To mark International Women’s Day, we asked some of our members to tell us about the women who have inspired them on their counselling journey, how they've broken the bias and to share their personal message to others on this day. 

The comments and stories that have come into us are a powerful reflection of women making a difference in the lives of others, but also highlight the need for better representation and the end of bias. 

Rima Sidhpara, Chair of BACP Private Practice division executive committee

Our stories matter, we matter, I celebrate all women. Our black, brown and ethnic minority women are underrepresented in our profession, I would love to see our profession blossom by embracing all of our sisters, together we can create meaningful change.

Born from a line of female warriors
Our story begins before our time
Growing from an ancestral chain
A story within a story within a story
Honouring the past, embodying pain
The baton passes on
Authors of our own stories
Weaving through passages of time
Binding us together like the spine of a hardback
We roar together from the depth of our souls
We rise as one
Our stories continue on

Rima Sidhpara

Neresia Osbourne, member of BACP Coaching division executive committee

Being aware and authentic is an ongoing process for self-growth and development. My counselling journey has had many challenges and has brought me to places where I have been very uncomfortable. Particular intersections that are not limited to but include race, sex, and nationality have not been the narrative of the accepted status quo. Within and from these awkward spaces, the catalyst for continuous self-development supported me in finding my voice and using it. Hearing and, most of all, owning my voice reduced my fears and allowed me to be seen and for me to see myself as I am.

Vianna Renaud, member of BACP Workplace division executive committee

While we should always be thinking of the amazing women in our lives, today could very well be the day that we spare a thought to those that made an impact upon our career. For me I have to think about my supervisors, both past and present. Ladies who helped shape me and my practice, who inspired me and showed me more about the kind of counsellor I wanted to be. One key lesson that I have been reminded of time and time again, is the importance of being true to oneself. That includes embracing all of my imperfections along with my strengths, insecurities along with my confidences, and all of the wide and wacky experiences I've collected along the way. Through life's ups and downs, here’s a salute to those fearless and strong women who have helped us along our way.

Joanne Wright, member of BACP Coaching division executive committee

It’s amazing how one small act of kindness can have a lasting impact on you. During my counselling study I found out I was dyslexic; it took me weeks to complete an essay that others would whip up in a few short hours the night before. I was totally exhausted. Towards the end of my study one of our new lecturers approached me at lunch one day, to say my ideas were amazing but got completely lost on paper, a classic dyslexic trait. She gave up her lunch break, to describe how to structure my essays in a way that resonated with me. This small act of kindness not only improved my grades, but more importantly helped me believe I could become a good counsellor. Without that lunchtime encounter I really don’t think I'd be doing what I do today. I still think about that conversation when I'm struggling with putting my ideas on paper now. I thank you from the bottom of my heart Jane.

Sally Brown, editor of Therapy Today and therapist in private practice

I’m in awe of any therapist who is brave enough to attempt to portray what real therapy looks like, such as Susie Orbach and her In Therapy series on Radio 4, and more recently couple's counsellor Dr Orna Guralnik, star of the TV series Couples Therapy. Watching how she gently revealed how past and attachment styles were influencing their daily lives was truly awe-inspiring, and a reminder of how counselling does change lives. I’d also add the US therapist and author Lori Gottlieb to my list of influential women – her funny and compelling bestselling book, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, is like a love letter to our profession.

Diane Parker, editor of BACP Coaching Today, creative coach and dance movement psychotherapist

On International Women’s Day, I celebrate the wonderful women in my life and pause to reflect on the work I've done, and continue to do, in holding space for women. Over the years, this space has been filled with tears of joy, anger, laughter, fear, despair, tenderness, compassion and love. It's been impacted by war, pandemic, social uprising, violence, misogyny, racism, transphobia and homophobia. At the centre of it all has been a woman, daring to ask for help who is slowly and courageously emerging from the wreckage. She's piecing herself back together, becoming visible, finding her voice and blossoming into becoming more of the woman she wants to be. What a privilege it is to walk alongside these women on their journeys. I celebrate us all today.

Lucy Myers, Chair of BACP Coaching division executive committee

The woman who profoundly influenced my journey into psychotherapy is Lorna Cole-Partridge from Good Soul Therapy. Originally colleagues working together in media, Lorna's compassion, empathy, and general joie de vivre always shone through into everything she touched.  As she qualified as a therapist alongside her TV career, I found it inspiring and intriguing in equal measure. Then, one day an unexpected hour spent with her allowed me to experience for myself the transformative impact of feeling seen, heard, and understood. I will be forever grateful to this powerhouse of a woman for shining the light that inspired me to take the first footsteps down the path of my career in coaching and therapy.

Yvonne Inglis, member of BACP Coaching division executive committee

As a female counsellor I've worked with men and women of all ages. What I love are the women who have sought counselling support to break through their self-limiting beliefs, be they from family, culture or society to enable them to make the changes they want to make to take control of their own lives and be empowered to make their own choices. Seeing them soar in terms of confidence and self-belief is truly inspirational.

Views expressed in this article are the views of the writer and not necessarily the views of BACP. Publication does not imply endorsement of the writer’s views. Reasonable care has been taken to avoid errors but no liability will be accepted for any errors that may occur.