Counselling Hypnotherapy Legislation in BC, Canada

Update: February 1st, 2022: Recently the Alberta government, after committing to announce legislation relating to counselling in Alberta, has decided not to put forward the proposed legislation for proclamation. The government has stated that they are moving in a different direction. As a result of the uncertainty in Alberta we will be f…
Update: February 1st, 2022: Recently the Alberta government, after committing to announce legislation relating to counselling in Alberta, has decided not to put forward the proposed legislation for proclamation. The government has stated that they are moving in a different direction. As a result of the uncertainty in Alberta we will be focusing on BC, as it is most likely the next province that will have legislation relating to counselling. See Fact BC to keep updated with BC legislation.
Sheldon Bilsker, HT, RCC is the Director and founder of Orca Institute and the IACH. Orca Institute is Canada’s longest-running and only Designated hypnotherapy school.
You can contact him at 604-808-3703
UPDATE: August 4th, 2021: Alberta has announced that they will proclaim the formation of a College of Counselling Therapists very soon. More details Here.
Important Update: 9-1-20 (Learn More)
Update:5-16-20: The BC government has received formal input from the public as well as Professionals in the Counselling field. Awhile back, the government requested and received the Cayton Report. Harry Cayton was hired to write a report making recommendations on the structure of colleges under the Health Professions Act in BC. One of the recommendations was that the 20 existing colleges under the ACT should merge to bring them from 20 to 5. Counsellors and other potential new groups wanting to form a college would be slotted into one of the five new colleges. Nothing is written in stone at this point, and there has been excellent communication between FACTBC and the Deputy Minister and other key people. Here is FACT BC’s response to the Cayton report. Last but not least, COVID-19 has slowed everything. Hopefully, we will be back on track soon. Recently the BC government has set aside money to cover counselling costs of those who need it at this time but cannot afford it. They approached FACT BC directly to set up a referral system from the government to FACT BC member associations. This in the works. I, for one, am impressed that they have taken this action as it is much needed. However, I do find it curious that technically we have no legal status under the Health professions Act while the BC government, through their actions, is acknowledging that we are a valid health profession.
Update: Alberta is now the 5th province to commit to legally define counsellor and or psychotherapist. They have asked FACT Alberta to begin processing new applications in preparation for future legislation.  The possible new legislation looks very similar to what FACTBC has proposed specifically in how it uses core competencies rather than requiring a specific degree. Legislation could happen by the Fall of 2020. 
Recently I posted an article related to the impending psychotherapy act in Ontario which will go into effect in December 2019. In this article, I will focus on what could possibly happen in BC. I’m basing my information on approximately 22 years of being involved with this issue off and on in my impression of the current situation in this province including developments over the past few years in Fact BC. Please understand that what follows is an educated guess. No one really knows exactly how things will look if legislation does occur in BC but from certain factors, it is possible to draw some possible conclusions.
In a previous article, I gave a brief history of the events leading up to where we are now so I will focus on the current situation and how I view it.
Core competencies have been the cornerstone in our proposal to the BC government to create a College of counsellors. The original idea was that, rather than require a specific degree such as a BA, MA, or Ph.D., core competencies would define the minimal skill set that an entry-level counsellor should have to practice in the counselling field. Since 1997 there have been many new versions of the core competencies and with each one, the requirements for entrance into the potential new college have increased making it more inaccessible for many current therapists and students. At this point, the core competencies are almost equivalent to having a Master’s level degree.
As a result, associations like the Association of Cooperative Counselling Therapists have raised their entrance requirements to include the DSM-V, Family Therapy and Abnormal Psychology. ClearMind International is another school which is adding more courses into its curriculum to meet the Ontario standards.
As I’ve stated in my previous article on Ontario legislation I know for a fact that the Ontario government does not restrict anyone from practising counselling. However, only those members of the College will be permitted to practice with clients who have “serious issues” and be allowed to use the term Psychotherapist or any derivates of that term. For example, the client would like to do sessions with you and tells you that they have been diagnosed as clinically depressed. If you are not a member of the College then you are restricted in working with this type of client.
However, if a potential client wants to do sessions with you and they tell you they have been feeling depressed but have not been diagnosed you could see them without having to be a member of the College. I should emphasize, as an educator, it is not advisable to take see a client who you feel might have more serious issues even if they haven’t been assessed unless you are qualified to do so. Always know when to refer and if in doubt contact someone with more experience in this area to advise you.
Now that we know specifically what the Ontario legislation looks like, there are some educated guesses we can make in relation to the situation in BC especially in relation to how it might affect Hypnotherapists. I will use my school, Orca Institute to show how I think will this new model will affect hypnotherapy students and practitioners in BC.
First of all, let me restate that I do not believe that any provincial legislation will contain any clause which will have the effect of restricting anyone from practising hypnotherapy within the parameters I’ve stated above. The reason I feel confident about this relates to governments, in general, being very reticent about restricting anyone’s ability to make a living as long as they are keeping within the current laws. So simply put, I don’t see that happening.
About a year ago, as President of the International Association of Counselling Hypnotherapists, I realized that as an association it was important to be a member of Fact BC. For those who aren’t aware, fact BC is a group representing the main counselling groups in BC with the purpose of lobbying the BC government to set up a College of counsellors. Much progress has been made in the past short while and I believe that we might be close to creating a College in this province.
I believe that once a college is formed its members would be under the Health Professions Act of BC and most likely be covered by any insurance company that currently covers psychologists. In addition to having a protected title in the same realm as a registered psychologist or Registered Nurse, a member would most likely get referrals from the medical profession and possibly be eligible for employment through government agencies who typically require a Master’s degree to work within their system.
For most practitioners who are not operating with a protected title, it becomes obvious that there are specific advantages to having a protected title. I can understand how that might seem daunting for some who would consider attempting to meet the core competencies necessary to attain membership in the new college.
However, a common procedure in these matters of new legislation, especially in the area of setting new standards for a particular profession, is the implementation of an expedited clause. A grandfather clause is typically a period of one to two years where practitioners who have come up to a particular standard within their Association [member of fact BC] would be portal or grandfathered into the new college without having to meet the specific core competencies which might go beyond their current Association membership standards. Update: I now believe that even members of an association in FACT BC might have to show a specific amount of Supervision and client contact hours.
One scenario might be that a member of the International Association of Counselling Hypnotherapists who have achieved the Level Of Counselling Hypnotherapist +750 hours of practice with clients at the time of the closing of the expedited period would be eligible for membership in the new college.
In conclusion, if you are a hypnotherapy student or practitioner I believe that you will be able to continue to practice whether you are a member of the future College or not. However, I hope you will take into account the potential of being a member of the future College. Learn more about what Alberta has done so far. 

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