ACC is a professional body representing the broad areas of counselling and psychotherapy, also known as ‘talking’ or psychological therapies. ACC specifically provides guidance and support to Christians who provide such therapies.
Within the field of counselling and psychotherapy, there are many different theories, approaches and techniques. Practitioners use various titles such as ‘counsellor’, ‘psychotherapist’, ‘therapist’ or a specific title that reflects the kind of therapy they practise (e.g. Psychodynamic Therapist, Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, Gestalt Therapist, Existential therapist etc.). Whatever the title used by a practitioner, it is important that they are adequately trained and qualified in the type(s) of therapy they offer and that they do not practise beyond their scope of practise or capability.
ACC does not specify that a practitioner should use one particular form of therapy or work in any specific way. Instead, it offers a broad framework of Ethics and Practice that aims to guide the practitioner, with the support of their supervisor, to work safety and effectively.
It should be noted, there are some forms of therapy (e.g. Art Therapy, Music Therapy, Psychodrama Psychotherapy) that are regulated separately and hold their own registers. ACC members will not offer these forms of therapy unless they have specific training, qualifications and experience in these areas as well as being on the relevant register. They may, however, use some general form of art or music in a brief way as part of the work with their client. For example, drawings may be used to explain or illustrate something being discussed or background music may be played during relaxation.
Of the variety of different forms of therapy available, they can be grouped into three broad categories: (i) approaches that emphasise the (therapeutic) relationship between the practitioner and their client and their way of interacting with the client (i.e. being empathic, genuine and warm) These are known as Person-Centred or Client-Centred approaches; (ii) technique based approaches (e.g. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Gestalt Therapy, Psychodynamic Therapy, etc.), and (iii) Integrative approaches, usually combining two or more different techniques appropriately selected for the client. Research indicates that all the different approaches can be of benefit to people seeking help with the many and various problems in living. However, the effectiveness of counselling depends on many different factors and unfortunately for a small minority of people it may bring no perceived benefit at all.
In addition to these broad areas, ACC counsellors and psychotherapists vary in their use of Christian or Biblical models in their work, depending on their training, the context and the agreement they have with each client (i.e. contract).
ACC seeks to ensure all therapies practiced by its members are safe for the public. In this respect, the risks associated with the professions of counselling and psychotherapy are reviewed and guidance issued where there are concerns.