Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Ceisteanna (569)

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

569. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health the laws by which psychotherapists are governed here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12086/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

While the profession of psychotherapist is not currently regulated on a statutory basis in Ireland, psychotherapists are subject to legislation similar to other practitioners including consumer legislation, and to competition, contract and criminal law.

The Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 provides for the statutory regulation of the 12 health and social care professions of clinical biochemist, dietitian, medical scientist, occupational therapist, orthoptist, physiotherapist, podiatrist, psychologist, radiographer, social care worker, social worker and speech and language therapist. Under the Act. the system of statutory registration comprises a registration board for each of the twelve designated professions, a Health and Social Care Professionals Council with overall responsibility for the regulatory system, and a committee structure to deal with disciplinary matters. To date, five registration boards are operational and it is expected that the registration boards and their registers for the remaining seven designated professions should be established by the end of 2015.

The Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 also provides that the Minister for Health may, by regulation, designate a health and social care profession not already designated if he or she considers that it is in the public interest to do so and if specified criteria have been met. Whilst the immediate priority is to proceed with the establishment of the registration boards for the twelve professions currently designated under the Act, I am committed to bringing counsellors and psychotherapists within the ambit of the Act as soon as possible.

A number of counsellor and psychotherapist national groups have come together as the Psychological Therapies Forum to advise as a single voice for the professions in so far as is possible. However, a number of issues remain to be clarified. These include decisions on whether one or two professions are to be regulated, on the title or titles of the profession or professions, and on the minimum qualifications to be required of counsellors and psychotherapists. In relation to the latter, Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI), the successor to HETAC, has established a Standards Development Group for Counselling and Psychotherapy which aims to establish standards of knowledge, skills and competence to be acquired by candidates for educational qualifications that will be required for careers in counselling and/or psychotherapy. This is an essential prerequisite to regulation of the profession. In addition, the standards of proficiency to be required of existing practitioners for registration will need to be established and the necessary qualifications prescribed. QQI produced a draft Report to which my Department furnished a response in November 2013.

My Department will closely study the final QQI report as soon as it is available and will then engage with relevant stake holders in order to work through the outstanding issues with a view to achieving regulation of counsellors and psychotherapists as soon as possible in the best interests of the protection of the public.