What I offer clients
I am a trained and BACP Registered counsellor, and am also a qualified equine-facilitated psychotherapy and learning practitioner. I can offer both counselling and equine or animal-assisted therapy sessions in an idyllic rural setting on the edge of the Quantock hills in Somerset, close to both Bridgwater and Taunton. This offers clients a tranquil haven from hectic family and professional lives, in which I can support them in facing difficult issues. Clients have the option of either conventional counselling sessions or engaging with animal-assisted therapy. I can also offer ‘walk and talk’ sessions in quiet Somerset countryside, for those who prefer a more active form of counselling assisted by the reparative power of nature.
How I work with clients
I have particular experience of working with bereavement, loss, anxiety, depression and self-esteem issues. After working in the public sector for over twenty years, I also have a special interest in work-related stress. In my therapy, my initial aim is to gain your trust as a client and enter into your world, to experience life as you see it and build a strong relationship. I can then start to understand the issues that are troubling you, and use that insight to support you in facing your problems and finding strategies to either change them or better cope with them.
My unique Practice, Equilibrium Animal-assisted Therapy and Counselling, integrates the healing power of animals with my professional counselling skills to help relieve people’s emotional pain or mental distress, working with both dogs and horses. I facilitate the remarkable ability of these animals to connect with, and gently reflect back, underlying human emotions in a non-judgemental and supportive way. No experience with horses is needed for equine sessions nor is horse riding involved, although a certain level of mobility and a willingness to take part in outdoor activities is needed.
For further information about animal-assisted therapy and what happens in a therapy session see below in the 'Any Further Information' box. Also, please look at my web-site for further details of how I provide this therapy with my dogs Teasel and Rufus, and ponies Tommy and Spirit.
Where I offer counselling and therapy
I provide counselling and therapy at two different locations in Spaxton, Somerset. My counselling cabin is a cosy and characterful timber summerhouse, which can be rotated to have an outlook either over a garden or tranquil orchard. Outdoor and equine-assisted therapy takes place at a peaceful and picturesque old farmstead, set back from the nearest road and surrounded by countryside in which we can also walk and talk. Private transport is generally required to reach these locations. Please advise me beforehand if you have any particular access requirements.
Training, qualifications & experience
I hold an Advanced Diploma in Integrative Counselling (Level 5) from a course accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) at the Iron Mill Institute in Exeter.
- I have qualified as a Practitioner in Equine-facilitated Psychotherapy with LEAP, and am a member of their practitioners' network.http://www.leapequine.com
I have also completed certificate courses in:
- Animal-Assisted Interventions (achieved Distinction)
- Animal-assisted Therapy in Counselling
Further professional training includes:
- supporting people through bereavement,
- working with boarding school survivors
- recognising and responding to domestic violence and abuse and supporting its survivors
- working safely and therapeutically with domestic abuse
- understanding domestic abuse in teenage relationships
- child protection
- creative therapeutic interventions
- creative connections for healing troubled children
My experience includes working for 4 years with the bereavement support team of a local hospice, supporting both adults and children, and volunteering with a charity which provides equine-assisted therapy to children and young people with developmental disorders. Together with my registered therapy dogs I visit the wards of a local rehabilitation hospital and the hospice as a volunteer for Pets as Therapy.
I am a registered member of the BACP and adhere to its Ethical Framework, and carry full practitioner's insurance.
Areas of counselling I deal with
- Affairs and betrayals
- Attachment disorder
- Carer support
- Domestic violence
- Emotional abuse
- Family issues
- Feeling sad
- Generalised anxiety disorder
- Low self-confidence
- Low self-esteem
Other areas of counselling I deal with
Photos & videos
60 minute counselling sessions (which may incorporate my therapy dogs) are £40-00.
90 minute equine-assisted therapy sessions cost £75-00. although concessionary rates can be provided for a block booking of 6 sessions or more.
I am happy to provide an initial free session to prospective clients as a short introduction to my therapy, to ensure that you are comfortable about working with me, my dogs or my horses.
Group or bespoke animal/equine-assisted therapy sessions can be individually quoted for.
What is Animal-assisted Therapy and how could it help you?
Animal-assisted therapy, or AAT, is the targeted use of animals by a professional within a therapeutic setting, for the purpose of helping people. Whilst the use of animals to provide physical support to people has been long-established (e.g Riding for the Disabled or Guide Dogs for the Blind) their use in a psychological or emotional context is a more recent development. It was developed as a professional tool in the mid twentieth century by the American child psychologist Boris Levinson, but even Sigmund Freud included his dog Chowfi in sessions with his clients. It can be particularly beneficial for clients who:
- have difficulty trusting people
- struggle to talk about difficult feelings and experiences,
- feel damaged by abusive or manipulative relationships
- suffer poor self-esteem and lack self-confidence.
A dog provides a calming presence in the counselling room which clients can find supportive when exploring and talking about difficult emotions and its unconditional affection can be comforting to those who have experienced bereavement and loss. Animals provide an opportunity for clients to practice building a reparative relationship without fear of judgement or rejection.
Equine assisted therapy utilises the remarkable emotional intelligence of horses, and their ability to give instant but constructive feedback to people, as a tool for greater self-awareness and personal development. Sessions involve a variety of observational, reflective and active exercises which, with the support of a trained facilitator, provide meaningful experiences to clients which can be applied to situations and relationships in their everyday lives.
For more information about animal-assisted therapy the book Animal-assisted Therapy in Counselling by Cynthia K. Chandler provides an accessible and informative introduction to the subject. The following web-sites may also be of interest:
Maps & Directions
Type of session
|Face to face counselling:||Yes|
I am available for counselling and animal or equine-assisted therapy on Fridays and Saturdays and sometimes have evening slots available
Types of client