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Our Student Clinical Placement

We are delighted to now be accepting applications for our first student clinical placement.

Group Discussion

Our Story

 

We’re proud to be The Empathy Project. We are a small team of Person-Centred counsellors who met during the Covid-19 pandemic, frustrated by the desperate state of mental healthcare provision in our area, where clients struggle to find therapy that is right for them, often with long waiting lists just to receive a limited number of sessions. 

 

At the same time, we’ve seen the increased demand on counsellors, often working under high pressure in organisations overly-focussed on targets and not enough on supporting counsellors. We’ve seen an increase in counsellors feeling isolated, burned out and paid poorly for what is a unique, difficult and challenging role.

 

We felt that was not good enough, so we decided to do something about it. We came together with our combined experience from charities, EAPs and private practice to build something different.

Our Mission

 

We launched The Empathy Project CIC on 1st April 2024, as a non-profit community mental health service with the goal to support clients and counsellors equally. We offer open-ended, high-quality counselling with a humanistic, Person-Centred approach to care.

 

We are a self-funding, independent organisation, operating without any financial or organisational support from the NHS or Government. We are legally established as a Community Interest Company (Limited by Guarantee).

 

This identity gives us more flexibility than a charity to choose how we operate, including becoming financially self-sustaining by being able to charge affordable rates for our services. Through this, we are able to offer better terms and job security to our counsellors instead of being fully reliant on grants, and can instead work to a long-term, sustainable vision. 

 

Meanwhile we remain legally and ethically bound to reinvest 100% of any financial surplus into the community benefit, ensuring that we are a genuine non-profit. We do this primarily through our Community Fund, which we use to resource counselling sessions at a discounted rate for clients who cannot otherwise afford therapy. 

 

Currently about 15% of our sessions are delivered through the Community Fund, and our hope is to increase this considerably as we grow, develop and become more financially secure. Our new student placement will be key to us being able to deliver more low-cost sessions and therefore help more people who are struggling and who have no other options.

Creating a High Quality Student Placement

 

The journey that you are on as student counsellors is one of the most rewarding, challenging and life changing things that you can do. All of our team remembers this well and what it was like for ourselves, so when designing our student placement, getting things right is really important to us.

 

Should you choose to work with us, we always want you to feel valued, respected and supported. Just because you are a student does not mean that your views, opinions and perspectives do not matter. On the contrary, you are the future of our profession, and you might see things differently to the rest of our team. We can only build a great organisation if we work together and include everyone along the way, valuing input equally and absorbing good ideas.

 

We found from our experiences that supporting student counsellors properly is critical. This might be your first placement and the first time that you work with a client outside of a “triad” in class. It can feel daunting, scary and can bring up all kinds of feelings for us both personally and professionally, and we have a duty of care to look after and support you.

 

Central to our values is the concept of “just culture”. This relies on the spirit of teamwork, togetherness, honesty and shared responsibility. We are in a profession where safeguarding and ethics are an everyday part of our work, and it is important that we can handle those conversations openly and professionally, thereby protecting our clients and counsellors alike.

 

We want to help you grow in both skills and confidence and support you on your journey to becoming a fully qualified counsellor. We will do this by:

 

  • Prioritising your well being and not your workload. We will never put you under pressure to take on more clients, and we will advise you to take regular time off.

 

  • Providing you with high-quality client referrals that have been individually assessed as being appropriate for your skill and confidence level.

 

  • Offering flexible working patterns, both in-person and remotely, that work around your schedule and other commitments.

 

  • Working with your training provider to ensure that any academic requirements and paperwork for your course are being completed.

 

  • Providing both individual and group support, through regular check-ins, team meetings and peer supervision - plus optional private supervision and personal therapy (we may ask to charge a small fee for this - our plan is to eventually make this free).

 

  • Offering a clear pathway to paid employment upon qualification, either by joining us as a paid counsellor on the team, or through great references and career advice.

About You

 

We are seeking applications from student counsellors who are passionate, committed and self-aware. We want to work with people who share our values and vision, and our Person-Centred philosophy. 

 

We believe that the Person-Centred approach is a “big tent”, composed of many tribes and individual interpretations that is unique to each counsellor. We therefore consider applications from any student who works in a broadly Person-Centred, humanistic or integrative approach. We will always support you to find your own individual style of counselling and welcome you bringing in other ideas and modalities into your “therapist toolbox”.

 

You do not need to have any previous experience of counselling. However, please do tell us about any prior experience you have, including from other relevant professions, life experiences or even your own personal therapy. We see a counsellor’s own lived experience as being hugely important and relevant to their work - anything that may have happened to you in the past we are likely to see as a strength - especially if this helps you empathise with clients.

 

The work of a counsellor is hard, and so what we are also looking for are students who have built resilience and are committed to maintaining healthy boundaries and self-care.

 

We offer flexible working patterns built around you. We understand that you are likely to have another job, other placement, family, study or other commitments. You can choose to deliver sessions in person at our Southampton therapy room, remotely or a mixture of both.

 

Eligibility

 

  • To be enrolled on a minimum level 4 counselling course that has been accredited by either the BACP, UKCP or NCPS.

 

  • To be a registered student member of either the BACP, UKCP or NCPS and not currently suspended or subject to a complaint process.

 

  • To have received your “fit to practise” sign-off from your course provider.

 

  • To work in a primarily Person-Centred, humanistic or integrative approach.

 

  • To regularly undertake clinical supervision in accordance with course requirements.

 

  • To hold valid DBS and student practitioner clinical insurance (we can help you with this)

 

  • To be committed to ethical and safe practice of counselling, including maintaining boundaries, self-care, and to have the maturity and attitudes needed for this role.

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