Letter to the Editor

PACFA has sent a Letter to the Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald in response to their article “It’s a disaster’: how couples’ therapy can make family violence worse” (28/6/17). There is a lack of understanding that counselling and psychotherapy is a self-regulating profession. Whenever we get the opportunity, PACFA seeks to address this by providing information about the PACFA Register and about members of our specialist Colleges.

The SMH article addresses the issue of domestic violence and makes some very important points about the responses that are needed in domestic violence situations. PACFA encourages all practitioners to undertake professional development on the subject of domestic violence to ensure you are able to deal with these issues appropriately if they arise.

Letter to the Editor

In your recent article “It’s a disaster’: how couples’ therapy can make family violence worse” (28/6/17) some issues require clarification.

It is not correct to claim that couples counselling is entirely unregulated. Couples counsellors are not regulated by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency but government has determined that counselling is a self-regulated profession. Self-regulation is a robust form of regulation that takes place through PACFA’s National Register of qualified practitioners.

PACFA (Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia) represents many qualified couples counsellors. Couples counsellors who belong to PACFA also belong to the Australian College of Relationship Counsellors which was established by PACFA in 2016. PACFA sets high standards for training and ethics and membership of the College requires specialist training in couples counselling.

Domestic violence is very serious matter that requires the types of actions suggested in the SMH article. An important safeguard for couples seeking counselling is to ensure that you see a registered practitioner.  Check that the practitioner is registered with PACFA and – ideally – that they belong to the Australian College of Relationship Counsellors. College Members are trained to work with couples and have a high level of awareness of domestic violence issues.

Maria Brett