The British Association for Counselling grew from the Standing Conference for the Advancement of Counselling, a grouping of organisations inaugurated in 1970 at the instigation of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations. Membership was extended to include individuals when in 1977, with the aid of a grant from the Home Office Voluntary Service Unit, the British Association for Counselling was founded.
In 1978 the headquarters was moved from London to Rugby courtesy of the National Marriage Guidance Council which provided free accommodation to help the association establish itself. The Association is now located in Lutterworth.
BAC becomes BACP
In September 2000, the Association recognised that it no longer represented just counselling, but also psychotherapy. It changed its name to the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).
BACP is now the largest and broadest body within the sector with more than 32,000 members.
BACP participates in the development of counselling and psychotherapy at an international level..
How BACP is run
BACP is a company limited by guarantee and a registered Charity. The governing instrument is the Memorandum and Articles of the Association. The Trustees, known collectively as the Board of Governors, govern the Association.
BACP operates specialist interest divisions and forums that focus on informing members and the public:
- Children and Young People
- Higher and Further Education
- Spiritual and Pastoral
- Independent and Group Practice
- Equality and Diversity
- Voluntary Sector
- BACP's vision is to lead the effort to make counselling and psychotherapy widely recognised as a profession.
- BACP's mission is to be the leading professional body for counselling and psychotherapy and an automatic reference point for anyone seeking information on counselling and psychotherapy in the United Kingdom.
- BACP's objectives are:
- to promote and provide education and training for counsellors and/or psychotherapists working in either professional or voluntary settings, whether full or part time with a view to raising the standards of counselling and/or psychotherapy for the benefit of the community and in particular for those who are the recipients of counselling and/or psychotherapy.
- to advance the education of the public in the part that counselling and/or psychotherapy can play generally and in particular to meet the needs of those members of society where development and participation in society is impaired by mental, physical or social handicap or disability.
- BACP seeks to advise and inform national and international policy and procedures concerned with counselling and psychotherapy, offering information and guidance to those involved in the process.
- BACP is consulted by government bodies, professional bodies, funding organisations, teaching institutions and many others on important issues concerning counselling and psychotherapy. The Association is strongly committed to high practice standards and the protection of the public.
- The Association sets, promotes and maintains standards for the profession. The Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy alongside the Professional Conduct Procedure ensures that members of BACP abide by an accepted code of conduct and accountability.
- The Association publishes a directory of members on their website, as well as a paper version, which allows those seeking counselling to find a counsellor in their area.
- The Association also accredits counsellors with the appropriate training and experience via a rigorous accreditation process, that requires continued education to maintain accreditation.
BACP and regulation of Counsellors and Psychotherapists
Currently the counselling and psychotherapy profession is not regulated under statutory instruments of law specific to the profession.
In relation to the lack of regulation of the profession the first meeting of the Health Professions Council (HPC) Professional Liaison Group (PLG) meeting for Counsellors and Psychotherapists was held on 4 December 2008.
The HPC / PLG meeting concluded that the legislative process for regulating a profession takes between 18 and 24 months and that any draft legislation would be subject to a three month consultation and the Department of Health would also need to carry out an impact assessment. According to Niall McDermott from the Department of Health (DH) "the earliest date for the regulation of counsellors and psychotherapists was 2011" 
Currently it is therefore possible to practice as a Counsellor and/or Psychotherapist in the UK without having to be accredited by or be a member of the BACP or similar body.
Notable members of the BACP