Working with youMIND, the mental health charity, describe counselling as ‘providing a regular time and space for people to talk about their troubles and explore difficult feelings in an environment that is dependable, free from intrusion and confidential. A counsellor should respect your viewpoint while helping you to deal with specific problems, cope with crises, improve your relationships, or develop better ways of living.

Despite the name, counsellors don’t usually offer advice. Instead, they help you to gain insight into your feelings and behaviour and to change your behaviour, if necessary. They do this by listening to what you have to say and commenting on it from their particular professional perspective.

The word ‘counselling’ covers a broad spectrum, from someone who is highly trained to someone who uses counselling skills (listening, reflecting back what you say, or clarifying) as part of another role, such as nursing. We use the term here to mean a talking therapy delivered by a trained professional.

Sessions usually take place once a week. Making this regular commitment gives you a better chance of finding out why you are having difficulties.

There are many definitions and explanations of counselling and therapy. A further description of counselling can be seen on the website of the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP).

About Val

After an early career as a Police Officer with critical incident training and then later in the business world, I became interested in ‘mental health’ and what makes people behave the way they do – so I studied psychology.

I’ve worked with large and small organisations and have assisted people with the numerous issues which cause sickness absence and affect relationships and performance. I went on to  gain an Advanced Diploma in Humanistic Counselling and started a private practice in 1996. I’ve counselled individuals from all walks of life, from prisoners to politicians, provide supervision for other counsellors and have a B A Counselling Degree accredited by Surrey University.

I have the pieces of paper and the experience. I have both the robustness to hear traumatic testimony and the warmth which helps recovery. I’m victim-offender mediation trained, a Member of the British Association of Counselling & Psychotherapy and have been a Course Tutor for the Counselling & Psychotherapy Central Awarding Body. I have provided hundreds of voluntary hours of counselling for the British Tinnitus Association and for a Rape Crisis centre.

I’m City & Guilds Assessor trained, have completed a Human Sexuality programme with the National Council of Psychotherapists and am also a published freelance writer. I founded a national Charity, have been a subject expert for the BBC and have a qualification in animal husbandry. My spare time is spent either with my partner and God-children or angling and coaching young people in the sport.