Ireland has taken a step closer to dealing with bogus counsellors who have little or no appropriate qualifications.
The Minister for Health, Simon Harris, has signed regulations to designate the titles of counsellor and psychotherapist as professions to be regulated under the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005.
As part of these regulations, a registration board will be established and anyone wishing to practice as a counsellor or psychotherapist will have to register with this board.
Those applying to register will have to have minimum qualifications. Only those registered will be entitled to use the counsellor and psychotherapist titles.
"The regulation of these professions will ensure greater protection of the public as those registered must comply with a code of professional conduct and ethics and will be subject to fitness to practice.
"Registrants will be subject to a range of sanctions (including suspension or cancellation of registration) in the case of a substantiated complaint of professional misconduct or poor professional performance," Minister Harris explained.
He added that work ‘is now ongoing on the appointment of the 13 member registration board'. An advertisement campaign by the Public Appointments Service will take place in the coming weeks to find suitable candidates.
Around 5,000 counsellors and psychotherapists are expected to be covered by the regulations, which will be overseen by CORU, Ireland's multi-profession health regulator.
It already regulates other professionals such as dietitians, physiotherapists and optometrists.