On Saturday 22nd June 2019, professionals from all over the UK met in Lincoln for the first ever National Counsellor’s Day. Set in the comfortable surroundings of the University of Lincoln, 70 delegates met to explore the future of counselling; and the weather wasn’t too shabby either!
An ambassador from the National Counselling Society started off our day and opened a discussion on what people would like from their membership bodies, regardless of whom they are currently with. One point of note was that people would like to see improved CPD programmes across the membership bodies. We were left with a sense of reflection about what we want and whether what we are being given matches that.
This was followed by an eye-opening talk from Dr. Elizabeth Cotton on the state of services at this point in time and what the future may look like if this trend towards the industrialisation of therapy is to continue unchallenged. In a sector where conservative estimates place practitioners working at least 15 hours per week in voluntary roles, it is imperative to challenge the long term sustainability of that model and what the impact of such a model will have on the counselling profession. Particularly as the profession faces ever increasing pressures and is being squeezed out of many statutory services. It was a sobering discussion but, in credit to Elizabeth, we left feeling motivated rather than paralysed by the enormity of the road ahead. Her passion for the work and her research shone through and she was the catalyst for that motivation, that sense that it is not too late to make changes that will impact the future of counselling for the better.
Her discussion and the energy it conjured nicely sum up the day where open and frank discussion was welcomed and respected. Later topics included how counselling may be contributing to the pathologisation of distress when it borrows language from the medical model. These were not the typical light topics people expect from a conference but it felt like people were really ready and hungry to have these conversations, so we mustn’t shy away from them. People are ready to ask and try to answer difficult questions. This is how we truly celebrate counsellors as they deserve; by building a future without exploitation and without abuses of power.
Now, I don’t want to speak too soon, but I hear (humbly) that our luncheon platter was the stuff of legends. I can vouch that my plate was yummy and we have nothing but praise for the catering team at the University of Lincoln. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank the events team for helping us to pull this day together.
A massive thank you to everyone that attended for the day and helped to bring this event together. It was truly an honour to share the day with you and the whole team at Counsellors Together UK left feeling thoroughly inspired.
By Tara Shennan on behalf of Counsellors Together UK