Couples |   Psycho-sexual |   Family & Relationship |   Anxiety   |   Depression   |   Addiction   |   Phobias   |   Stress / Work   |   Abuse   |   Anger   |   Trauma   |   Bereavement

These are just some of the issues which I can assist with. There are many others, please get in touch if you wish to discuss your individual situation.

Couples Counselling

Marriage therapy or couples counselling can be effective in assisting Couples experiencing difficulties, wishing to improve their communication, hoping to improve or reconcile their marriage or facilitate a separation. People come for Couples counselling when there has been an affair or debt, when they are angry or confused, when there is illness or stress, when children are born or leave home, when there are health problems, significant life changes or events, or when issues resurface which are unresolved. Couples counselling is also helpful for psycho-sexual difficulties, communication breakdown, arguments or violence. As part of a Couple, we often bring our childhood influences and the belief and value systems we have inherited. When these are different to our partner, confusion and conflict can result. People from all walks of life can benefit from Couples Counselling with Val.

Psycho-sexual Counselling

Psycho-sexual counselling is an opportunity to examine without embarrassment, attitudes and experiences, away from pressure and expectation. Common sexual difficulties may include a loss or reduction of sex drive, pain, inability to experience orgasm, premature ejaculation or erectile dysfunction. They can have a number of different causes including gender, stress, a change in circumstances, betrayal of trust or be chemical, physical, psychological or health related. Sex is a way of expressing emotional intimacy and can therefore be affected if negative feelings are present within or towards an intimate relationship. Therapy can help to resolve these issues.

Family & Relationship Counselling

Relationships can be the most rewarding experiences we have in life, however they are often places where we experience hurt, frustration and misunderstanding. Caring about others often opens us up to the risk of being hurt, whereas avoiding relationships can bring loneliness. When relationships go wrong, we plan to learn from our mistakes and vow never to repeat them, but often we are drawn back into the old patterns we learned at a young age. Relationship Counselling helps us understand our behaviour better and thus our choices, whether with a partner, family or work colleague. It can improve our self respect and assist us to learn the communication tools of managing conflict, negotiation and assertiveness. People wishing to avoid or following divorce or infidelity often benefit from relationship counselling, where the Relationship – not the individual(s) – is the client.


Anxiety can be chronic or acute and is often a reaction to events, traumas, phobias or a fear of anxiety itself. It produces very real physical feelings and symptoms such as sweating, palpitations, racing heartbeat, trembling and tightness in the throat. It is normal to feel sadness, anger, hate but when the feelings endure over long periods of time, too much adrenalin is produced in the body and this can cause a cycle of becoming focused upon the symptoms themselves. Anxiety counselling is designed to identify the cause of the discomfort and examine reduction and coping techniques.


Depression can be acute or chronic and with different causes and symptoms. It is experienced by at least 10% of the population and can interfere with how an individual functions in life and in relationships. Everyone feels ‘down’ at points in their life but clinical depression (where brain hormones become affected) can cause significant changes in eating and sleeping, accompanied often by negative thinking, physical problems and sometimes a desperate desire to end life. Depression might follow childbirth, divorce, abuse, a death or illness, come at a particular life stage or result from extended periods of even low-level stress. Counselling and psychotherapy are effective in dealing with depression.


Addiction is the inability to stop a behaviour which is harmful and is experienced by millions of people in the UK. It comes in many forms e.g. alcohol, drugs, gambling, porn, food, sex, nicotine. The addiction is a form of compulsion which can create escape from depression, anxiety or some forms of emotional or physical pain but is ultimately damaging. Indulging in the addiction craving and then afterwards feeling guilty or annoyed is part of the cycle of addiction which is examined and worked with during counselling therapy. Often those close are affected by the addicts behaviour and a ‘victim-rescuer-persecutor’ cycle is set up. Counselling for Co-dependency is also part of addiction counselling.


Phobias develop when someone has an unrealistic or exaggerated level of fear, caused usually by an incident or a learned response picked up in early life. The phobia can be specifically linked to things such as animals (e.g. spiders), the environment (e.g. water), bodily (e.g. vomit), situational (e.g. dentists) or sexual. The anticipation or actual experience of the source of the fear brings anxiety, which can escalate and create fear of fear. This increasing anxiety can develop into a panic attack however the cycle can be broken with a variety of counselling approaches.

Stress / Work

Stress can result from day to day pressure of life e.g. paying bills through to acute events e.g. weddings and funerals ! Stressful events and situations such as bullying, domestic violence or work stress can damage one’ self esteem. Stress chemicals (cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline) give us a surge of energy to flee from danger or fight for survival however with the immobility experienced by many in modern life mean these chemicals can build up in our bodies and cause physical problems or illness e.g. blood pressure, auto-immune problems or emotional difficulties e.g. self harming. Emotional reactions to stress can include crying, anger and self harming however counselling and psychotherapy can reduce and sometimes eliminate stress levels.


Abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, psychological, financial and can come in the form of domestic violence and can even be sadistic. The primary reason for abuse is the need to control, often stemming from a fear of being abandoned, alcohol use, a deep need for love or a low self-worth. The behaviour often starts slowly but over time becomes entrenched with repeated force or manipulation. The victim can become dependent upon the abuser as the situation progresses.

Abusers see themselves as powerless victims and don’t take responsibility for their own behaviour. They will use criticism, jealousy, withholding, put-downs and anger to control another. Repeated lack of consideration for another’s needs is also abusive. Counselling can assist people to relate better to one another, help the victim to detach themselves and to rebuild self esteem. Examining the Victim-Rescuer-Persecutor model is often part of abuse therapy.


Anger is a normal but complicated emotion and it is often a symptom of unmet needs. Whilst unexpressed anger can cause problems (e.g. health) then uncontrolled anger is equally unhealthy and damaging. Inappropriate or excessive anger can be triggered by stress, pain, hormone problems, fear or an inability to express needs. Understanding the source of anger is often a useful step in managing it. There are often triggers which escalate anger and reducing arousal is the key or anger management programmes and counselling. A common way of looking at anger responses is known as the ‘flight, fight or freeze’ mechanism and learning to be more assertive rather than angry can be a goal of counselling.


Mental and emotional trauma happen when an individual is exposed to a traumatic event(s) which is overwhelming and produces feelings and thoughts which feel unusual and disturbing. This in turn threatens our beliefs and value systems and can make us feel mistrusting, confused or unsafe.

Trauma may result from being threatened by, seeing or experiencing abuse, violence or a violation e.g an accident, war or natural disaster. Various trauma symptoms may include nightmares, being unable to cope, flashbacks of the event(s), chemical dependency, panic and anxiety. If these persist, an individual maybe described as having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The safety of a therapeutic counselling relationship and the skill and training of the psychotherapist can assist with these experiences.


Loss is a painful part of life, felt most often when someone dies or a relationship ends. Painful emotions such as fear, anger and denial are all part of the necessary cycle which leads to acceptance. One might experience confusing physical, mental and emotional symptoms of bereavement, for example a change in eating habits, feeling angry, guilty or an inability to sleep. These disturbances are usually normal and part of the process of coming to terms with the loss.

Bereavement counselling can help people to work through, adjust, let go and accept. Understanding what happens when we are grieving and that it is normal, often helps us to endure it and prevent the onset of depression. There’s no set way of grieving nor time frame however some people do become ‘stuck’ or unable to express their grief. Counselling therapy can also assist with this complicated grief.

Contact Me

Ardol House, Hazel Road, Ash Green, GU12 6HP
Tel: 01252 336114