The history of BABCP Accreditation

The British Association for Behavioural Psychotherapy (BABP) was formed in 1972, becoming the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy (BABCP) in 1992.

An Accreditation and Registration Sub-committee was set up under the Chairmanship of Ken Lewis in 1992 - followed a year later by Amanda Cole - to devise the criteria that BABCP would use to accredit practitioners in Cognitive/Behavioural Psychotherapy.

There were a wide range of indications of the need for a standard setting process, and for criteria and forms of evidence to be agreed which would identify competent practitioners of CBT. At the time, BABCP was an organisational member of The United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP).

In order to be registered as a psychotherapist in the Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy section of the UKCP Register (a source of referrals for therapists working in private practice), BABCP - as the Lead Organisation for CBT in the UK - needed to develop such registration criteria. These became operational in 1994.

In 1995 the term Accreditation was adopted in response to member’s requests to be acknowledged as having met the BABCP criteria, without choosing to become formally registered with UKCP.

From the outset, more people applied to be accredited with BABCP than those wishing to be registered with UKCP. BABCP Accreditation alone had become the ‘gold standard’ for CBT Psychotherapists, while Health Insurance companies began to recognise BABCP accreditation alone over UKCP Registration.

In 2006 BABCP withdrew as an organisational member of UKCP after much debate among the membership and at Conference, as the Board believed that UKCP no longer represented the views of CBT Psychotherapists in a proportional manner. BABCP subsequently became an Institutional Member.

By this time membership of BABCP had outstripped the total membership numbers of all the remaining constituent organisations in UKCP, with BABCP finally withdrawing as an Institutional Member of UKCP in 2009.

By 2001, BABCP had received an increasing number of enquiries about whether we could set standards and criteria to recognise competencies required of CBT Trainers and Supervisors. A Supervisor and Trainer working group from the Accreditation and Registration Committee was formed under the Chairmanship of Jan Scott, and from their work, Supervisor and Trainer Accreditation was launched in 2006, chaired by Mark Latham.

Also in 2001/2, a formal process for the Accreditation of Courses that aim to train people in the practice of behavioural and/or cognitive therapy was gaining wide support from BABCP, course providers and current and prospective trainees. The importance placed on training standards by potential regulatory bodies for psychotherapy also highlighted the requirement for programmes of training to be properly validated and monitored in a way which demonstrated that trainees had reached a required level of competence.

A working party was set up and worked in consultation with the directors/representatives of the majority of courses providing specific training in CBT in the UK and Ireland. Gillian Haddock was appointed as the Chair of the Course Accreditation Committee, with the first courses going through the Accreditation process in 2002/3.

The ‘Improving Access to Psychological Therapies’ (IAPT) programme was set up in 2007 to enable expansion of the provision of evidence-based psychotherapy within the NHS – with a corresponding need for more CBT therapists as a result.

Within the IAPT programme, a distinction was made between ‘High Intensity’ and ‘Low Intensity’ intervention – with ‘High Intensity’ referring to intervention by Psychotherapists. The work of BABCP Course Accreditation was extended to include accreditation of the resultant courses which were set up at ‘High Intensity’ level.

The advent of specific training for Low Intensity CBT interventions marked a sea-change in provision of CBT. Those trained solely to deliver such interventions (rather than Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy) were to become Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners (PWPs).

Members of BABCP were involved in the research and development of low intensity interventions and the training courses to equip PWPs with the skills to deliver such interventions. Representation was made to the Board of BABCP with proposals to set up PWP accreditation for individuals, while accreditation of PWP courses became the responsibility of the BPS (British Psychological Society). Paul Farrand was appointed Chair of the PWP Accreditation Committee within BABCP.

With the rapid increase in the numbers of Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapists and Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners being trained, there has been a corresponding need for efficient and robust Accreditation services within BABCP to deal with the increased volume of Accreditation applications.

Since 2008, Accreditation services for BABCP members have developed from being organised and managed by a team of volunteers on the Committee, to what is now a professional team of Accreditation Liaison staff who manage a workforce of trained paid Accreditors. The whole service is still overseen by the Accreditation and Registration Committee who, as well as ensuring maintenance and development of Accreditation Standards, now also carry out quality audits of the service.