Crackdown will target fake therapy
A CRACKDOWN on the unregulated work of psychotherapists and counsellors is on the way.
New laws will tackle "serious issues" concerning the regulation of their work with vulnerable individuals, said Fine Gael TD Dan Neville.
"At the moment, anyone can put up a sign stating they are a counsellor or psychotherapist and charge €80 an hour for a service which they might not be suitably qualified for," he said.
"This is extremely dangerous for vulnerable people," said Deputy Neville, who is president of the Irish Association of Suicidology.
New legislation, due to be sent to Government next month, could help to address serious issues concerning regulation and registration, he said.
"Currently, there are no statutory regulations in Ireland for the registration of psychotherapists and counsellors.
"This means there is no State control over what qualifications are held by those practising in these areas.... We need a system of statutory regulation to ensure these professions are properly monitored and that adequate standards are met," he said.
Deputy Neville said: "The Taoiseach has confirmed to me that the Health and Social Care Professionals [Amendment] Bill is currently being drafted, and is due to be sent to the Government for consideration next month.
"The Bill will amend the original 2005 Act, which provides for the registration of people qualified to use the title of a designated profession.
"It also deals with issues surrounding complaints relating to their fitness to practice.
"Under the existing Act, there are 12 designated professions listed. This does not include the professions of psychotherapy and counselling."
He added: "I will be pushing for psychotherapists and counsellors to be included on the list of designated professions under the new legislation."
He acknowledged a psychological therapies forum -- encompassing 22 organisations -- exists, "but unfortunately this means we have been left with a system of self-regulation. This cannot be allowed to continue," he said.
"It is critical that the situation is addressed in the new Bill, to avoid vulnerable people in crisis being damaged by counsellors and psychotherapists who are not properly trained or qualified," he added.