This month, we discussed the ways standards are enforced and monitored in the art therapy profession and to share the ways we, as private practitioners, set and meet our own standards of practice. In particular, the purpose of the meeting was to shed some light on the HCPC’s CPD audit process, which some art therapists are currently undergoing following the renewal of state registration in May 2014.

Art therapists in the UK are registered with the Health Care Profession Council (HCPC) and must demonstrate that they meet the HCPC’s requirements to maintain state registration. We are expected to have 40 hours of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) if we work full time; this is pro rata for those of us who are self-employed. At least 6 hours of the CPD should be from certified events, such as courses, BAAT meetings, conferences or other events providing a certificate of attendance.

In order to meet HCPC’s CPD standards, a registrant must:

  • maintain a continuous, up-to-date and accurate record of their CPD activities
  • demonstrate that their CPD activities are a mixture of learning activities relevant to current and future practice
  • seek to ensure that their CPD has contributed to the quality of their practice and service delivery
  • seek to ensure that their CPD benefits the service user
  • upon request, present a written profile (which must be their own work and supported by evidence) explaining how they have met the standards for CPD.

According to HCPC, these must include:

  • Work-based learning
  • Professional activity
  • Formal/educational
  • Self-directed learning
  • Other (voluntary work, etc.)

The key, according to HCPC, is to have a mixture of different CPD activities. For example, attending a course for 40 hours annually will not be considered adequate on its own, even if this is a fully certified course which is relevant to the profession. This is because it only represents one type of CPD activity.

All professionals registered with the HCPC can be audited and asked to prove that they are undertaking CPD activities appropriate to their profession. Those who are selected for audit are usually informed when they receive their HCPC renewal notice (every two years, in the case of art therapists) and asked to provide a CPD profile and a statement within 3 months. This should include a list of CPD activities for last two years, including any relevant certificates, receipts or other proof of events, courses or activities. The statement should be 2,000 in length; the HCPC recommends that 500 words are used to describe the professional’s recent work and 1,500 words to explain how standards have been met.

BAAT have been guiding art therapist through the audit process by giving talks and providing information on their website. In order to have greater clarity on which CPD activities are considered appropriate, this is the BAAT CPD model for art therapists:

  • Arts practice and participation: making, consuming and participating in art and arts projects.
  • Race, culture, social political and professional context: through courses or discussion groups, reading, political or social involvement.
  • Communication: developing or learning presentation, teaching or writing skills.
  • Therapeutic understanding: practice – learning different therapy models, furthering knowledge of client group, innovation in practice.
  • Therapeutic understanding: theory – active awareness of ethics, record keeping, research, supervision skills.

Further to this factual discussion in our meeting, the group shared the way different private practitioners keep notes and records and the use of art reviews to evaluate therapeutic progress in art therapy. We also considered the tension between our own, individual ways to reflect, grow and develop as practitioners – so vital for the private art therapist – and trying to fit into an external framework of thinking. Ultimately, many of us felt it was useful to have a record of professional development. This was not only for the sake of meeting external standards, but for our own internal sense of progress and growth.

Posted by Nili Sigal, art therapist &
clinical meetings coordinator

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