CHRISTINE BENNETT- PERSON-CENTRED COUNSELLOR

ABOUT CHRISTINE BENNETT

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My major counselling qualification is an ABC Advanced Diploma. I’m in my early fifties and, in addition to my work as a counsellor and counselling supervisor, work part time in education. This includes the roles of chief external moderator for counselling courses for a major awarding body and of counselling course co-ordinator and tutor. I have a degree in psychology, a post graduate teaching qualification and a post graduate qualification in counselling and psychotherapy supervision. I am trained in motivational interviewing, coaching and Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) and have completed various training courses, including a module of my ongoing MSc, that relate to trauma and PTSD. I’m particularly interested in person-centred approaches to trauma.

I work in a person-centred way with adult or teenage clients who have made their own decision to seek counselling or who have been referred by their employer or other agencies and with children referred by family or school. Some of my clients have decided on counselling because of a specific situation or issue and others because of a more general wish for self development and change or as an element of their own training as counsellors.  In the past I worked in psychiatric care as an RMN and, while nursing care differs from counselling in many ways, this qualification and experience has given me knowledge of psychiatric illness and its effects on individuals and their families. I have also managed a victim support scheme and have experience of working with individuals and families who have been victims of crime.

I am a member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (www.bacp.co.uk) and am bound by its Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy and its complaints procedure. In accordance with BACP requirements, I meet regularly with a qualified and experience counselling supervisor. I am also a member of The Association for Humanistic Psychology, a member of The British Association for The Person Centred Approach and a member of The World Association for Person Centred and Experiential Psychotherapy and Counselling and a member of the British Society for Clinical and Academic Hypnosis. If clients are under eighteen or are vulnerable adults my Criminal Records Bureau Enhanced Disclosure Certificate is available for examination.

WHAT IS PERSON-CENTRED COUNSELLING?

Person-centred counselling, sometimes called client-centred counselling, was developed by the American psychologist and therapist Carl Rogers, although it has been influenced by others over the years.  The relationship between the client and the counsellor is the foundation of this approach to counselling. The counsellor, via his or her attitude and responses, creates an environment that is safe and accepting and which enables honest sharing and exploration of thoughts and feelings.

This atmosphere of safety and honesty is based on what are usually referred to as the three “core” conditions. These are empathy, congruence and unconditional positive regard, three conditions which are always present together.

Empathy is the term used to describe understanding of another person’s world as they express it by words and non verbal communication and, importantly, the demonstration of that understanding by the counsellor’s responses. Empathy has now become an element of other types of therapy and developmental approaches such as life coaching as it is vital that the client feels listened to and understood if he or she is to really engage in making changes.

The counsellor also shows congruence (sometimes referred to as genuineness); he or she is honest about feelings and thinking in response to the client and what is taking place in the counselling session and uses these aspects of self to provide feedback and challenge without taking the focus away from the client. Trust is more easily established when the counsellor is “transparent” and the client is therefore more likely to follow the example of the counsellor in being honest.

The third “core” condition, unconditional positive regard, is sometimes referred to as UPR or as respect. Person-centred training involves work to develop self-understanding and self-acceptance so that the counsellor becomes open to accepting others. Unconditional positive regard is to do with valuing the client and wanting to “get it right” because the client is important. The term “respect” may give the impression that UPR is to do with being polite and avoiding difficult areas but it is to do with not avoiding issues, with checking out understanding, with allowing time for reflection or for finding the right words and with sometimes taking a risk by sharing feelings and thoughts; all the things people do when somebody or something really matters.

Person-centred counselling is not to do with pushing people into dealing with issues they are not ready to deal with or into saying things they would rather not say. It’s to do with creating an environment where the client is more likely to feel able to do these things and where it also feels equally comfortable to say “This is something I’m not ready for”.  I often find it helpful to say what person-centred counselling is not about. It is not like an old style doctor-patient relationship where one person is an expert who diagnoses and decides on the best treatment for the other and has the majority of power in the relationship. Rather than advising or telling the client what to do, the person-centred counsellor works to enable the client to listen to and learn more from him or herself, the best expert, and make his or her own choices. This means effort on the part of the client, who takes an active and equal role in the relationship rather than responding to questions and listening to diagnosis and instructions.

Person-centred counselling has been successful when the client has gained in understanding and acceptance of self and feelings and the client feels differently about self and situation; positive change has then taken place. The client usually feels empowered, able to voice feelings and thoughts outside of the counselling sessions in the way he or she has within the sessions. The way the client goes about his or her personal and working life may be quite different because of this but it might also be that there is no major outward change and no firm decision about taking a particular course of action, the change being in how the client feels about and deals with the people and situations that are an established part of work or home life.

WHERE WILL MY COUNSELLING TAKE PLACE?

I can travel to your home or workplace in Lancashire, Greater Manchester or Merseyside. We will need a private room where we can be comfortable and not distracted by television, telephones or other people. I am happy to have other people (or animals) in the house or workplace as long as they do not interrupt us. I am also able to see clients at Burscough Neuro Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation Centre which is situated at 10 Hattersley Court, Burscough Road, Ormskirk, L39 2AY (next to Focus DIY, the centre’s website at www.burscoughphysiotherapy.com also gives further information) or Athena Beauty Spa at 53 Wallgate, Wigan WN1 1BE (near both Wigan stations.)

HOW MUCH WILL MY COUNSELLING COST?

I charge between £40 per session for individuals or couples for home visits or sessions at Burscough Neuro Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Centre in Ormskirk or Athena Beauty Spa in Wigan and £50 for businesses and other agencies arranging counselling for employees/clients. There are no upper or lower limits to the number of sessions, although a counselling relationship benefits from having time to develop. Like most counsellors, I find that one session per week gives time for reflection before we next meet while also providing continuity.

Sessions last for 60 minutes but the first session will take longer (at no further cost) so that you have the opportunity for further discussion and we can discuss and sign a simple contract for our work together, which addresses the issues of confidentiality and record keeping.

I charge £45 for a 90 minute supervision session for qualified counsellors or counsellors in training.

Please email or telephone for fees for critical incident stress debriefing, coaching, training or packages of services for businesses.

I WOULD LIKE TO TRY COUNSELLING, WHAT SHALL I DO NOW?

Contact me on 07815 622343. if you prefer email, click on “email” at the top of the page or use the email address christine_bennett@blueyonder.co.uk

I don’t need to know any details about your situation before counselling begins but I do need your name, a general indication of where you live and information about how best to contact you if you leave a message or send an email to make an initial contact. If you decide to go ahead with counselling we will then need to decide on a date and time for our first session and I’ll confirm the fee for each session and take your full address.