2023 Presenters

  • Listed in order of appearance. You will find the full schedule at the end of this page.

Dr Elizabeth Cotton

Presentation: It’s the hope that kills you.

This talk is based on initial results from the CTUK Cost of Living Crisis survey looking at the financial landscape for counsellors and psychotherapists. Drawing on Elizabeth’s current academic research we look at the emerging political and financial crisis in Talking Therapies and what the cost of living crisis reveals about our next steps. We will attempt to walk the line between existential dread and imagining the political work of therapists in holding the therapeutic space.

BIO: Dr Elizabeth Cotton (She/Her) is a researcher and educator in the fields of employment relations and mental health at work based at Cardiff School of Management. She is the founder of www.survivingwork.org and www.thefutureoftherapy.org and is a Trustee of the British Sociological Association (BSA). Elizabeth is currently writing her book UberTherapy: The New Business of Mental Health to be published by Bristol University Press in 2024.

The National Counselling and Psychotherapy Society

Speakers – Jyles Robillard Day (He/Him – CEO) and Meg Moss (She/Her – Head of Policy and Public Affairs)

Presentation: Politics and the Professional Body: a view into what the NCPS do for counselling & psychotherapy.

“Campaigning and raising awareness of the value that counselling and psychotherapy can bring to the nation’s mental health is a core part of what we do; with the country in crisis and services unable to cope with the significant numbers of people looking for support, we’re calling on the Government, future Governments, and the NHS to realise the value in a workforce of trained, experienced, and passionate counsellors and psychotherapists.”

Dr Dwight Turner

Presentation: The Journey Continues: Continued Conversations Around Race in Counselling and Psychotherapy.

Tyre Nichols, Sarah Everard and numerous others have lost their lives or been abused in the world around us over the past few years. This has led to numerous conversations and discussions around just how difference and otherness and how those who are defined as the racialised other for example experience the world they reside within. Given that race is a binary construct whereby whiteness identifies blackness as its own shadow, the need to provide safe spaces for non-white identities and white identities to have conversations separate and together is perhaps more important than ever within the world of counselling and psychotherapy. 

This brief talk, this clarion call, looks at how we might achieve or begin to achieve the stated goal of making conversations between the races both real and safe and transformative for all parties involved.

BIO: Dr Dwight Turner (He/Him) is Course Leader on the Humanistic Counselling and Psychotherapy Course at the University of Brighton, a PhD Supervisor at their Doctoral College, a psychotherapist and supervisor in private practice. His latest book Intersections of Privilege and Otherness in Counselling and Psychotherapy was released in February 2021 and is published by Routledge. An activist, writer and public speaker on issues of race, difference and intersectionality in counselling and psychotherapy, Dr Turner can be contacted via his website www.dwightturnercounselling.co.uk and can be followed on Twitter at @dturner300.

Rahil Virik from Gendered Intelligence

Presentation : A brief overview of working with Trans Non-Binary and Gender Exploring Clients.

Gendered Intelligence (GI) is a registered charity that works to increase understandings of gender diversity and improve the lives of trans people. Part of our work involves Tran Awareness training, including a two-day course for Therapists & Counsellors on working with Trans, Non-Binary and Gender Diverse clients.

The core presentation will offer a brief overview of this training, touching broadly on the following themes:  the wider context for trans identities, exploring use of language. Providing links to a wide range of resources and an opportunity for Q&A to enable people to bring the focus of the session onto the key issues that matter to them and particular questions they might have.

BIO: Rahil (They/Them) is a Trans Non- Binary Counsellor, having begun their transition in 2015 as part of their journey to live as their authentic self. They recognise the struggle of existing in between a multitude of identities. Thus bringing this passion into developing support for and within the LGBT+ and POC communities. As well as working for GI, they are Head of Therapeutic Service at Galop supporting LGBT+ survivors of abuse and violence. Along with holding a small private practice.

They can be contacted at rahil.virik@genderedintelligence.co.uk

Mamood Ahmad

Presentation: Rebooting Counselling & Psychotherapy* Therapy with a Systemic, Inclusive, and Socially Conscious Heart.

There has been a long history of discourse on the need for therapeutic practice to become socially conscious allowing us to serve clients from a wide range of backgrounds, and identities as well as contribute to social-political improvement.  The question remains not why but how and with what can this ever-urgent change be addressed systemically at scale. In this presentation, I will present a set of principles, a roadmap, and a maturity model for rebooting therapy* at an individual, curriculum, training design, and organisational level. How do we make therapy sustainable, all-inclusive, and socially conscious?

The core curriculum, training design, and organisational transformation resources and services developed under The Anti-Discrimination Focus (tadf.co.uk) will be introduced as a first-of-kind initiative to enable cocreation of such change with commercial/non-profit organisations, training providers and therapists.

* title held for upcoming book

BIO: Mamood Ahmad (He/Him) is a therapist, author, trainer, and founder of The Anti-Discrimination focus (TADF). He has extensive experience in client mental health advocacy work, including the book ‘client perspectives of therapy’ and more recently in supporting counselling and psychotherapy training providers to embed difference and diversity as standard. He specialises in diversity studies, trauma, and antidiscrimination practice. He holds a private practice in Binfield, Berkshire since 2014.

Find out more about Mamoods work here.

Lesley Dougan

Presentation: The Importance of Embedding Social and Political Issues within Counsellor Training.

Lesley will draw on her experience as programme lead for the MA in Counselling & Psychotherapy Practice at Liverpool John Moores University to speak about the changes the programme team have made to ensure intersectionality and anti-oppressive practice are interwoven into the fabric of the programme, locating counselling and psychotherapy in its social, political, ecological, and economic context.

BIO: Lesley Dougan (She/Her). Hi, I am a Neurodivergent person-centred therapist, supervisor and educator. I began working in mental health in 1996 and am experienced in working with children, young people, and adults across the lifespan.  I spent 18 years working within a Learning Disabilities CAMHS Team and am passionate about providing equitable access to disenfranchised clients. I qualified as a counsellor in 2012 and as a supervisor in 2021. Until February 2022, I worked as a specialist counsellor at The Alder Centre, working with anyone impacted by the death of a child. I have been the programme lead MA Counselling & Psychotherapy Practice at LJMU since 2017, and I have a small private practice. I am completing a Professional Doctorate in Counselling and Psychotherapy Studies at Chester University.

Rethink Mental Illness – Davinder Kaur

Presentation: Building communities that care.

Our mental health doesn’t exist separately from our experiences and the environment we live in. Unstable housing, financial insecurity, poor physical health, lack of employment and isolation from our family and friends, can all affect our mental health and make it harder to manage the symptoms of mental illness.

We all want to live in a place we call home, with the people and things we care about, doing the things we like to do, in communities that care. And when we’re unwell, we want to have access to the support, and professional help we need.

This presentation will provide an overview of how Rethink Mental Illness is striving to build communities that care with a focus on the impact of the social security system on people living with mental illness and our Stop Benefit Deaths campaign.

Bio: Rethink Mental Illness is the charity for people severely affected by mental illness. We provide expert information and services, and campaign to improve the lives of people living with mental illness, their families, friends and carers.

Davinder Kaur is Rethink Mental Illness’ Head of Campaigns. She mobilises supporters and members of the public to target decision makers to create change for everyone severely affected by mental illness. She has campaigned at the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), World Development Movement (now Global Justice Now), ActionAid UK and Jubilee 2000.

Erin Stevens

Presentation: Holding Power/Confronting Harm

Power is ubiquitous in therapy. Every layer of our profession and our practice is shaped by the power we do and do not hold. There are times when we might be drawn to covet power, and there are times when we might wish to disown it. Our responses to feelings of power and powerlessness are intrinsic to who we are as therapists, and who we are as a profession.

I want to examine the relationship between power and harm – to understand more about the places where power must necessarily exist, and how we attend to the feelings that arise in us, in order that we are able to hold our power more gently, and in service of clients. Whether an individual practitioner in the therapy room, or the CEO of a professional body – we all have this duty and this responsibility. Let’s look at where it can go wrong, and how we develop a more constructive relationship with power.

BIO: Erin (She/Her/They) is a counsellor/psychotherapist in private practice, working primarily with people who have been harmed in previous therapy. She is proudly autistic and ADHD, and is a steering group member of the Association of Neurodivergent Therapists (ANDT). Erin is interested in power and harm in therapy; anti-oppressive practice; social justice; and the large overlap between harmful experiences of therapy and neurodivergence. 

Mel Ciavucco

Presentation: Weight stigma and disordered eating: the hidden epidemic?

We live in a society that tells us thinner is better, that fat people are a drain on the NHS and that we must always strive to be “healthy”. Many people face discrimination and stigma based on their body size and appearance. Eating disorders are on the rise and treatment services struggle to accommodate the demand, so many people are being turned away, told they’re “not thin enough”. In this talk, I’ll explore the grey areas between disordered eating and eating disorders, the impact of weight stigma and fatphobia (and disability, class, and other intersecting factors), and why it is so important for us all to consider the harm caused by anti-fat bias.

BIO: Mel Ciavucco (She/Her) is a writer, trainer and group facilitator, in the final stages of completing her counselling training. Mel’s passions and experiences lie in eating disorders, body image and weight stigma, as well as in her group work with perpetrators of domestic abuse. She has been published in Therapy Today with an article about fatphobia (June 2021 edition) and she writes about disordered eating, weight stigma, class, and more on her website: www.melciavucco.com. You can find Mel on Twitter and Instagram at: @MelCiavucco and on Facebook: @MelCiavuccoWriter

Psychotherapy and Counselling Union (PCU)

PRESENTATION: Why Join a Union? From a political perspective.

Panellists: Dr Jay Beichman (SE Regional Representative PCU), Anne Lee (EAP Campaign Lead PCU) & Marilyn McGowan (PCU Schools and Education.

The Psychotherapy and Counselling Union (PCU), founded in 2016, is committed to our mission of standing up for therapists and the future of therapy.

To discover our constitutional aims, please visit our website here.


9.30 – 10.00am – Registration (15 mins) / Welcome with Maria Albertsen and Onlinevents (15 mins)

10.00 – 10.30am – Dr Elizabeth Cotton. Presentation: It’s the hope that kills you.

10.30 – 11.00am – The National Counselling Society. Presentation: Politics and the Professional Body: a view into what the NCS do for counselling & psychotherapy.

11.00 – 11.30am – Dr Dwight Turner.

11.30 – 11.45am – BREAK

11.45 – 12.15pm – Rahil Virik from Gendered Intelligence. Presentation : A brief overview of working with Trans Non-Binary and Gender Exploring Clients.

12.15 – 12.45pm – Mamood Ahmad. Presentation: Rebooting Counselling & Psychotherapy* Therapy with a Systemic, Inclusive, and Socially Conscious Heart.

12.45 – 1.30pm – LUNCH

1.30 – 2.00pm – Lesley Dougan. Presentation: The Importance of Embedding Social and Political Issues within Counsellor Training.

2.00 – 2.30pm – Rethink Mental Illness – James Harris. Presentation: Building communities that care.

2.30 – 3.00pm – Erin Stevens

3.00pm – 3.15pm – BREAK

3.15 – 3.45pm – Mel Ciavucco. Presentation: Weight stigma and disordered eating: the hidden epidemic?

3.45 – 4.15pm – Psychotherapy and Counselling Union (PCU)

4.15 – 4.30pm – Prize draw and de-brief.