Most mental health practitioners and coaches are acutely aware of the lack of awareness amongst the masses regarding the importance of mental and emotional wellbeing and the benefits of seeking professional help but have no clue about the lack of awareness amongst the practitioners themselves about the role and importance (or lack of importance) of various so-called associations and affiliations that claim to be government recognised.
This lack of awareness results in many organisations taking advantage by promoting courses in the name of the courses being affiliated to approved by association ABC or XYZ.
When it comes to finding a reputable and reliable course, my advice is to stay away from any group that uses affiliations as a primary tool to build credibility or to promote courses. Unfortunately, many of these organizations are nothing more than scam artists looking to take advantage of unsuspecting students and practitioners.
Are you wondering whether “I am being too harsh”?
Maybe we are not affiliated with any of these bodies and therefore I am saying this?
Let us answer the second question first, ICHARS is affiliated with multiple international associations, we are registered under MSME and also have ISO Certification.
So no, this is not a case of sour grapes.
Now let us come to the more substantial and important question.
Am I being too harsh?
Maybe but organisations working in the area of mental health taking people for a ride due to a lack of awareness… I am not sure why should I be not harsh?
So what is the truth about certifications and affiliations?
You can watch the following video where we have discussed this or just scroll a bit to read the complete transcript of the discussion.
Transcript of the discussion on the Role of Associations, Councils when it comes to coaching and counselling certification along with the Legal aspects of setting a practice as a coach or a therapist
So Nitin from what I understand, Skill-building courses in the area of Coaching, Hypnosis, NLP, TA, Gestalt, CBT to name a few are unregulated in most countries and including India.
Yes, that’s correct
So do these affiliations have any legal standing.
Nope, no affiliation that these courses have, has any legal standing. This includes all courses whether they are affiliated to ICF or to AHA or to any other organisation which by the way includes most of the affiliations we have as well.
Then why do so many institutes highlight these affiliations?
Most training institutes get into these affiliations and highlight them because prospective participants don’t know any better and hence it helps the institutes project the impression that their courses are legally regulated. We at ICHARS believe in transparency and hence we would like to inform all prospective students about the reality of affiliations.
Having an affiliation does not give you the legal rights to practice any of these modalities.
Whether you can practice what you learn in these courses or not depends on the area of application. If you are looking at applying these skills in your life or existing career, as long as the credentials you have, allow you to legally do what you already do, you are good to apply these skills as well.
Can you give us some examples to understand this better?
So for example Life Coaching, motivational speaking, leadership are completely non-regulated fields, which means if you wish to apply these skills as a life coach or a motivational speaker or a leader, you are free to do so.
But if you plan to practice as a psychologist and work with intense negative emotions or traumas as a psychologist then you need at least a masters in psychology. If you plan to work as a clinical psychologist in a rehabilitation setup then even a master’s in psychology is not enough, you need to complete Mphil from an RCI recognised university.
What you learn in these courses are skills that you are not developing in classical education setup and these skills are extremely important when you work with clients maybe even more important than what you may have learnt as a part of your educational qualification but still, they are not to be confused with legality.
Is that the reason why you have generally not been in favour of having these affiliations?
Overall I have not been in favour of getting these affiliations not just because of the reasons mentioned earlier but also because of the costs associated and the fact that other than an illusion of legality most associations really don’t have much else to offer. Since as an institute if we incur these costs, we will have to recover the costs from our participants, it doesn’t seem fair for us to ask participants to pay for something that they will not be able to really receive much value out of.
Why does ICHARS course have these affiliations then?
The truth is that on one hand the logos look good on the website and help us create the initial perception of credibility. On the other hand, when we say what we are saying about affiliations, after having these affiliations, you know that we are being true to you and we are not saying this because we don’t have affiliations.
Lastly, while affiliations may not make your practice legal or illegal but certain associations help their members in case there is a legal issue. Since ICR and IHR help provide that legal assistance if required, we went ahead with that particular affiliation. As far as GHSC is concerned, UK is one of the countries where practising alternate health modalities is regulated by a statute of law and people practising hypnosis can register themselves with the relevant body called CNHC. GHSC is one of the organisations that can help you send your applications for CNHC memberships.
Next, some of these associations regularly organise online skill development workshops and they give heavy discounts to their members. Since we help our students understand the importance of continuous development, a lot of them are interested in attending some of these programs and hence it makes sense for them to join as a member.
Having said all the reasons for the affiliations, it is important to understand that we have been very careful about the associations we have affiliated to. We also do not make it mandatory for our students to become a member of these associations. This means there is no additional cost that our participants have to pay for the affiliations we get into. Participants pay only when they choose to become a member of these associations and directly to the association. Our affiliation just makes the processes a lot easier.
That brings us to the next question, should you become a member of these associations?
If you are practising in India and are not interested in the discounts on courses these associations offer, you don’t really need to become a member of any of these associations.
If you are planning to practice in UK, then I would recommend becoming a member of GHSC and ICR. If you are planning to go to a country or a state whose laws you are not clear about and need help and guidance with that, again joining ICR and IHR is what I’d recommend.
If you like attending a lot of Continous Professional Development courses then checking the associations that are conducting programs related to your interest and joining them can save you a lot of costs.
Lastly, if you are planning to work with corporate groups then these affiliations can add to your perceived credibility.
And in case after attending the programs, if you are not sure then you can always connect with any of the trainers at ICHARS and we would be able to guide you based on what your objectives are.
Lastly, what if I wish to become a member of an association that ICHARS is not affiliated with?
Associations generally have multiple routes to join them as a member. One of the routes is via training institute affiliations. Most associations also have an option to become a member provided you have received a specific no. of hours of training and you submit cases for review that are approved by the association. Our programs are
So if you are looking at attending these workshops then becoming a member with them is a good idea.
Thank you Nitin for these clarifications…..
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