Maria Scholes Integrative counsellor , BH3

Hello, my name is Maria and I deeply believe in the human capacity for change and personal growth.  I am passionate about supporting clients to overcome their struggles, make positive changes and help them to flourish.

I am a qualified and experienced BACP registered counsellor, CBT therapist, Addiction Therapist and Personal development Coach. I am also a counselling supervisor

I feel it's vitally important for clients to feel safe, truly heard, understood and validated. My private practice 'Choosing Change', was set up to offer a warm and empathic therapeutic service to support people through the process of change, personal growth and self development as well as providing therapeutic support for many of the presenting problems that challenge our mental health and well-being at times.

Change may mean a new direction, challenging current unhelpful thinking and behaviour patterns and creating new coping strategies. Perhaps you would like to gain insight in how to understand yourself or others, events or circumstances in a different way. Whatever brings you to counselling, my hope is that the remainder of this profile will help you  see how we might work together to achieve your desired outcome.

I practice out of a Bournemouth venue, making it very accessible to clients in the whole of the Bournemouth and the rest of East Dorset. There is plenty of on-road parking and its on a good transport route.

Choosing Change also offers a Life Coaching service which can help you to get out of your head, past your feelings and start taking action in the areas of your life that you wish to change. I can help you identify your goals, achieve those goals, guide you through the changes and any obstacles and so facilitate you in  following your dreams and living the life you want.

I can also offer online and telephone/Skype counselling. For those who may be unable to make the journey to my practice due to health or mobility issues, I will  consider home visits

Counsellor BSc (Hons) Fd Couns, Dip Therapeutic Couns, Dip CBT. MBCAP

I offer therapeutic counselling  within a supportive, compassionate and empathic relationship. I work from an integrative approach which means that I believe there are many ways of exploring and understanding human functioning and that  no single approach will help all clients in all situations.

How I work

My work is grounded firmly within the Person-Centred approach as I believe in peoples potential and ability to make the best choices for themselves. I also firmly believe that people possess an innate capacity for self-healing, personal development and growth given the right therapeutic environment.

My integrative training means that I can also draw upon Transactional Analysis (TA), Gestalt, Solution Focused Therapy (SFT), Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Mindfulness practices. To find out more please contact me or take a look at the website where they give clear descriptions of the various types of therapy. What is really important is that the therapy is tailored to you the client rather than the client to the therapy.

I have also come to appreciate that the therapeutic benefit of exercise and connecting with nature will be particularly helpful to some clients. I therefore offer Walk & Talk sessions around some beautiful local walking areas.

I am a member of the British Association for Counsellors and Psychotherapists and you will find me on their accredited register.

Addictions Therapist BSc (Hons)  Addiction Couns. Dip CBT

As an addiction therapist I am qualified to work with various addictions, but my speciality is substance misuse particularly alcohol misuse and dependency.

I provide an independent service as I realise that not everyone wants to engage with public funded local community based treatment programs that are based on group work. My private practice offers you confidential bespoke one-to one sessions.

I have over twenty years experience in the field of addiction as well as further relevant experience in a more generic counselling practice. I also hold the NCSCT smoking cessation qualification.

How I work

I am committed to excellence and I'm passionate about offering you a confidential, quality professional service  embedded in evidenced based best practice as recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence whilst incorporating any client preferences for a particular approach. I may also draw upon  other approaches from my integrative counselling training where appropriate.

Clients will receive  counselling sessions that are client centred and facilitate them in exploring their relationship with alcohol or other substances/behaviours in a safe, non-judgemental environment and support them with their choices and goals. For those that may choose abstinence as their way forward, I will offer an evidenced based relapse prevention awareness program tailored to you.

Other areas of work

Life coaching and Positive ageing/well-being coaching

At the heart of Life Coaching is the idea that clients must be given the power to help themselves. Life coaching aims to help and empower others to make, meet and exceed personal and professional goals - including excelling in the workplace, becoming happy and fulfilled in the home /relationships, exploring the self and the world, and achieving ambitions.I am passionate about equipping others to unlock their potential, to thrive, to flourish and be the best they can be

I am particularly passionate about supporting and motivating people in middle age and beyond  who want to make their second half their best half. Successful 'agers' accept that although our  bodies grow older, that doesn't have to stop us  continuing to grow and develop and move forward in new directions. Ageing well doesn't just happen; it requires a decision and action. If we choose to, there is a great deal we can do to cultivate a positive approach to ageing that facilitates emotional resilience and a future that is full of possibility. I would love to support you in exploring such a journey

Pet bereavement Counselling

Grieving for the loss of a pet, whether through death or enforced separation, can be a very sad and difficult time as our pets become one of the family and offer us unconditional love and friendship. Life after losing a pet, may suddenly seem very empty and feelings of deep sadness and loneliness are not uncommon.

It can sometimes be hard for others to recognise the extent to which the loss of your beloved pet may be affecting you and it is not uncommon to hear 'it was only a dog' , 'you can easily get another one' etc. Sometimes it helps to share these feelings with someone who understands how distressing pet loss can be, and who will listen with compassion, empathy and without judgement.

Exploring Hoarding and Decluttering

A confidential and discreet service to support you with the emotional and physical aspects of making changes that can free up space in your home can free up your mind to build the life you want

My experience

As well as private practice, I have worked within  primary care for the NHS, community counselling settings, the voluntary sector and an addictions treatment agency. I have worked  with clients with general anxiety, social anxiety, depression, stress, addictions, OCD, phobias, life changes, bereavement and loss and relationship and self-acceptance issues. I also have experience in self esteem, confidence and assertiveness coaching and I have a special interest in helping clients explore aspects of positive ageing and well-being.

I am also a qualified and experienced therapeutic group facilitator and deliver psychosocial workshops and personal development training.

Training and qualifications

BSc (Hons) Addictions Counselling
Fd(Open) Counselling

L6 Certificate in Counselling Supervision
Diploma in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling (Integrative)

Diploma in Life Coaching
NCSCT Smoking Cessation certified practitioner
L5 certificate in Management and Leadership
PTLLS Teaching qualification

With your safety and wellbeing always in mind

I am fully insured to practice (full public liability), Enhanced DBS checked and as a reflective practitioner, I have regular supervision. I abide by the BACP Ethical Framework for Good Practice and am committed to the process of continuing professional development.


My fees are

£45 per counselling session.

£55 per hour or £70 per 90 minutes for Life coaching

I offer a free initial 30 minute  session to help you decide what your next step might be.

Reduced rates offered to counselling students.

I have a limited number of reduced fee places for those on low incomes.

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Choosing Change Counselling & Coaching