As British Columbia’s largest self-regulating body for Clinical Counsellors, the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors represents at least 70 percent of the profession. As a leader in the sector, its commitment to public protection is its biggest mission and its paramount value.
A health regulator’s obligation is to protect the public through the regulation of their members by:
- Determining registration requirements;
- Setting standards of practice and a code of ethics;
- Recognizing education programs;
- Maintaining a Members Register that everyone can search;
- Addressing complaints about their members.
One of the most significant ways any profession supports and guides its professionals in navigating all five of the above items is with the support of leaders in the profession. For Clinical Counsellors, the role of the clinical supervisor is enshrined as the primary source of practice and professional guidance. Members may seek clinical supervision or consultation voluntarily, in order to discuss the direction of therapy regarding a particular client or clients, for reasons of professional growth, or to develop competence in a new area. This is strongly encouraged; indeed most, if not all, Registered Clinical Counsellors (RCCs) engage in ongoing clinical supervision throughout their professional careers.
The BCACC is proud to have launched a new program to accredit clinical supervisors as they are a key component in maintaining the high-quality standards expected of RCCs. The RCC-ACS designation’s purpose is to maintain high-level clinical and professional leadership in the field and support the BCACC’s public protection mandate.
How clinical supervision helps our profession to fulfill the above obligations:
1. Fulfilling registration requirements
To qualify for registration as an RCC, applicants are required to have completed 100 hours of clinical supervision during or after their master’s program and to provide proof through clinical references. The clinical supervisor’s support and influence are crucial at this stage in assisting RCCs to appropriately apply their practice knowledge to clients, determine and apply their ethical standards in real-world scenarios, and give guidance and insight regarding their strengths and needs as new professionals.
2. Maintaining standards of practice and code of ethics
Without clinical supervision, many therapists would be left to their own in determining the application of ethical standards and best practices. While the principles and fundamentals of therapeutic practice are well-taught and thoroughly covered by master’s programs, it is rare that practice and ethical scenarios are simple. Clinical supervision is the primary mechanism to consult on clinical approach and ethical practice in these scenarios. Most importantly, clinical supervision provides constructive feedback and perspective from senior RCCs with an eye towards the protection of the client. The maintenance of RCC ethics and practice standards owes much to our valued clinicians who provide supervision.
3. Building bridges with our valued educators
Clinical supervisors, particularly those who supervise students in their practicums, are a key conduit to our academic community. The connections our supervisors build when working with the schools to support their supervisees creates bridges to the academic world that are immensely valuable. It is not uncommon, also, for supervisors to also hold teaching and faculty positions in the sector. The core academic coursework, developments in the profession, and the trajectory of the world of mental health are defined by high caliber education and informed by practice wisdom that supervisors hold. When our senior professionals are able to connect and support our educators, we all benefit.
4. Members and supervisors Registers
As the BCACC develops its searchable Members Register, the construction of the searchable ACS (Approved Clinical Supervisor) registry is also underway. The ability of a new clinician to target specific and relevant support to their needs is a substantial contribution to the care of the client. With 5700 members and dozens of approaches, modalities, and techniques this ability to define and select support is significant. Furthermore, the ability of stakeholders such as benefits providers, employers, and educational institutions to search for supervisors and their credentials offers another layer of confidence the profession can provide to the community.
5. Clinical supervision in the complaints process
Supervision may also be imposed by the BCACC when the Inquiry Committee/Conduct Review Panel directs that a member must practice with clinical supervision or some other form of supervision to address gaps identified as part of a consent agreement or the discipline process. In these scenarios, the clinical supervisor functions as a much-needed professional development resource for a counsellor who is working to adjust their practice as a result of a consent agreement. Without this high-quality clinical support, guidance, and leadership, RCCs would not be adequately supported in their developmental progress after a complaint. As such, clinical supervisors play a key role in the ethical practice of therapy for the client’s sake and the belief in life-long learning and growth for the counsellor’s sake.
The RCC-ACS Designation
The BCACC has historically allowed members to self-identify as Clinical Supervisors on our “Find a Counsellor” search tool. As part of our commitment to acknowledging the important role that clinical supervision and consultation have in the profession of counselling and in the protection of the public, we will be discontinuing this process.
Instead, BCACC will be creating a new, standalone search tool, “Find a Clinical Supervisor”. in 2022. Only those counsellors who carry the RCC-ACS designation will be listed on this tool. Clinical Supervisor listings on the “Find A Counsellor” tool will be discontinued six months after the launch of the “Find a Clinical Supervisor” tool.
The new vetting process will ensure that only practitioners who have extensive clinical experience, generally five years or more, in the practice of psychotherapy and who have demonstrated competence in providing clinical supervision are eligible for the RCC-ACS designation. The clinical supervisors must be competent in the area of practice/ modality that they have agreed to supervise.
The RCC-ACS designation will offer professional recognition as a Clinical Supervisor to those who have achieved a specific standard of experience and training. This designation will allow RCCs to be part of the culture of clinical supervision, public accountability, and ongoing professional development.
Alignment with Regulatory Modernization Objectives
In response to the suggestions outlined in Part Two of the Cayton report, the Minister of Health established and chaired the Steering Committee on Modernization of Health Professional Regulation. The steering committee was guided by three objectives:
1. Improve patient safety and public protection.
2. Improve efficiency and effectiveness of the regulatory framework.
3. Increase public confidence through transparency and accountability.
By formalizing and vetting the qualifications of Clinical supervisors through the RCC-ACS designation, the BCACC will address two of the objectives set out by the Steering Committee on Modernization of the Health Profession. Namely: improve patient safety and public protection and increase public confidence through transparency and accountability.
As the BCACC upholds its public protection mandate, it also endeavours to continuously improve the systems in place that deliver on that promise. The commitments to client safety, stakeholder engagement, and professional development are all upheld by a qualified, respected community of practice leaders who enjoy giving back to the profession. The ACS program designates and celebrates those professionals and thanks them for their ongoing support of our professional community.
If you are interested in knowing more about BCACC’s advocacy efforts and how BCACC is preparing for the regulation of Clinical Counsellors in concert with other provincial and national bodies, please contact BCACC Head Office at 1-800-909-6303.