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PACFA launches new Scope of Practice

PACFA has launched a key policy document for the profession – Scope of Practice for Registered Counsellors.

Professional scope of practice is a widely discussed professional issue, and it is a pervasive piece of policy work amongst health professions. Professional scope of practice is a significant consideration when planning efficient health services, and some Government departments have requested to examine our profession’s scope of practice. It is therefore crucial to our profession, as it describes what we do as a profession and how we do it, and as a policy and advocacy tool that highlights the breadth and depth of the profession to policymakers and other stakeholders. Moreover, it is an element of PACFA’s 2016 to 2018 Strategic Plan, to support individual and organisational members to advance their interests.

The framework of the document takes into consideration three key elements of scope of practice: competent practice, safe practice, and regulated practice. Whilst professional competence and regulation as it relates to the profession are extensively discussed in scope of practice literature, we have included safe and ethical practice as a cornerstone in describing the complete picture of counselling scope of practice. Trust, ethical practice, supervision practices, confidentiality, risk management, and evidence-based practice are some of the issues discussed when we think of safe practice.

Based on this framework, PACFA defines scope of practice for PACFA-registered counsellors as follows:

“Scope of practice is the area of the profession in which a counsellor has the knowledge, skills and experience to practise competently, safely and lawfully, in a way that meets standards and does not pose any danger to the public or to themselves. PACFA recognises that a counsellor’s scope of practice will change over time and that the practice of experienced counsellors often becomes more focused and specialised than that of newly qualified counsellors. This might be because of specialisation in a certain area or with a particular client group, or movement into roles in management, education or research.”

We intend the scope of practice policy work to support our advocacy efforts, to be used by potential employers of counsellors to survey the capabilities of counsellors, and by prospective counsellors when they seek to envision a pathway or career into the profession. We also intend the document to be a resource for practising counsellors when questions arise such as:

  • Is a particular activity, field of practice or intervention within the scope of practice for the profession (with consideration to regulation and guidelines) and is it accepted within the profession?
  • Is it supported by research and best practice and in the best interest of the client?
  • Is it within my own personal scope of practice (do I have the education and experience to competently perform the task with consideration to best and safe practices)?

Download PACFA’s Scope of Practice for Registered Counsellors here. The full news article about the policy launch will appear in the September eNews.

PACFA thanks all those who contributed to the development of the Scope of Practice, including the Leadership Group of the College of Counselling, PACFA staff, the PACFA Board, and various academic experts who were consulted.