Stronger regulation of mental health professionals is urgently required – Neville

-   Sarah Meade

Fine Gael Limerick TD and President of the Irish Association of Suicidology, Dan Neville, has today (Friday) welcomed the warning from Gerry Raleigh from the HSE’s National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP) about the dangers of using services offering suicide and mental health counselling services which are not vetted and may be unsafe.   


Mr Raleigh has warned that people in distress should avoid these services because counsellors may not be fully trained or may not basing their counselling on best advice.


“I strongly welcome Mr Raliegh’s comments. Currently there are no statutory regulations in Ireland for the registration of psychotherapists and counsellors.   This means there is no State control over what qualifications are held by those practising in these areas.   Anyone can put up a sign stating they are a counsellor or psychotherapist and charge €80 per hour for a service which they may not be suitably qualified for.  


“This is extremely dangerous for vulnerable people.   We need a system of statutory regulation to ensure these professions are properly monitored and that adequate standards are met.


“The existing Health and Social Care Professionals Act lists designated professions, but it does not include the professions of psychotherapy and counselling.   A psychological therapies forum – encompassing 22 organisations – exists, but unfortunately this means we have been left with a system of self-regulation.  


“This cannot be allowed to continue, and it is critical that the situation is addressed to avoid vulnerable people in crisis being damaged by counsellors and psychotherapists who are not properly trained or qualified.”


“The Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 provides a mechanism to drive forward the clinical governance agenda, by creating a framework through which practitioners are accountable for continually improving the quality of their service and safeguarding high standards of care.   I have been pushing for psychotherapists and counsellors to be included on the list of designated professions under the new legislation since 2005.”



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