From helping to set up a counselling service in remote and rugged Shetland, to being a priest in the Anglican church, our members have always represented different places and have come from varied backgrounds. We’ve been honoured to represent you all for over four decades. And now we’ve arrived at another milestone in our story reaching 50,000 members.

We wanted to mark the occasion by sharing your stories - the people who make our Association what it is.

Jean Sawyer

Jean, who became a counsellor in 1976, was involved in the Association when it began life as the British Association for Counselling in 1977.

She became a BACP Fellow at our research conference in 2009 and has specialised in many roles over the years, working in private practice, helping to set up a counselling service in Shetland and lecturing in counselling at the University of Central Lancashire.

"... I feel I have grown within an amazingly diverse and developing profession; it has given me so many opportunities as well as friends for life."

“I consider myself fortunate to have been involved at the beginning,” says Jean “and I feel I have grown within an amazingly diverse and developing profession; it has given me so many opportunities as well as friends for life. We can go a long way with acceptance and empathy and being real – whomever we meet along the way.”

Over the years we’ve grown, adding specialist divisions, ethical guidance and qualifications along the way – finally gaining our ‘P’ and becoming the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy in 2000. A title we’re proud to wear to this day.

John Eatock 

“Counselling enriches individual lives and the common life of society.” says John.

John was an Anglican Priest in the 1990s before becoming a counsellor. “Since extending my vocation as a priest into the world of counselling a lot has happened within BACP in all the areas which provided the reason for my original membership," he says.

"If I were to speak to myself now, as if I were a trainee counsellor, I would say that you will need tenacity and resilience and BACP membership will help you in a multitude of ways.

“Counselling enriches individual lives and the common life of society.”

"You can even make a positive contribution to its development and therefore to the world of counselling and psychotherapy because BACP makes every effort to listen to its members carefully, just as every counsellor does in their own practice. Thirty years on I still value my membership.”

Valda Swinton

Dr Swinton has been a member since 1994. She became a counsellor after it became apparent some people in her church group needed someone to talk to. Val realised there was more she could do to help.

She says: “They were struggling with issues that needed more time than we had available, so I made arrangements to listen to them one to one. The Minister found out and started sending me more people. He paid for me to do my first course in pastoral counselling. I followed this with a degree in social psychology and a master’s degree in counselling.”

“Counselling is now more of a professional endeavour than it used to be. This is much better for the profession as a whole.”

Val has noticed the changes in the industry over the years. “Counselling is now more of a professional endeavour than it used to be. This is much better for the profession as a whole.”

As well as members who have been with us for many years, we’re celebrating those who have recently joined.

Chloe Hughes

“It is incredible being the 50,000th member,” says Chloe, who joined us in October. “I would use the word special to describe how it feels being part of an association that believes strongly in the abilities of counselling.”

Chloe was inspired to become a counsellor by her children and family. “I realised it was important for me as a parent to demonstrate that anyone has the ability to achieve their dreams at any stage of life. My family has been very supportive especially my father who has continuously encouraged me to try new things.

“I would use the word special to describe how it feels being part of an association that believes strongly in the abilities of counselling.”

"One of the hardest challenges I faced whilst training was the passing away of my oldest son. It was very difficult studying whilst grieving his loss, but I knew he would want me to complete my goals.”

Chloe is determined to make a difference. “I am excited for the future and hope that I will successfully complete my degree. BACP will help me achieve this by providing opportunities and guidance so that I can be successful in my new career choice.”

We’re proud to have represented counsellors and psychotherapists over our 40-year history who have changed the lives of so many clients, as well as those who will go on to help future generations. But this isn’t the end of the conversation. Now it’s over to the rest of you.

We want to hear from you!

Tell us what the most rewarding thing is about being a counsellor or what being a counsellor means to you. Create a short video selfie and share on Twitter, tag us in and use the hashtag #CounsellingChangesLives. Or you can comment on the thread in our Facebook community. If you prefer, you can take a selfie and send it to us at communications@bacp.co.uk together with a short quote and we'll share it on your behalf.

We’ll be using the hashtag #CounsellingChangesLives on Twitter over the next few months as we share these stories.