United Kingdom



Counselling Associations

All Professional Bodies, National Associations (e.g. Mental Health, School, Guidance, Addiction, Faith-based etc.) and Accrediting Organisations.

British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)

British Psychological Society (BPS)

British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Therapy (BABCP)

UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)

British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC)

National Counselling Association (NCS)

Interpersonal Therapy Network (IPT UK)

Counselling & Psychotherapy in Scotland (COSCA)

Association of Christian Counsellors (ACC)

Association of Child Psychotherapists (ACP)

Association for Dance Movement Psychotherapy (ADMP)

British Association of Play Therapists (BAPT)

British Psychodrama Association (BPA)

The Humans Givens Institute (HGI)

Play Therapy UK (PTUK)

UK Association of Transactional Analysis (UKATA)

Universities Psychotherapy and Counselling Association (UPCA)

College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists (COSRT)

Federation of Drug & Alcohol Professionals (FDAP)

Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

UK Association of Humanistic Psychology Practitioners (UKAHPP)

Association for Cognitive Analytic Therapy (ACAT)

Universities and Other Education and Training Institutes

Canterbury Christ Church University

University of Derby

  • University Website: https://www.derby.ac.uk/
  • Programme Website: https://tinyurl.com/nwctr42a
  • Programme Types: Bachelor of Arts in Counselling and Psychotherapy Principles and Practices, Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Counselling & Psychotherapy Principles & Practices and Psychology, Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Counselling and Psychotherapy Principles and Practices & Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Counselling and Psychotherapy Principles and Practices with Foundation Year

University of Wales Trinity Saint David

University of Roehampton

University of Chichester

Edge Hill University

London Metropolitan University

Network Counselling & Training Ltd

Iron Mill College

CPPD Counselling School

Kingston College

University of Warwick

Counselling Agencies, Services, Group Practices, Counselling Centres

Background & Context

Counselling, psychology, and psychotherapy in the United Kingdom have initially been heavily influenced by the idea of psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud, which has been quite popular for a while. Psychotherapy has initially been seen as a sub-discipline of medicine, with counselling emerging more as a separate discipline (see Joseph/Murphy/Holford 2018, p. 388.). Eventually, however, counselling and psychotherapy have converged into one profession. There are still two distinct traditions in counselling and psychotherapy based on either treatment of mental illness or an educational discourse (cf. Joseph/Murphy/Holford 2018, p. 388).

In 1977, the British Association for Counselling (BAC) was founded. For the following two decades, counselling and psychotherapy have largely existed as separate disciplines with separate professional organizations, namely the UK Council for Psychotherapies (UKCP) and the BAC, due to their different historical development (cf. Joseph/Murphy/Holford 2018, p. 389). Over time, however, the meaning of the term counselling has expanded to the point where the distinction from psychotherapy has become increasingly complex (cf. ibid., p. 389). This is mainly due to the fact that theoretical approaches that had previously been exclusively associated with the term psychotherapy have now also become associated with the term counselling (cf. Joseph/Murphy/Holford 2018, p. 389). Due to the similarity of the two terms and difficulty in distinguishing them, the BAC changed its name to the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) in 2000 (cf. ibid., p. 389). The BACP is still the largest British organization representing counsellors and psychotherapists, although the differences and similarities between counselling and psychotherapy remain controversial (cf. Joseph/Murphy/Holford 2018, p. 389).

Current Regulatory Status / Level of Recognition:

The counselling profession in the UK is currently not regulated by law and the government has no intention to introduce legislation for counsellors and psychotherapists (see BACP 2020).

Nevertheless, there are subsidies from the government, for example in the area of school counselling. There is funding for school-based counselling in Wales. Scotland also provides 60 million pounds for school-based counselling (cf. Kaur 2020).

Practice Settings

In the United Kingdom, counselling is provided in the following areas:

  • Healthcare (cf. Kaur 2020).
  • Education – schools/college and further education/universities (cf. Kaur 2020).
  • Employment (cf. Kaur 2020)
  • Volunteer counselling (cf. Kaur 2020).

Challenges & Trends

According to Ms. Suky Kaur, who holds the position of Head of Policy at BACP, the coronavirus is one of the biggest current challenges facing counselling and counsellors in the United Kingdom. The role of professional therapists seems more important than ever as the nation grapples with the psychological impact of changing work and family circumstances, financial insecurity, isolation, bereavement, societal breakdown, and the ongoing uncertainties caused by the Covid-19 outbreak (see Kaur 2020). To what extent and how long-term the crisis will affect the mental health of the population is still unknown. However, it can be assumed that the demand for psychological therapies will increase significantly over a longer period of time. Moreover, the analyses of the Office of National Statistics confirm that the crisis has a negative impact on the psychological well-being of the population. 49.6% of respondents report having a “high” level of anxiety (see ibid.). Demographic analysis has also demonstrated that the virus has a greater impact on poorer people and families and BAME communities, so these groups will need targeted psychological support in the coming months and years. Further, the physical distancing measures so necessary for public health have continued to exacerbate mental health problems (see ibid.). This has had particularly sad consequences for the bereaved, who have not been allowed to say goodbye to their loved ones or attend funerals. This may lead to an increase in complex grief reactions in the coming months.

There has also been a sharp increase in domestic violence – The number of calls to HelpLine has increased by 700% in a single day – so there is an urgent need to expand the provision of specialist support for those affected (see Kaur 2020).

The anxiety, uncertainty, and loss of routine brought on by the crisis also have a profound impact on children and their development. The most recent Department for Education summary report on school attendance in England since the start of the lockdown shows that less than 5% of vulnerable children currently attend school (cf. Kaur 2020). Children from poorer families, who are more likely to have existing mental health problems or live in overcrowded accommodation, are particularly vulnerable to the negative consequences of school closures and socially distancing restrictions (cf. ibid.). Furthermore, broader economic impacts of the Corona crisis have also led to severe psychological distress, with increased job insecurity and personal debt. According to the estimates of insolvency experts, half a million British businesses are at risk of collapse. Many workers are being asked to take pay cuts, work reduced hours or consider sabbaticals to help companies limit the number of redundancies. This is undoubtedly another factor contributing to the strain on mental health (see Kaur 2020). Quite a few counsellors and psychotherapists are already playing an important role on the front lines of the epidemic, providing support – sometimes on a voluntary basis – to vulnerable people, including medical personnel and other key workers. However, several health care providers, private physicians, and charities have also experienced funding cuts and a decline in the number of sessions as social isolation measures have come into effect (see Kaur 2020). As the impact of the crisis grows, the demand for therapeutic support will continue to increase, and so BACP’s goal is to support the government in establishing a long-term plan to ensure that this need is met in collaboration with professional associations and mental health service providers (cf. ibid.).

Following on from this, it must be mentioned that the distancing measures may make online therapy or online counselling a new future trend in the United Kingdom (cf. Kaur 2020).

Additional Information & References

For more information about the counselling profession in the state, interested readers are encouraged to read the following journal and website articles:

Great Britian
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