** National Counsellors’ Day Awards 2020 **

This year we launched our first awards aimed at counsellors and those championing counselling. It is an idea that has not gone without some contention but the responses we have had once the ball got rolling have made all the planning and effort worthwhile.

What we wanted to do with these awards was to celebrate counsellors for the work they do and present examples of good practice so we can highlight excellence in the field. Being online and watching the responses to the winners has shown us this is exactly what has been happening. No jealousy or in-fighting, just pure unadulterated pride in each other. We can’t wait to open up the application process again for next year!

With that in mind, we heard your feedback to the application process this year and we will be working on building something more streamlined for next year.

Now, without further ado, here are our 2020 winners.


And a massive thank you to all who sent in nominations.

** 2020 Winners **

Best Private Practice: Counselling by Jane & Animal Assisted Therapy Services.

Counselling by Jane & Animal Assisted Therapy Services was chosen to win Best Private Practice because it encompasses all the values of counselling and marries them with innovation and good business acumen.

The therapeutic approach combines pet and animal therapy with an integrative and creative approach that supports a wide range of clients through various difficulties. The business has changed and innovated since its inception to accommodate for the needs of those trying to access support. An approach that continues to be successful and the business has generated many positive reviews.

The owner continues to expand her skills and therefore what she offers to clients with further plans to specialise and innovate.

Best New Private Practice: The Carvalho Consultancy

One of the things that makes a great business is the owner’s ability to spot a gap in the market and utilise that gap to provide a service that is needed and financially viable. It began with an offer of support to family lawyers and has grown into a multifaceted service for lawyers and those seeking their services. Whats more, The Carvalho Consultancy stands out for its future planning; holding a good mix of what is a sensible expansion within the current remit and a sprinkle of ambition beyond that.

We look forward to seeing what the future holds for them.

Most Inspirational volunteer counsellor: Claire Francis

We are proud to be able to award this accolade to Clare. Volunteers are usually kind and giving people and she is no exception. She balances her time in private practice with voluntary hours offered to Macmillian and her testimonials speak for themselves.

Best training Institute: Northamptonshire Centre for Counselling Studies

The Northamptonshire Centre for Counselling studies really stood out against the other nominations as being the gold standard of equality and diversity. From the moment that prospective students apply right through to their graduation, they are accommodated for and supported to lessen the barriers against them achieving success in academia and counselling.

The centre carefully considers the challenges facing counsellors in the current climate and works hard to reduce them including adding specialist modules to educate trainees prior to entering placement within that speciality. They have active discussions around volunteer culture, self-worth as a practitioner and awareness of multiple membership bodies to allow for a truly voluntary choice.

They are a growing centre that plans to build upon its guest speaker programme and a post-graduation scheme to keep students in contact within that first year of practice.

Supervisor of the Year: Dr Lisa Thomas-Gray

It is clear from the information shared in her nomination that Dr Thomas-Gray embodies the qualities that we look for in a supervisor. She is able to mitigate against any inherent power dynamics to help her supervisees to feel on equal footing and she shows an aptitude for supervisee development.

“Dr Lisa Thomas-Gray has been my supervisor for just over a year now. Within my supervision she shows that she cares not just about the professional side of me but also checking in with any personal factors that may affect my workload. During supervision she has helped me work through factors that I have found difficult both personally and professionally. She also encourages me to think about any transference or counter-transference that may have come up and I feel that she is helping me to be more aware of these factors. She also sets goals and learning points to help me develop, such as suggesting authors or papers to read and advising me of any extra training that is available to me. Although she is my manager, I feel that during my supervision we approach each other on the same level, this encourages me to be honest with her as I do not feel any power difference. I am not afraid or worried about bringing up difficult topics with her. I truly believe that without her support I would not be at the stage that I am within my career and would not have commenced training as a counselling psychologist and I feel she deserves recognition for the work that she does.”

Researcher of the year: Dr Peter Blundell

Already recognised by the BACP in 2019 for his research into boundaries, Dr Blundell utilises social media to open up access to his research topic and related themes. He regularly makes comment on boundaries and harms in therapy – a contentious but necessary topic to keep pulling into the light. He also champions the research of others and for these reasons, he was chosen as researcher of the year 2020.

Product of the year: Mood Cards by Andrea Harrn

I suspect this was an easy choice for our members to make. These cards, and the product line that has since grown from them, have greatly improved the emotional literacy and emotional expression of clients around the world over the years.
You can find the whole line here: http://www.andreaharrn.co.uk/publications/

Recommended read: Daring Greatly – Brene Brown

Brene Brown became well known through her research into courage and shame. She is well known in the counselling field as well as trauma survivor groups. I (Tara) first heard about her not long after this book was first published. Her words were revolutionary and validating. For survivors of sexual trauma who are told to be stoic to show courage, yet secretly working with therapists and peer groups to try to be vulnerable to heal; her words gave me, us, something I still struggle to find words for. So to have it chosen by our members as their recommended read is extra exciting for me. She now has a whole selection of books that would be good on any wish-list but definitely start with this one.

Book of the year – professional read: Maybe you should talk to someone by Lori Gottlieb

With 81% of the amazon reviews for this book being 5 stars, it’s clear that Lori’s exploration of counselling has touched many readers.

Maybe you should talk to someone blends the stories of Lori’s patients with tales from her own personal sessions. It’s this mix that has attracted a following from the professional community as well as anyone struggling through their emotional distress.

Book of the year – student choice: First steps in Counselling by Pete Sanders

What makes a good student book? Engaging, accessible, the right amount of information to pass course criteria ? ? There are a lot of textbooks in counselling but not many of them over a broad education to the field that is both engaging and accessible. Counselling courses are unlike many others because they take people from all walks of life and levels of education and try to bring them all together. This can be a challenge to write for and many textbooks fail at it even when they meet all the academic criteria.

Congratulations to Pete on this achievement and for being CTUK member’s student choice 2020.

Counsellor of the year: Dr Peter Blundell

The winner of this award was chosen from the shortlisted nominees. It was an easy choice to pick Peter due to the success he has had in building up the Therapists Connect community. It all began with a simple tweet that snowballed into the incredible movement that it is now. It is excited to watch and support this initiative and all of those involved in the success of Therapists Connect.

CTUK member of the year: Victoria Tefler-smith

We value all of our members and their commitment to the causes we champion but one member stood out for us this year and that member was Victoria.

She was our most engaged member on our Facebook group but beyond that she is usually one of the first to put up her hand to something. From spreading the campaign messages to getting stuck into our events or offering to write for us. It is members like Victoria who have helped us to gain the successes we have had over the last 3 years.

Most inspirational campaigner/activist: Stormzy
Best public figure promoting mental health: Professor Green

You can find our more on our website www.nationalcounsellorsday.co.uk