Who am I? #01

How did I become the counsellor I am today?

My teaching career
Its quite a while ago now since I graduated from Keele University with a combined honours degree in Psychology and Philosophy. Armed with what I thought was a great deal of useful knowledge I searched round for a profession where I could make good use of these subjects. Counselling seemed an interesting idea but I felt young and inexperienced and I didn't feel sure enough about it. After much thought, I decided to follow the degree with a Diploma in Education and then I embarked on what became a 25 year career in teaching. I did take some time out when I had my two children.
Whilst enjoying the challenge of teaching, I continued to be really interested in the human mind and I wanted to learn more about how our early stressful or traumatic experiences affect our well being. I was really concerned about the most troubled children that I saw and tried to work with. Those children who were bullied for example, or those that did the bullying, or those that never said a word and those that had far too much distress to be able to concentrate. Over the years I became more skilled in this area and I looked for every opportunity to develop my expertise. I took posts in both primary and secondary schools and began to specialise in working with children with emotional and behavioural difficulties. This was rewarding work but I eventually decided I wanted to focus more closely on working with individuals, both children and adults.

A positive change of direction
I finally left teaching and re-trained in Integrative Counselling. Straight away I knew that this was the work I really wanted to do. I loved the training, the learning, the practice and the continual supervision to enhance my skills. My first two volunteer placements were in a G.P. Surgery and a Cancer Support Service and both of these gave me opportunities to work with a wide range of issues and develop my expertise. Once qualified I combined my work as a counsellor with working part time as a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Practitioner where I helped families as well as children and young people.
Recently, I was employed by Leeds Counselling, as a Community Counsellor, I worked from Sure Start Centres, giving parents of young children free access to counselling for up to 12 sessions.

I am still learning
I qualified as a counsellor in 2001 and since then I have continued to read books on counselling, study, attend courses and ask questions. I am committed to finding the best and most effective way to help people in distress. I am continually wanting to answer questions such as 'what works?' 'what is most helpful?' and 'what gets the best results?' That is why I started to train in Solution Focussed Therapy. This approach begins with the belief that whatever problems we are faced with we can be helped to discover our own resources and find our own solutions. What's more, with careful use of questions, clients can be helped in only about six sessions. I love this way of working, it feels so respectful of clients. Having incorporated SFT as a tool in my counselling practice, I then became interested in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. This was an approach that was also said to help people in a reasonably short period of time, 12 - 18 sessions, but unlike other therapies it was very well researched and showing such good results that the government had identified this approach as one that was worth funding in the NHS. There was a lot about CBT that I liked and could see how helpful it was to many clients bringing a range of problems. However the more I used it, I could see that iy appealed to clients who liked to think a lot about their problems and who would happily carry out 'homework' tasks where, for example, they analysed their day to day moods and underlying thinking patterns. I was aware that this actually put off other clients who were already feeling overwhelmed and had no energy left to think and analyse. They just wanted to feel better! Also, having learnt how to help people in 6 sessions, working through 12 sessions in this way seemed quite laborious.
I still wasn't happy that I was being helpful enough and I became curious about hypnosis. Not the sort of stage hypnosis where people can be persuaded to imitate a chicken or talk romantically to a mop! but Clinical Hypnosis where, through deep relaxation, clients can understand why negative messages in their subconscious stop them achieving what they want. Learning how to use hypnosis has given me a fantastic additional tool and those clients who say they would like to try it, love it too. The final, and to me, best piece of the jig-saw has been learning about Emotional Freedom Technique. I had read about how it helped people but I originally felt very cynical. I like down to earth stuff and I like good evidence and this EFT seemed to talk about 'energy psychology' and 'meridians' and other strange terminology. However I went on a training course and I immediately saw how it improved people's panic or stress very rapidly. I began to use EFT more and more and have been so delighted with its effect that I have extended my training and skills to become a Master Practitioner in EFT. It links very well with Solution Focussed Therapy and CBT but what really keeps me using it and developing my expertise in this area is the way it helps so many people so rapidly. Also it is something that clients can easily learn to use themselves. I would love to have the chance to teach it to you too.

Learning from clients
Through my work as a counsellor, I have met and worked with a range of amazing people, and I never cease to be in awe of the way people cope with tremendous challenges in their lives. Through supporting people in this way I have learnt so much about a huge range of issues. For example I now know so much more about how a good solid relationship can suddenly go wrong, how some level of deprivation in a person's life can lead to compulsive eating, how an overwhelming feeling of anxiety can develop and how a positive and practical person can suddenly feel paralysed by depression. What is more important, I have now gained a much clearer understanding of how clients can be helped to regain strength and energy so that they can feel happy at last.

My current counselling practice.
I now have my own busy private practice which I run from my home in Shipley. I see people face to face on weekdays up to 7.30p.m. I also work over the phone and the internet 7 days a week. I also run groups such as Assertiveness, Weight Management and Happiness and Well Being.

My Ethical Standards I work to strict ethical guidelines with all forms of therapy that I use. I can tell you more when we meet but, for now, be assured that I will not discriminate against anyone on the basis of a person's race, colour, physical disability, gender or sexual orientation; and be assured that all your communications with me will be treated confidentially.

My qualifications
I am accredited with BACP.
I also have the following qualifications:
Advanced Certificate in Online Counselling with Online Training 4 Counsellors
B.A. Hons in Psychology and Philosophy from Keele University
Diploma and M.Sc in Education from Bradford University
Diploma in Counselling and Human Relations from Bradford College
EFT Master Practitioner
Diploma in Clinical Hypnosis

If you want to know how to contact me to set up a first appointment click on to the How to get started page

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