Counsellors Together UK Newsletter (Issue 8, June 2020)

Page 1

Newsletter June 2020 Issue 8


This Month Letter from the Editor

Featured Issue NCD Awards 2020

National Counsellors' Day 2020

CTUK News Building a more inclusive environment Success in the papers Professional Indemnity insurance: Public Protection?

What else is happening in Counselling and Psychotherapy? Article: CPCAB: Who wins in the CPCAB-BACP collaboration? Confusion at the BACP Research in progress: BACP, Therapy Meets Numbers;Â Article: Teletherapy - From a client's Perspective

More from CTUK National Counsellors Day 2021 Win with CTUK It's our birthday!!

Find us here On our website: Page:


Private Group:

@counsellors_together_uk Written by Tara Shennan, CTUK Admin. June 2020

Letter from the

Editor Dear members, If you're unsure how to move forward at the moment; don't worry you're not alone. As I write this Leicester are contemplating having a localised lock-down, those experiencing the most restrictive lock-down are having to shield until 1st August and the World Health Organisation have put out a statement to say 'The worst is yet to come." Far from comforting words! It's also really clear that not all of us will be privileged enough to return to some semblance of normality any time soon. Privilege, diversity, discrimination, inclusion and exclusion are all themes very much on our minds right now. Black Lives Matter, the impact of the pandemic on the poorest of our society and a government that had to be shamed into providing food for children. There's much to be raging about but often not many places to express that rage, and protests can be tricky for professionals wishing to avoid recriminations from their professional bodies. In this issue we touch lightly on the theme of inclusion and we outline some changes happening at CTUK to reduce exclusion. This issue is a homage to our annual celebration of counsellors and counselling; National Counsellors Day. The 2nd year being as magical as the first, I hope you were able to catch some of the day either at the actual conference or through the interactions on various social media platforms. And the celebrations do not end there as Counsellors Together UK turn 3 on the 6th July 2020 and we plan on celebrating with you at our online birthday party!! Cake is not mandatory for attendance but probably preferable. We have some prizes to giveaway and can't wait to have fun together . Â

Warmest Wishes, Tara Shennan

Photo taken at 2019 event

Last year marked the launch of the first National Counsellors Day. We celebrated the event with a conference at the University of Lincoln. We had around 70 delegates and despite some fears of flooding, Lincoln gave us a beautifully sunny weekend.

The theme was loosely based on the future of counselling and psychotherapy but it was clear that there was a great thirst for events that were thought-provoking and showcased our sector's dirty secrets. The desire for such events led us to the theme of our 2020 conference:

Social & Political Issues in Counselling & Psychotherapy All of the speakers at our event this year represented the unspoken issues within our field. They are all passionate about the topics they brought and it was an honour to host them. The event was going to be held in London this year but due to the lock-down restrictions, that was going to be impossible. Luckily for us, Onlinevents were able to host our event. This meant that so many more of you were able to attend and benefit from the presentations on offer. By the time ticket sales had closed, over 1000 people had bought a ticket.Â

So many of you sent messages of gratitude for being able to attend online and so we have chosen to be online next year and back again with Onlinevents hosting. They did an excellent job and the whole day ran smoothly because of the team working in the background throughout the day.



IAPT and the "uberisation" of mental health services Dr Elizabeth Cotton started the day off with a discussion on the direction of therapeutic services. In particular, the increasing danger of us hurtling towards UberTherapy; a mix of digitisation, standardisation and automation. It's difficult (and horrifying) to imagine a fully digitised IAPT service with the very real potential of automated diagnosis. But that is the risk we are hurtling towards. A change only sped up by the digitisation that Covid-19 made necessary to most NHS mental health services. Perhaps the only saving grace right now is that we still have a small window of opportunity to challenge this. Write to your MPs! CTUK will be posting a template into the facebook group that people can then email to their local MP. You can read more about Dr Cotton and her research here: and

Extinction rebellion: The potential impact of civil disobedience upon professional conduct hearings Dr Philip Cox explained the ways in which the institutions we work with that purport to support us can, in fact, work against us. You may even remember the lack of clarity given to members of professional bodies around the time of the climate change protests. It may be shocking to realise but we are not protected from restrictions being imposed upon us under the guise of “bringing profession into disrepute� if we get involved with protests. Dr Cox implored us to think about the impact of that; on us, on the people we work with and fight for. If our membership bodies cannot support us, we become limited and fearful of supporting and advocating for our clients. The end result being that we cannot fulfil all of the criteria on the ethical frameworks we sign up to. Dr Cox was happy to share his email for anyone who has seen/will see his presentation and wishes to contact him:



Dropping The Disorder! – Challenging the medicalisation of emotional distress in counselling and psychotherapy Jo Watson spoke about the harms of our diagnostic culture that more often views psychological distress through the lens of illness than it does through a lens of trauma understanding. It can be challenging to listen to because it forces us to take a good look at where we are in this. Counsellors are as guilty as the next person of being indoctrinated into this model of psychological distress. We do training that looks at how to deal with symptoms of trauma (often more than any actual trauma training). The language is so ingrained we often aren’t aware of how we perpetuate these ideas even when we don’t intend to. Jo's book 'Drop the disorder' covers the topic in more depth and is available to buy from PCCS books

Debunking Gender Identity – A Reflective Guide to Gender Identity Counselling. Also exploring the impact of language, Mason Webb ushered us into the afternoon sessions with a thought-provoking presentation of their experience of gender. Mason speaks with an openness that allows for a difference of opinion; something which is sorely missing from many conversations around gender identity. They implored us to examine our own gender identity. This is a necessary examination in the exploration of self even with those of us happy with our gender presentation and not feeling oppressed for gender difference or conformity.

Mason's book 'A reflective guide to Gender Identity Counselling' is available from all good stockists



Let’s Get Uncomfortable Encounters We ended the day on what was, by chance, the most challenging segment of all. Pretish Raja-Helm (of Aashna) opened up a discussion to examine race, ethnicity, culture and power within the field of counselling and psychotherapy. Following the opening we then heard from Neelam who vulnerably shared an experience of racism during a training event. This disclosure became the catalyst for some quite challenging discussions between the volunteers and between participants in the comments box. It is apt that Pretish’s work is entitiled ‘Let’s get uncomfortable’ as it clearly was uncomfortable for people to have their views and self-perceptions challenged.This is what we wanted from the day and from the speakers. All the chosen talks were chosen to shake things up a little. There are challenges in our sector that require our attention. That attention cannot be given if we are not made aware of them.

Compere The day was held together by the grace and skill of Caz Binstead. She interviewed both Maria and Jo for our pre-recorded segments as well as seamlessly handing off between speakers and other admin of the day. Caz Binstead is a registered therapist and supervisor. She runs a busy private practice is London, and in her career, has enjoyed writing, teaching and supervising for the profession. Caz enjoys giving back to her profession, and is proud to sit on the BACP (British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy) Private Practice Committee, as a Divisional Executive. It is also why she is absolutely delighted to have been asked to be compère for this event – National Counsellors’ Day, indeed a day for celebration!

National Counsellors Day Headline Sponsor

I'm Registered with another organisation, what can the NCS do for me? Alongside our unique ethos, we have a range of membership benefits for anyone joining the Society. If you have a membership with another organisation that holds Accredited Register status under the Professional Standards Authority, we will be able to recognise the process you have already gone through in order to obtain membership. We will provide an equivalent grade to membership with the Society, for example, you will need to hold registrant status in order to be placed on the Society Register. This avoids needless completion of additional paperwork as some verification will already be in place via your existing membership (please note you will need to complete an application form, filling out only the necessary sections as guided by signposting for those who hold membership elsewhere and would like the equivalent membership grade).Unfortunately, if your membership is not obtained via another Accredited Register organisation, we will not be able to offer equivalent routes to membership as we are unable to verify their standards.

I'm a student, what can the NCS do for me? Student membership with the NCS is open to anyone studying a counselling course which would be compatible with the Society Code of Ethics, irrespective of whether such course is recognised by the Society.Student members of the NCS receive a wide range of benefits including: Reduced Supervision Fees Reduced Personal Counselling Fees Full access to the members' area of the website which includes good practice guidance and other useful information Access to a placement listings page Up to 30% off with selected book publishers As a student member of the Society, you can apply for the TOTUM card (previously known as NUS Extra). We charge the same membership fee of £105 for all membership levels and we do not charge any upgrade fee if you wish to apply for an upgrade. (The usual one-off £45 joining fee is not applicable for students on NCS recognised courses)

National Counsellors Day Sponsors

NCD Awards 2020 Those of you following our private Facebook group will know that the concept of having awards that were linked to the celebration of National Counsellors Day was something we floated when planning the first event. With people unsure of the idea of a National Counsellors Day, it felt like the wrong time to launch the awards. It may seem strange now, but even only 18 months ago people were still unsure of celebrating just counsellors. Or to view rewarding success as a negative that brings down others. But that is how ingrained some of the messages are that we receive about our worth as professionals. The next challenge was what exactly to give an award in. Perhaps our most contentious section was the one aiming to give awards in the voluntary sector but excellence should be recognised there too. We are particularly keen to reward good practice in organisations that are using volunteers and hope that without the chaos of covid-19, we will receive more interest in these areas next year. When the response to our first conference was so positive, we decided to launch our awards alongside the second conference. The plan was always to do an online announcement as although there was more support, people were still too wary of a full gala event. It's been challenging to launch something so divisive but here at CTUK we are not new to controversy. Thankfully, people did want to get involved and nominate themselves and others. The reactions people had online really speak for themselves and I'm glad we took the risk because the payoff has been worth it...and I'm not just saying that because I was the lucky person telling people they had won! Following our #nationalcounsellorsday2020 on Twitter, I got to watch the shared pride cousnellors had in seeing their twitter friends win awards. Or strangers bonding over the proud announcements. THAT is the community spirit we always aimed for with these awards and thank you so much to all who got involved.

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

Awards Winners 2020 Best Private Practice: Counselling by Jane & Animal Assisted Therapy Services Best New Private Practice: The Carvalho Consultancy Most Inspirational volunteer counsellor: Claire Francis Best training Institute: Northamptonshire Centre for Counselling Studies Supervisor of the Year: Dr Lisa Thomas-Gray Researcher of the year: Dr Peter Blundell Product of the year: Mood Cards by Andrea Harrn Recommended read: Daring Greatly – Brene Brown Book of the year – professional read: Maybe you should talk to someone by Lori Gottlieb Book of the year – student choice: First steps in Counselling by Pete Sanders Counsellor of the year: Dr Peter Blundell CTUK member of the year: Victoria Tefler-smith Most inspirational campaigner/activist: Stormzy Best public figure promoting mental health: Professor Green

Find out more about why they were chosen here:

Our commitment to improving accessibility

This month we renewed our commitment to diversity and inclusion issues. Our Facebook group now has a 'Unit' where we can save all the posts related to discrimination. You can find it under the 'Diversity and Inclusion' unit. So far we have had a selection of posts related to racism and disabilities. Our plan is to build a large resources for members to access. There has been a long running tradition of Facebook groups and organisations closing down conversations related to these topics (particularly racism) because the topics can become heated. Whilst it may be necessary to moderate these conversations more heavily to protect the vulnerable from abuse, simply closing down the conversation is not the answer. It is about as effective as "black-out Tuesday" where white people simply put black boxes on their social media but failed to amplify any black voices. It achieved nothing in the form of education or awareness. Another consequence of silence is that beliefs are not challenged and we all remain in a defensive space inside our own bubbles. This was evident in the 'Let's get uncomfortable' workshop presented at our conference. It was difficult to get past the othering of the "bad" therapist as a villain and not like us "good" therapists and trainers. Which created a split dynamic with some seeking to rescue the bad therapist and others othering her to the point of being unable to see how they might make a similar mistake. It's okay to have these reactions; they are our defences after all, but the point is to keep the conversation going so we move beyond those defences. This is why we are, once again, going against the grain and actively inviting these topics into our group. Away from the more challenging end of the scale is accessibility. We know we need to improve on this so we have made a pledge to the following: Add image descriptions to all images on our social media Add transcripts and/or subtitles to all video/sound content Future events will seek to accommodate the accessibility needs of all attendees including and not limited to disabilities and fat-friendly venues. We won't get this perfect straightaway so please send us suggestions if you feel we are falling short somewhere.

Challenging the headlines

Members score another victory in fair representation of counsellors and counselling

CTUK members and admin were at the forefront of challenging journalistic misinformation when the major news outlets reported that Prince William was a secret counsellor for the SHOUT crisis text service. Across social media, Glenna and CTUK members spoke out to clear up the confusion and with the help of the SHOUT PR team, the headlines were amended to correctly reflect the role of those volunteers. Huge thank you to everyone who got involved in this. Once again, it demonstrates that we DO have a voice and we DO have the power to affect change, no matter how small that change may feel. Well done!

Professional Indemnity Insurance PUBLIC PROTECTION?

Since discovering that some membership bodies give membership levels that allow for the insurance to practice regardless of qualification level or quality, CTUK have been looking at ways this can be addressed. It is a multi-factorial issue and as such will require addressing from many angles. One of which is contacting insurance companies to inform them of the risk they potentially take when insuring someone under-qualified to practice. The below is the email being sent out. We will update as we get responses.

To whom this may concern, My name is Tara Shennan and I am the Project Manager of Counsellors’ Together UK. It recently came to our attention that professional indemnity insurance is being given to counsellors whose qualifications do not meet the agreed standards to practice in the UK. Although the sector is not under statutory regulation, there are standards with which the majority of membership bodies adhere to. The first being that a counsellor is unable to practice with the general public until they are on a course that meets a minimum set of requirements before qualification. These courses also have additional requirements such as a clinical supervisor and CPD hours. All the membership bodies that are on the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) Accredited Registers programme have at least this requirement; a few require a much higher level of education and training. The ACCPH (accredited counsellors, coaches, psychotherapists and hypnotherapists) membership does NOT meet this basic requirement. Providing insurance to members of this organisation and other memberships not on the PSA Accredited Registers programme may be putting your company at higher risk. People can do a short online course which is below all sector standards; lacking supervision, practical experience and thorough ethics training. The problem extends beyond the ACCPH and there are hundreds of online courses that falsely claim people can become a counsellor with very little training or cost. It would be best practice to protect the public and yourselves from liability if you reconsidered your criterion for providing insurance to state that members should either be a member (or student member) of a membership on the PSA accredited registers programme.

BACP collaboration What about the students?

Mere months after confirming the word volunteering would be removed from the syllabus of their level 4 diploma and some centres began allowing students to pick their own membership body, the CPCAB announce a collaboration which could deepen the entrenchment of the volunteering culture and once again end student autonomy.

For those of you unaware of the qualification structure at CPCAB, the level 4 qualification only explicitly prepares students for working in an organisation. If those students wish to work in private practice they have to complete a further qualification or collect an indeterminate amount of "experience" and be signed off by a supervisor. This all seems reasonable enough but where do the CPCAB expect their graduates to earn this experience in paid employment when the sector still heavily favours those qualified counsellors with individual accreditation (450+ hours). The answer is via volunteering which makes the change to their course syllabus nothing more than a performative gesture. Of course, this is before we really examine what this collaboration is doing to each of these training centres. The CPCAB is a large training organisation and they have now signed up to become a glorified holding pen for BACP student members. A move which requires the individual centre managers to also become BACP members. Yet when challenged on this, CPCAB claim it is a choice to sign up. They say this knowing that people may lose income if they don't follow suit. We are still waiting for BACP to confirm what an Approved Practitioner is and to confirm the implications for these students who don't meet individual accreditation standards. More on that on the next page.

Confusion at the bacp Registrant entry requirements When researching basic entry requirements to build the letter for the insurance companies, it came to light that there are some policies at the BACP which may and actually do see some students fall through the gaps. To apply for individual accreditation with the BACP, registrants need to have qualified on a course which had a minimum of 450 tutor contact hours. There is no specific number of hours to join the BACP, which means courses like the CPCAB can get you onto the register but with an average of 420 tutor contact hours, you cannot progress to a higher membership level. Particularly pertinent if the basic structure of SCoPEd remains the same in its second iteration. It is with this in mind that Tara contacted the BACP to clarify their position on this and on their collaboration. At the time of print, a reply had not been received but, as ever, we will keep you updated. To whom this may concern, I hope you're all well. My name is Tara Shennan and I am the project Manager at Counsellors' Together UK.I recently became aware of a few issues that could potentially impact our BACP members and would like to be able to reassure them that their courses will remain viable without further training - especially the costs this incurs given the current climate. Points to clarify: 1. Courses that are not accredited by yourselves or meet a minimum of 450 tutor contact hours do not meet current requirements for BACP individual accreditation. Has this been understood correctly? If so, what advice does the BACP have for registered members whose course did not meet this requirement. CPCAB courses, for example, are often less than this. 2. Approved practitioner programme with CPCAB. What is an "approved practitioner"? This is clearly a different level to an accredited programme for now especially as the courses themselves are not being changed when they are substandard at level 4. They don't meet your own requirements for individual accreditation and they don't prepare counsellors for private work - although cpcab are telling students it is fine to be in private practice regardless of this because they will still get insurance. It is questionable that bacp would approve this whilst also trying to build a framework of standards to help legitimise our profession. I appreciate this may have been an unintended outcome of a scheme that is no doubt at least aiming to create standards. We are more than happy to support efforts to raise standards to allow all members an equal footing towards employment and the membership levels you offer.I look forward to hearing back from you shortly.

Archiving communications This month the BACP chose to archive their Facebook community to "take another look at our rules and processes for moderation. We also hope it will give you all an opportunity to reflect on how you get the best out of the group." Given the context of the events which led up to this action, it is unclear who exactly needs to reflect. There were a series of posts around racism that were very poorly handled and, due to that, as the situation escalated the moderating team behind the BACP group clearly felt this was getting too much to handle. But not before asking members if they want discussions on issues like racism to be included. As I said earlier in the newsletter, many organisations are simply happy to ban these conversations rather than have a real look at the processes that unpin accusations of racism or racist policies. Hopefully with the time away from the group, the team can come back better equipped to navigate emotionally charged conversations. Now more than ever we need all of our representative bodies to BE representative and allow conversations and debate.

Research in progress

Therapy meets numbers are revisiting a survey produced in 2018 to test counsellors' knowledge of the evidence for routine monitoring of outcomes. "This short quiz had its first outing at the initial training I provided for members of the BACP/Pragmatic Tracker pilot online outcome monitoring system in June 2018. ( Two of the questions relate specifically to a study from 2012 looking at how therapists rate their competence and impact." You have until the 6th July 2020 to complete. You can find the survey here: fbclid=IwAR3JPpBYCJYbKC5uSPYjkzSdDMEMC8bTNgc78vqiZcyqYmZTCDqkPUSH18I

The BACP are doing another member survey so be sure to check your inbox and junk mail for this latest survey

This latest survey wants to find out why people become BACP members, why they want accreditation and how they feel about being a BACP member. It may be best to complete this on a computer if possible as there have been some issues with getting a comment box to appear on some questions when using a mobile device.

Teletherapy: From the client's perspective

Last month we shared 2 articles on what it has been like to deliver online therapy from the perspective of counsellors. Following that publication, Sue Irwin was inspired to share her article exploring online therapy from a client's perspective. The original content is hosted at Mad in the UK so here is Sue introducing her article: Therapy from Home during the Covid Crisis - A Client Perspective Over the past three years, I've been working alongside a private therapist exploring the damaging effects of childhood abuse and trauma, and trying to pick up the pieces of a life that, for many years, hadn't seemed worth living. When lockdown restrictions were introduced, we decided together to carry on this work using video calls. It wasn't ideal for me, nor for her, but better than nothing. A few weeks in, I felt I needed to tell her that this remote way of working felt neither safe nor therapeutic for me. When she invited me to explore the problem with her, I struggled to find the words, but managed to utter something. Having put down the phone and reflecting on our conversation, I sat and turned on my laptop - my thoughts began to flow from my mind through to my fingers and within a moment I'd written few hundred words. Should you wish to read more, you'll find the full article here:

Editor's Note I can relate to a lot of the theme raised in this article. I have been in therapy for years, and with my current psychologist, 5 years to be exact. Which is to say, I am extremely familiar with the holding space of the therapy room. For better or worse, the room holds the potential to block itself off from the rest of your life. It is a container of secrets. So when we all lost that container, no matter our reasons for therapy, it was jolting. I am lucky. My partner was aware and supportive of my therapeutic pursuits. He is aware of my abusive background so there was no need to particularly hide anything. But there is a big difference between knowing the fact of abuse and overhearing the ongoing turmoil. I was still working towards bringing him into that sphere; therapy from home makes the session feel like a goldfish bowl with the client never really knowing if the session is private or if their living companions are simply being polite. There is a certain level of claustrophobia that brews. Not just from that but also because there is now no space between your life and your session. You close down the Zoom window or put down the phone and then you're immediately confronted with your life again. The move from established face to face work into distance therapy is challenging and for some this challenge is insurmountable. Remember you can submit an article or propose one by emailing


Win with CTUK Monthly Prize Draw

Each month on our public Facebook page we hold a prize draw where you could win a book or book voucher just by commenting on our post. For June we had the book, 'Why are women blamed for everything?' by forensic psychologist Dr. Jessica Taylor.

For just ÂŁ6 a month you get all of this and new benefits are being added all the time!

Access to Onlinevents CPD and certificates Discounted CPD with JHD Counselling Counselling Directory Listing Discounted website building and hosting 10% off National Counsellors Day in-person events Online interactive workshops 7 day blog challenge - A free online course Entry into a monthly prize draw for ÂŁ15 Amazon voucher 10% off Diploma in counselling children and young people Supportive private facebook group

Interested? Join us here:



for Reading!

Issue 9 comes out on the 1st August 2020 If you have any comments or suggestions for our newsletter please contact the editor at If you would like to write an article, a book review or write about your research in our newsletter, please also contact Tara.