Thank you to everyone who completed the workforce mapping survey between October 2022 and September 2023. The survey helps us to collect data on the sectors you work in, the client groups you work with, your specialisms and your areas of practice. It also helps us better understand our members’ levels of training, income, capacity for additional employment and demographic characteristics.  

We use this information to help build an informed picture of your working practice and identify gaps in provision, which helps us to make a stronger case for support with policy makers and commissioners.

We’ve been analysing the results and would like to share some of the key findings with you. There were some interesting findings from the latest survey when compared to the 2021 to 2022 results. 

What the 2022 to 2023 survey told us

The most common professional role was as a practitioner in private practice or in the third, charitable and voluntary sector. Approximately one quarter of those who completed the survey were supervisors. 

Just under three quarters (70.13%) told us they earn an annual income of £30,000 or less from their counselling work, with 36.4% earning £12,500 or less. Around 38.54% of respondents agreed they could earn a living from their counselling work which is a decrease of 2% from last year (40.33%).  

While this is a concerning decline, the impact of the cost of living crisis has been felt in all sectors and professions. We remain committed to representing counselling and psychotherapy to commissioners and policy makers at the highest levels. Our recent work in this area includes; supporting the development of a network of emergency service therapists, tackling pay inequity across NHS Talking Therapies and our broader policy and campaigning work across the four nations of the UK. Notably, we’ve been campaigning for a paid counsellor in every school and college in England and to restore primary school counselling in Northern Ireland and the commitment to funded student counselling in Scotland.  

Fewer respondents reported working in the third sector this year (30.47%) compared to 31.37% in the last survey. Of those working in the third sector, 43.4% only work paid hours which is an increase on last time, suggesting fewer members working in the third sector are doing so on a voluntary basis. Despite this, a higher proportion of respondents working in the third sector report that they earn nothing from counselling work, which is higher than in any other sector. 

A higher proportion of respondents said they’re entering the profession at Masters level - at around 12.6% this year compared to 10.69% last time. It’s a benefit for us to understand more about levels at which members are entering the profession. As an Association, we aim meet the needs of all our members, at whatever level of training you have.   

Equality, diversity and inclusion

The majority of people who completed this year’s survey identify as white (86.73%). This is slightly lower than last year’s percentage of 88.38%. A higher proportion of respondents identified as Black compared to last time - 3.04% this year compared to 2.29%. Although these are only small percentages, it’s encouraging to see an increase in representation from respondents who identify as Black. However, in comparison to national averages there’s still an underrepresentation of Black and Asian individuals reflected in the responses.  

With the launch of our our EDI strategy in March 2023, we’re working to underpin the values that encompass equality, diversity and inclusion within the organisation and our membership. The EDI Strategy details 6 tactical steps on how we plan to embed change and develop the profession for the future. We’re committed to increasing the diversity of our profession, and in embedding our strategy through a range of supporting initiatives, designed to address the barriers that exist within the profession for therapists and clients alike.  

One of these initiatives was the mentoring pilot scheme which concluded in August 2023 and is awaiting the final internal evaluation with key stakeholders, with plans to launch a further phase in due course; The scheme aimed to give trainees from black and minority ethnic groups direct support from experienced members as Mentors on their journey to become counsellors.  

Our bursaries pilot scheme,  which had a successful first wave is currently underway with students now entering their second semester. This pilot scheme is due a planned internal evaluation  before a second wave of bursaries is announced. Any information regarding the next intake of applications will be shared on our website, once the review is completed. 

We also offered two third-sector grants of £30,000, which were won by Children Northeast services (CNE) and Metanoia organisation. The purpose of this activity was to test strategies and approaches to improve the accessibility and acceptability of counselling to people in marginalised communities, who face barriers to mainstream services.The final evaluation report of both schemes has been delivered by an external evaluator and the review of this report is in progress. 

In October 2023, we sent a survey to all our members to begin collecting demographic information that will help us better understand our membership profile; specifically how well represented marginalised communities are within BACP’s membership and where we can improve our support and engagement with these audiences. This will also help us to measure and understand the impact of the dedicated work we’re undertaking across the organisation from an EDI perspective. 

Due to the disparities in the quality of training when it comes to EDI, we understood that EDI needed to be a core part of training programmes and to be embedded throughout all aspects of training. One of the projects we’re involved in this area is with the Coalition for Inclusion and Anti-Oppressive Practice. The Coalition launched the first commissioned toolkit, Race is complicated: A toolkit for psychological therapies training in October 2023 and BACP organised an online CPD training on how to use the toolkit, an event which took place in November. You can still view the Race is complicated toolkit and the on-demand event 

The introduction of our SCoPEd framework will enable us to more effectively promote the skills and abilities of our members in a way that hasn’t been done before. We hope the framework will be a benefit for our members by encouraging a diverse and varied profession that is accessible by therapists with very different backgrounds and types of training, knowledge, and experience. 

Many of our EDI projects are ongoing, and the impact to our membership, clients and the industry at large, will take time. We’re dedicated to ensuring we enable a more diverse and inclusive profession and to embedding these goals in all aspects of our work.  

How we'll continue this work

We’ll continue to send members our workforce mapping survey once a year, at the point you renew your membership. 

Your responses makes sure we have the most up to date member information to support 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 at renewal. 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 give consent, we’ll be able to use this information to further improve the services we offer as well as your member experience.  

*The changes identified between the two years should be interpreted with caution and do not represent statistically significant differences. It’s not possible for us to determine whether or not respondents were the same over the two years, and so we can only say there are some slight differences in reporting, which may or may not reflect ‘real’ change. However, these findings are useful to understand the working lives of our members and add some narrative to our findings.