At the beginning of 2020, before coronavirus, UKCP commissioned a survey of our 10,000 members to explore how psychotherapists and psychotherapeutic counsellors work today. While we know these working practices are evolving as the world adapts to COVID-19, the following provides a snapshot of the psychotherapy workforce in the UK today.
Where we work
Most of our members work in private practice from their own home for some or all of their practice. Our survey showed 85% of survey respondents working in private practice with 58% working from home (before COVID-19), while 17% of members currently work within the NHS.
UKCP members want to do more to increase access to psychotherapy with 45% of members showing interest in working for the NHS, 19% currently working in the charitable/voluntary sector and 7% in schools and local government.
Prior to coronavirus, 40% of members also donated their expertise spending some of their time working on pro-bono contracts and supporting the NHS and voluntary sector. We know that during the COVID-19 crisis this figure has increased dramatically as many members have donated their expertise to support those in critical need, including key workers in the NHS and care homes. Psychotherapists are one of the groups of hidden key workers in this crisis, and we value each and every member’s contribution to supporting people with their mental wellbeing an anxious and fearful public during the coronavirus outbreak.
While we applaud all our members who have been able to volunteer their time and skills to support others, we will continue through our policy and campaigns work to protect our members’ livelihoods and secure the recognition and paid opportunities our members need in order to provide crucial support in an accessible and sustainable way.
How we work
Our survey showed that 70% of our members work alone most of the time, and 49% also work with other psychotherapists or health professionals. More of our members work part-time as a psychotherapist or psychotherapeutic counsellor than full time, with 41% working full time and 58% working part-time, 20 hours per week or less.
Of the members working for the NHS 87% are paid and 12% are in unpaid support roles, with 74% of paid NHS work being as a result of direct employment by the NHS, the majority (75%) working at pay band 7 or 8.
What we do
Therapists predominantly work with adults individually (93%) but just under a third also work with couples (29%), nearly a quarter work with adults in groups (23%), and around half support parents, carers and families (54%) and children and infants (48%).
The number one issue all therapists are supporting clients with is trauma (64%) with two in five (41%) psychotherapists supporting people to recover after abuse and just under a third of therapists supporting clients through bereavement (30%).
Our members are helping with wider health and wellbeing issues, supporting clients in relation to suicide (13%), health-related issues (13%), addiction (11%), eating disorders (9%), obsessions (7%), phobias (5%) as well as sexuality (8%) and sex and relationship difficulties (4%), as well as addressing issues such as infertility (2%), disability (3%) and adoption (4%).
While affordable access to quality psychotherapy is essential to address the mental health crisis unfolding in the UK, psychotherapy can benefit anybody who is interested in making a change or fulfilling their potential. It is encouraging to see that as well as supporting clients with these serious and life-changing issues, therapists are also supporting clients who are interested in self-improvement (30%).
The work our members do is life-changing and life-saving. We are working hard to secure more funded training and work opportunities in the NHS and to increase public awareness and understanding of the value of psychotherapy.