Volunteering as a Counsellor

Choosing to volunteer as a Counsellor with Network is a great way to support the availability of counselling for all, particularly clients for whom counselling in private practice is out of reach.

Network’s affordable counselling service relies on the compassion, skills and experience brought by our team of around 40 volunteer counsellors. Some counsellors are on their training placement with us, some growing their experience after qualifying, and some commit their professional skills to clients of all backgrounds in a similar way that a lawyer might choose to offer some of their time pro bono.

“Counsellors choose to give their time at many stages in their professional lives, much as a pro bono lawyer might”

Dr Andrew Dale, Head of Counselling

Any counsellor has the ability to volunteer that makes a difference – whether you are a counsellor in private practice, or a counsellor working for a company or statutory services. You may have experience or a specialism which can help a client move forward with their difficulties.

Our client group

As an affordable service welcoming people of all backgrounds, faiths, worldviews and abilities to contribute financially we receive a wide range of clients. Many clients come to us because we are able to work sensitively and confidently with the spiritual aspect of people’s experience, clients present with a wide range of difficulties and currently over 60% of our clients are on a low income.

Network is the leading charity in the Bristol area for offering affordable, longer term (12 sessions initially, and if needed up to 40) counselling to clients bringing any difficulty, though we may signpost if a client requires specialist support (around addiction, for example).

What volunteering can offer the Counsellor

Our Counsellor agreement covers what you can fully expect from us, and this includes:

  • A broad range of clients

The nature of our service means that as a volunteer Counsellor with us you have the opportunity to broaden the group of clients that you work with. Our team will work with you to incorporate any areas of interest of preferences around client allocations.

  • A community of counsellors

Many of our counsellors welcome the sense of community that volunteering with Network brings. Covid-19 has meant that we’ve needed to adapt, but our warm staff team and ‘common room’ space can provide a balance to working alone in private practice.

  • Support in your development

Our Counselling team operate an ‘open door’ policy, supporting counsellors with queries around clients, professional practice issues, communication with other professionals where necessary, and other matters. You will be offered an annual review to check in on how you are finding your role. Being part of Network also gives an insight into how a non-profit counselling organization runs.

  • Purpose built counselling premises

In 2017 we moved to our premises in Elm Park, Filton. The building has eight well-appointed counselling rooms, kitchen facilities and a waiting room space for clients (when restrictions permit).

  • Supervision contribution

Counsellors who see three or more Network clients a week will have the costs of their supervision covered, up to the amount set as Network policy. Counsellors who see one or two clients will have a related proportion of their supervision costs covered.

  • Discounted CPD events

Volunteer counsellors are able to access our CPD events at half price.

  • Reduced private room hire fees

Volunteer Counsellors qualify for a reduced fee should you wish to use our rooms to see private clients. This is dependent on your eligibility and room availability.

What is involved for the Counsellor

We ask that Counsellors work with at least three clients seen on a regular weekly basis for one hour sessions, and that you do at least one Initial Assessment per month with prospective clients.

Network has policies in place to ensure the safety and effectiveness of our service, such as in relation to limits of confidentiality, note-keeping and completion of other necessary paperwork, and we ask that you uphold these.

Network is an organizational member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and we ask you to work within the BACP ‘Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions’.

In accordance with BACP recommendations, Counsellors need to attend a minimum of 1.5 hours of supervision per month focused on your work with Network clients, and a minimum of 30 hours of Continuing Professional Development per annum which must include at least two CPD workshops a year.

How to join our Volunteer Counselling service

If you would like to be a part of our work to make quality counselling support available to all, please email our Head of Counselling, Dr Andrew Dale at Andrew.dale@network.org.uk for an informal initial conversation.

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