Heather's story

I was working at a firm but I was really unhappy there. The hours were silly, and although I was putting in a lot of effort, I was being repeatedly told that I was under-performing. My superiors made it very clear that they didn't think much of me and the more they criticised me the more anxious I became. It was a toxic environment and it really impacted on my mental health.

I had an appraisal that went very badly. I got upset and said 'I've tried everything.' I said: 'The only thing I haven't tried is seeing my GP for medication.' Looking back that was a very naïve comment. As soon as I said I was going to see a doctor they dropped me. They wanted to get rid of me before I was diagnosed with having medical illness because they would then have had responsibilities to me. The very next day I was asked to leave. They gave me 3 months' paid leave and washed their hands of me. I was devastated.

I called caba and told them about what had happened. I said I was thinking maybe I wasn't cut out to be a chartered accountant after all. caba supported me in 2 ways. They arranged for career coaching so I could work out my next move, but they also arranged counselling as I needed help processing everything that had happened.

how caba helped me

The career coaching was as much about confidence as anything. I needed an honest assessment, to work out whether my future was as a chartered accountant or not. It soon became clear that although I wasn't a good fit with the company, I actually have some very accomplished skills and abilities. Together we built my confidence and I decided to stay in the industry and use my training and experience.

In terms of counselling, I just needed someone impartial to talk through what had happened. My therapist made me see how susceptible I am to other people's feelings - I was absorbing everyone else's stress and it was affecting my ability to do my best work. We worked on this until I developed techniques to step aside from other people's feelings. I now use these techniques all the time.

It was great that caba could fund the counselling and the career coaching, I certainly needed both and trying to pay for them myself when I wasn't earning would have really added to my anxiety. The structure of regular appointments helped me to stay on-task and build momentum. It wasn't long before I was back in work, in a very interesting interim position, that has helped me gain additional skills and build my confidence.

are you eligible for caba's services?

caba supports the wellbeing of past and present ICAEW members, ACA students, ICAEW staff members, and their spouses, partners and children up to the age of 25. Our support is free, impartial and strictly confidential. For advice, information and support please click on the button below.

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find out more about our career advice services

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You can access our self-help content for career advice

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we offer a range of training and events that can help your career

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training and events

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your questions answered 

Who is eligible for support?

We support past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW), ACA students, ICAEW staff members, and the family and carers of members and students. 

  1. No matter where your career takes you, past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England Wales (ICAEW) are eligible for caba’s services for life, even if you change your career and leave accountancy 
  2. ACA students (ICAEW Provisional Members) who are either an active student or have been an active student within the last three years are eligible for caba's services 
  3. Past and present staff members of the ICAEW or caba are eligible for caba's services for life, even if you leave either organisation. Please note, for former employees, our financial support is only available to those who have had five years continuous employment with either organisation 
  4. Family members and carers of either an eligible past or present ICAEW member, ACA student or past or present employee of the ICAEW or caba are eligible for caba's support. We define a family member as a: 
    1. spouse, civil partner or cohabiting partner 
    2. widow, widower or surviving civil partner who has not remarried or cohabiting with a partner 
    3. divorced spouse or civil partner who has not remarried or cohabiting with a partner 
    4. child aged up to 25. Please note, children aged between 16 and 25 are not eligible for individual financial support 
    5. any other person who is dependent on the eligible individual supporting them financially or are reliant on the eligible individual’s care 
    6. any other person on whom the eligible individual is reliant, either financially or for care 

You can find out more about our available support both in the UK and around the world on our support we offer  page. 

Are your services means-tested?

If you need financial support, we carry out a means test where we consider income, expenditure, capital and assets.  

*Please note none of our other services are means-tested. 

I’m an accountant, but not a member of ICAEW, can you still help?

Unfortunately not. We only support past and present ICAEW members, their carers and their families. If we are unable to support you, where possible we will point you to help elsewhere.

caba has supported me in the past; can I receive support from caba again?

We understand that circumstances change. If we’ve helped you in the past there’s no reason why we can’t help you again. You can contact us at any time. Please call us if you need our help.

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