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Industry association wants counsellors to be regulated

News release

Industry association wants counsellors to be regulated

The New Zealand Association of Counsellors is pushing for the profession to be appropriately regulated to help boost consumer confidence in the sector.

Speaking just before the association’s annual conference in Wellington, president Ms Robyn McGill said the profession has been pursuing an appropriate form of regulation for some time.

“Our discussions with the Ministry of Health about regulatory frameworks have been stalled for some time and their policy signals have not been clear, but NZAC wants to resume discussions.”

Ms McGill says it is important that counsellors are seen by the public to be qualified health care professionals providing a quality, mainstream service.

She says regulation would enable consumers to have more confidence in the professionalism of counsellors and make them to feel more confident that complaints about malpractice would be dealt with appropriately.

“The NZAC already focusses keenly on those issues, but regulation would send a strong and very visible signal to both counsellors and our clients.”

While registration under the HPCA Act might involve higher costs for counsellors, self-regulation with an independent, government-backed auditing process reporting to the Ministry of Health is a distinct possibility, Ms McGill said.

It would impose fewer costs for Association members which in turn will help keep costs to clients affordable.

“This is a best-of-both-worlds outcome that minimises compliance but provides appropriate protection for consumers.”

The Association’s conference will debate the issue of professional regulation.

Another option is to adopt a government-backed register of professional counsellors, a system that is used in the United Kingdom.

The chair of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, Amanda Hawkins, will present this system at the conference.

NZAC will be seeking a meeting as soon as possible with the Ministry of Health to resume discussions about regulatory frameworks.

“Either way, the counselling profession needs to move quickly to demonstrate that we are healthcare professionals,” Ms McGill said.

For more information on the conference which starts in Wellington tomorrow (Friday August 8), visit:

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