Everything You Need to Know About Counselling Accreditation in the UK

If you’ve decided to become a counsellor, you know that you need to have empathy, a great listening ear, and some qualifications. But did you know you also need accreditation?

Many shy away from learning about this elusive topic, as it can be confusing (and, in some cases, expensive!). Referring to several different schemes, counselling accreditation means different things to different people. We’ve broken down counselling accreditation in the UK, from its significance to counsellors, to bodies operating in the UK, and the pathways it offers to aspiring professionals.

Table of Contents

Why Accreditation Matters

Counsellors in the UK work without a formal licencing structure, which means that the title of ‘counsellor’ isn’t a legally protected one. As a result, employers, insurance companies, and online directories where counsellors advertise usually demand counsellors be members of a professional body.

The Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care (PSA) is in charge of managing the accrediting register for professional counselling bodies. Professional bodies can apply for accreditation for their registers under this programme, and it ensures their practitioners are following recognised professional standards.

For counsellors and clients alike, accreditation acts as a way to make sure the care offered is high quality. Being a member of an accredited body highlights that you have met specific educational and professional standards. For counselling patients, accreditation provides reassurance about your skills and knowledge as a counsellor.

Accrediting Bodies

Across the UK, there are several counselling accreditation bodies. A few of the main ones are:

Accredited Board for Counsellors and Psychotherapists (ABCAP)

ABCAP is an independent body that provides accreditation for all types of therapists. For members of the public, they provide a way to connect with accredited therapists through their directory. For therapists, they provide accreditation through membership, and organisations are able to provide accreditation for training materials. Their mission is to promote the benefits of therapy, highlight its crucial role in enhancing psychological well-being and mental health, and raise the standard of the counselling profession in the UK.

Association of Child Psychotherapists (ACP)

The ACP is the body for child and adolescent psychotherapists. Members of the ACP are able to work with neonates, mothers and babies, parents and toddlers, primary school-age children and adolescents.

The National Counselling Society (NCS)

The NCS is a non-profit association for counsellors and psychotherapists. The society plays a large role in developing and supporting the counselling profession, its members and training organisations. It became accredited in 2013 under the Accredited Voluntary Register Scheme.

Types of Accreditation

The path to accreditation can differ depending on the professional body and the level of specialisation a counsellor wants to achieve. In general, it can be broken up into three levels:

  1. Student membership: Students of counselling courses often start by achieving membership in an accrediting body. Student membership provides access to resources, support, and opportunities for professional development.
  2. Accredited registrant: After completing their training and meeting the criteria set by the accrediting body, counsellors can apply for accreditation as registered practitioners. This stage demonstrates a commitment to ongoing professional development and adherence to ethical guidelines.
  3. Accredited membership: For more experienced counsellors, achieving accredited membership signifies a higher level of proficiency and experience in the field of counselling. This level often involves more stringent criteria and continued professional development.

Accreditation Process

To achieve accreditation, counsellors have to meet certain requirements set by the professional body they’re trying to join. Usually, this process involves elements of education, supervised practise, continuous professional development, and adherence to ethical standards.

Counsellors seeking accreditation must demonstrate their competence through case studies, supervision, and sometimes examinations or assessments.

Benefits of Accreditation

Accreditation offers numerous benefits for counsellors, clients, and the overall mental health field.

  • Professional Credibility: Holding accreditation validates a counsellor’s expertise and commitment to ethical practise.
  • Client Trust: Accreditation provides clients with confidence in the skills and competency of their chosen counsellor.
  • Career Advancement: Accreditation opens doors to career opportunities and professional advancement.
  • Continuous Improvement: The process of accreditation encourages ongoing learning and development, enhancing the quality of counselling services.


So, now that we’ve explored counselling accreditation in the UK, you’ll know that it’s not just a fancy title but a true mark of professionalism, ethics, and quality.

Imagine a world where everyone seeking help for their mental health receives the most effective and ethical support possible. That’s what the accreditation process seeks to ensure. By setting and maintaining high standards for counsellors, we’re making sure that they have the skills and knowledge needed to make a difference in people’s lives. It’s all about creating a safe and supportive environment where individuals can find the help they need to thrive.

Are you dreaming of becoming a counsellor and contributing to the mental wellbeing of others? Check out our online counselling courses today and start your journey towards accreditation.

To read more tips and help guides, explore our blog.

Discover how distance learning can change your life by looking through our course catalogue.

Have any questions? Contact us.

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