People often ask, "What is therapy?" There are many different types of therapy (also known as 'counselling' and 'psychotherapy'), and many different ideas about what it is and how it can help. Here are just a few general ideas about what therapy is, and why we might sometimes need it:
"Therapy is time set aside by you and the therapist to look at what has brought you to therapy. This might include talking about life events, (past and present), feelings, emotions, relationships, ways of thinking and patterns of behaviour."
BACP information sheet C2, 2013
As a counsellor, I see myself as a fellow traveller, a supportive and empowering companion to you, if you are travelling a difficult path. My aim is to offer empathic understanding and acceptance, seeing each one of us as a worthwhile individual in our own right, whatever journey we are on.
I have chosen the harebell, also known as the 'Scottish bluebell,' as the emblem for my counselling practice as it is a beautiful, fragile-looking flower, and yet can thrive in the harshest conditions - just like the human spirit.
Welcome to my website, feel free to browse and explore, and if you feel like I might be someone who can help you, contact me.
"A therapy session is a time set aside on an agreed date at an agreed place, which provides a 'safe' space, which is private, undisturbed, and cannot be overheard or interrupted."
BACP information sheet C2, 2013
Above all, in the counselling session I aim to create an environment where you feel heard and understood, free from fear and judgment, where you feel accepted for who you are, just as you are.
Sessions take place in a dedicated counselling room at my home in Staffordshire, and last about an hour. Just to reassure you (because this is something that people have sometimes seen in films), you won't have to lie on a couch, and I've put one or two photos up here so that you can see what counselling, or therapy, looks like - almost like two friends having a chat.
But whereas, when two friends have a chat, they might take turns to share their worries, their news or their problems, in your counselling session I will mostly be listening to you. This in itself can be very healing: to have someone else bear witness to the heavy load you are carrying can sometimes seem to lighten the load.
"It had been an enormous relief to tell another person about his experiences, without being laughed at or rejected."
Counselling for Toads, by Robert de Board, 1997
As well as listening attentively, I will be trying to gain a real understanding of how you experience the world, checking out with you whether I have really 'got' what you are saying. Again, it can bring a huge sense of relief just to have that feeling of 'at last, someone understands me.'
Above all, I strive to offer non-judgmental warmth or acceptance - that you, like me, like everyone else, are a worthwhile person in your own right, doing the best you can in the circumstances you find yourself in. I won't give you advice or tell you what you should or shouldn't do. What I aim to offer you is a safe space where you can work out for yourself what is important to you, what changes you want to make in your life, or what goals you want to work towards.
"Non-directive counselling is based on the assumption that the client has the right to select his own life goals, even though these might be at variance with the goals that the counselor might choose for him."
Carl Rogers, 1942
Sometimes life brings us great joy, and sometimes we can feel overwhelmed just by the challenge of being human and living in the twenty-first century. I have a strong belief in the human capacity to survive and overcome adversity, and I also know that sometimes, even the strongest people can feel overwhelmed by the events in their lives, or by feelings that they don't understand - none of us is immune. Even when we have supportive and loving families and friends who care about us, we can find it helpful to talk to someone who isn't closely involved with us.
Counselling sessions will mostly be taken up with you talking and me listening, but I may sometimes suggest an activity (such as drawing or writing) if it seems like it might be helpful to you. This is something that I will always explore and discuss with you beforehand.
I came to counselling relatively late in life, having previously been a student, cleaner, waitress, teacher, secretary, PA and journalist; and for many years, whilst bringing up my family, worked for a national childbirth and parenting charity using counselling and facilitation skills in both paid and unpaid roles.
This means that I bring a wealth of life experience to my work as well as the theoretical knowledge I have gained in my professional training. I have an MSc in Counselling Psychology from Keele University and I am a registered and accredited member of BACP, The British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy. As well as my training placements, which included one with primary school children through The Place2Be and one with male offenders at a local prison, I have experience of general counselling in a local NHS-funded service.
"Counselling is always a voluntary process, both for the counsellor and the client. That means we can only work together if you want to do this for your own sake, and not just to please your friends."
The Heron, speaking to Toad, in 'Counselling for Toads', Robert de Board, 1997
In 2019 I trained as a supervisor of counsellors with the Macclesfield Counselling & Training Centre. My supervision practice has grown out of my person-centred counselling practice, so I aim to create the same accepting and empathic environment for supervisees as I do for clients. As a supervisor, I use Hawkins & Shohet's "7-eyed supervisor" model (1989/1996) to facilitate the supervisee's growth and development as a practitioner whilst keeping the focus on the work with the client. I welcome enquiries from health professionals, social workers, teachers and other professionals, as well as practitioners working in a wide range of counselling and psychotherapy settings.
Daytime and evening appointments available; ask me about concessionary rates if you are a student. I am able to work on Zoom if that is easier for you, either because of distance or mobility issues.