Every counsellor or mental health professional has a scope of practice, set out by their regulatory body that describes what their scope of practice is. This is extremely important, as it mandates what professionals can and can’t do and gives them much needed guidelines to stick to.
So, what then exactly is a scope of practice?
“The scope of practice describes the procedures, actions, and processes that a healthcare practitioner is permitted to undertake in keeping with the terms of their professional license.”
Scope of practice is there to guide professionals and provide legal recourse for a statutory body, should a professional not act within their defined scope.
Why is it so important a professional stay in their scope?
It is absolutely essential that all mental health professionals only practice within their defined scope of practice. Consider the Hippocratic oath of “first do no harm.” It is your responsibility to never engage in activity that may harm your client. Counsellors work with the mind, as medical doctors work with the physical body. A counsellor has a responsibility to never engage in any kind of counselling that they are not adequately trained to do, as this may cause harm to the mind and emotions of your client. Just as a brain surgeon would never attempt heart surgery; a counsellor not trained in certain therapies should not provide them.
As counsellors you have a social responsibility to your community. You also have a legal responsibility as well. Counselling is a necessary and very important field, and should be treated with the highest respect. By staying in your scope of practice, you are maintaining and contributing to the success and integrity of the counselling profession.
Some further information:
If you are a counsellor registered at the ASCHP, be advised that the scope of practice has been updated and all information is available here:
Furthermore, feel free to download the Scope of Practice documents here:
Scope of practice for HPCSA registered counsellors and psychologists can be found on the HPCSA website: