Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Mental Health James Browne has called on the Government to introduce a new regulatory framework for psychotherapists, psychologists and counsellors under the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005.

Deputy Browne made the comments after a high profile celebrity ‘psychologist’ admitted that his PhD in psychology is fake following a media investigation.

Deputy Browne said, “This week’s revelations that a celebrity ‘psychologist’ was providing bogus advice over an extended period of time is deeply troubling. It shows that there is an urgent need to implement a regulatory framework for psychotherapists, psychologists and counsellors to protect not only patients but also the integrity of their profession. It should not be left to the media to have to expose bogus therapists.

“The Government has committed to including the professions of psychotherapists, psychologists and counsellors under the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 which can be done so by means of statutory instrument. However, the delay in doing so is wholly unacceptable. People’s wellbeing is at risk here and the Government cannot be allowed to dither on the issue.

“The Minister for Health Simon Harris has previously stated that psychotherapists and counsellors are currently not regulated under the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 and that the regulation of a new profession under the Act involves a consultation process as well as the making of a number of statutory instruments. This process is not envisaged to be completed until 2019. In the meantime, there is no statutory oversight of competence and conduct.

“We have a situation where vulnerable people in society who are seeking help, which in itself is hard to do, are being met with an awful situation whereby they cannot have confidence in the qualifications of the person claiming to help them. The work of counsellors and psychotherapists is invaluable and the assistance they provide to people with psychological, emotional and mental health issues is crucial, especially in times of distress.

“The regulation of counsellors and psychotherapists under the 2005 Act would ensure that those registered have minimum qualifications and that registrants would be subject to a range of sanctions should misconduct occur. These measures are necessary and would ultimately help protect patients and the integrity of professional counsellors, psychotherapists and psychologists,” concluded Deputy Browne.