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FAQs Practitioners

About PACFA

How do I join PACFA?

PACFA members are professional associations for the counselling and psychotherapy profession.  Individuals do not themselves join PACFA, but instead are able to list on the National Register if they belong to a PACFA Member Association and meet the Register Standards.  Each Member Association has its own processes for joining.  For a list of Member Associations go to the Member Associations page.

What are the benefits of joining a PACFA Member Association?

Joining a PACFA Member Association allows you to be a member of a specialist body within the field of counselling or psychotherapy representing different geographic locations, therapeutic modalities or other therapy approaches.  Your Association will provide you with opportunities to network with other practitioners from the same modality, approach, or location.  Member Associations provide members with newsletters, professional development opportunities and expertise. Members of Member Associations who meet the PACFA Register Requirements are eligible to be listed on that PACFA National Register.

What is PACFA?

The Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia is a national peak body for professional associations within the counselling and psychotherapy profession in Australia. PACFA provides a forum for professional associations to unite in providing professional identity, research, support and public accountability for the profession. PACFA promotes the development of the practice of Counselling and Psychotherapy and represents the profession to the community and government, while respecting the diversity of approaches within the profession.  PACFA provides self-regulation functions for the counselling and psychotherapy profession through the PACFA National Register and through our high standards of training, professional practice and ethics.

What are the PACFA Training Standards?

The PACFA Training Standards, developed in conjunction with our Member Associations, detail the minimum training that is recommended by PACFA to prepare for practice as a professional Counsellor or Psychotherapist. This is also the minimum training required for an individual to list on the PACFA National Register.  There are also additional requirements to list on the National Register which are set out in the Register Requirements. For details and to view the PACFA Training Standards, go to the Training Standards page.

National Register

Why should I list on the PACFA National Register?

Having your name listed on the PACFA National Register confirms that your level of training, your expertise and your commitment to a high standard of ethical and professional practice have been verified as meeting the required standards. PACFA also offers National Register listings for Accredited Supervisors and Mental Health Practitioners.

What is the difference between Clinical and Provisional Registrants?

Practitioners that are listed as Clinical on the National Register are more experienced than those with a Provisional registration.  Provisional Registrants have met the Training Standards however they have not yet completed the post-training client work and supervision requirements for Clinical registration. Clinical Registrants have met both the Training Standards and the post-training client work and supervision requirements for Clinical registration. Only Clinical registrants are able to display the PACFA logo on their website or business cards.  Practitioners have to be Clinical Registrants to apply for listing as a Mental Health Practitioner or Accredited Supervisor.

Does PACFA allocate Continuing Professional Development (CPD) hours for courses and conferences?

Yes, PACFA allocates hours for CPD activities. PACFA’s policy in relation to CPD hours is set out in the PACFA CPD Policy, which can be downloaded at the Register Renewal Requirements page.  The assessment of professional development activities that are suitable for PD hours varies somewhat amongst PACFA Member Associations, particularly as some represent quite specific modalities/philosophies. You will need to refer to the CPD guidelines of the Member Association to which you belong for their requirements.

Does PACFA offer a discount for professional indemnity insurance?

Insurance House offers PACFA Individual Members a combined professional indemnity and public liability policy at attractive rates. For details see the Insurance page.

What is considered client contact for the purposes of PACFA registration?

Client contact, for the purposes of PACFA’s Professional Training Standards, involves a range of experiences of the trainee working directly with clients where there are no dual relationships between the client and trainee. Client contact hours, first and foremost, comprise face-to-face, in the same room contact with the client. Some alternative client contact such as telephone, online, and web technology such as Skype may be considered after the initial 40 client hours when considerations such as geographical distance and disability of the trainee exist. Group work, psycho-educational groups and co-therapy will be counted as client contact hours as long as the student has primary therapeutic responsibility for the client/s. Case management, counselling research, telephone counselling and informal work with individuals, children and families is not considered client contact.

Does PACFA have any guidelines for working with children?

PACFA do not have any guidelines specific to working with children. We can, however, refer you to one of our specialist Member Associations, the Australian Association of Family Therapy (AAFT). AAFT have a very good Code of Ethics that offers some simple and clear guidelines for working with children.

Supervision

How many practice and supervision hours do I have to complete to go on the Register?

For Intern listing on the PACFA Register, the requirement is 40 client contact hours linked to 10 hours of supervision, which must all take place during training.  For Provisional listing, the requirement is 200 client contact hours linked to 50 hours of supervision.  For Clinical listing, the requirement is a further 750 client contact hours linked to 75 hours of supervision.

What is considered to be Supervision for the purposes of PACFA Registration?

Clinical supervision is a contractual, collaborative process which monitors, develops and supports supervisees in their clinical role. In clinical supervision the central focus is on both the optimum treatment outcome for the client and the professional development and self-care of the supervisee.  The process of clinical supervision is seen to encompass a number of significant components, including a formal agreement between supervisor and supervisee. It is an opportunity for the supervisee to present relevant material regarding their clinical practice via case discussion, recordings of client sessions, role plays, etc., allowing a space for reflective review by the supervisee and feedback by the supervisor. The supervisory relationship and process of supervision are congruent with the developmental needs of the supervisee.

Does my supervisor have to be a PACFA Registrant?

No, your supervisor does not have to be a PACFA Registrant but your supervisor must be approved by the training institute if you are a student. A supervisor is a practitioner with a minimum of five years clinical experience who has supervision competencies which satisfy the requirements of the PACFA Supervision Training Standards. The supervisor is generally seen to have more experience than the supervisee with regard to professional seniority, skill development and possibly within a particular speciality.  Some Member Associations have specific requirements regarding supervisor qualifications. It is important that your supervisor has relevant qualifications and experience to provide effective supervision.

Does all my supervision have to be face-to-face?

Yes, if you are a trainee but post training you can work with a supervisor using other media such as telephone or Skype. For details, see the Register Requirements page.

Does all my supervision have to be individual?

No, supervision can be carried out in groups with a maximum of six supervisees to one supervisor.

Accredited Supervisors

What is the PACFA Supervision Register?

The PACFA Supervision Register lists PACFA Accredited Supervisors. This is a voluntary register for appropriately qualified supervisors and is accessible to practitioners seeking a supervisor via the PACFA website.
You can search for a PACFA Accredited Supervisor using the Find A Therapist search function.  Practitioners can search for Accredited Supervisors by selecting Accredited Supervisor from the list of options.

Do I need to have completed a Supervision Training Program to work as a Supervisor?

It is highly recommended that all supervisors meet the requirements of the PACFA Supervision Register and the Supervision Training Standards. Supervisors undertaking training must have completed a course that includes competencies in terms of skills, knowledge and values with reference to PACFA’s current standards and codes of ethics. For details see the Accredited Supervisors page.

Who is eligible to be on the PACFA Supervision Register?

For a period of 8 years there will be 2 pathways to achieve listing on the PACFA Register as an Accredited Supervisor: the PACFA Accredited Supervisor pathway and a PACFA Transition Accreditation pathway. By 2020 and beyond, all those applying to the PACFA Supervisor Register must fulfil the requirements of the PACFA Accredited Supervisor pathway.

What is the PACFA Accredited Supervisor pathway?

Applicants will need to have completed the following components:

  • Supervisor Training which meets the Supervision Training Standards and includes 10 hours of supervisor practice
  • 50 hours of supervisor practice over a minimum of 2 years post supervisor training
  • 10 hours of supervision on supervision (post training)

What is the PACFA Transition Accreditation pathway?

This pathway is available until 2020.  Applicants will need to have completed the following components:

  • Evidence to show 50 hours over a minimum of 2 years of practice as a supervisor
  • Evidence of a minimum of 10 hours of supervision on supervision
  • Evidence of a minimum of 20 hours training or professional development in supervision. Certified attendance at several one-off workshops about supervision can be accumulated to complete this requirement.

How many hours of supervisor training are required to meet the Supervision Training Standards?

If applying via the PACFA Accredited Supervisor pathway, Supervisors must have completed a supervisor training course that is substantially focused on supervision, of at least 36 course hours in total, and that extends over a minimum of six months to allow for the integration of personal and clinical learning. The minimum course requirement of 36 hours is seen as equivalent to a university semester of 3 hours x 12 sessions. However, supervision training occurs in both academic and private sectors and it is at the discretion of the training body as to how the program is structured given the stated minimum time frame.

Do the Supervision on Supervision hours for the PACFA Supervision Register have to be individual?

No, peer, group and individual hours of supervision on supervision will be accepted.

Should the Supervisor for Supervision on Supervision be different to my regular Supervisor?

The choice of supervisor(s) needs to reflect the aspects of supervision appropriate to the supervisee’s different roles. For example:

  • Supervision for clinical practice
  • Supervision for supervisor role
  • Supervision for trainer role
  • Supervision for group leadership/group supervision role

Mental Health Practitioners

What are PACFA Mental Health Practitioners?

PACFA Mental Health Practitioners are Clinical Registrants whose practice includes supporting clients who are experiencing mental illness.  Mental Health Practitioners are listed in a separate category of Registrants on the PACFA National Register. For details, go to the Mental Health Practitioners page.

What are the advantages of becoming a PACFA Mental Health Practitioner?

PACFA Mental Health Practitioners have been assessed as meeting PACFA’s Mental Health Competencies and this may help you to promote your services to prospective clients or to secure employment in the mental health field. As PACFA continues to lobby for government recognition of Counsellors and Psychotherapists, Mental Health Practitioners may be the practitioners that government is most interested in recognising as mental health service providers because they have been assessed against PACFA’s Mental Health Competencies.

Who can apply to become a Mental Health Practitioners and how do I apply?

Applications to be listed on the PACFA Register as a Mental Health Practitioner can be made by PACFA Clinical Registrants. Applications will be assessed by a PACFA Mental Health Panel against the eligibility criteria set out in the Mental Health Practitioner Requirements and against the PACFA Mental Health Competencies. The application process is not currently completed online.   Go to the Mental Health Practitioners page to download the application form.  There is a non-refundable application fee of $165 (inc. GST).