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Counselling and Therapy Professional Bodies in the UK

Before you settle on a therapist or counsellor, you need to check whether they're a member of a professional body. Why is this so important? Find out with ManageMinds!

Bethany Hall

Spacious office with wooden conference table and chairs

Deciding to seek out help for your anxiety is a significant achievement. Before you settle on a therapist or counsellor, however, you need to know you’re in safe hands. The best way to do this is by checking whether they’re a member of a professional body. This will clue you in on their accreditations, qualifications and training history.

In this article, we’ll explain what a professional body is and why they’re so crucial for people seeking help from counsellors and therapists. We’ll also list the leading professional bodies in the UK, along with helpful links to their websites and official registers.

Table of contents

What is a professional body?

A professional body is an organisation that oversees and regulates the conduct and practice of counsellors and therapists in the UK. Though it is not a legal requirement to join one in order to practise, many professionals register with these bodies to take advantage of membership perks and highlight their training and experience.

Each body has its own requirements for its members, such as completing a certain number of practice hours and following strict ethical guidelines and complaint procedures. Some bodies will even have different types of memberships, such as Associate Member, Member and Accredited Member, depending on an individual’s qualifications and experience level.

You can check with a body’s online register if you’d like to verify the accreditation of your counsellor or therapist. These bodies also give you the option to make official complaints where necessary.

Accreditation on ManageMinds

ManageMinds understands the importance of accreditation, which is why we use badges to indicate which of our counsellors and therapists are registered or accredited with a professional body.

Counselling and therapy professional bodies

We’ll now give you background information for each professional body, including membership types and requirements. For further details, we’d recommend heading to each body’s website.

◆ Addiction Professionals (AP)

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Membership information

Addiction Professionals, previously known as the Federation of Drug & Alcohol Professionals (FDAP), is a voluntary body and network for addiction professionals in the UK.

They have several membership levels, from Practitioners to Accredited Members, which require all members to have completed at least 450 hours of classroom-based tutor contact. To reach the higher levels of membership, a practitioner must provide a portfolio of evidence and meet externally validated qualifications.

All members must adhere to AP’s Standards of Conduct and Ethics and are subject to the body’s Complaints and Disciplinary Procedures.

◆ Association for Dance Movement Psychotherapy UK (ADMP UK)

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Membership information

The Association for Dance Movement Psychotherapy UK is a professional organisation that was set up in 1982 to support the development and use of Dance Movement Psychotherapy (DMP) in the UK. It is responsible for upholding professional standards amongst Dance Movement Psychotherapists.

There are four types of membership levels:

To become a Professional Member, practitioners must have completed a master’s degree in DMP and at least two years (80 hours) of personal therapy. Members must also maintain and extend their professional skills through Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

All members must adhere to ADMP UK’s Code of Ethics and Professional Practice and are subject to the body’s Complaints Procedure.

◆ Association of Child Psychotherapists (ACP)

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Membership information

Established in 1949, the Association of Child Psychotherapists is a professional body and accredited register for child and adolescent psychotherapists in the UK. It regulates and monitors child and adolescent psychotherapy training and practice standards in both the public and private sectors.

The ACP has various membership categories, including Trainee Members, Full Members, Not Working Members, Honoured Members and Overseas Members.

Full Members must complete a training course at an ACP accredited training school and are required to provide a yearly report detailing evidence of their Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activities to confirm they are fit to practise.

All members of the ACP must abide by the Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics and are subject to the body’s Disciplinary Procedure.

◆ Association of Christian Counsellors (ACC)

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Membership information

The Association of Christian Counsellors is a Christian professional body that was established in 1992 to further the development of quality counselling, psychotherapy, pastoral care and other services in the UK. They offer membership to counsellors, psychotherapists, organisations, agencies, pastoral carers and churches.

There are various membership levels in the ACC, including Counselling Memberships, Pastoral Care Memberships, Friend of ACC and Honorary Fellowship.

To become a Registered Counsellor Member, counsellors must have a minimum level 4 diploma in counselling. To move up to one of the more senior levels, such as Accredited Supervisor and Accredited Counselling Manager, members must gain further training and experience through ACC.

All members must follow ACC’s Ethics and Practice guide and are subject to the body’s Complaints Process.

◆ British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP)

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Membership information

The British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies was set up in 1972 and is the lead organisation for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) in the UK and Ireland. They aim to promote and improve the standards of CBT theory, practice, supervision and training. As of 2020, BABCP has over 7,500 Accredited Practitioner Members.

The British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies was set up in 1972 and is the lead organisation for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) in the UK and Ireland. They aim to promote and improve the standards of CBT theory, practice, supervision and training. As of 2020, BABCP has over 7,500 Accredited Practitioner Members.

All members must abide by BABCP’s Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics and are subject to the body’s Complaints Procedures.

◆ British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)

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Membership information

Established in 1977, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy is the largest governing body for counsellors and psychotherapists practising in the UK. The BACP has over 50,000 members and is dedicated to developing high-quality, ethical standards of practice for all counselling professions. 

There are three main membership categories:

BACP members must commit to practising in line with the body’s Ethical Framework and are subject to a Professional Conduct Procedure (PCP).

◆ British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC)

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Membership information

The British Psychoanalytic Council was established in 1992 and is the leading professional association and accredited public register for psychoanalytic and psychodynamic therapy in the UK. They are focused on advancing the knowledge, understanding and practice of psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic-based therapies. 

To join the BPC’s register, a practitioner must complete one of BPC’s accredited training courses or be granted the equivalent by one of BPC’s Member Institutions. There are several membership categories, including:

All registered members are required to practise in line with BPC’s Ethical Framework and are subject to the Fitness to Practise Procedure.

◆ British Psychodrama Association (BPA)

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Membership information

The British Psychodrama Association was created in 1984 to promote and encourage the use of psychodrama and sociodrama in the UK and Ireland. The BPA is accredited by the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) and is the accredited organisation for psychodrama and sociodrama training schools in the UK. 

Anyone interested in psychodrama and sociodrama can join the BPA with an Ordinary Membership. Those who are registered on a diploma course with a BPA approved training organisation, or currently practising psychodrama in the UK, can join with a Trainee, Practitioner or Trainer Membership.

All registrants must adhere to the BPA’s Code of Ethics and Practice and are subject to the body’s Complaints Procedure.

◆ College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists (COSRT)

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Membership information

The College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists is the UK’s leading professional body and membership organisation for therapists specialising in sexual and relationship issues. During its 40-year history, COSRT has pushed for the improvement and understanding of psychosexual and relationship matters and accrediting specialist training.

Anyone interested in psychosexual and relationship therapy can join COSRT with a General Membership. Active psychosexual and relationship therapists can join as Registered Members, Accredited Members or Senior Accredited Members

To become accredited, members must demonstrate the highest professional and ethical standards by completing 450 hours of guided learning, 250 hours of guided learning on psychosexual and relationship therapy and 150 hours of supervised placement work.

All members must act in accordance with COSRT’s Code of Ethics and Practice and are subject to the body’s Conduct and Complaints Procedure.

◆ Counselling & Psychotherapy in Scotland (COSCA)

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Membership information

Established in 1990, COSCA is Scotland’s leading professional body for counselling and psychotherapy. It is committed to improving access to and advancing all forms of counselling and psychotherapy services and promoting high-quality professional development for all relevant practitioners. 

Individuals can join COSCA as a:

Most senior memberships require a minimum of 300 contact hours of training in counselling with a relevant diploma and Continuous Professional Development (CPD).

Members of COSCA must adhere to the body’s Ethics and Code of Practice and are subject to their Complaints Procedure.

◆ European Association for Gestalt Therapy (EAGT)

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Membership information

The European Association for Gestalt Therapy was established in 1985 to bring together therapists, training institutes and national associations to promote the use of Gestalt therapy in Europe. It currently has more than 1,000 members from over 20 European nations.

To register as an Ordinary Member, individuals must have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in the field of helping professions or the social sciences. Associate Membership is available for individuals training in or practising Gestalt therapy. 

All members must follow EAGT’s Code of Ethics and Professional Practice and are subject to the body’s Complaints and Appeals Procedure.

◆ Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP)

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Membership information

The IACP was established in 1981 to develop and maintain high professional standards in counselling and psychotherapy. It currently has over 4,700 registered members, which makes it the largest counselling and psychotherapy association in Ireland. 

Membership levels include:

To become accredited, a member must have completed a relevant counselling or psychotherapy course and at least 450 hours of client contact work with an Accredited Supervisor.

Members of IACP agree to follow the Code of Ethics and Practice and are subject to the body’s Complaints Procedure.

◆ Play Therapy UK (PTUK)

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Membership information

Play Therapy UK, also known as The United Kingdom Society for Play and Creative Arts Therapies, was established in 2000. Its primary goal is to further the practice and development of play therapy for children needing therapeutic support.

To become a PTUK Registrant, all therapists must have relevant postgraduate course qualifications, be clinically supervised by an Accredited Supervisor, attend accredited professional development courses and have an enhanced DBS check. Registrants must also keep their knowledge up to date through Continuous Professional Development (CPD).

All members must follow PTUK’s Ethical Framework and are subject to the body’s Complaints Procedure.

◆ The Association for Cognitive Analytic Therapy (ACAT)

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Membership information

The Association for Cognitive Analytic Therapy is a national association and registered charity that is focused on educating health professionals, promoting proper standards and developing the use of Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) across the UK. It is currently made up of approximately 1,000 members. 

ACAT offers a Friend of ACAT membership to any member of the public who is interested in CAT or the aims and objectives of ACAT. They also have Accredited Members who have completed practitioner or psychotherapy training in CAT and received official ACAT accredited CAT training, in addition to Trainee Members who are currently undertaking ACAT accredited training. 

All members must adhere to ACAT’s Code of Ethics and Practice and are subject to the body’s Concerns and Complaints Procedure.

◆ The British Association of Play Therapists (BAPT)

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Membership information

The British Association of Play Therapists was founded in 1992 as the UK’s first professional body for play therapists. Their purpose is to promote high standards for play therapy practice and maintain a register for members who have demonstrated their ability to reach these standards. 

Individuals can join BAPT as a Member (Full, Student, Retired) or Associate. To become a Full Member, practitioners must complete a BAPT accredited qualification and provide evidence of Public Liability Insurance and a DBS check.

Registered members must abide by BAPT’s Ethical Basis for Good Practice in Play Therapy. If they breach these codes, they are subject to the body’s Complaints Procedure.

◆ The Human Givens Institute (HGI)

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Membership information

The Human Givens Institute is a membership organisation that is open to any member of the public who wants to support and promote the human givens approach and a professional body representing counsellors and psychotherapists who utilise the human givens approach. 

The HGI is linked to The Human Givens College, the primary teaching establishment for the human givens model, so all graduates are offered the opportunity to become professional members. 

There are three professional membership grades for graduates of the Human Givens Diploma, depending on the registrant’s level of knowledge and experience, including Graduate Member, Registered Member and Fellow Member.

Practitioners must abide by HGI’s Code of Conduct and are subject to the body’s Complaints Procedure.

◆ The National Counselling Society (NCS)

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Membership information

The NCS, soon to become the National Counselling & Psychotherapy Society (NCPS), is a non-profit professional association that was established in 1999 for counsellors and psychotherapists in the UK. Its purpose is to promote counselling and psychotherapy while offering online Continuous Professional Development (CPD) courses to support health providers.

There are various membership categories for NCS, depending on an individual’s qualifications and experience, ranging from Non-Registrant Member up to Accredited Professional Registrant.

All members must abide by NCS’s Code of Ethical Practice and are subject to the body’s Complaints and Concerns Procedure.

◆ UK Association for Transactional Analysis (UKATA)

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Membership information

Initially founded in 1974 as the Institute of Transactional Analysis, UKATA is the largest association and professional body for interested parties and practitioners of Transactional Analysis (TA) in the UK. They are responsible for monitoring the standards of both trainees and qualified Transactional Analysts. 

Anyone interested in Transactional Analysis can join UKATA as a Subscriber. They have many membership categories for those who are working on becoming a TA practitioner or already are, ranging from Diploma Qualified Member to EATA Qualified Senior Professional Member.

Members must follow UKATA’s Code of Ethics and Professional Practice and are subject to their Complaints Procedure.

◆ UK Association of Humanistic Psychology Practitioners (UKAHPP)

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Membership information

UKAHPP is a professional membership and accreditation organisation. It was founded in 1980 to support psychotherapeutic counsellors and psychotherapists who use humanistic psychology in their practice. They are also an independent member organisation of the UKCP.

The UKAHPP is open to members of the public who have an interest in humanistic psychology in the form of an Associate Membership. Depending on their qualifications and experience level, individuals can apply for memberships ranging from Entry Level Member to Honorary Life Member.

Registrants must follow UKAHPP’s Code of Practice and Ethical Principles and are subject to the body’s Complaints and Disciplinary Procedures.

◆ United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)

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Membership information

The UKCP, founded in 1993, is the leading professional body for psychotherapeutic counsellors and psychotherapists in the UK. Its purpose is to promote the practice and standards of psychotherapy for the benefit of the public. 

A psychotherapeutic counsellor or psychotherapist can only become a member of the UKCP if they have met their strict training requirements. There are six membership categories in total:

Practitioners must adhere to UKCP’s Code of Ethics and Professional Practice and are subject to the body’s Complaints Procedure.

◆ Universities Psychotherapy and Counselling Association (UPCA)

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Membership information

The UPCA was founded in 1993 as the Universities Psychotherapy Association (UPA) to spearhead the development of psychotherapy training in the UK. It is the only independent national body for psychotherapeutic counsellors and psychotherapists who have trained within universities. 

The UPCA has a number of membership categories. Individuals usually begin with a Student Membership when training on a UPCA accredited training programme. They will then move up to a Non-Accredited Clinical Member upon completing their course before finishing as an Accredited Clinical Member after qualifying and graduating.

Accredited members can also apply to be registered with the UKCP.

Members must adhere to UPCA’s Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics and are subject to the body’s Complaints and Fitness to Practice Procedures.

ManageMinds requires each of its therapists and counsellors to provide evidence to show that they are registered or accredited with a professional body.

Please note, however, that it is your responsibility to ensure that they are still registered before you start your treatment, as we do not actively monitor each membership after the initial evaluation.

To learn more about us, read our Welcome to ManageMinds post.

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