The BACP research team seeks to undertake and support research of high quality which is intended to bring about real-world change in terms of practice or standards development, influence on policy and commissioning of services, and supports the development of greater research capacity within the counselling and psychotherapy field, as well as contribute to improved research literacy among practitioners. Our work is underpinned by values of quality and rigour, relevance and impact, methodological pluralism, collaboration, accessibility and open research principles. 

Research priorities

Having undertaken a consultation with key stakeholders as part of a research prioritisation exercise in 2021, we've developed a research strategy that's relevant to our members, provides support to the ongoing work of BACP teams and supports the credibility of BACP and the wider counselling professions through building the evidence base.  

The overarching priority for our work is client-focussed research with specific empirical research workstreams on: 

  • equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) research 
  • research within counselling sectors and specifically within education, health, third sector and workplace (which particularly support policy team priorities)
  • training and standards, including competency development

Additionally, we've identified key features for how our research work should be undertaken which include: the full involvement of people with lived experience (PLE), the integration of EDI throughout research workstreams, the development and maintenance of collaborative research groups to further grow and build the evidence base to increase provision of counselling. We also support the use of routine outcomes measures and practice-based research, grow research capacity in the field and build the research literacy of BACP members. 

Key strategic commitments

The research strategy has been developed to contribute to the delivery of BACP’s organisational strategy. Within the priorities identified, we plan to undertake the following work.

We'll work with academics, researchers and practitioners to facilitate and bring together collaborative research groups to maximise research impact and contribution to the evidence base by: 

  • supporting bids for funding with academic partners to undertake research projects that can deliver greater impact
  • supporting collaborative research projects through the provision of research team resources and expertise in order to foster successful collaboration within the field and to support research of greater impact

We'll commission, undertake, encourage and facilitate research of key relevance, which will deliver greater impact on developing standards, policy, campaigns and strategic goals by: 

  • piloting a suite of research funding grants that we offer for external application, specifically aimed at supporting wider research collaboration and building research capacity within the field, as well as seeking to develop further funding grants that offer ongoing support for research in the field
  • commissioning experts in the field to undertake specific research and analysis tasks to where required

We'll convene a research grants peer review panel consisting of eminent and reputable academic experts and experts by experience to ensure the robust and ethical evaluation of funding applications for research, to comply with AMRC membership requirements. 

We'll contribute to the evidence base by disseminating research through academic publication and conferences to inform best practice, policy and campaigns by: 

  • continuing to develop the Counselling and Psychotherapy Research Journal, our peer-reviewed journal, to achieve increased international reach, publishing high quality research that influences policy, practice and future research in the field. With the support of the publisher, we'll seek ways to further improve the prestige of the journal by adopting open research principles
  • exploring the feasibility of developing an open access online platform for trainee and early career researchers to publish and disseminate small-scale research that would otherwise not be published
  • publishing our own research in high-impact journals, seeking full open access to increase reach and influence

We'll foster and encourage the full integration of people with lived experience into all stages of research to support BACP’s strategy to develop mechanisms that bring the voices of those with lived experience into our work. 

We'll support the work of the professional standards team in developing evidence-based competences and curricula to inform training and CPD. We'll do this by supporting and undertaking reviews of relevant research and related literature, synthesising practice-relevant research evidence and assisting in the implementation of a robust, rigorous and systematic methodology in competence framework development. 

We'll work closely with the BACP policy team and other colleagues to ensure that responses to policy and other consultations are robustly underpinned with relevant evidence to support BACP work that seeks to influence all appropriate legislation, consultations, green papers and inquiries to positively influence the impact on the work of our members across the four nations. 

We'll develop research skills and support the integration of up-to-date research into the practice of all members by: 

  • developing resources to support the integration of research into non-researcher members’ practice
  • continuing to review and develop BACP’s annual research conference to present research material online to non-researcher members, seeking ways to facilitate greater engagement with a variety of materials, resources and discussion
  • creating additional resources to support the development of research skills among members
  • developing and undertaking projects to support and encourage the use of Routine Outcome Measures by practitioners and services across in a range of sectors and settings

We'll develop and maintain a range of communities of research practice to maximise the impact of collaborative research undertaken in the field and to support the development of research skills and innovation in practice. 

We'll continuously develop tracking and monitoring of all areas of research activity in order to assess baseline performance and trends over time and to support in planning and setting targets. Tracking will include quantitative measures and qualitative data in order to facilitate moving from measurement of outputs to demonstrating outcomes and impact.  

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