At a recent Sensitive Claims Advisory Group meeting, ACC announced that they will now accept Australian and New Zealand Arts Therapy Association (ANZATA) as a recognised professional body for arts therapist/counsellors wanting to provide services to ACC. The Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) of New Zealand have for many years provided counselling and psychotherapy services to sexual abuse survivors, and those who have mental health issues following physical injury in recognition that these events can be viewed under their legislation as something that is not the 'fault' of the claimant. As many New Zealand therapists will be aware, ACC have been undergoing a long consultation process with a view to changing the way that sexual abuse survivors receive assistance with counselling and psychotherapy going forward. The 2009 'Clinical Pathway' model was a difficult experience for both clients and therapists alike, resulting in significant decreases in service provision for clients in desperate need of help, and in many therapists walking away from ACC because of the multitude of ethical and professional issues created by the so called research-based services ACC was offering to clients.
The original ACC legislation was written that only New Zealand based professional bodies were accepted for ACC registered counsellors, forcing many of our arts therapy graduates to join an additional professional body such as New Zealand Association of Counsellors (NZAC).
The good news, after many years of careful negotiations, and some long and hard conversations over the last 18 months or so, is that ACC is now recognising that there is a significant body of international research which points to creative therapies as being highly effective in working with people affected by trauma.
This is particularly significant and exciting for arts therapists working with survivors of sexual violence. Whitecliffe Arts Therapy Head of Department and President of ANZATA Amanda Levey notes that it has taken a lot of years to achieve this status, but finally, she says “we can register with ACC without having to compromise and pay to join another professional body such as NZAC or NZAP as well as our own.” Tania Blomfield, Whitecliffe graduate and Arts Therapy faculty member was instrumental in this achievement, and is the first ACC approved counsellor that has applied with ANZATA membership. Amanda recently headed to Wellington to meet with ACC and the other professional bodies that they deal with to work together to develop a Memorandum of Understanding that will facilitate the relationship between ACC and the professional bodies.