In this issue

The heart of business
Do you know what EAPs expect from you? Sue Middleton from Right Management Workplace Wellness outlines a best practice guide for counsellors

The power of empathy
Psychotherapist and coach, Anne Brockbank considers the role of workplace counsellors in developing empathy in managers

Fit for work?
An innovative NHS vocational rehabilitation service is supporting employees with health problems to get back to work. Eilidh Bateman reports on the outcomes

Whatever happened to work-related stress?
How are major organisations responding to stress at work? HR consultant Vicki Badham explores some current practices and trends

Practical resilience
A new column with Chris Johnstone, specialist in the psychology of resilience; for clients, counsellors and organisations

Meet the networks
An introduction to the network coordinators around the country

Inside the organisation
Ever thought about setting up as an EAP? Sharon McCormick did and tells us how she provides occupational support to organisations across the Midlands

The counsellor’s toolbox
Counsellors share their best tips and resources

From the chair

Cover of Counselling at Work, Spring 2013 issue

All articles from this issue are not yet available online. Divisional members and subscribers can download the pdf from the Counselling at Work archive.

First words

Every day the news I hear reinforces what I already know, that in the world beyond the counselling room our core skills are needed. Reports about institutions rocked by high-profile scandals have been all too frequent, exposing unethical working practices that have become ‘normal’. The Jimmy Savile abuse scandal and the appalling stories of neglect reported at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust both involve organisations and staff, where abuses of power were routine, diabolical and profoundly disturbing. They leave not just the personal trauma for an individual and their families, but also an organisational trauma.

Within a climate where cynicism and the continued erosion of trust in our organisations is one likely consequence, it’s important to hold onto certain truths. Changing hats as counsellors, trainers, managers, mediators and coaches is what we so often do within organisations. It is this mostly rather quiet work that has the power to influence how people behave at work. In these spaces unconscious processes are made conscious. By modelling dignity and respect, the counselling relationship supports staff to become more emotionally resilient and challenge unacceptable behaviour at work. Our presence contributes to maintaining both a healthy workforce and to shaping an organisational culture. Counselling at work is a forum for sharing best practice and interventions that have the potential to be transformative within the world of work. I think communicating this message must be an ongoing task for our profession. If you’re involved in work like this, do get in touch. We need to hear about it.

This issue of Counselling at Work beams a light on some of this ‘good work’. A warm welcome to Sue Middleton who has the cover slot for her engaging article ‘The heart of business’. Drawing on years of experience meeting counsellors, visiting their premises and recruiting them (or not as the case may be), she highlights how counsellors working for EAPs must understand the multi-faceted relationship that exists between client, counsellor, EAP and organisation. She offers a best practice guide to working for an EAP and pinpoints the organisational understanding that counsellors need to be aware of.

The theme of last September’s BACP Workplace conference was ‘Facing adversity; developing resilience’. It remains just as relevant this year. Clients require greater resilience to stay in work and hold onto their jobs. When services may be under threat and increasing pressures, managers and practitioners need to be resilient to face the challenges. I’m excited to introduce an inspirational writer and expert in resilience training, Chris Johnstone. He begins the first of a regular column this year on practical resilience to support us as practitioners, for our clients and our organisations.

At our conference last year, I met two contributors who feature in this edition of Counselling at Work. The first is psychotherapist and coach, Anne Brockbank who outlines a crucial role for counsellors in developing empathy in managers. The timing of this piece could not be more relevant. 

Sharon McCormick is the second contributor I met and she is our inspiring interviewee for ‘Inside the organisation’. Spotting a niche in the market and drawing on her background in HR, she set up as an EAP providing occupational support to organisations across the Midlands.

‘Fit for work?’ by Elidih Bateman provides a refreshing insight into an excellent initiative which was launched in the NHS in Scotland to support employees who work for small or medium-sized companies to get back to work. Let’s hope this is an initiative that continues to grow.

It wasn’t so long ago that attending a work-related stress workshop was a must on many an employee’s training plan. Those days seem long gone as stress has gone underground with increased presenteeism. HR consultant, Vicki Badham wanted to find out how some large organisations were responding to work-related stress. She outlines her research into current practices and trends.

Meeting like-minded professionals and sharing our experiences is often affirming, restorative and leaves us more resilient. In this issue we highlight the good work going on across the networks. My thanks go to all the network coordinators for opening their doors and letting us in. I hope you’ll be inspired to drop by, get involved or maybe even begin a network yourself?

And finally, responding to a request for more practical tips and resources, I bring you ‘The counsellor’s toolbox’. Three counsellors share what helps them in their practice. If you have a useful tip, resource or website, drop me a line and let me know what it is. You’ll be adding to our collective pool of knowledge and resources. We need that.

Nicola Banning