New bill should help to strengthen regulation of mental health professionals – Neville

Fine Gael Limerick TD and President of the Irish Association of Suicidology, Dan Neville, has said that new legislation, which is due to be sent to Government next month, could help to address serious issues concerning the regulation and registration of psychotherapists and counsellors in this country.

Deputy Neville made his comments during an address to the Irish Council for Psychotherapy Conference today (Thursday).

“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. At the moment, 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 Taoiseach has confirmed to me that the Health and Social Care Professionals (Amendment) Bill is currently being drafted, and is due to be sent to the Government for consideration next month. The Bill will amend the original 2005 Act, which provides for the registration of people qualified to use the title of a designated profession. It also deals with issues surrounding complaints relating to their fitness to practice.

“Under the existing Act, there are 12 designated professions listed. This 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 in the new Bill, to avoid vulnerable people in crisis being damaged by counselors 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 will be pushing for psychotherapists and counsellors to be included on the list of designated professions under the new legislation.”

FULL ADDRESS TO THE IRISH CONFERENCE FOR PSYCHIATRY ON www.danneville.ie page mental illness/suicide

Contact:

Sarah Meade
Fine Gael Press Office

01 618 3379

Sarah Meade
Fine Gael Press Office

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Email: sarah.meade@oireachtas.ie

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Ph: 01 618 3379