School of Health

Addressing diversity within counselling, education and practice

Chris Hudson, Head of Subject for Psychological Therapies and Mental Health, talks about new partnership to promote diversity in counselling.

We know anecdotally that diversity within the Counselling profession i.e. those who are qualified and practising therapists, leaves much to be desired, a view substantiated by client experiences and awareness on behalf of service providers. Whilst the main professional body, the British Association of Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP), do some very laudable work in terms of policy and practice around diversity, this is orientated on navigating therapists in matters of working with diverse communities and service users.

We know that achieving a more diverse population of qualified Counsellors is needed and there is no simple solution, indeed diversity in Counselling and therapeutic provision is a huge area for development across the sector. Why is this necessary? In its simplest form there are cultural barriers that prevent people of diverse colour and race accessing therapy – worthy of active work by all educators and service providers because a) we want to ensure services are relevant for anyone and b) the black and minority ethnic population are at greater risk of developing a mental health condition.

As reported in the national media in 2020, one improvement sought by people of colour who need therapeutic support is to have services provided by therapists like them. However, the Black, African and Asian Therapists Network (BAATN) have found a disparity between how well BAME patients rated their therapeutic experience (10% satisfied with cultural consideration) to how well the therapists themselves saying their service ‘met cultural needs of BAME’ (75%).

BAATN also indicate that any BAME candidates who start training to become qualified are more likely to drop out before the end of the course. As a provider of such education and training we (rightly) have all the necessary policies and checks in [place to drive equality in what we do. It is clear that this needs to translate into different action, organisation and behaviour around our delivery too. A small positive step is our new partnership with a local mental health service provider, Northpoint Wellbeing, who deliver services to all the diverse communities across West Yorkshire. Working together we are providing financial scholarship support and bespoke mentoring for some BAME students on our MA Integrative Counselling in September.  We look forward to listening to these students and their peers telling us what more we need to do so that services can be relevant and successful for all users.

More information about the scholarship here.

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