What does it mean to be registered with the BACP?
Unfortunately, the titles ‘Counsellor’ or ‘Psychotherapist’ aren’t protected titles in the UK (unlike Nurses, Doctors or Psychologists) which means that there is no official minimum level of training required for someone to use this title. However, an indication of quality is a therapist/counsellor who is registered with a professional organisation that's been accredited by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) e.g. BACP. This means that they have undertaken formal training, have a specific experience level and are signed up to ethical and practice standards. You can check someone by name to see if they are registered via the PSA check a practitioner page.
Don’t be nervous to ask what qualifications a counsellor or therapist has. Any reputable therapist would be happy to show you their certification if required. However, if they are a member of a professional organisation you can be assured that they will have had to provide evidence of their training and are open to being audited by this organisation.
Counsellors that are members of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) are signed up to a code of ethics which can be viewed by anyone: https://www.bacp.co.uk/events-and-resources/ethics-and-standards/ethical-framework-for-the-counselling-professions/
Why is counselling so expensive?
Qualified counsellors (e.g. members of the BACP) have been through lengthy and expensive training. They have likely spent hundreds of hours volunteering their time to provide counselling for free during and after training has taken place. Being a member of a professional association like the BACP means paying membership fees, committing to regular training and supervision, which can be very expensive. A good counsellor should also be insured to carry out the work and does a lot of behind-the-scenes work (like note taking, engaging in research, reading etc.) which you don’t always see in the session with the counsellor. Counsellors in private practise usually have to spend money on advertising, website costs, insurance, and administration. Counsellors also may have to limit the amount of people they can see, as counselling can be very tiring, emotionally draining work that can be difficult to deal with on a personal level. In short, although on the face of it, sessions seem expensive, there are a lot of expenses that may be invisible to the on-looker.
Paying for your counselling gives you the choice of how many sessions, with who and what kind of counselling you want, at a time and place that suits you. I greatly encourage seeing as many as you can before making a choice on who to go with. Think of paying for counselling as investing in yourself. Most counsellors are extremely caring, motivated people who want the best for their clients and charging for sessions is the only way they can afford to provide their services.
If you can’t afford to pay for private sessions, some counsellors provide concessions and discounts for people with low income or students. Alternatively, there are ways of obtaining free counselling, the drawback being that waiting lists are often long, you get little choice of when the counselling takes place and who with, and the counselling is often provided by trainees. This being said, many trainees are very capable and some voluntary organisations provide a very good quality service. Approach your GP to see what NHS services are available to you, or search for local charities that provide counselling and give them a call.
Find out more about counselling in general here:
If you’re having trouble switching off, problems sleeping, feelings of anxiety, anger or panic, you might be suffering from stress. I’ve worked in professional office based jobs for over 10 years and know what the modern workplace can be like – relentless, stressful, soul-sucking even. I’m also a father and know that the stress doesn’t always stop when you get home from work. But what I’ve found through my experience is that there is a lot you can change from the inside that can help with this. If you’re having difficulty dealing with stress in your job or home life, counselling can help. Together we can figure out where your stress comes from and how you could deal with it differently. For some people just having an hour with someone who is listening and understands can make a world of difference.
It’s not uncommon to have a low opinion of yourself, low confidence and even feel shame about who you are. But it doesn’t have to be this way and you could be living a fuller, happier life. It isn’t selfish to seek help for yourself. Everyone deserves to believe in themselves and feel good about themselves, but I understand that this sometimes just doesn’t seem possible. If you’re ready to start feeling better about yourself, and all the advantages and improvements to your life that this brings, counselling is a great way to achieve this. Together we can take the time to understand you, and healing can take place. I have experience in working with people with low self-esteem and its fantastic to see when people start trusting, believing and caring about themselves.
Autism / Asperger’s Spectrum
If you have a diagnosis of Autism or Asperger’s, I understand social situations can be hard and counselling might seem pretty daunting. If you find it hard to talk to people, how can you be expected to go for talking therapy? The truth is it can be the perfect place to talk. Especially with someone who understands that it is difficult, and gives you the time and space to figure things out. I believe we should all value each other’s differences and people who have autism spectrum diagnosis just have a difference in how the brain is set up. You need a counsellor who is aware, respectful and who can be sensitive to this difference. Together we can find out what you want to achieve from counselling and where you can improve your life.
If you don’t have a formal diagnosis but believe that perhaps you should have, we can discuss what this would mean to you and explore any difficulties you might have with this difference in mind. I can’t provide a diagnosis but can support you through it, or sign post you to local services that can.
If you are a parent or carer or someone who has an autistic spectrum diagnosis, I can help you too. It can be helpful to talk about your difficulties with someone who has an understanding of autism.