Influencing the General Election

We used the General Election to promote counselling and psychotherapy, submitting manifestos to each of the main parties across the four nations. It included calls to:

  • ensure all people begin psychological therapies within 28 days of referral
  • provide greater support for our children and young people with a paid counsellor in every school in England, and embedded counselling services in all colleges and universities
  • make relationship counselling available to anyone who needs it
  • increase access to psychological therapies for our ageing population

We secured excellent support for our policies. Of the 21 political parties contacted, 14 published commitments relating to our asks, which included all of the Welsh parties and four of the five main parties in England. We also supported members to write to their prospective candidates, helping us move counselling up the political agenda and build greater visibility with MPs.

Developing new partnerships

Suky Kaur met Vicki Nash, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Mind, to discuss mutual policy priorities in England and Wales, specifically improving access to psychological therapies, children and young people and Assembly elections 2021.

Further meetings were held with other stakeholders including the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Tavistock Centre for Couples Relationships, the Albany Trust, Place2be and Mente. We continue to play an active role in policy discussions, representing counselling and psychotherapy at the Talking Therapies Taskforce and the NHS England Sexual Assault Recovery Centres working group.

Working with Cruse

We worked with Cruse and Cruse Cymru on a briefing for a Welsh Assembly debate, which called for more support for families bereaved by suicide. We’ve identified this as a key priority in our work this year. A number of speakers supported our call for more accessible psychological support, most notably David Melding AM, South Wales Central, who quoted from our briefing on the need to ensure a range of therapy is available at the most appropriate time for those bereaved by suicide.

David Melding AM

David Melding AM

Children, young people and families

Greater Manchester FE Colleges

With the Association of Colleges, we've been commissioned to train workers across 21 colleges in Greater Manchester in providing safe reflective practice spaces for those carrying extensive mental health caseloads.

Jo Holmes has supported Steve Page (MBACP) to deliver training events and set up clinical supervision opportunities delivered via University of Salford post-graduate and MA counselling students as part of their supervision practice hours. The project will be evaluated at the end of 2020.

Steve Page with a trainee group

Steve Page with a trainee group

Online vulnerabilities

Jo Holmes met the UK Council for Internet Safety, which is leading a working group with members from children, young people and family charities to look at how best to support professionals who work with young people vulnerable to online harm.

The next stage is to carry out a survey looking at the prevalence of online harm in therapeutic work to gain baseline information and consider what support, information or direction members feel would benefit them. Any framework, although having a focus on online harm, will include the many benefits of online life.

Digital resilience campaign poster

Securing additional support for college counselling in Scotland

Steve Mulligan is continuing to advise Scottish Government on the roll out of counselling across universities and colleges, which it is funding with a £20m investment.

To address concerns from the College Sector, who have little experience of delivering counselling to students, we’ve convinced Scottish Government to invest in establishing a demonstration pilot at Glasgow Clyde College.

We’re working on the pilot with the college’s principal Jon Vincent, the new mental health lead for Colleges Scotland, and our member Kirsten Amis at their Anniesland Campus to help spread best practice and break down barriers.

Delegates from SQL

Working with trans and non-binary children

Jo Holmes has been involved in a working group led by Nuffield Council on Bioethics examining care and treatment of gender questioning, trans and non-binary young people accessing counselling services.

Jo wrote a chapter to be included in the Welsh school-based counselling toolkit with Sam Hope (MBACP), a therapist and campaigner in this area. It focuses on good practice for working with trans and non-binary children and was supported by Mermaids, a charity that supports gender diverse and transgender young people.

Sam Hope MBACP

Sam Hope MBACP

Find out more about our children, young people and families work


BACP champions flagship NHS counselling campaign

Matthew Smith-Lilley and Fiona Ballantine Dykes, our Chief Professional Standards Officer, attended the launch of a campaign asking people for views on how psychological professions can have a greater impact in the NHS.

The NHS England’s new Psychological Professions into Action campaign aims to connect with counselling practitioners, service users, carers and families, other practitioners in health and social care, as well as policy makers, under the banner of “together we can change the world”.

Feedback will be used by NHS England on the next stage of the NHS People Plan, which will inform future expansion of the NHS workforce. This stage of the campaign runs until mid-February.

Matt said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to make our voice heard on how counselling and psychotherapy fit into the NHS and how our professions can have a greater impact for the public.

“This will help shape the expansion of psychological professions outlined within the NHS Long Term Plan.”

Matt and Fiona at the launch

Matt and Fiona at the launch

Older people

Counselling in care homes

As part of our older people research strategy, counsellors are being introduced to Midlands care homes, offering residents one-to-one sessions and support to staff.

Danuta Lipinska is the trainer and supervisor for the project, which examines the fit of counselling in care homes. Findings will be used to inform a larger study to evaluate impact. Danuta's work with people with dementia is featured in her book Making Sense of Self and audio recordings on our CPD hub.

Danuta Lipinska

Danuta Lipinska

Supporting Older People campaign

We're backing Age UK’s campaign to increase older people’s awareness of common mental health problems and the value of talking therapy. Commissioned by NHS England, it encourages older people to discuss their emotional wellbeing with their GP, and GPs to referring older people to IAPT services.

The campaign has helped strengthen links with the Age UK policy and comms teams for future collaboration.

Deborah Coombs

Age should not be a barrier to support and treatment, says our member Deborah Coombs

Third Age Matters

Jeremy Bacon wrote an article for the University of Third Age (U3A) magazine in which our member Mick Wilson reflected on the psychological barriers that can stop people from social and learning activities in their community.

With a readership of 300,000 older people, the article in Third Age Matters opened a new audience for our key messages on older people’s wellbeing and access to counselling.

Another article has been published in Care Management Matters detailing our interest in supporting wellbeing to residents and staff in care homes.

Cover of Third Age Matters magazine

Find out more about our older people work


Health and Wellbeing at Work

BACP will have a strong presence at this year’s Health and Wellbeing at Work Conference at Birmingham’s NEC on March 10 and 11. The 14th annual conference is the UK's leading forum for improving the health and wellbeing of work-aged people, attracting thousands of delegates and key decision makers from the public and private sectors.

We have a stand at the exhibition to showcase the value of workplace counselling and promote BACP and the work of our members. The event is a key opportunity to strengthen stakeholder relations and to develop new strategic partnerships.

Working Well Coalition

We attended the parliamentary launch of the Working Well Campaign, a group of employers, MPs, charities and think tanks committed to improving the health of the nation’s workers.

We’ve co-signed a letter to Boris Johnson asking him to commit to his pledge for benefit-in-kind tax exemptions for businesses that support their employees' mental and physical health. This forms part of our work as members of the Working Well Coalition, a campaign led by the John Lewis Partnership, where Kris Ambler represents BACP.

The launch meeting

The launch meeting

Find out more about our workforce work

Meeting our members

Visit to TIC+

Jo Holmes and Alison Martin, our Communications officer, visited TIC+, an accredited CYPF Counselling Service in Gloucestershire, to film case study videos. They’re part of an project capturing the impact of one of the government’s pilot projects where the local CCG has commissioned a referral route for counselling.

Filming at TIC+

Filming at TIC+

Helping DAPL mark 25th anniversary

Steve Mulligan visited DAPL, a pioneering accredited Drug and Alcohol Service in Fife to celebrate their 25th Anniversary.

Steve used the visit to highlight the critical role DAPL is playing in one of the most deprived communities in the UK.

The visit helped inform our important focus this year on lobbying Scottish Government for more counselling support for drug users and their families.

This follows the devastating news drug-related deaths have doubled in the past few years in Scotland and are now the highest in Europe.

As well meeting the counselling team Steve spent time with former clients to hear how counselling changed their lives.

Steve Mulligan with the DAPL team

Steve Mulligan with the DAPL team

For further information about any of the articles in this issue, or to speak to our Policy team, please email

Policy in the news