Characteristics of courses achieving accreditation will be diverse and idiosyncratic. However, it remains the case that there are core issues, areas of knowledge and practice, and theories, that must be addressed in any course that seeks to teach issues related to the treatment of addictions.

With the above caveats in mind, the core characteristics of courses to be accredited are specified in four areas:

  1. Formal structure
  2. Student selection
  3. Academic and Professional content
  4. Examination and Assessment.
  1. Formal structure

1.1 At least 400 hours face-to-face tuition directly relevant to generic issues in health and social care, 200 hours of which should be directly relevant to knowledge, theory and practice in addictions.

1.2 Tuition over at least 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time.

1.3 Teaching and examining leading to qualifications at Level 5 (or higher) on the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications, or equivalent.

1.4 Tuition by a number of suitably qualified academic and professional full-time or part-time staff.

1.5 Teaching methods should include a range of practices i.e. group practice, lectures, seminars, workshops, etc

1.6 Validation as a Higher Education Diploma, Postgraduate Diploma, BA, FdSc, BSc, MA, MSc or Professional Doctorate level by an appropriately constituted academic body.

1.7 Incorporation of tuition and assessment of NOS competences, satisfying the demands of the Drug and Alcohol Professional Certificate award.

  1. Student Selection

2.1 Students should satisfy the demands of the validating academic body for mature applicants.

2.2 The selection process should normally include a face-face interview conducted after detailed application and references have been received.

2.3 Full consideration should be given to applicants’ readiness for training, academic potential, professional motivation and personal interests in the training.

2.4 Those selected should have working knowledge and understanding of counselling theory and skills (Level 3 on the National Qualifications framework), or be committed to acquire such skills before or at onset of training.

  1. Academic and Professional Content of Courses

3.1 Critical understanding of generic psychological theories and practice.

3.2 Commitment to professional guidelines and ethical practice.

3.3 Professional responsibilities in therapeutic practice, which should include: initial meeting and assessment, comprehensive assessment, treatment planning, case management (including report and record keeping), crisis intervention, client education, consultation with other professionals, referrals and supervision

3.4 Education in at least two evidence-based mainstream approaches to addiction therapy, for example Cognitive Behaviour therapy, Motivational Interviewing, 12-step Facilitation, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, and Mindfulness-based cognitive therapies.

3.5 Instruction in the psychopharmacological, psychological and social psychological factors in the development of addiction, including commonly encountered mental health problems.

3.6 Instruction in the theoretical underpinnings of the principal approaches to psychological treatments, including an assessment of their efficacy.

3.7 Knowledge and understanding of mental health and addiction treatment services in the UK.

3.8 Academic oversight and supervision of students’ professional experience in placements, within the teaching programme.

3.9 Provision of independently supervised placement affording opportunity for at least 100 hours' professional practice during the latter stages of the course.

3.10 Clear specification of learning outcomes with respect to the above.

  1. Components of Examination and Assessment

4.1 Clear specification in Course Guide of requirements for satisfactory completion of the course.

4.2 Systematic assessment of students’ fulfilment of learning objectives on the course, including by professional logs and case study.

4.3 Systematic provision of constructive feedback on student workplace performance by placement providers.


The Accreditation Process

  1. There should be a Liaison Officer, appointed by the validating institution, or the organisation delivering the course in formal partnership with the validating institution, who is responsible for communicating with the Federation.
  2. The Liaison Officer should write formally to the Federation applying for course accreditation and enclosing the following:

(a) The full published Programme Specifications for the course, being the outcome of the institutional validation procedures. These should cover all aspects of course content, teaching methods, list of teaching staff, their qualifications, roles and specific responsibilities, assessment and examination, and all other matters affecting the management of the course by the validating institution, including mutual responsibilities of students and the institution with respect to the progression and care of students on the Course.

(b) The Course Guide provided for the students.

(c) All module guides provided to students, detailing course content.

(d) An Explanatory Document of no more than 3000 words, which indicates where and how in the Course, the criteria specified above are met or achieved. The document should clearly state: 1. Title of the Course; 2 Name of Training Provider with address, telephone and fax, email and website address; 3. Name and contact details of Liaison Officer; 4. Date of latest institutional validation of the course; 5. Numbers of students graduating from the Course in the past 3 years.

(e) An invoice for the initial assessment fee, currently £1,000.00, will be sent on receipt of the application.

  1. On receipt of an application an assessment will be made to determine that the application provides the requested information. If it does, the Federation will refer the application to its Accreditation Committee for formal appraisal. Within two months Committee representatives may arrange to visit the institution to examine the facilities available and to seek answers to any questions or problems identified by the Accreditation Committee. The visit will include a scheduled meeting with the Course Director and at least two other members of the teaching staff. At this stage, or if no visit is required then before completion of the validation process, a completion fee, currently £750.00, will be required. The decision of the Committee will normally be communicated to the Course Director within four months of receipt of the application for course accreditation. The decision will be one of the following:

(a) To accredit the course; or

(b) Not to accredit for clearly specified reasons relating to the failure of the course to reach the required standards; or

(c) To defer decision pending further discussion with the Course Director of minor difficulties identified by the Committee.

Accreditation will be for a period of 5 years, depending on receipt of satisfactory yearly reports being made by the Course Director. These brief Reports should give details, from the preceding year, of numbers of students progressing; material changes to structure and content of the course; staff changes and any other changes affecting accreditation requirements.

Accredited courses are subject to the professional and ethical framework of the AP, and are subject to an annual affiliation fee of £500 per annum.

AP logo

This will be made available to accredited courses.


An appeal against the decision to refuse accreditation may be made only on procedural grounds. Disagreement with the decision is not in itself grounds for an appeal. Appeals will be considered by an independent committee of Trustees of the Federation.

Applications should be sent to:

Suite 277
8 Shoplatch, 
Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SW19 1LJ

Further information

Applicants who may wish to discuss any matter before making an application should contact AP - Course Accreditation by email 


  • Bor R. & Watts M., (2006), The Trainee Handbook: a Guide for Counselling and Psychotherapy Trainees. London, Sage
  • Kulewicz S.F. (1996) The Twelve Core Functions of a Counselor, Marlborough: Counselor Publications
  • McCrady B.S. & Epstein E.E.(1999) Addictions: A Comprehensive Guidebook. London, Oxford University Press
  • Petersen T. & McBride A. (Eds.) (2002), Working with Substance Misusers: a guide to theory and practice. London, Routledge