20160313_114906 (1)

 

Welcome, and thank you for visiting my site

I am a qualified, experienced, counsellor who takes an integrative approach to therapy. This means I try to focus on what the client needs, using techniques and theories from different areas.

I see my role as creating a space where a client can explore what matters in a safe, non judgemental space. I use a number of interventions, as appropriate, such as journaling, mindfulness, art therapy, stone work and other gestalt cbt and person centred techniques.

Clients tell me they value my down to earth attitude, my open mindedness, my compassion, and that I do not “seem like a therapist”. I do not believe I am an expert who can tell you what to do. I am a trained professional who can walk alongside you and use my expertise to help you work out the issues that matter to you.

I offer online therapy, which can be particularly useful to a number of people, either because of time, location, other commitments, disability, and convenience. Sessions can take place either via webcam, or instant messaging. I currently work with people from across the world, including expats who find online counselling ideal for their needs.

I also offer conventional in person counselling, based in the Tyne Valley.

Sessions last for 50 minutes, usually take place weekly, and whether in person or online I adhere to the values, and ethical framework of the BACP. A copy of this, and their complaints procedure are available upon request. I am also fully insured and have a DBS check.

Qualifications and Training

I am a fully qualified counsellor with a professional diploma in counselling as well as further specialist training. This 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 see myself as a guide, or navigator, whose role is not to take charge but to walk alongside you. I was fortunate that my department took an integrationist approach, encouraging us to use and develop skills from all schools of counselling.

I have undergone specific extra training in working with:

  • domestic violence
  • child abuse
  • bereavement
  • relationship counselling
  • working online
  • drug and alcohol use
  • rape
  • family breakdown
  • gender and sexual diversities including; asexuality, BDSM, bisexuality, non binary identities, polyamorous and non monogamies, kink and trans clients.

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. I offer empathetic, non judgemental open-minded counselling, 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 and sexuality 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. We will both sign 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. You will only need to pay for this session if you decide to continue, 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, camera or email. I use either Skype or an encrypted secure app called Appear.in. I have written simple how to guides of how to set up Skype accounts, use instant messaging, or Appear.in. I also have guidance on protecting your confidentiality if for example you are using a family or shared computer. Email counselling takes place weekly, just like any other counselling session, and I reply within 24 hours to your email, which will be sent at a set time each week when you can set aside the time to explore and reflect.

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.


The choice of counsellor  is an intensely personal one. Please explore my site, and writing, I feel it is so useful to get a feel for whether I would be the right person for you. Here I have suggested some questions clients might like to ask a potential counsellor or therapist.

If you would like to discuss counselling further you can contact me on Northumberlandcounselling@gmail.com  telephone 07442808719 or use the contact form.

Finally, thank you for reading, sometimes simply clicking a link is the first, most vital step.

Karen

176714_logo

Contact me here

If it is more convenient you can use the contact form to get in touch.

Training and Campaigning

I am a board member for Be:Trans Support and Development. As well as offering support and advocacy for trans people across the North East of England we provide training to a number of local and national organisations.We also organise events to mark important community days such as Trans Day of Visibility and Transgender Day of Remembrance. If you would like to find out more about either our training and consultancy work, or our peer to peer support groups you can contact me on Karen@be-transnorth.org.uk.

As a curator for The Queerness, an online intersectional LGBTQ+ magazine I hope to raise awareness of a number of issues faced by LGBTQ people. It is also an opportunity to encourage new writers, and make a space for marginalised voices to be heard. We work as a collective, and are always eager to include new perspectives on LGBTQ+ issues.

Every Monday evening I help run a twitter chat for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Social media can be a lifeline for those who have felt unable to speak out previously. It is also a chance for people to share their wisdom, experiences, and provide peer support. It is not intended to replace therapy, but many participants feel it is therapeutic. If you wish to take part it is at 6pm (UK time) and uses the hashtag #CSAQT

In my advocacy for better training I have spoken to trainee counsellors at a number of colleges about gender, sexuality, and relationship diverse minorities. You can contact me on northumberlandcounselling@gmail.com if you would like me to come and speak to your students.

 

My recent blog posts

What happens in a counselling session?

I am a firm believer in demystifying counselling and the therapeutic process. It is part of the reasoning behind my Archers posts, to make theory accessible using a popular soap opera (which I happen to love). Many people are apprehensive about the idea of counselling and concerned about what will be expected, here I hope to answer come common questions and give an idea of how the process may work.

The initial session.

I believe it is important to have a contract between a therapist and a client. This sets out practicalities such as how to contact each other between sessions should it be necessary, payment and emergency contact details and so on. A written contract also makes clear the limits of confidentiality. What is said in a therapy session is of course confidential, however in cases where its believed someone is in direct danger of harm this knowledge needs to be passed on. (I have never yet come across a client who disagrees with this, however in the first session I explain with concrete examples what this exactly means).

As a member of the BACP I also adhere to their ethical framework and complaints procedure. I believe it is best practice to offer clients a copy of both of these so they feel empowered about making any complaint, and are reassured my practice is ethical and regulated.

The initial session will also cover issues such as what the client wishes to gain from therapy, previous experiences of counselling, and any particular questions or concerns they may have. For online counselling privacy will also be discussed, as well as how breakdowns in technology will be handled.

There is no couch

[Picture description A cartoon black and white image of a woman lying on a traditional psychiatrists couch while at the end of the couch an old, bald man is taking notes]

This is probably the traditional view of therapy. You lie down while the therapist asks you about your childhood. This puts many people off counselling, indeed many fear that against their own knowledge or experience they will be required to “uncover” childhood trauma. Other who know there is a history of trauma in their past do not wish to be forced to tell their story unless they are ready to do so.

I cannot of course say what happens with other therapists, however I believe in being led by the client, in believing them, in offering unconditional positive regard, and most of all in walking along side rather than leading. My training and experience provide me with the skills to work with a number of issues, including abuse and trauma, but there will never be a demand you uncover it for me,nor do I believe that it is necessary to tell your story in order to heal. Of course for some people the safe space to speak that therapy provides is vital, is healing, but that is decided upon by them not me.

So I will not blame your parents, demand you do the same, or insist that an incident you believe was trivial had some deep inner significance. You are the expert in your own life.

Its OK to Laugh

Many people assume therapy will be serious at all times. Indeed, there may be tears, anger, frustration, but there is also laughter. Looking into yourself, making changes, learning healthier habits, letting go of negative emotions makes room for the positive, allows you to smile, and indeed laugh. Therapy is not all about the negative.

I hope in this post to have addressed some of the common questions people have about counselling, and some of the fears. If you are interested in counselling you can email me on northumberlandcounselling@gmail.com and if you have any more general questions, please feel free to leave a comment and I will try to answer them.