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A Guide To DBS Checks For Counsellors: Everything You Need To Know

DBS checks for counsellors

Counsellors play a vital role in improving the mental health and wellbeing of society, helping people understand themselves better and make positive changes in their lives.

DBS Checks play an important role for counsellors too, helping to make sure people who provide counselling are suitable to do so.

In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about DBS Checks for counsellors.

The different levels of DBS Check

Before we explore DBS Checks for counsellors, let’s look at the three different levels of DBS Check:

  • Basic DBS Check: a Basic DBS Check will reveal any unspent convictions or conditional cautions the applicant has. 

There are no eligibility criteria for Basic Checks. They’re available to anyone aged 16 or over for any position or purpose, and individuals can apply for one themselves. 

  • Standard DBS Check: a Standard Check will show any spent or unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings the applicant has.

To be eligible for a Standard DBS Check, you must be carrying out one of the roles, professions or activities listed here in the Standard DBS Check eligibility guidance.

Individuals cannot apply for Standard DBS Checks for themselves – this must be done on their behalf by their employer.

  • Enhanced DBS Check: An Enhanced DBS Check will show the same information as a Standard Check, plus any relevant information held by the applicant’s local police force.

If the applicant will be carrying out regulated activity as part of their role, then an Enhanced Check can also include a children’s and/or adults’ barred list check.
As with Standard Checks, only people carrying out specific professions, roles and activities are eligible for Enhanced Checks. And, as with Standard Checks, only employers can apply for Enhanced Checks on behalf of their employees.

DBS Checks for counsellors who work with adults only

In practice, this means that any counsellor who works with adults who have been referred by a healthcare professional (or who is a health care professional themselves as defined above) will be eligible for an Enhanced Check with a check of the adults’ barred list.

A counsellor who provided counselling solely to adults on a non-referral basis could have a Basic DBS Check.

So, what sort of DBS Check should counsellors have? The answer to this depends on what specifically their role involves. Let’s look first at counsellors who only work with adults.

As mentioned previously, if a role involves regulated activity, it will be eligible for an Enhanced DBS Check with a check of the relevant barred list. 

The definition of regulated activity with adults includes the following:

The provision of psychotherapy and counselling to an adult which is related to health care the adult is receiving from, or under the direction or supervision of, a healthcare professional, is regulated activity. This would include the provision of psychotherapy and counselling over the telephone. Life coaching is excluded.

This guidance defines a healthcare professional as:

a person who is regulated by any of the following professional regulators:

  • General Medical Council
  • General Dental Council
  • General Optical Council
  • General Osteopathic Council
  • General Chiropractic Council
  • General Pharmaceutical Council
  • Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland
  • Nursing and Midwifery Council
  • Health Professions Council

DBS Checks for counsellors who work with children

The definition of regulated activity in relation to children includes: 

unsupervised activities: teach, train, instruct, care for or supervise children, or provide advice/ guidance on well-being

As with adults, it also includes the provision of health care related to mental health (e.g. counselling) provided by, or under the direction or supervision of, a healthcare professional.

This means that any counsellor who works with children would be eligible for an Enhanced DBS Check with a check of the children’s barred list, whether or not they worked on a referral basis.

If you would like more information about DBS Checks for counsellors, see the DBS eligibility guidance or please don’t hesitate to get in touch – we’d be more than happy to help.

Our blogs are advisory in nature and reflect uCheck Limited’s current thinking about best and common practice in the subjects discussed.

The information contained in our blogs have been provided for information purposes only. This information does not constitute legal, professional, or commercial advice. Whilst every care has been taken to ensure that the content is up to date, useful and accurate, uCheck gives no guarantees, undertakings, or warranties in this regard, or, for any loss or damage caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with reliance on the use of such information.

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