Legal & Regulatory

BC Counsellors Call For A More Exclusive Regulatory Establishment

November 21
9:19 AM 2016

Janice Williams has spent a prolonged period of time healing from the agony inflicted by an art therapist who gave her the world and then tore it apart.

An artist and author in Gibsons, the 66-year-old Williams sought counselling to deal with fear, shame and sadness that followed childhood traumas, she said. In 1991, she signed up for eight sessions of $5 art therapy, but it was seven years before that toxic patient-client relationship crumbled.

The therapist convinced Williams she was gifted and began giving her free sessions. She showered Williams with food, gifts and a place to live, while cutting her off from family and friends.

Williams said she felt preyed on "during an extremely naive and vulnerable" period in her life. She has since become an advocate for the establishment of a regulatory body to oversee B.C.'s counselling profession.

Glenn Gregg is chairman of the Federation of Associations for Counselling Therapists in B.C. (FACT B.C.), which is leading the charge for the formation of a regulatory body called the B.C. College of Counselling Therapists.

Formerly the Task Group for Counsellor Regulation in B.C., FACT B.C. is comprised of a dozen member associations representing counselling therapists in areas of practice such as clinical, art, music, psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, pastoral, marriage and family.

The group was formed with the objective of regulating more than 5,000 professionals under the Health Professions Act, with member fees covering the cost of administration.

Grigg said the college would perform quality assurance, inspections and audits to ensure practices are safe, as well as prevent unqualified people from entering the profession. Counsellors have fought for such a regulatory body since 1997 but until recently have struggled to attract the Ministry of Health's attention, he said.

In an emailed statement, spokeswoman Lori Cascaden said the Ministry of Health would need to give approval for the establishment of a regulatory college for licensed counsellors.

Cascaden said the ministry met with FACT B.C. in the past year about possible regulatory options but no decision has yet been made. She said the ministry has looked to other jurisdictions to determine an appropriate form of oversight, including Quebec, Ontario and Nova Scotia, where certain types of counsellors are formally regulated.

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