Memberships and accreditations: what's the difference?

The range any types of qualifications quoted by Counsellors and Therapists can be confusing, even people in the field can struggle to have a full knowledge of the different types of training, accreditations and how long a time it takes to achieve them, and indeed how difficult or easy they are to obtain. What I will cover here are the main qualification routes in the fields we operate in, together with an outline of the difference between Membership and Accreditation to I hope help with navigating the maze.....

Membership is probably the easiest to clarify, Membership can be simply that, a person has applied for and joined a body or organisation that has a role and function within the field, membership criteria has tightened considerably in recent years, however it does not guarantee that if someone has a membership they are fully competent at this stage. Some memberships are relatively easy to obtain, some quite difficult. 

Accreditation is a step up, a person with an accredited membership has been found to have a sufficient level of experience, skill and training, usually accreditation takes around two years post qualification to obtain, so look out for Accredited Member in addition to accredited training. Professional accreditation can then rise higher, Fellowships, Masters Degrees, Doctorates etc.

Training can take many different routes and take varying amounts of time, one thing to look for when searching for a Counsellor or Therapist is 'padding out' of qualifications, a 'Certificate in Body Awareness' or 'Certificate in Drug Awareness' may be a day course, if our Practitioners have attended such courses we don’t pad out their qualifications by listing them.

Some training courses/ accreditations, how long they can take to finish and general requirements:

  • NLP Practitioner: from 18 days study over 6 a month period.
  • Certificate in Counselling: 1 year part time study
  • Diploma in Counselling: 3 years part time study in a private Training Centre, a College or University, additional requirements for personal development and supervised practice
  • Diploma / Certificate in Psychotherapy: from 3 to 4 years part time study in a private Training Centre or University, requirements for longer personal periods of development and additional psychiatric placement.
  • Masters Certificate in Counselling or Psychotherapy: usually 2 to 3 additional years together with a thesis in a University.
  • Accredited Member: varies somewhat, requires a Certificate or Diploma from a pre-accredited course, but with additional professional development over and above that, a further period of supervised practice and either a written or examined live demonstration of working to a high standard.

For further information on Accreditation Organisations, see my post on five things to look for in a therapist.

I was fortunate, I had someone recommended to me by a colleague when I was in distress many years ago, and the Therapist I saw had the experience and skills to help me with the challenging path that lay ahead, however we do still sometimes see clients at LCCP who have had less that satisfactory experiences before coming to us, so I hope this helps you in deciding what course to take, if you have any questions feel free to ask.