Jo's experience working on BACP's revised Online and Phone Therapy (OPT) framework and guidance
The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)(1) have recently published their revised Online and Phone Therapy (OPT) Competency Framework and User Guide for all registered BACP members.
This is significant for the university because Jo Ames, an accredited BACP counsellor, who is part of the multidisciplinary Mental Health & Wellbeing Team(2) was a member of that national Expert Reference Group (ERG).
The group met online at regular intervals to revise the competencies which reflect the changing nature of the ways therapists communicate with clients/students, provide support and integrate technology awareness and proficiency into training. The small group also comprised of renowned national and international trainers of therapy and online therapy. This included representation by the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) who are the other largest professional body whose accredited members are also registered with the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care(3).
The work of the BACP OPT experts will filter into the professional standards of future training and clinical practice, in addition to influencing the existing 50,000 BACP members(4) along with 10,000-plus(5) UKCP members at home and abroad.
This revision was particularly timely due to Covid-19, as so many services and individual practitioners needed to translate their face to face practice to email, phone, video calling or online meetings and in doing so, there are a significant number of differences which need to be considered. These include: confidentiality; how personal disclosure may differ; identifying and managing risk; accessibility; GDPR; translating theoretical models to online mediums; and working across borders.
Closer to home, the Mental Health & Wellbeing Service had already updated and revised their online working practices at the outset of the ‘working from home’ first lockdown period. As with all good practice this will be reviewed in the near future and any amendments made will be in accordance with the BACP OPT standards and the needs of the University Mental Health & Wellbeing Service.
It is interesting to note that the University of Wolverhampton continues to be a front runner in setting the standards for professional practice and innovative approaches to supporting students. This is because online working is not new to the Mental Health & Wellbeing Service (formerly the University Counselling Service) as they were early pioneers of this approach in 2007 and undertook research in 2008/9 with College of Learning & Teaching (COLT) to explore and understand the European First Year Experience of online counselling. This research was locally, nationally and internationally disseminated from Groningen (Netherlands) reaching as far as Australian university colleagues by means of video link. This ongoing type of activity within the Student Support & Wellbeing department meets with the universities ambition of being a progressive and influential sector leader. View the framework(6).
References/links 1. British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP): https://www.bacp.co.uk/ Accessed 30/03/2021
2. Mental Health & Wellbeing Team: https://www.wlv.ac.uk/current-students/student-support/mental-health-and-wellbeing-advice/ Accessed 30/03/2021
3. Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care: https://www.professionalstandards.org.uk/what-we-do/accredited-registers Accessed 30/03/2021
4. 50,000 BACP members: https://www.bacp.co.uk/news/news-from-bacp/the-most-rewarding-thing-about-being-a-counsellor/ Accessed 30/03/2021
5. 10,000-plus: https://www.psychotherapy.org.uk/about-ukcp/#:~:text=It%20only%20includes%20practitioners%20who,approaches%20to%20the%20highest%20standards. Accessed 30/03/2021
6. View the framework and user guide: https://www.bacp.co.uk/media/10849/bacp-online-and-phone-therapy-competence-framework-feb21.pdf https://www.bacp.co.uk/media/10850/bacp-online-and-phone-therapy-user-guide-feb21.pdf Accessed 30/03/2021
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