James Hall is a counsellor in Bristol and online

What attracted you to become a therapist?

I guess that I have always had a natural listening ear since school and a very big heart! I also have my own experience and some might say I am a wounded healer. I was fortunate to overcome my own shadow with professional help and that gave me an appetite to want to find out more and give something back.

Where did you train?

My training began with SGS college where I completed levels 1 - 3 in counselling. I was offered a place in Stroud to continue on that journey but my wife gave birth to twins and having three children aged two and under meant I probably didn’t have the time or headspace to continue at that time.

Fast forward some three years later and I found a course with Chrysalis that provided me with greater flexibility around my needs. I completed the Advanced Diploma (L4) and went on to do the Professional Advanced Diploma (L5) soon after.

Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?

I am an integrative counsellor which essentially means that I apply a range of therapeutic techniques depending on the clients’ needs. The core of my way of working is person-centred. This is non-directive and client-led. We will work from the clients own personal circumstances. At the centre of our sessions are the core conditions – empathy, congruence (being genuine) and unconditional positive regard (acceptance of you as an individual).

How does person-centred counselling help?

It allows the client to have autonomy and places them at the centre of the work ‘The Expert’. The client takes the lead at a pace that they are comfortable with. Often the past comes up and providing the core conditions allows them to reach a place of acceptance. If this is realised, clients feel better equipped to be comfortable in the here and now and more confident to build for the future.

What sort of people do you usually see?

I have a wide range of experience but I currently see anyone over the age of 18. I have worked with a range of issues/struggles with very diverse ages, cultures, classes and much more.

Have you noticed any recent mental health trends or wider changes in attitude?

For me personally, I feel Covid has given people more ‘permission’ to say when they are not OK. I have seen a huge increase in men seeking help which is a real huge step forward. I think the campaigns that have happened by some pretty influential people has helped remove some of that stigma but there is still work to do on this.

What do you like about being a therapist?

Making a difference to people’s lives. Empowering and watching people grow and reach their full potential

What is less pleasant?

It is particularly difficult when clients finish abruptly without warning. I am fortunate to have a fantastic, supportive supervisor that I can take any difficulties to. This is something that is in my awareness and is managed well.

How long have you been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?

I am very new to welldoing.org, but my first impressions are very positive. If there are things that you need help with, the team is very efficient at assisting those needs. I feel that it is also excellent value for money.

Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?

There are hundreds of free resources out there to people. I do have a large list of signposting places but I often find that the way in which we work together identifies themes and clients will often go and search for books in these areas. I believe this helps them with their autonomy and they are more likely to read them if they have done that background research themselves.

What you do for your own mental health?

I am a Chairman of a grass roots rugby club, children’s coach where I can still have a run around to stay healthy and happy. I also am involved with a friendly group of cyclists that take on ambitious challenges for various charities. I have clinical supervision on a regular basis and I am very self-aware. I also (most importantly) have my own children and wife that always keep me on my toes and living life to the full.

You are a therapist in Winterbourne, Bristol. What can you share with us about seeing clients in this area?

Not especially. It is easily accessible, has off street parking. I can also work remotely depending on the complexities of the client. There are some lovely places to walk in and around the area and that could be incorporated into client’s therapy if they wish.

What’s your consultation room like?

New, calm, a ‘ripple’ theme throughout. The lighting is a smart system and clients can set their own lighting if they so desire. The chairs are very comfortable and it’s a place where people can really bring their authentic selves.

What do you wish people knew about therapy?

I wish that people would be open minded and that be aware therapy is completely unique to each individual. It is OK to not be OK and that people that are feeling vulnerable will be held with compassion.

What did you learn about yourself in therapy?

That my past informs my present. That the power of speaking can save your life and that if you can accept yourself, you can reflect, feel empowered and grow.

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Contact James here

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