Deciding to speak with a therapist can seem like a daunting task ... Feeling insecure, unhappy and unsure of the validity of your own thoughts is understandably both an overwhelming and oppressive experience. Choosing to see a therapist is essentially seeking out a total stranger to trust with the mixed emotions you feel unable to share even with your closest loved ones.
The modalities, approaches, areas of expertise, qualifications and associations often cited within the field of counselling can be confusing and often result in people getting lost in a series of acronyms and post nominal letters, so how important are those strings of letters and do they translate into a language you understand?
In my career I have often found that experience without qualifications can go unnoticed and qualifications without experience can provide a false set of expectations. Throw into the mix the misrepresentation of some less intensive certification programs being confused as professional designations and it’s easy to get completely lost!
I feel honoured when a client allows me into their world to help them navigate their best route forward, and the success of any professional therapeutic relationship begins with transparency and clarity.
So what is actually in that bowl of alphabet soup I offer you when you walk into my office?
· BA (Hons) – Bachelor of Arts in Community Justice is a 2nd Class, 1st Division honours degree conferred by the faculty of Law and Social Sciences at Manchester University, England.
A condensed full-time three year academic course of study with a focus on understanding the development of behaviour within a criminal context
· Dip. PS – Diploma in Probation Studies is the professional licence to practice as a Probation Officer awarded by the Home Office of England & Wales on completion of both my BA (Hons) and a two year practice based National Vocational Qualification (NVQ IV) in Working with Offending Behaviour.
The practice based NVQ had a focus on recidivism (reducing reoffending by enabling behavioural change in individuals)
· RP – Registered Psychotherapist with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario, Canada
Registration for independent practice granted in 2018 was based upon 540 hours of coherent program education within the scope of practice, as set out in the Psychotherapy Act, 2007: "The practice of psychotherapy is the assessment and treatment of cognitive, emotional or behavioural disturbances by psychotherapeutic means, delivered through a therapeutic relationship based primarily on verbal or non-verbal communication.", 4750 hours supervised, direct client contact hours, 500 clinical supervision hours, 200 hours ‘Safe and Effective Use of Self’ training hours, 1200 hours engaging in other, meaningful psychotherapeutic activities, possession of liability insurance, completion of jurisprudence/ ethics training and submission of a clinical supervisor’s evaluation. Maintaining registration requires evidence of the continued delivery of psychotherapeutic practice, ongoing professional development, self-assessment and randomly selected auditing.
· CPGC – Canadian Problem Gambling Counsellor awarded by the Canadian Problem Gambling Certification Board
Registration requires a minimum of 3500 counselling hours within 5 years prior to application, 800 hours specific to problem gamblers and their families and 700 within the mental health and addictions field, 100 hours of specialized problem gambling specific education. Recertification every 2 years requires evidence of an additional 32 hours of continuing education/ training in specific knowledge areas.
· CCAC – Canadian Certified Addictions Counsellor awarded by the Canadian Addiction Counsellors Certification Federation
Registration requires a minimum of 4000 hours work experience within 5 years prior to application providing direct, supervised counselling to clients with a primary diagnosis of drug and/or alcohol addictions, 270 hours of formal university/college level education hours and 300 hours of supervised clinical training. Recertification every 2 years requires evidence of an additional 40 hours of continuing education/ training in specific knowledge areas.
· RTC – Registered Therapeutic Counsellor awarded by the Association of Cooperative Counselling Therapists, Canada
Registration requires 200 hours direct, supervised client contact hours, 360 hours of formal education in Applied Counselling, 200 hours clinical supervision, liability insurance and a clean criminal record check (CRC) with vulnerable sector clearance. Annual recertification requires evidence of an additional 30 hours of specific education/ training in applied counselling.
· MTC – Master Therapeutic Counsellor awarded by the Association of Cooperative Counselling Therapists, Canada
Registration requires 1000 hours direct, supervised client contact hours (500 within Canada), 360 hours of formal education in Applied Counselling, 250 hours clinical supervision, competency based evaluation from a clinical supervisor, referral from a counselling peer, liability insurance and a clean criminal record check (CRC) with vulnerable sector clearance. Annual recertification requires evidence of an additional 30 hours of specific education/ training in applied counselling.