“We think we listen, but very rarely do we listen with real understanding, true empathy. Yet listening of this very special kind, is one of the most potent forces for change that I know.” - Carl Rogers (1980, p.116)
I trained in person-centred counselling in my early 30s, after a period of seeking the right ‘fit’ for me in my working life. I had gained a law degree from the University of Edinburgh, then worked for several years as an HR Manager. Although I was effective in my work, I wasn’t happy. I realised that I needed to change my path and decided to take time out to travel and reflect. It was during this trip, while living and working at Bondi Beach, that I discovered Carl Rogers’ book, ‘On Becoming a Person’ (1961), and became curious about the potential of person-centred therapy. I recognised that my own philosophy of life, my attitude and approach within relationships based on the learning that I had gained from my life experiences to date, seemed consistent with the values and necessary conditions for therapeutic change described by Rogers. By the time that I returned home from my journey, I had found my way forward.
I completed my postgraduate Diploma in Counselling at the University of Strathclyde in 2004, and trained in person-centred supervision (PCT Britain) in 2008 and person-centred couples counselling (Counselling Works Ltd) in 2009. In 2010 I gained an MSc in Counselling (University of Strathclyde), and my PhD in Counselling (University of Strathclyde) in 2020. I was an accredited member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy between 2006 and 2021. Since May 2021 I am an accredited member of COSCA (Counselling & Psychotherapy in Scotland).
Since I began my counselling practice in early 2003, I have gained diverse experience working with clients in a range of different settings: within an NHS-funded service, a voluntary organisation, a research clinic, and Employee Assistance Programs. I have worked with individuals and couples in private practice since 2006.
I have been working as a supervisor with experienced and trainee counsellors since 2008. This aspect of my professional work raised my interest in becoming involved in counsellor training. I worked as a counsellor educator at the University of Strathclyde (2013 – 2018) and at the University of Edinburgh (2020 – 2021). I offer workshops for trained counsellors in areas of specific interest to my work (see my Consultancy page).
I have developed an active interest in research since commencing my MSc studies in 2008. I volunteered as a researcher and therapist at the Strathclyde Counselling & Psychotherapy Research Clinic from 2008-2013, then was employed as Coordinator of the clinic from 2013-18. My research interests include the outcome and process of person-centred therapy, clients’ experiences of therapy and developing case study research methods. I have presented at national and international conferences and have published a number of papers based on my work. Recently I completed PhD studies (Stephen, 2020) investigating change during person-centred therapy as measured by the Strathclyde Inventory (Freire, 2007), an outcome instrument designed to capture the characteristics of Rogers’ concept of the fully functioning person (Rogers, 1961). I was appointed as Co-Editor of the international peer-reviewed journal Person-Centered & Experiential Psychotherapies in July 2018.
I have been an active member of the person-centred community for several years both locally as a member of PCT Scotland and internationally as a member of the World Association for Person-Centered and Experiential Psychotherapy and Counseling (WAPCEPC). I was a member of the WAPCEPC Board from 2008-2014 and the Chair of the Board from 2010-2013.
As I grow older, and experience more of the joys and sorrows that life brings, I recognise anew the value of the person-centred approach. In the last decade I have experienced much loss and change, including the pain of divorce, the sudden death of my mother and the aging process and death of my father. The self-awareness and understanding that I have, supported by my commitment to the ongoing personal development required of a person-centred counsellor, has enabled me to find my way through these experiences, to understand and accept how these changes affect me, to allow others to support me when I have needed that, and to support my loved ones as they navigate their own experiences of our changing lives. Australia continues to be somewhere that I return to when I can; when I need time and space for reflection and renewal. I feel a strong connection with the place and have many beloved friends and family who live there.
Freire, E.S. (2007). The Strathclyde Inventory: A psychotherapy outcome measure based on the person-centred theory of change. Unpublished MSc dissertation, University of Strathclyde.
Rogers, C.R. (1961). On Becoming a Person: A Therapist’s View of Psychotherapy. London: Constable.
Rogers, C.R. (1980). A Way of Being. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Stephen, S. (2020). The Strathclyde Inventory as a Measure of Outcome in Person-Centred Therapy. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Strathclyde.
My standard hourly fee for a counselling or supervision session is £50. I am open to negotiation as it is important to me that we agree a fee that is affordable to you and therefore possible for you to sustain during the time that we work together. Please contact me to discuss.