The work of the Psychotherapy & Counselling Union.
Formation of the PCU
One of the most important factors that led me to become involved in starting the Psychotherapy & Counselling Union (PCU) was the terrible situation of trainees and recently qualified therapists and counsellors, forced to work without pay and sometimes at their own expense in order to complete their qualifying hours. The Union has produced two Codes of Practice, for trainees and for volunteers (not the same thing, although trainees forced to work for free are often misnamed 'volunteers'). If these codes are widely adopted, they will force a huge change in the way therapy providers are funded and organised - and about time too.
PCU and Trainees
PCU offers a space for trainees to receive support, network, and campaign alongside qualified therapists via online forums, events, and campaigns. Trainees can draw on the union's resources for help with all training or placement issues. PCU has actively campaigned for students, including lobbying professional bodies in regards to the proliferation of unpaid work e.g. ensuring supervision and travel expenses are funded when undertaking placements.
Support in complaint procedures
The PCU has a network of members who provide support to other members considering making a complaint, or have had a complaint made against them. The PCU has achieved special status and has been recognised by the following professional membership/registration bodies: BACP, UKCP, the British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC), and the National Counselling Society (NCS). The words of members who have benefited from specific, practical, and emotional support that has made a real difference are on our website: Psychotherapy and Counselling Union.
Mental health in schools
Juliet will be exploring the issues raised by the Government's recent Green Paper, "Transforming Young People's Mental Health Provision" and considering how the role of the school counsellor in England is being side-lined and how all parties involved – school counsellors, schools, CAMHS practitioners, and children have not been properly considered in these plans. School counsellors and the children they work with are particularly vulnerable in these plans as they do not have a collective voice or representation. PCU members are organising around this issue, talking and listening to each other, pulling together voices that need to be heard and working towards taking action.
Our aims for the near future
As a new and relatively small organisation, PCU has already significantly influenced our profession. To continue developing, we need to grow and diversify our membership across the field of psychological therapies, particularly among trainees, the 'next generation' of therapists. PCU aims to 'stand up for therapists and therapy' and present a voice for therapeutic thinking in social discourse and public policy.