ACTO International

ACTO International

Some things to consider

Qualifications are not necessarily portable.  European law may allow people to import their training from outside, and a route to appeal if that doesn’t work.

Belonging to a strongly structured profession is helpful – such as psychiatry or clinical psychology.

Otherwise, it would be about applying for membership of a local professional body and having strong enough credentials to be accepted.

Within the continent of Europe, if you are a psychotherapist and a member of a National Accrediting Organisation (NAO) of the European Association for Psychotherapy (EAP), you can apply for the ‘European Certificate of Psychotherapy  (ECP). This is the nearest thing to a ‘passport’ for psychotherapists within Europe (generally).  It can help in getting accreditation in another EAP-NAO across Europe – from Ireland to Russia.  However, it doesn’t carry a huge weight with health services etc – or – at this stage – give a right to work in another country… and Brexit again has changed the rules for UK therapists.           The “NAO” for the UK is UKCP.

Professional bodies

Try to find out if there is a (counselling/psychotherapy/psychology) professional body in that country.   Very often there isn’t…

Protecting yourself

The normal view is that “the therapy takes place “in the mind of the client”, so the legal system of that country has precedence.  .  However, this is separate from complying with the criminal law locally around working therapeutically.

At present laws and regulations about online therapy are very few and far between 

– with the exception of the USA and most Provinces of Canada.

In order to try to prevent having to defend your work in whichever country, it may be worth you revisiting your Contract and including that your work is covered “professionally” by BACP/UKCP/BPS (etc) for Codes of Ethics and Conduct and Complaints Procedures. It is also wise to state in the contract that the therapy is subject to the civil law of your jurisdiction (for example, England and Wales or Scotland or N. Ireland etc).   It is wise to put a disclaimer in a contract, but the client may ignore it.  There may be a strong defence against a claim – and the client is likely to be advised of that by their lawyer.  Do not assume that the law in your home jurisdiction would necessarily be the one which would apply.


It is important that you check with your insurance company for any particular advice and that you are covered working remotely with overseas clients.

Insurance companies are generally a good resource, but their interests will be different to ours as they are focused on risk (the financial risk and risk of therapists being sued).   For instance, they may consider the risk to be small when working in a country with restrictive laws around psychotherapy, but it does not prevent the chances of being pursued for working with a client in that country.   Remember, this is separate from complying with the criminal law etc around working therapeutically.

If you are in the UK, there are insurance implications from Brexit to consider. We understand that UK insurers have withdrawn all cover – except for UK therapists working from the UK with international clients.

Mental Health general information

It may be worth researching Mental Health provision in the country of interest – you might get a feel for how developed they are and what restrictions for practising or qualifications are required.

Areas of Concern specifically for Online Work

Remember that working online can never be 100% secure and some governments restrict what platforms can be used in their jurisdiction. Some will also monitor online communications – which will clearly affect your decision about what you feel is right to undertake.

Also, some countries and individuals are subject to international sanctions and it is your responsibility to check that a potential client is not subject to that.

ACTO cannot provide a definitive answer and you are strongly advised to make additional checks yourself.

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