Abuse reports drafted by unskilled, claims TD
COURT REPORTS on children who have been sexually abused are being written by people who have no qualifications, it has been claimed in the Dáil.
Waterford Labour TD Ciara Conway said she had been told anecdotally of such unqualified people preparing reports. Ms Conway said these “are the most vulnerable children in Ireland” and it was “alarming to think someone is masquerading as a qualified therapist and engaging in serious intervention with very vulnerable people”.
The Labour backbencher was speaking during the ongoing debate on the Health and Social Care Professionals (Amendment) Bill, which amends a previous Act to regulate health professionals and deal with delays in forming registration boards to register and license 12 categories of health professionals.
Introducing the debate yesterday Minister for Health James Reilly confirmed that counselling and psychotherapy services would not be included in the legislation. Dr Reilly acknowledged that some professional groups had sought to be regulated. He said “my immediate priority is to proceed with the establishment of the registration board for the professions designated under the 2005 Act”.
Dr Reilly said the Bill would “protect the public by promoting high standards of professional conduct and professional education, training and competence in the designated professions”.
But Government backbencher Dan Neville (FG, Limerick) criticised the failure to include counsellors and psychotherapists, warning the Government that “the current position does not lend itself to good clinical governance and the maintenance of high standards of patient care”.
He said there was no “State control over the qualifications held by those practising in the area”.
Mr Neville, a long-term campaigner on mental health issues, stressed that “any person can put up a sign to say that he or she is a counsellor or psychotherapist and charge €80 an hour to perform psychotherapy and counselling. It is extremely dangerous for such untrained people do so”.
He highlighted one course that ran for eight weekends leading to a diploma in eating disorders. “One should be a professional to deal with that, but I tested the system a number of years ago. A secretary, who had no qualifications or interest in any clinical, medical or psychological area, applied and was immediately welcomed on to the course and provided with a handwritten note inviting her to commence the course on the following Saturday.”
He also warned about a weekend course leading to a higher diploma in suicide studies and said “it is highly dangerous for people to counsel those who have suicidal ideations after such a short course, when they are not fully trained”.
Mr Neville appealed to the Government to include psychotherapy and counselling in the legislation in line with the proposals of the Psychological Therapies Forum, an umbrella group of a number of organisations.
He said the statement from Dr Reilly “that nothing will be done about any other profession until the 12 professions are designated, will delay this for years. It has taken seven years for two to come near registration so how long will it take for those after the 12?” he asked.
Debate on the Bill continues.