A time to wait…

In every degree there is a time; a time to wait. 

In fact, in every qualification. In every academic piece of work. And probably many times in fact. That’s certainly my experience. Send assignment in. Wait. Get assignment back- with grade. 
And now, it is the final wait for me – for this academic qualification at least. My understanding is that my exam board met today and that at some point in the next two weeks I will know if I passed or not. Right now, I don’t know. Right now I am waiting. And it’s a nice mirror; I am sitting on the stairs in the Quaker centre where we run out counselling service from, wondering if my client has been delayed, or if they are not coming. That wait at least, will be shorter. 
It is an interesting time of judgement. I have passed all of my academic assignments. I have passed all of the required hours to give me a BACP qualification. I have also passed all the hours that allow me to be given the PgDip in psychotherapy and counselling (for which I have to have a UKCP level of hours apparently – 240),  but two mishaps happened. In swapping over my note-taking formats earlier in the year, I didn’t realise that I was missing some hours that I had done. It didn’t matter as I had enough hours anyway, but I have a general spreadsheet with hours, and a specific one. I totalled my hours from the general one for something I handed in, and then I had to hand in a final piece of work with less hours (but still over the 240). And also, I had to complete 120 of my own counselling hours. I’ve done that, but instead of a form, I handed in a letter. 
So- I have fulfilled my requirements. There shouldn’t be any reason for me not to pass, but both of my documents are- irregular. I haven’t heard from my old tutors about this, although I have asked for confirmation that it is ok. Right now, I am back to waiting. Two weeks. 
But, it seems, my client isn’t coming. 


When to look for a placement (and what to look for)

It shows me how far I have come, when twice in the last week I’ve had calls from trainee/student counsellors looking for a placement. I’m not in a position to take trainees at present, but it got me thinking about placement and what it was like when I was looking. So I thought I’d do a quick ‘how to’.
  • When to start looking

Basically, as soon as possible. If you’re on a four year diploma or msc then you probably won’t be looking at doing any counselling in your first academic year, but you would normally expect to get your fitness to practice certificate between may and July, and once you have that, then you can do counselling hours. If you’re on a three year course, you usually get a year before clients, but if you’re doing a level four, you’ll be seeing clients within six months.


I first approached the place I wanted to counselling for in May. Everything was done and ready in *september*. I was certain it wouldn’t take anything like that, but once you’ve applied, been offered an interview, had an interview, sorted out your college/uni forms and had a DBS, well; it adds up. I’ve just applied to do a second placement. I applied about 4 weeks ago and I have an interview in 2 weeks. Added to that is the fact that some places might well want you to do in-house training first: one local rape and sexual abuse centre to me asks for twenty four days of training over six months before they will let you start. So – it’s never too early to start looking. Another thing to bear in mind is that the bigger counselling places might well have ‘hiring’ seasons, usually twice a year in May and September. If your options are limited, you don’t want to miss out based on not applying in time.


  • What to look for in your placement

Firstly – will your course let you do it. Besides some placements not taking you unless you have a set number of hours already, your college course may not want you to do certain types of counselling straight away.

Secondly – supervision. Some courses require your supervisor to be approved by them (mine does). If your placement offers supervision, you will need to check if your course allows this. if it does NOT, you will need to check with the placement that they are happy for you to have supervision elsewhere. Also bear in mind that if you are registering with BACP and the offered supervision is group supervision, you cannot count all of those hours towards your required ratio (I’m UKCP and it does allow that, and I don’t know what the BACP ratio is, but I know from fellow trainees that it exists).

Check the modality of your placement. It might be really hard to be the only person-centred person in a psychoanalytic placement – especially if you’re required to have in-house supervision. Other things around modality include the types of placement: every trainee I’ve spoken to who has done a prison placement has found that the prison have tried to nudge them towards being more directive than they might wish to be. If you feel you can be ok with that, then great, but if your inner being resists that, it may not be the type of place you want to go.

Thirdly, availability. Both yours and theirs. Check whether they will let you do hours at a time you can do. There’s no point applying and needing evenings if they are 9-5 (and I discovered this was far more common than I thought it would be, which was the reason behind making my own). Secondly, check that there are clients for you. I COULD take a trainee right now, but they wouldn’t have any clients (both of us currently working have spaces) and I know other people in my cohort who only have one client, when they need four. It might mean doing more than one placement, or it might mean just aiming for a different placement that has a better availability of clients.

Fourthly, check that your views mesh enough with theirs. For example, there is a christian counselling centre near me. It wasn’t immediately clear that it was a christian centre but something about the name gave it away (it was fairly obtuse as a christian reference, but made me dig deeper). I have no problem with christians, but I have a small suspicion that as a person in several minority boxes, that it wouldn’t necessarily be the easiest to live with theoretically (both in terms of my theory clashing with christian theory, and christian theory clashing with me), so for me, it was a better idea not to apply. Other people in my position might have applied and done well, but for ME, it wasn’t the best of ideas.

Lastly, payment. It surprised me when looking for placements that several placements in the UK CHARGE YOU for being a trainee with them. some up to ¬£40 a month. if you don’t have spare money, check what that payment will give *you* – for some it’s supervision and bacp student membership, for others it’s just bacp student membership, but it you already have that, it’s a expensive enterprise.


I started creating a list of places in the UK that offered person-centred placements. It’s in no way complete but is available here: https://sites.google.com/site/studentsandtraineespca/placements






Colors (Photo credit: josef.stuefer)

Memberships(and what you get)

As a trainee, you probably have to join some kind of association (trainees lucky enough to get a placement with a BACP organisational membership may not have to, which might save you some pounds. But for those who do: The two main ones are UKCP and BACP. You won’t need me to tell you that. Whilst anyone in training can join BACP as a student/trainee, unless you’re on a UKCP course, you can’t join UKCP except as an ‘affiliate’ member. Aside from those two, there are a number of other groups that might be useful to join/be aware of ūüôā Starting with the two ‘recommended’ ones:

  • UKCP:¬†Trainee membership costs you ¬£67¬†annually(student membership, which you can only have until you see clients is ¬£37), and for that you can get cheap insurance (from ¬£10 a year). You also get a regular magazine: The PSychotherapist, with a cross-modal focus (I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything directly ‘person-centred’-related in it, but it’s interesting nonetheless.
  • BACP: Student membership is ¬£74 and is designed to be the same whether you are seeing clients or not. For that, you receive a regular magazine: Therapy Today¬†– parts of which you can view free online. You also get free electronic access to their research journal: Counselling and Psychotherapy Research¬†(link goes to the free copy). You also get discounted entry to the various events that they organise.
  • ADPCA: Association for the development of the person-centred approach are a person-centred organisation. Their student membership is $15/¬£10, and their standard membership is $30/¬£20. For that you get their Person-centred journal once a year, and their newsletter. You also get discounted rates to the bi-annual conference, which is often in USA
  • BAPCA¬†British association for the person-centred approach are a UK person-centred organisation. Student membership is ¬£45/year, although it doesn’t say it on the main page – it does when you click through. For that you get a regular BAPCA newsletter, and a paper copy of PCEP¬†journal (link goes to free copy). If you want electronic access, you can pay an extra ¬£17/year to upgrade to it. You also get discounted rates for the bi-annual conference, often held in the Midlands (UK).
  • WAPCEPC¬† World association for person centered and experiential psychotherapy and counseling are (as the name says) an international membership organisation. Student membership is 30 euros/¬£25, or if you are a BAPCA member, 20 euros/¬£16.50. For this you get electronic access to PCEP, a newsletter 3x a year and a 50 euro/¬£41 reduction on the PCE conference price. The conference is held at various international locations bi-annually on opposite years to the BAPCA conference.
  • ACC¬†Association of christian counsellors are a multi-modal group (not just person-centred). Student membership is ¬£35. For this you get a magazine four times a year
  • BAATN¬†Black and Asian therapists’ network are also multi-modal. Student membership is ¬£20 and for this you get a newsletter (and the chance to advertise in it if you wish) and access to student support groups. There is also a member’s area online and an annual conference, that you will get a 10% reduction on.
  • PCSR¬†Psychotherapists and counsellors for social responsibility is for anyone (therapist or not) who has an interest in politics or social responsibility. Student rate is ¬£30/year and for this you get online access to the journal Psychotherapy and politics international¬†and also the association’s own in-house magazine. You can however, join the website¬†and take part in online conversations for free.
  • Pink Therapy¬†is a FREE organisation that is the largest independent organisation working with sexual and gender diversity clients. They have a regular newsletter¬†and a facebook group. As well as this, they put on an annual conference with a general theme of gender, sexual or relationship diversity (2014 conference was Trans*, 2013 was lesbian) with discounts available to students.

Are there any I’ve missed?

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