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Counsellors need regulator

This new year begins with continued lockdowns and other challenges to one’s mental health.

This is evidenced in the number of news articles referencing mental health over the past week and even the number of letters received in this forum. Being able to access safe, competent and ethical mental health services is more important than ever.

On Dec. 20, 2020, the Federation of Associations for Counselling Therapists in B.C. (FACT BC) applied to the government to regulate mental health counselling services in this province by forming a college, whose sole purpose would be to protect the public.

(B.C. Health Minister) Adrian Dix turned this down, leaving counselling therapy unregulated in this province.

Many therapists voluntarily choose to belong to B.C. Association of Clinical Counsellors (BCACC), an association that attempts to provide both member services and protection of the public. It is difficult for one association to both serve its members and protect the public at the same time.

One disadvantage of a voluntary organization is that if a complaint is filed against a therapist—even if a consent agreement or disciplinary action has occurred—there is no way for a potential client to know this and therefore assess the risk of incurring harm. Check out the College of Psychologists website to see how that college deals with this issue.

Therapy places one in a position of extreme vulnerability and therefore potential harm at the hands of inexperienced or unethical clinicians. Most therapists offer a complimentary 10- to 20-minute telephone consultation to discuss “fit”.

Inquiring whether they’re a member of BCACC is helpful but not a guarantee of receiving safe, competent and ethical treatment. Therefore, questioning whether they’ve been the subject of a complaint or had an investigation into their practice may help assess fit and risk of engaging a practitioner. Inquiring this of the person you are currently work with may also be beneficial.

Please support FACT BC in its efforts to get counselling therapy regulated in B.C.

Visit its website to see its efforts, resources and a sample letter to write to your MLA.

Carol Fawcett, West Kelowna



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