The Cycle of Counsellor Exploitation – Counsellors Together UK – working together to end the prevalence of unpaid work within our profession.
1. Counsellors pay thousands of pounds to train and often end up in debt. As well as course fees, they also have to pay for insurance, personal therapy (often mandatory), clinical supervision and membership body fees. This can leave newly qualified counsellors with debts over £45k.
2. Whilst training counsellors usually have to complete at least 100 hours of face to face clinical work. This is usually delivered via an unpaid trainee placement.
3. Placement providers, including private businesses, statutory services & charities, use trainees to deliver their counselling services and often require counsellors to pay their own supervision, travel expenses, etc. This means they actually pay to volunteer!
4. Once a trainee finishes their placement there is no paid work for them as all of the services continue to run on trainee volunteers; as services simply rotate trainee cohorts.
5. Many charities operate in this way, paying most staff except the counsellors delivering the service.
6. There are some paid jobs, but employers almost always ask for counsellors to be accredited with a membership body such as the BACP. Counsellors have to pay over £200 per application for accreditation.
7. Some membership bodies such as BACP and COSCA require counsellors to have completed several hundred hours (450) of clinical practice to be eligible for accreditation. This can take several years to gain.
8. Charities and organisations often advertise for volunteer counsellors by promoting the opening as a way for them to ‘gain hours towards accreditation.’ This is after they have qualified and been deemed fit to practice.
9. This often means that post qualification counsellors then need to work an extra 3-5 years voluntary part-time around other work, so they can become accredited and actually be in a position to apply for paying jobs!
10. Membership bodies make a lot of money from the accreditation process. Colleges working alongside membership bodies take in trainees and fail to prepare them for this reality whilst gaining money from the students for training them. Charities and organisations who use volunteers in this exploitative way often pay other staff salaries while the counsellors work for free. Counsellors are being discriminated against. We deserve to be paid for the work we do.