What would happen if Counsellors Together UK didn’t exist?

Counsellors Together UK has now been operating for two years. We started off as a small group whose main aim was to challenge the prevalence and culture of unpaid work in the counselling professions, and we are now a group of over 5,000 people from around the U.K.

In the last two years we have had much success, but that hasn’t come without a continuous fight which we have had to endure with a lot of people trying to knock us down. I personally, have had to deal with unwarranted statements across social media as well as being approached and questioned, unsolicited, by managerial members of the counselling and psychotherapy professional bodies.

To me, it is very clear that the main reason we have had to fight hard, and deal with the flack we have received is because we are fighting against the system, a conservative system of oppression which operates to maintain the status quo and excludes those who are deemed, perhaps indirectly, unconsciously or even consciously, as less than….. including women, BEM, LGBTQ, working class groups, those with disabilities, amongst others. It is well known that the counselling and Psychotherapy professions are dominated by older middle class white women, and that those who earn the most are older white men. Of course, there are the exceptions to this, but we need to create a future where opportunities within the profession are open to anyone and everyone, and for me, this starts with ensuring that people are paid for the work they do. If we don’t pay people to work then how on earth can they then go on to progress into research, teaching, and so on, and begin to tackle all these existing inequalities. The profession as it stands is inclusive to some and exclusive to many. It is my aim to ensure that at CTUK we are inclusive of everyone, and that we work at a grass roots level to ensure this.

Recently people have questioned the validity and necessity of Counsellors Together UK. I actually welcome this questioning as to me it shows that people are taking notice of us and the work we are doing. Being questioned allows us to in turn question ourselves and become even more focused in our mission.

So instead of trying to explain again why CTUK exists, let’s instead take a look at what would happen if we did not exist.

  • There’d be no community of counsellors able to work together towards our common goal – campaigning to ensure counsellors are paid for the work they do
  • Thousands of counsellors would continue to feel they didn’t have a voice, or anybody standing up for their interests.
  • There’d be no common voice to call out member organisations who seek to exploit their members by encouraging the current ‘no-pay’ situation.
  • Members would be individually unaware of how many others feel the same as they do.
  • There’d be no hub for sharing information and best practice (as well as exposing worst practice).
  • If we didn’t exist, there wouldn’t be anyone trying to organise and challenge the big organisations, such as BACP, UKCP, NCS and BPC.
  • We speak up. Before CTUK many groups existed, but where were they? It is only after the formation of CTUK that other similar groups have become more formal. Our existence has mobilised other groups to speak out (whether they honour and include us is an entirely different matter) but our presence and our collective voice of a 5000+ strong membership, gets things done simply by being here (now).
  • We have had the outstanding quick impact that we’ve had because we have taken something that gets argued about often on a theoretical and academic level, and taken it to actual action.
  • Membership bodies are reporting record numbers of motions and resolutions being submitted, mostly by our members, which I think is happening as people feel supported to take this action.

Quite simple, if our group didn’t exist, there would be no cohesive public voice representing the true feelings of counsellors about their exploitation and being forced to work for free.

I think it is also important to acknowledge that CTUK are a that woman-led organisation. This is unlike any other similar organisation, where men continue to dominate. We didn’t set up this way intentionally, but each male we have approached to be involved has politely declined our offer, and we have been targeted on social media and questioned about our validity because of this, with people (men) asking us how, without men, we can possible represent the profession, whilst declining our invitation to become involved. So, I have decided to celebrate the fact we are a women led organisation, because we have stood up and gone against the grain, making a stand to represent Counsellors who are less privileged, and that includes women.

I believe that CTUK are leading the way. We are standing up and demanding people are treated with the respect they deserve, and that starts with being paid for the work we do. We are fighting for the profession to be inclusive of everyone, and perhaps most importantly, while there is a lot of noise being made by many people about similar issues and a lot of people are talking….. we are not only talking, but WE are doing the work.

I’m proud of CTUK, what we have achieved and what we plan to achieve. The next step is to launch our local networking groups and really get to know our members and be in a position to influence on both a local and national level.

Thank you to all who are involved and continue to offer their support. We need you, we adore you, let’s keep up this fight.

Maria ❤️

P.s. that’s Tara and I on the beach this weekend scheming and planning ??