By Marvis Stewart.
Many counselling organisations routinely expect qualified counsellors, who have spent years and thousands of pounds gaining their qualifications, to work for free, often whilst paying other member of staff. Southampton-based counsellor Marvis Stewart says this practice has to end and she is calling on the The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) is the largest membership body in the UK, to back her up.
For many years, big counselling organisations and charities have continued to advertise placements and other unpaid roles for qualified counsellors. Often these organisations receive counselling funding and pay everyone in their organisation except the counsellors who deliver the service. This is unacceptable and plain counsellor exploitation.
The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) is the largest membership body in the UK. Every year its members can submit motions and resolutions for the BACP to consider and implement. This year I, Marvis Stewart, submitted a resolution seconded by Maria Albertsen asking the BACP to clearly communicate with counselling organisations the need for qualified counsellors to receive a salary for their work. Many people accessing free therapy from counselling organisations and charities believe that the counsellors offering the therapy are being paid. This is not the reality in 2022 and it needs to stop.
The resolution submitted reads as follows: “As unpaid volunteering positions aimed at BACP registered and qualified counsellors continue to be an issue within our profession, we ask that BACP takes a firm stance against counsellor exploitation. We ask that BACP communicates with organisations advertising such positions to make them aware of the value of qualified BACP members and the importance of paying counsellors a fair, decent, proportionate wage. We ask for BACP’s Workforce Employment Strategy Lead to engage with these organisations in order to send a clear message that BACP does not support unpaid work for their qualified members.”
The resolution clearly asks BACP to advocate for its member’s best interest. Qualified counsellors are professionals who also have financial responsibilities and simply cannot work for free. It is important that members of the public become aware of this systemic issue that affects thousands of counsellors. Members of the public who access therapy are encouraged to ask whether the counsellor delivering their service is getting paid for their work. Qualified counsellors receiving a salary for their work is not an unreasonable ask, especially now as the UK is going through a cost-of-living crisis.
BACP members can vote for this year’s only resolution until Friday, November 11th at 1:00 pm. They have the opportunity to shape the direction in which BACP advocates for its members. Maria and I hope that members do not vote against their own interests.
Marvis Stewart is a Southampton-based qualified and experienced humanistic counsellor and BACP member. You can find her on Twitter and follow the campaign here.
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