March 6, 2023
Government attempts to regulate psychologists “shambolic and lacking urgency” – Mark Ward TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health, Mark Ward TD, has described the Government’s attempts to regulate psychologists, psychotherapists, and counsellors as “shambolic and lacking urgency”.

Teachta Ward was speaking ahead of ‘RTÉ Investigates: Ireland’s Unregulated Psychologists’,which will be aired this evening.

Teachta Ward, who is also a qualified counsellor and therapist, said:

“Psychologists, psychotherapists and counsellors have been calling out for regulation of the sector for a long time now.

“RTÉ Investigates: Ireland’s Unregulated Psychologists, which will be aired tonight, will show just how easy it is for unscrupulous actors to manipulate an unregulated system and prey on vulnerable people.

“Currently there are almost 12,000 children waiting on an appointment in primary care psychology, with four thousand children waiting over 12 months for this life changing appointment. 

“Parents are desperate to get the help and diagnosis that their child needs, to give their child every chance to reach their full potential. These parents often put themselves into debt to finance this treatment in the private sector.

“Whilst there are very good and honest psychologists working privately there are also charlatans who prey on these vulnerable parents.

“Tonight’s RTÉ Investigates programme will show just how easy it is to obtain a fake qualification online and set yourself up as a private psychologist.

“CORU is tasked with regulating psychologists. The regulation began in 2007 and it is no closer to being completed. The regulation by CORU of Counsellors and Psychotherapists began in 2018 and despite twenty meetings, we are still no closer to regulation.

“There is no urgency from the Government to act.

“I studied in UCD as an addiction counsellor and became accredited with the Addiction Counsellors of Ireland and other accredited bodies. 

“This qualification and accreditation allowed me to work in organisations who were funded by the HSE. There are checks.

“If I wanted to work privately there was nothing to stop me from just setting up a business without the proper accreditation and qualification.

“I have been calling on the Minister to prioritise the regulation of the talk therapy sector for some time.

“As things stand, the Department of Health and the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI) have no statutory role in checking the qualifications of private psychologists who do not seek to either join the PSI or work in the public sector.

“This is the very first thing that the Government must put in place to stop desperate parents being conned.

“The Government must also put in place measures that will tackle the never-ending public waiting list for psychology appointments.”

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