About Sarah and Counselling
I am a person-centred counsellor and have been working one to one with adults and young people aged 16 and over for twenty three years. During much of that time I have run counselling services, serving both adults and young people who were struggling with a wide variety of difficulties both within themselves and in their relationships with others. People usually come to counselling to seek relief from their distressing thoughts and feelings.
Time and again I noticed that the individuals I was working with were also experiencing significant disturbance in their bodies. I have seen people who alongside their psychological distress, endure sleep disruption, back ache or headache, digestive disorders, and the physical feelings of panic (to name but a few). With the lessening of psychological symptoms, these physical symptoms often ease, but counselling alone does not directly address distress in the body. My personal experience and direct observation is that you cannot separate the two - if you feel unhappy in your mind, your body won’t feel great either. If you have a problem in your body, it is likely you will also not feel great in your mind. My work is underpinned by an understanding of Polyvagal Theory. One of my areas of interest is the body-mind link and this is also why I teach yoga classes and meditation / mindfulness as well as seeing individual people for counselling.
There is lots of information on the web about Polyvagal Theory, this article gives some helpful insights.
About Sarah and Meditation
I have been meditating almost daily since 2013 when I began training with William Bloom. I completed a qualification with the Spiritual Companions Trust, and also trained as a meditation teacher with William at Findhorn in 2017. In addition, I studied with Northern Centre for Mindfulness and Compassion, which was enormously useful in helping me experience and understand mindful practices. The three years I spent training as a yoga teacher, included extensive study and practice of meditation. Qualifications are useful in that they encourage study and reading, but the real learning comes from my own regular practice. Sometimes it's sometimes it's hard to sit and my mind feels unruly and disrupted - sometimes it's easier. I know on days when I miss meditation, I feel less settled and more distracted. Meditation helps me to feel steady and more compassionate to myself and to those around me.
If you are looking for evidence based information about mindfulness and meditation I recommend Danny Penman's website. This website offers masses of useful information; guided meditations and links to carefully researched and well written books.
About Sarah and Supervision
As well as working with clients one-to-one I also supervise other counsellors. Supervision is a space where we explore the work the counsellor is undertaking with their clients. This is confidential and I do not know the identities of the people my supervisees are working with. Supervision helps the counsellor to differentiate between their own material and that of the client - helping to keep their own "stuff" out of the way. It also is a space to offload, and to learn.
the reason I love supervising, is the same reason I love counselling and teaching yoga. I watch people make sense of things for themselves; I watch them grow and develop and become more confident.
My logo symbolises what I find so helpful about yoga. It is an illustration of the sycamore in our garden with a person standing in tree posture (Vrksasana) inside it and was drawn for me by my talented colleague, Frayah.
To stand on one leg as in tree posture, I need to be balanced physically otherwise I fall over! More than this however, what I notice is that the balance needed is more that only physical. As well as being steady in my body, I need to be calm in my mind. On days when my mind is scattered and I am worrying about all the things I must do, I find it much more difficult to stand on one leg. Mind influences body. However, I have discovered through my yoga practice that body also influences mind. On scattered days, if I release any expectation that I can force myself into the posture, even if I manage a simplified version, amazingly I find I become calmer and the worry recedes. Once I am more settled, often I can then move more deeply into the posture. I then also feel better able to face and achieve my tasks for the day.
Tree posture has taught me that my balance both physical and psychological, fluctuates day to day. Nothing is fixed and when I accept this, life feels less tense. What excites me so much about yoga is that it teaches us that mind and body are inseparably linked and that they influence each other. Look after mind and body may benefit; look after body and mind will benefit. Look after both and the whole person benefits.
What I notice in my yoga students
I have seen something similar with folk in my yoga classes. People arrive stressed, feeling scattered, tense, distracted. By the end of class I observe and my students tell me how much calmer, more settled they feel. Their bodies have relaxed, their breathing has slowed, their faces have softened.
Yoga differs from other excise regimes in that as well as helping us to become physically stronger and more supple, it teaches us to observe and listen to our bodies and minds without criticism or judgement. This listening can help identify where we hold tension and helps us learn how to release that tension. Yoga also teaches us to pay attention to our breath. Run for the bus and you expect to breath more heavily. However, our breath is influenced not only by our activities, but also by the contents of our minds. you only have to recall that last difficult encounter with a family member to find that your heart and breathing rates have gone up. Your body tenses, and before you know it, your thoughts have spread from the encounter itself to other perceived slights and injustices. Learning to calm your breath can have a massive impact on physical and psychological tension.
I never solicit testimonials, and these are all in people's own words.
Supervision - "I just wanted to express my sincere thanks to you for supporting me through my inaugural years as a counsellor. I could not have had a better, more skilled, knowledgeable and completely attuned supervisor for me as a person and a yogi. Thank you for everything and your untiring support." Ginny. May 2021
Meditation - "Just an appreciation for the meditation last night, I found it very peaceful and rewarding. Being with you and those present is so supportive and I love it." Breeda Dillon. January 2021
Counselling - "A big thank you for counselling me and helping me move things along and process more. I feel that I have had the opportunity to learn a great deal but in a short space of time by working with you. Felt quite uplifted after the last session reviewing where I am now, thanks to your work with me." JC. November 2020
Counselling - "I do want to say a massive thank you to you for all the time and energy you have put into supporting me; you have certainly made a big impact on me and on my steps going forward and I can’t express my appreciation enough. You really do an incredible job, I hope you can see that." NT. October 2020
Meditation - "Just wanted to say thank you for your beautiful meditation last night. It was beautifully delivered too if you don’t mind me saying so! It’s so refreshing to hear that it is ok to have emotions and be emotional!" HT. September 2020
Meditation - "that was a brilliant start to my day and it was so easy and helpful to do. I have chanted before but you have a gift for explaining concepts and ideas that I love. I often forget to use all these amazing tools in my tool box. You climb in a rummage about and pull out things I had completely forgotten were there. Thank you for reminding me of the skills I have and also for expanding my knowledge at the same time. Would love to do another chanting session." RM, a fellow meditator. July 2020
Meditation - "I just wanted t say how much l am enjoying our Monday night sessions. They are like a little anchor for me, that calms these strange times we are all living through. They also inspire me to do some practice during the week." LS. June 2020
Counselling - "I am coping well with the uncertain times, at the moment, with all the extra pressure involved. And this is very much thanks to you and all the work we have done together and your inspiring and thought provoking guidance. It has been particularly useful to challenge my thoughts and my daily habits, and I am grateful that daily meditation and more recently moving meditation have become part of my routine." A recent counselling client. March 2020
Yoga - "Hi Sarah just wanted to thank you for a great class. Really love the way you teach, so informative and it makes such a lot of sense the way you describe the positions and how they affect your body. You made it fun too! I'm sure we will all learn such a lot from you. Can't wait for next week now!" Jennie. September 2019
Counselling - "I want to thank you for being so understanding and unbiased and making me see sense in my life. You have helped me so much. I can see a bright future and now have a healthy relationship with all my family members and you have taught me coping mechanisms to continue this." NS. June 2019
Supervision - “Through our work together, you have helped me build up confidence, courage and resilience and I no longer feel that instant craving to feel safe and secure. It doesn't have to be instant now, I can work with it.” Amy Holder, recently qualified counsellor. December 2018.
Yoga - "I must tell you what an impact you had on my friend, M. She felt energised, calm and centred after the [yoga] session. So much so that she contacted a yoga teacher in the part of the country where she lives and is now having private lessons to build up her confidence prior to joining a class. M very nearly didn’t come to the class because she was so self-conscious. It was your manner and ‘energy’ as she put it, that helped her take that first step on her journey." CM. November 2018
I am registered with and hold senior accreditation status with the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and work within their ethical framework. BACP accreditation is awarded only following completion of a recognised counselling training and the accumulation of considerable practical experience.
I am also qualified British Wheel of Yoga teacher. I am a member of and insured through the British Wheel and abide by their policies and practices.
2016 - 2018: British Wheel of Yoga: 500 hour Post Graduate Yoga Teacher training Diploma
2016: William Bloom and Findhorn, week long course: Teaching Meditation
2015: Northern Centre for Mindfulness and Compassion, 8 week course: Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction
2015: Spiritual Companions Trust: Certificate of Professional Practice in Spiritual Studies and Companionship
2013 – 2014: Northern School of Child Adolescent Psychotherapy: Post Graduate Certificate Psychodynamic Approaches to Working with Adolescents
2010: BACP: Supervisor Accreditation
2007 - 2008: Univeristy of Leeds: Foundation Course Systemic Family Therapy
2007: Relate: Young People’s Counselling Training
2005: BACP: Counsellor Accreditation
2003 – 2004: Person Centred Therapy Britain: Post-Diploma Certificate in Supervision
1999 – 2001: University of Strathclyde, Jordanhill: BACP accredited Post Graduate Diploma in Counselling
1998: Cruse Bereavement Care: Bereavement Volunteer Training
2017 ongoing: Yoga teacher
2010 – 2015: Lead Counsellor, Counselling Service, York FE College
2009 – 2010: Counselling co-ordinator Craven FE College in Skipton (maternity cover)
2008 – 2009: Counselling Manager at Versa Organisation, Keighley
2008 – 2010: Foundation Course and External Trainer for Cruse Bereavement Care
2007 – 2010: Relate Time2Talk counsellor in Keighley and Skipton
2007 – 2010: Training Officer then Chair of Service Delivery Committee for Cruse in Craven
2006 – 2007: Counselling co-ordinator Craven FE College in Skipton (maternity cover)
2005 – 2016: Trainer of supervisors for Cruse Bereavement Care
2004 ongoing: Supervisor of trainee and qualified counsellors
2002 – 2004: Counselling co-ordinator of Falkirk Association for Mental Health (FDAMH)
2002 – 2010: Voluntary supervisor Cruse Bereavement Care
2002 ongoing: Private practice counselling adults one to one
1998 – 2005: Voluntary counsellor, Cruse and FDAMH