Thank you for visiting my site. In these difficult and uncertain times many people are seeking support for their mental health and wellbeing. You may be wondering if counselling is suitable, practical and indeed safe, as well as whether I am the right fit for you.
First let me address the world which we now all have to adjust to, living in, and through a global pandemic. As someone who has been working online for 5 years, over 75 % of my practice was already online, using video conferencing, or instant messaging. I am experienced, and trained in, not only using the technology, and supporting your use of it, but also in how online therapy can be of the most benefit to you. My training also means that I am aware of the pitfalls and issues which may arise from working virtually. Whilst research shows that online therapy is as good as, and in some cases better than in person, it is important to be aware of the differences, and I talk my clients through these before we begin our work together.
For those who would prefer in person counselling , whilst I am not working indoors until 2021, at the earliest, my walking therapy practice reopened in July. Walking therapy moves therapy outside, bringing not only the benefits of nature and movement, but for many disrupting the previous negative associations with therapy.
Below you will find an outline of who I am and how I work. You may also like to spend some time on my blog, getting a feel for me to help decide if I am the right counsellor for you. Before we begin counselling I suggest an initial conversation, by telephone or webcam, where you can ask any questions you may have. This usually takes about 30 minutes and is free of charge. Here I have written some questions you might like to ask any potential counsellor.
Let me tell you a little about myself and my role. I am a qualified and experienced counsellor in private practice, working online and face to face in the North East of England. I see my role as creating a space where you can explore what matters to you, and find the solutions you need, in a safe, non judgemental space. I use a number of interventions, as appropriate, such as journaling, mindfulness, art therapy, stone work and other techniques as well as traditional person centred therapy – which is probably what most people think of when they consider counselling.
My clients tell me they value my down to earth attitude, my open mindedness, my compassion, knowledge and specialist training. I do not believe I am an expert who can tell you what to do though. I am a trained professional who can walk alongside you and use my skills to help you work out the issues that matter to you.
Where can counselling take place?
This can be particularly useful to a number of people, either because of time, location, other commitments, disability, or convenience. As an experienced online therapist, which specific training in working online, I will walk you through not only using the technology (assuming it is not familial) but also offer guidance on how to get the best from online work, as well as specific issues which may come up when working online. Sessions can take place either via webcam, or instant messaging. You can read brief FAQ’s about online therapy here. I currently work with people from across the world, including expats, disabled people, carers, parents, those who are self isolating or shielding, all of whom find online counselling ideal for their needs.
Face to Face
Currently no face to face sessions are available due to the pandemic. It is unlikely I will be offering face to face office based sessions before 2021
Walking therapy sessions are currently available. It may well be that more people will feel safer with this form of outdoor based therapy, than conventional office based therapy. Living as I do in rural Northumberland, there are a number of quiet roads and public footpaths, both paved and across fields, which are suitable for walking therapy.
For some, especially those with negative experiences of counselling, or institutional abuse in their history, offices and enclosed spaces can be distressing. Others find nature itself to be healing, and research bears this out. We walk, and allow the session to unfold as we walk. I have a number of routes, and before the first session we would discuss your mobility needs, as well as any other concerns you might have.
All sessions usually last for 50 minutes and take place weekly. I am also fully insured and have a DBS check. Before starting walking therapy, we would discuss accessibility, including allergies, physical access needs, level of fitness,means of transport to and from the session, this allows me to design sessions according to the specific needs of each individual client. Full covid-19 1m+ mitigation and risk assessment has taken place for these sessions, and I can send you copies of the risk assessments if you wish.
Qualifications and Training
My original qualification in counselling included 100 hours of supervised volunteer counselling in organisations who provided low-cost or free counselling to clients from very diverse backgrounds. It cemented within me the need for therapy to be more affordable and accessible to all.
My initial training was person centered, in essence this means believing you, the client, is the expert in your own life. I was fortunate that my department encouraged us to use and develop skills from all schools of counselling.
I have undergone specific extra training and am experienced in working with:
- domestic abuse including coercive control
- child abuse
- relationship counselling
- working online
- drug and alcohol use
- family breakdown
- gender and sexual diversities including; asexuality, BDSM, bisexuality, non binary identities, polyamorous and non monogamies, kink and trans clients.
- working with sex workers
- Working with Young People
I graduated with my Post Graduate Diploma in Gender, Sexual and Relationship diversity therapy in 2020,it is one of the few courses in the world to cover this area in depth.
How I work
Choosing to start counselling is for many a huge step. People can be concerned about stigma, stirring up the past, being judged. Many clients approach me after previous negative experiences of counselling. My attitude to counselling is always rooted in my belief that everyone is doing the best they can, with the resources they have available to them.
I am a registered member of the BACP, the largest regulator of counselling in the UK. I adhere to their ethical framework, and complaints procedures. I believe passionately in ethical practice, and the need for strong regulation of counselling to protect clients from abusive or negligent therapists. I am also fully insured. It matters to me that clients feel able to make a complaint just as they would against any other professional. I advocate for better training of therapists in gender, sexuality and relationship diversity.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens in the first session?
The initial session is very much a “getting to know you”. It is important you feel I am the right therapist for you. We will discuss practicalities, such as time, contact between sessions, emergency contacts and so forth. I will provide you with a written contract, which gives you a clear outline of what to expect from me. We will also discuss issues around self care, and understanding that counselling can stir up strong emotions. Many clients like to have a chat on the phone before this first session, to get a feel for whether I am the right therapist for them. I am always happy to do this, and there is no charge for this as I feel its important clients have no pressure on them when making such an important decision.
How do you work online?
Online counselling can take place either by instant messaging or camera. I use either encrypted secure apps called Whereby or Zoom. I have written simple how to guides of how to set up use instant messaging, or Whereby/Zoom. I also have guidance on protecting your confidentiality if for example you are using a family or shared computer.
You are also a writer, will you write about our sessions?
Whilst my clients continually educate and inspire me, I take great pains to ensure that nothing from the sessions ends up in my writing. I do not anonymise, instead I use totally hypothetical situations if I am writing about counselling. It is understandable that you might be worried about confidentiality however I make it one of my guiding principles that if I cannot write about something without respecting the sacred bond of trust between me and a client, I do not write about it at all.
Do you offer lower cost session?
Yes. I have a sliding scale for those in work, of between £30 and £60 per session, I do not ask for proof of income but simply that you assess your ability to pay. Previously I offered a limited number of low cost sessions of £25 to students and those on low incomes from the GSRD communities. I have opened this up to anyone who has been been financially impacted by the pandemic, and any key-worker who wishes to access counselling.
The choice of counsellor is an intensely personal one. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.
If you would like to discuss counselling further you can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact form.
Finally, thank you for reading, sometimes simply clicking a link is the first, most vital step.