PACFA review of membership pathways and Training Standards 

PACFA has been working on a proposal to introduce new pathways to PACFA membership and registrationThe proposal is aimed at making PACFA membership and registration more accessible and inclusive of a wider range of practitioners. 

Consultation with the PACFA Council is taking place in July to enable PACFA to progress work on the proposed new membership pathways. The CEO has written to Council Delegates who represent PACFA, Branches and Member Associations, as well as Delegates representing the PACFA Board, to invite them to complete the consultation survey. This will be followed by a Zoom Council meeting taking place on 1 August 2020. 

The proposal has come out of the work of the Psychotherapy Working Party, which was established in 2018 by the PACFA Board.  The Working Party is considering psychotherapy training and the future of psychotherapy as a profession in Australia and developing new standards for psychotherapy training. 

The key aims of Psychotherapy Working Party are to reduce any adverse impacts on psychotherapy training from the introduction of the PACFA Training Standards 2018 and to support the retention of existing psychotherapy training programs and the development of new psychotherapy training pathways.  

Proposed new Membership Pathways 

The proposal to introduce new membership pathways is aimed at enabling highly skilled and qualified psychotherapists to join PACFA. The proposed new pathways will also enable other highly skilled practitioners to join, including more counsellors, as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Practitioners. 

Changes to the PACFA Training Standards in 2018, which made it mandatory for training to be accredited by government, had a very serious impact for psychotherapists who can no longer join PACFA. This is because psychotherapy training is often provided by small, private training institutions that are not in a position to achieve government accreditation of their training. 

As PACFA represents both psychotherapists and counsellors, it is urgent that this issue is addressed to enable highly skilled and qualified psychotherapist to join PACFA. 

It is therefore being proposed to have three pathways to practising membership and registration with PACFA. 

  1. Accredited Training Pathway  
  1. Equivalent Training Pathway 
  1. Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)  

The Accredited Training Pathway maintains the requirement in the PACFA Training Standards 2018 that training is accredited by TEQSA or ASQA in accordance with the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) level 7 to 9.  This is important for our advocacy work with government as government currently expects that training is accredited. 

Under the Equivalent Training and the RPL Pathways, we would be able to welcome more diverse practitioners into PACFA membership and registration. This would apply to psychotherapists and counsellors and also to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Practitioners who are being encouraged to join PACFA following the establishment of the College of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Practices (CATSIHP). 

Some changes to the PACFA Training Standards 2018 are also being recommended in order to distinguish more clearly between psychotherapy and counselling training and to ensure PACFA is more inclusive of diverse practitioners and training options.  

We will keep readers updated on the Council consultation process as it progresses.