Natalie Bailey spoke about the importance of access to counselling as she officially took on the role of our Chair at our Annual General Meeting.

She explained what motivated her to become a member of our Board of Trustees three years ago.

During her speech at the AGM, she said: “It was good to see the positive impact that counselling was having on my clients’ lives; the small changes they were making. I was getting this general sense of satisfaction.

“For every one of my clients I had sat in my counselling room, there were probably tens if not tens of hundreds of clients in similar situations who could probably benefit from counselling who were not accessing it for different reasons. Probably they couldn’t afford to, they didn’t know how to or there were these long waiting lists. That would really bother me.

Compelled to do something

“If only more people would have access to counselling. If only more people could benefit from the support that counselling could give them to work out different ways of coping. If only communities didn’t have this issue of stigma. I felt compelled to do something. I knew I had this passion to help whoever to do whatever to change the current situation.”

This prompted Natalie to respond to an email asking our members to stand for election to the Board of Trustees. Three years later, she has been elected to the role of the Chair of the Association.

She added: “The two reasons I stood for trustee was for communities to get access to good quality counselling and for us as counsellors to get paid for the work we do. That’s the work that BACP has been doing and that’s the work I’ll continue to promote in my new role as chair.”

Connecting, supporting, representing

She also spoke about engaging more of our members to be involved in the association and the importance of the association going further “in connecting, supporting and representing” members.

Natalie has taken over from Andrew Reeves, who announced he was stepping down earlier this year to pursue other professional opportunities.

During her speech, Natalie thanked Andrew for his “support and encouragement” and for the “legacy of positivity” that he had left with the Board.

Natalie started her counselling training after realising she wanted a change of direction following a career break, which came after 10 years of working in financial services.

She has worked with an organisation specialising in family mediation and school counselling, in private practice and established a counselling service at a college.

Natalie has also just started a doctorate in psychological trauma in which she will research how young people are impacted by serious violence, such as knife crime.

Our members can watch Natalie’s full speech on our website from 14 November.