Jenny Chesher - Counsellor and Animal or Equine-assisted Therapist
What I offer clients
Face to face sessions resuming from April 2021 in an outdoor but undercover setting. Telephone and online sessions also available for clients who aren't able to travel to sessions
Are you seeking a different form of therapy to provide respite from a stressful life, difficult relationship, painful loss or perhaps just your own negative thoughts or feelings of anxiety? Let the therapeutic power of animals and nature support your healing journey.
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 you in overcoming or coping with difficult issues.
As a BACP Registered counsellor, and also a qualified equine-facilitated psychotherapy and learning practitioner, I offer clients a professional and caring service in a variety of settings to suit your own needs. You have the option of either conventional counselling sessions or engaging with animal-assisted therapy. I can also offer ‘walk and talk’ or outdoor therapy sessions in quiet Somerset countryside, for those who people who are uncomfortable having face-to-face conversations in a room.
I have found that the combination of being outdoors and with animals can be particularly helpful in enabling young people and adolescents to share and reflect on their feelings and talk about their problems.
Who can benefit from my service?
The peaceful setting for my counselling and the supportive presence of animals is particularly conducive to helping people who are feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed. For clients leading hectic lives, they have space to become calmer and more reflective, whilst for those who are lonely, hurt or bereaved they can find a warm, reparative relationship. The presence of my animals is reassuring and comforting, and helps to overcome any barrier that clients may feel about sharing painful feelings or experiences. For people who have suffered from abusive relationships, the healing touch offered by animals can be very beneficial.
My form of therapy is particularly accessible to adolescents and young people. I find that the combination of interacting with animals and being outdoors engages them more than conventional face-to-face counselling in a room, and helps me to build a collaborative relationship with them.
How I work with clients
Clients say they find me very calm, understanding, supportive and grounded to work with.
I have particular experience of working with anxiety, phobia and low self-esteem issues as well as depression, bereavement and loss. I have also developed a special interest in work-related stress experienced by clients working for large organisations. 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. I can use a combination of talking, creative therapeutic techniques and animal-assisted interventions to help you explore your issues.
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. My dogs offer a calming and reassuring presence for clients in the counselling room and can help build confidence and trust and support clients who struggle to communicate or describe their painful feelings.
No experience with horses is required 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 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 Monty, Lily and Rufus, and ponies Tommy and Spirit.
More images of my animals can be seen on my Instagram account: @jenny@equilibrium.
Where I offer counselling and therapy
I provide counselling and therapy in a peaceful location in Spaxton, Somerset which is surrounded by tranquil countryside in which we can also walk and talk. My counselling room is a traditional shepherd's hut which provides clients with a cosy and safe place to share their thoughts and feelings. Outdoor and equine-assisted therapy takes place at the same location. Private transport is generally required to reach this location. Please advise me beforehand if you have any particular access requirements.
Training, qualifications & experience
In 2012-14 I trained at the Iron Mill Institute in Exeter and in 2016 I gained an Advanced Diploma in Integrative Counselling (Level 5). This course is accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
Training in working with young people
- I have completed Somerset County Council's 7 day training course for volunteers who providing mentoring and advocacy services for children from troubled backgrounds - 2017-18
- Supporting young people with anxiety and depression (2 days) - Iron Mill Institute, 2019
- In April 2021 I started an Advanced Diploma course with Devon Counselling Training, in Working with Children and Young People, which I will complete in December 2021.
I have up to date training in safeguarding and child protection.
Additional qualifications in Equine and Animal-assisted Therapy
- In 2016 I 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:
- Introduction to Animal-Assisted Interventions (24 study hours) - Society for Companion Animal Studies, 2015 (achieved Distinction)
- 3 day Course 'Animal-assisted Therapy in Counselling' - 2015
- 2 day practical course - Animal-assisted Therapy - People & Animals - 2015
I regularly undertake continuing professional development, and subjects covered in this training includes subjects such as:
- Domestic Abuse
- Working with Boarding School survivors
- Creative therapeutic interventions
- Working with anxiety and trauma
- Pre-trial therapy, 2019
- Supporting victims of sexual assault and violence, 2019
My experience includes membership for 4 years of 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 have visited the wards of a local rehabilitation hospital and the hospice as a volunteer for Pets as Therapy.
Following my training with Somerset County Council Childrens' Services, I undertake volunteering as an advocate and mentor for young people who are looked after, or provided with other services, by the Council. With my dog Teasel, I continue to assist the local hospice's provision of bereavement support services to children and young people.
I am a registered member of the BACP and adhere to its Ethical Framework, I undertake regular supervision, carry full practitioner's insurance and continue to pursue relevant professional training.
British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy
BACP is one of the UK’s largest professional bodies for counselling and psychotherapy. Therapists registered with the Association fall into a number of different membership categories such as Individual Member, Registered Member MBACP and Registered Member MBACP (Accred), each standing for different levels of training and experience. MBACP (Accred) and MBACP (Snr Accred) members have achieved a substantial level of training and experience approved by the Association.
Registered members can be found on the BACP Register, which was the first register to achieve Accredited Voluntary Register status issued by the Professional Standards Authority. Individual Members will have completed an appropriate counselling and/or psychotherapy course and started to practise, but will not appear on the BACP Register until they've progressed to Registered Member MBACP status.
All members are bound by a Code of Ethics & Practice and a Complaints Procedure. Accredited by the Professional Standards Authority.
Accredited register membership
Accredited Register Scheme
The Accredited Register Scheme was set up in 2013 by the Department of Health (DoH) as a way to recognise organisations that hold voluntary registers which meet certain standards. These standards are set by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA).
This therapist has indicated that they belong to an Accredited Register.
Areas of counselling I deal with
Other areas of counselling I deal with
£40.00 per session
Free initial in-person session
60 minute counselling sessions (which may incorporate my therapy dogs) are £40-00.
90 minute equine-assisted therapy sessions cost £60-00.
I am happy to hold a short, free, introductory meeting with prospective clients to explain about my therapy and ensure that you are comfortable working with me, my dogs or my horses.
Group or bespoke animal/equine-assisted therapy sessions can be individually quoted for.
I am available for counselling and animal or equine-assisted therapy on Thursdays, Fridays some Saturdays and can have early evening slots available
What is Animal-assisted Therapy and how could it help you?
Animal-assisted therapy, or AAT, is the targeted involvement 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: