UK Counsellors working together to end the culture and prevalence of unpaid work within our profession.
Counsellors Together UK started as a Facebook group discussing the prevalence of qualified counsellors being expected to work for free. The discussion has continued to grow into working together to campaign and bring an end to unpaid work within our profession. Today, the group comprises over 3900 members and is growing every day. We’ve now evolved into a campaigning group with several goals:
- To challenge the culture and prevalence of the counselling profession being expected to work without being paid.
- To see an end to the routine use of qualified counsellors volunteering to deliver counselling services in organisations and agencies across the country.
- To ensure counsellors are valued and seen worthy of fair remuneration for their work.
- To end the financial hardship and emotional duress suffered by many counsellors who feel they have no choice but to continue to volunteer or work for free, once qualified.
- To campaign and advocate for counselling as a route to emotional and mental well-being in children, young people and adults.
- To publicise the challenges that counsellors face, in order to raise awareness; and influence social, political and economic change; working with and on behalf of our 3600+ members.
The actions we intend to take in order to deliver our goals include:
– Conducting research
– Lobbying membership bodies
– Lobbying local and national governmental departments
– Raising public awareness
– Collaborating with other counsellors and counselling organisations.
If you are a UK counsellor or therapist you can join in a more confidential discussion over on our Facebook page here.
Counsellors Together UK was set up by Maria Albertsen in July 2017. She realised that many of her counsellor colleagues were living in poverty. Many were being expected to provide a much needed and often lifesaving counselling service to others while working as volunteers in agencies and organisations across the country. Many counsellors and psychotherapists were struggling financially due to the exploitation they faced when expected to work for free. This issue was highlighted further when Maria posted her concerns on social media. She received over 300 responses from counsellors agreeing that this was a major and complex problem.
It is apparent to many counsellors that our training, expertise and profession are being widely exploited. What we know is that many counsellors are struggling to survive, to support their families. Some are needing to access local food banks, whilst working for free and hoping that their voluntary work will one day turn into paid work.
On the back of this discussion, Maria set up the Facebook group Counsellors Together UK to give therapists a space to discuss these issues. Today we have over 3600 members all dedicated to working together to end the prevalent expectation that they will continue to work for free.
What we can achieve together
One of our achievements to date was when, in November 2017, our members proposed a resolution to the British Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (BACP). The BACP is the largest membership organisation for counsellors in Europe. Some members were angry that the BACP continued to advertise for organisations looking to ‘employ’ qualified counsellors to work for free.
Our resolution asked that the BACP would stop this practice. The resolution had overwhelming support and the BACP had no option but to uphold it at their AGM. They confirmed that from April 2017, they would no longer allow organisations to advertise to ’employ’ qualified counsellors to work for free. You can read more about this in our News section here.
Since the resolution was passed, we are delighted that other professional membership bodies, such as the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), have followed suit.
We have many more projects and campaigns planned for the future which we will keep you updated about over in the News section.
We want to influence change
We know that by working together we can influence change. We can work towards ensuring that counsellors are paid for the work they do; and are valued and respected as a profession. Counsellors undertake professional training for many years, which is demanding both academically and personally. Counsellors and psychotherapists are not people who sit and have friendly chats over a cup of tea, as some would suggest. We are highly qualified, educated and skilled people. We often work with the most vulnerable people in society. We help individuals and communities to change, gain mental health / well-being; and often save lives as we do so. At the very least we demand to be paid for the work that we do, like other highly qualified professionals.
If you are a counsellor, psychotherapist or other related professional and are living in the UK; and you would like to become involved then please do join us. You can register to take part in the discussion here on the Forum or join our Facebook group here. You can also find us on Twitter.
We are also interested in hearing experiences and opinions from the general public and invite you to also join us here to share your views.
If you would like to make a monetary donation to help fund the campaign work we do, then you can click on the ‘Donate’ button on this page. All money raised go towards running costs, campaign work and admin duties, with all profits being used to benefit our members and the wider community.
We look forward to hearing from you all.
The CTUK Team