What attracted you to become a therapist?
I was married for 31 years, very happily, and when I retired from my previous job in finance I decided it would be nice to put something back. I had lost my wife to cancer and I wanted to show other people how you could have a good relationship. I started to do training whilst I was living in France, then with Relate having moved back to the UK after meeting my new partner, now my wife.
Where did you train?
I trained with Relate, and did an MA in relationship counselling through Hull University. I’m an integrative counsellor and I’ve done dozens of CPD courses in every type of counselling. I consider that I’ve got a toolbox so I aim to use the most appropriate type of counselling for each individual, couple or family I counsel.
What sort of people do you usually see?
I see every type of person, from couples trying to make it work to single people who’ve been jilted, from depressed elderly people to people who need anger management support. I also counsel students in a college who come with many issues, such as a step-parents beating up their mother, drug and alcohol issues, or suicidal thoughts. I really do cover almost everything. I’m based in Cheshire, outside Knutsford. It’s a country area, so it’s a little less obvious in terms of getting clients. So I also get clients who require online or telephone counselling.
What do you like about being a therapist?
I just love the feeling that I’ve been able to help somebody move forward in their life, in whatever way that is possible.
What is less pleasant?
The only thing I find less pleasant is sometimes, because I’m at a later stage of life, I take more holidays. This means I need to manage my workload with clients, ensuring I give existing ones warning or not taking on new ones at these times. I still work with clients, if required, online or by phone if I’m away.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
Where I consider helpful I hand out pages that I have written myself or extracted or adapted from blogs and that are relevant to particular issues such as communication or avoiding being judgemental. I’ve lent particular books to people with Asperger's syndrome and individuals with borderline personality disorder.
What you do for your own mental health?
I consider I am fortunate, having been born with no mental issues and having had a safe and caring up-bringing, I feel I’m a fairly balanced person. I don’t seem to need to do anything specific. I play table tennis, walk, go on holidays. I also have done a course in mindfulness and I will occasionally use that.
What’s your consultation room like?
It’s our dining room, converted when clients arrive. It’s got a nice oak table where I sit on a corner to make notes, and the client or couple, sits opposite me in somewhat easy chairs. It’s quite a comfortable room and I have the blinds down, so it’s always private.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
I wish people knew how helpful it could be in so many different ways, but especially in family therapy. Everybody is so stumped for cash now, and it’s often too expensive. But people in bad family situations don’t realise how helpful family therapy could be to solve infighting in the family.
What have you learnt about yourself in therapy?
I’ve never had therapy - I’ve never really needed it. Though of course everyone in this profession has regular supervision. I’ve seen a lot of life and life’s problems, and I’ve had to manage 40 staff members in previous jobs. I usually find enough empathy to manage the problems of people I talked with. From every client I learn something new. That is an additional joy about counselling.