158 – BACP Special: Employment for Counsellors

158 - BACP Special: Employment for Counsellors

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During the academic breaks, the Counselling Tutor Podcast returns periodically with special editions - and in this last podcast of the current season, Rory Lees-Oakes talks to Kris Ambler (Workforce Lead) at the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) about how the professional body is seeking to enhance employment for counsellors and psychotherapists. Finding paid work as a counsellor is a frequently occurring topic in our Facebook group.

Kris describes his role at the BACP, explaining that the professional body is working hard to represent the voice of counsellors and psychotherapists to employers in the private, public and third (charitable) sectors. It is keen to drive growth in paid job opportunities for counsellors.

Kris and his team also work to support individual BACP members with business issues.

Examples of interventions aimed to enhance employment opportunities for counsellors that Kris has been involved in include:

  • being contacted by an employer/organisation that is designing and implementing a wellbeing plan, and needs to know how best to employ counsellors or to access their skills
  • supporting bodies that represent groups of businesses, e.g. the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) in creating packages of support and toolkits to support mental wellbeing in the workplace
  • working with the John Lewis Partnership's Working Well Coalition to campaign to cabinet ministers on the policy changes needed in this area.

The linking theme in all projects is the importance of ensuring that employers understand the value of counsellors' contribution to workplace wellbeing.

Rory and Kris explore current challenges in the world of counselling and psychotherapy, both those dating from before the current COVID-19 pandemic and those that have resulted from this. These include:

  • rising depression rates in millennials
  • understanding of why some people don't seek support when they need it
  • high suicide ideation and rates in the construction industry and the farming community
  • campaigns for greater investment in psychological wellbeing, to match the increased interest in mental health.

Many counsellors these days have portfolio careers, e.g. combining private practice with employee assistance provider (EAP) work.

Kris works to support practitioners within this mixed economy, for example:

  • disseminating news of public-sector contracts for counselling services
  • providing information on portals with which to register to see future opportunities
  • educating therapists on public-procurement processes to enable them to apply for these
  • encouraging individual practitioners and small counselling providers to form consortia to apply for service contracts
  • addressing the challenges of working from home (especially during the pandemic)
  • campaigning for fair pay (e.g. equal rates for telephone and face-to-face work from EAPs).

That's all, folks, for this season - but the Counselling Tutor team will be back in the new academic year.


  1. Margaret Heap

    That was interesting, thanks Kris, it is nice to know that the BACP have our backs 🙂

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