one of our members, and we conducted an investigation into its veracity.

CTUK founder, Maria Albertsen, contacted the Professional Standards Authority to confirm whether or not this statement was accurate, and received the following reply from the PSA:
“We have not undertaken a risk assessment of the counselling and psychotherapy professions and so would not be able to take a position on the level of risk, I’m afraid – although of course we recognise that these professions carry inherent risk.”

Maria, concerned about such falsehoods being broadcast to students unchallenged, took to the Counselling Tutor Facebook group to correct this statement, however, Lees-Oakes simply directed Maria to BACP, and turned off commenting on the Facebook post, seemingly unwilling to post a correction to his own website, where the false statement remains published (last accessed: 29/03/21). *on 31/03/21, Lees-Oakes stated that he will now make a correction on his website and social media.

Maria also challenged BACP directly with her findings, and BACP conceded that the statement that their head of standards had made was indeed untrue:

“BACP did not mean to imply that the PSA have carried out a risk assessment of counselling and psychotherapy. We know that the principle of applying a risk assessment model is clear in their approach, and that within the list of voluntary accredited registers those practitioners working with vulnerable clients are likely to be seen as higher risk. Nothing further is being claimed and we apologise for causing any confusion.”

CTUK is disappointed that this retraction falls short of acknowledging the damaging impact that making a false statement like this to a large number of listeners, largely students, is likely to have. We think it is of utmost importance that any information put out by BACP, and also by private organisations whose platforms are being used by the professional bodies, is fact-checked, and where false statements are published, corrections are also prominently published.

UPDATE: We thank BACP for both apologising and correcting this mistake. You can read the official response from BACP here. We wait for Counselling Tutor to also make public corrections, and will update our members when they do so. We feel this will go some way in supporting public and professional confidence in the output of both of these organisations.

NOTE: as of today (1st April 2021) Counselling Tutor have released a statement, via their website and social media to let their members know about the above mistake. They will also be editing the podcast. We thank them. (See www.counsellingtutor.com/bacp-scoped)


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