About Accreditation, Validation and Regulation Regulation and Accreditation diagram for a simplified version of this information.

In our experience, there is a lot of confusion about Accreditation and related issues, so these notes are to help you understand what it means and where the The Academy: S.P.A.C.E. Ltd is positioned. It should be noted that a new development in the field of psychotherapy/ counselling education, called SCoPEd, is likely to lead to changes in the information below by 2028.

There are three forms of Accreditation (see 2, 3 and 4 below); also something called Validation (see 5 below); and government regulation (see 6 below), and a LOT of acronyms to get used to.

Accreditation and validation processes involve an external body, such as a professional association (e.g. BACP, NCPS, UKCP) that approves courses using professional standards, or an academic institution, such as a university, college or other organisation (e.g. NCFE, OCN) that approves courses using academic standards. In addition to this, the government, after a number of years of deliberation and consultation, brought in a system of regulation. 

Counsellor Training Course Accreditation

Courses can seek approval from professional bodies that they are providing the right kind of training and education to equip their students to qualify as counsellors. Here are some examples of relevant professional bodies:

NCPS (National Counselling and Psychotherapy Society) 

BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy), and

UKCP (United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy) 

These bodies operate Course Accreditation schemes. Each sets out criteria that a training institution needs to meet if their course is to be deemed suitable as counsellor/psychotherapist training. These schemes have been approved by the government via their Professional Standards Agency.

You can find out more about this on their websites. The criteria for NCPS and BACP are broadly similar whilst UKCP has a longer training requirement.

Once qualified, you can apply to a professional body to enter their Accredited Register (see 3, below). It is important to note that there is a further level of Accreditation which can be achieved when you have gained post-qualification experience (see 4 below).

When our courses were delivered within the university (Sheffield Hallam – SHU) the Diploma was Accredited by BACP in 2004 (under the leadership of Gail Evans, Programme Director at The Academy: S.P.A.C.E.). As Accreditation was not portable, when we left SHU we made the commitment to seek re-Accreditation at the earliest opportunity (which was academic year 2014-15). We were successful in gaining Course Accreditation with NCPS, which has an approach that is in line with our ethos. Our Diploma course was written, and is updated, to also meet BACP’s current (Gold Book) standards for Accredited Courses.

Accredited Registers

Professional bodies have been approved by the government’s Professional Standards Agency to operate registers of counsellors who have graduated from either an Accredited Course, or who can prove successful completion of training that meets certain requirements. If you successfully complete a course that has been accredited by a professional body, and you are a member of that body, you can apply to be listed on their Accredited Register (AR). Our course is accredited by NCPS and has an AR. If you graduate successfully from our course, you are automatically eligible to be listed on this AR.

If you wanted to join a different AR (e.g. that operated by BACP) there would be similar, plus additional, requirements to fulfil (currently this includes an online exam for BACP, which many of our students have chosen to do and felt well prepared for by our course).

Counselling Practitioner Accreditation

Once qualified and having gained further counselling experience there are schemes of further Accreditation. The different professional bodies have slightly differing criteria about this process and you should consult the relevant professional bodies about this. As our course is Accredited by NCPS their requirements are given here.

You must be a member of NCPS

You must be in practice and have professional indemnity insurance

You complete an application form and may submit case studies or other evidence

Your application is treated holistically and a points system is used to judge which membership category you will be offered. 


Validation is a process operated by academic bodies, usually in relation to government sets of standards called the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) and National Qualifications Framework (NQF). These set out the requirements of different levels of training from levels 1-8.  You can find out more about this on the following websites:

Because many professional bodies in counselling do not demand particular academic levels for training, and because our students come from a very wide range of academic and non-traditional educational backgrounds, we made the decision not to have our awards validated at a specific level. We aim to encourage and support all students to reach the highest level of academic standard that they can. The original course was validated at level 5/6 (equivalent to years 2/3 of a degree) and we believe most of our students reach at least this standard by the end of their training.


This is a government approval process of every Accredited Registers(AR) of counsellors that professional bodies operate. The government’s Professional Standards Agency (PSA) examines the processes used by a professional body to admit counsellors to its register, and that organisation can use a special and distinctive logo on its website. Professional bodies like NCPS, BACP and UKCP publish registers of counsellors who meet their expectations of a trained counsellor and these three organisations have had their registers approved by the PSA. See  for more information about regulation.

Regulation and Accreditation diag