Problems with Training Providers: What You Can Do
If you are studying on a counselling course and something goes wrong – e.g. you find yourself in conflict with the training provider, or the training provider unexpectedly ceases to trade – it can be highly stressful. You may have already invested time and money in your studies with them.
What can you do in this challenging situation? This article aims to provide hints and tips that we hope will help you find a way through the difficulties and continue your studies if you wish.
Tip 1: Keep as calm as you can
We know this is much more easily said than done. It’s natural to feel highly stressed in this situation. Do express your frustrations and worries to supportive others, but also use whichever techniques usually work for you to help you be calm. This will help you make a plan more clearly and effectively.
Tip 2: Gather support
As well as talking about your experience with others in your support network, you might also like to make contact with others in your study group or more widely (perhaps using the Counselling Tutor Facebook group) who may be having the same or a similar experience. Two or more heads are usually better than one. Remember too the saying ‘Strength in numbers’.
Tip 3: Avoid acting impetuously
It’s natural to have very strong feelings when this type of situation arises, but take time to reflect before hitting social media. It may be very useful to use social media to contact others in the same situation and to raise awareness of the problem, but do remember that what you say there could be seen by potential employers and clients long into the future. So try to express yourself in a professional way.
Tip 4: Make a list of people and organisations that may be able to help
Exactly who this includes will vary, depending on the details of the difficult situation. Possible people and organisations that you might add to your list (in order of escalation) include:
- your tutor
- the head tutor for counselling courses at your training provider
- the person in charge of complaints, customer service and/or quality assurance at your training provider
- the awarding body with which your training provider is registered for the qualification you are working towards
- other local training providers who are registered with the same awarding body (and might therefore let you transfer to them)
- the professional body of which you, the tutor and/or the organisation is a member – or (if relevant) the professional body that accredited the course.
For organisations, do some internet research to identify the names of key people to contact there.
Citizens Advice – an independent organisation that provides confidential information and advice to assist people with legal, debt and consumer problems – can also be useful at any stage.
Tip 5: Prepare to contact the people and organisations on your list
Against your list of people/organisations to contact, note down the contact methods you have for them, e.g. email, telephone, web form, live chat and postal address. Keeping a written record of this will be useful if you need to contact them again in future.
It might be helpful to make some notes for yourself summarising the problematic situation, so that you can explain calmly and succinctly when you make contact with people/organisations who may be able to help. Think too about what kind of help you would like from them, so you can ask for this clearly.
Check whether the organisations that you are planning to contact have any information on their website that it would be helpful to read in advance. For example, the Citizens Advice website has a useful factsheet called ‘If a company stops trading or goes out of business’.
If you are one of a group who has been affected by the same difficulty, you could split the people/bodies to contact between you, to spread the workload. If you do this, make sure that everyone knows to explain that the problem is affecting a whole group, on whose behalf they are making contact. It’s also good to agree how, when and where you will all feed back the information you gather.
Tip 6: Contact the people and bodies on your list
When you contact the people/bodies that you have listed, try to do so at a time when – and in a place where – you can focus on what you need to say and (if you’re using a synchronous method, such as phone or live chat) what they are saying in response. You might like to have a paper and pen handy so you can jot down any important information they give you either while they are speaking or straight afterwards. Don’t audio-record the conversation unless you have their consent: whatever has happened, you must protect yourself by acting within the law and your professional body’s ethical framework.
Tip 7: Note down the information you have received
When you have information, make sure you note this somewhere (including who gave you the information, and when). If you are part of a group, share it back with the other members so that you have a ‘pool’ of information to draw on.
Tip 8: Make a plan of action
Now that you have gathered as much information as you can from the people/bodies you have spoken with, it’s time to make a plan of action. Hopefully, what you need to do to resolve the difficult situation will be clear from the information you have received. If you are part of a group of people with the same issue, talking together may help to clarify this plan.
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Problems with Training Providers: What You Can Do
Tip 9: Consider going legal
It is always cheaper and easier to resolve conflicts directly with the people involved than to take a legal route, which can get very expensive. But if all else fails, it’s an option.
Citizens Advice can advise on legal routes, and some solicitors will provide an initial consultation free of charge. Do take care to ask explicitly what costs will be involved in taking legal action before committing to this route, and remember that even if you do win the case, it can be difficult to get the money from the other party if they do not have it.
It’s also possible to initiate a court claim (previously known as taking someone to a ‘small claims court’) online. You can do this yourself, without a lawyer’s help.
If your training provider has gone out of business, you can also contact the administrator or receiver (the person/organisation that is dealing with settling their debts) – this name will usually be on the website of the company that’s gone bust.
Tip 10: Try not to let it ‘eat you up’
It’s hugely angering and upsetting to have lost significant time, energy and/or money as a result of someone else’s poor service – and it’s important to do all you can within reason to recoup your losses. But after this, you need to work to find a way forward, for your own peace of mind.
This is again much more easily said than done – and moving forward doesn’t mean you have to try to forget what happened. You might wish to reflect on what learning and personal development you have gained from the experience – and to share your experience to help support and protect others.