Every year, renewing members are sent our workforce mapping survey, which collects data such as the sectors you work in, client groups you work with, specialisms and areas of practice, levels of training, income and capacity for additional employment and demographic characteristics.

Together, this information helps us build a current picture of our memberships’ working practice and identify gaps in provision, which in turn, helps us make a stronger case for support with policy makers and commissioners.

Key findings

The latest survey findings show that: 

  • the most common professional roles were as a practitioner in private practice or in the third, charitable or voluntary sector. Approximately one quarter (25.14%) of respondents were supervisors
  • just under three quarters (71.8%) of respondents earn an annual income of £30,000 or less from their counselling work. When asked if they could earn a living from their counselling work, only 40.3% agreed, which is a nearly 4% increase from the previous year (36.4%)
  • the average number of paid client contact hours per week was 12.48 across most sectors, with the exception of criminal justice settings which was lower at 11.82. This is a change from the previous year, which saw the third sector having some of the lowest number of paid client contact hours
  • the average number of unpaid or voluntary client contact hours per week was 1.7, lower than the previous year’s findings (2.3), although 63.1% reported working zero unpaid hours
  • 41% of respondents working in the third sector worked zero unpaid hours compared to 69.67% of those working in private practice. 60.59% of third sector practitioners worked some unpaid hours, which is higher than the previous year’s findings (56.8%)
  • a higher number of respondents working in the third sector are earning £0 from counselling related work (23.87%) than any other sector
  • half of respondents (50%) didn’t want any additional paid work. Of those who did want more paid work, respondents wanted an average of 3.5 additional hours per week

In relation to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), the survey findings show that:  

  • a higher proportion of respondents identify as white (88.38%) compared to national data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) which shows that 81.58% of the UK population identify as white
  • compared to national averages there is an under-representation of individuals completing this survey from Asian and Black ethnicities
  • a higher proportion of those identifying as Black, African, Caribbean and Black British earned £12,500 or under (43.9%) compared with other ethnicities. There was little difference between other ethnicities in relation to income
  • a higher proportion of respondents aged 65 or over earned £12,500 or less from counselling work. There was little difference between other age groups in relation to income
  • a higher proportion (46.33%) of respondents who identified as having a disability earned £12,500 or less from counselling related work than those who didn’t identify as having a disability
  • there were few differences relating to income by gender identity. 36.54% of those identifying as a man earned up to £12,500 compared with 37.8% of those identifying as a woman

For full details and a breakdown of the data, view the workforce mapping report for October 2021 to September 2022

Schemes to help address EDI related findings

As part of our commitment to improve EDI in the profession, we’ve launched two new schemes in relation to access to counselling and training.

Our bursaries scheme was launched in November 2022 and was created in response to member feedback which highlighted the challenges for Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities in accessing the profession through training.

The scheme offers five entry-level and five progression-level bursaries to enable applicants to begin or continue their studies. Following an exceptional and unprecedented response, we reached the maximum number of applicants for the scheme less than a month after it was launched.

We’re planning to reopen the bursary scheme for another round of applications in Autumn 2023, which we hope will help encourage and support more people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities into the profession.

In addition, our Third Sector Grants Scheme ran throughout 2022 and awarded two organisational members funding to deliver projects in collaboration with partner organisations, which have expertise in working with people from marginalised and racialised community backgrounds.

We hope that the funding will help improve understanding of structural and cultural barriers to barriers to psychological support and provide evidence in support of increasing access to therapy.

Through these schemes and the wider work we’re doing to improve EDI in the profession, we hope to start seeing a more accurate representation of ethnicities responding to the survey in line with the ONS.

Supporting our policy work 

Since its launch in 2020, our workforce mapping survey has been critical in helping our Policy and Public Affairs Team to champion our members and the profession when engaging with decision makers across the Four Nations of the UK.

We’ve been able to reference figures from the survey in our briefings for meetings with the UK Government’s Children, Families and Wellbeing Minister, Claire Coutinho; Mental Health Ministers in Scotland and Wales, Kevin Stewart MSP and Lynne Neagle MS; and in a briefing to members of the All Party Mental Health Group in Northern Ireland.

Key findings from the survey have enabled us to demonstrate the available capacity of our members trained to work with children and young people to the Labour Party’s Shadow Education and Shadow Mental Health teams.

Most recently, in a meeting with the Office of Shadow Education, Minister Bridget Philipson MP, we used the data to make the case for a national programme of school-based counselling for England. Discussions were productive, and we’re delighted to learn that Labour plan to commit to school-based counselling in their next general election manifesto.

We used responses on capacity and availability to work with children and young people in our briefings for the House of Commons debates regarding school counselling in November 2021, and for the Effectiveness of Government’s education catch-up and mental health recovery programme in early 2022.

Similarly, we continue to make use of the data in our consultation responses; offering important context to key stakeholders and decision-makers on the availability of a highly qualified, skilled and experienced counselling workforce. This was particularly important in our responses to the Scottish Mental Health Ten Year Strategy and UK Government Ten Year Mental Health Plan.

Additionally, as part of NHS England’s psychological professions workforce planning, we provided data from the workforce mapping survey in order to develop further capacity planning for counselling and psychotherapy.

Continuing this work

Going forward we’ll continue to send renewing members our workforce mapping survey once a year.

The data ensures we have the most up to date information to use in our campaigning and lobbying work. It also helps us to see whether our EDI work is having a positive effect on diversifying the demographic profile of our members.

Your feedback is vital in contributing to our understanding of who our members are and we encourage you to complete the survey when you receive it. As part of the survey, you’ll be asked if you want to consent to link your demographic data to your member record. If you provide consent, we’ll be able to use this information to further improve our services as well as your member experience.