In this issue
Here and now
News feature: Is counselling women's work? (free article)
Female counsellors outnumber male by more than five to one. Sally Brown wonders why.
The big issues
No one can help me
In the face of utter loss, how can a counsellor help? John Pasture tells refugee Redeen’s story
Counselling people with cancer
Caroline Carling, Anne Crook and Jane Fior offer their perspectives as therapist and client
Philippa Skinner asks fellow bereaved parents why it helps to help others similarly bereaved
What shapes the self?
Rod Tweedy explores how our social and economic contexts shape our mental wellbeing
This much I don’t know
Wisdom from experience
A colleague is looking at soft porn online at work. Susan Dale unpacks the ethical and legal issues.
Research into practice
Liddy Carver explains a simple method to evidence the counselling process in action
Zara is worried that a client’s baby may be at risk
Why are there more women counsellors?
Sourdough baking – the destressor that also feeds
What does your counselling room say about you?
There is no single answer, of course, but there is, I think, a broad consensus that counselling is a career that appeals to a lot of women for both practical and emotional reasons: the training is accessible, the working hours can be flexible, it can be done from home, and it’s something they do well. A lot of women feel called to it vocationally, impelled by their own experience of how helpful it can be and a wish to share the benefits with others who are suffering. As Susan Stephen observes in Talking Point, is the preponderance of women simply due to the fact that they are more prepared to accept poor pay and insecure employment for the sheer joy and rewards of the work?
The low pay and professional status, poor career prospects and high employment insecurity are, presumably, why few men take it up – that and the perception in society at large that working with emotions is ‘women’s work’. The status that society accords this kind of work is, of course, outrageously disproportionate to its contribution to the mental wellbeing of us all.
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When I was training, I remember a male placement colleague only half joking that we were all broke even then and, by the time we qualified, none of us would be able to afford to do the job.
I also began to worry that the standard entry process to our profession, often combining high course fees with an unpaid apprenticeship-type scheme and a requirement to pay for personal therapy and supervision on top, would preclude too many good people from considering it. Then, once qualified, the lack of well-paid jobs points many of us towards a piecemeal style of working. This suits many, me included, but not all. One group startlingly notable by their absence is men. In this issue, we ask why this work seems to suit women so well, and why there are so few men, especially as practising counsellors. Is it about pay and prospects, stigma status, and security, or simply a natural leaning to other types of work? This month’s news feature makes an interesting and thought-provoking read and we would love to know your thoughts.
Rachel Shattock Dawson