“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.”
Frederick Buechner, Beyond Words
We run a large not-for-profit counselling service in central Exeter, founded in 1994 and existing in our current form since 2003.
We offer a person-centred service to our clients and we also operate on person-centred lines as an organisation. This means – for example – we are non-hierarchical (albeit with differing levels of therapeutic experience), we do not go in for proliferating prescriptive rules and policies, and we do not make sense of the human condition in terms of the medical model or conceptual structures around mental health/diagnosis/disorder.
We are, in essence, a community of therapists choosing to work collaboratively. We have around 25 therapists, usually around 80% qualified and 20% final year placement students. Many of our therapists arrive as placement students and never leave. It’s that kind of place. Some work half a day a week, some rather more.
Not all of us are from person-centred trainings, and not all of us would call ourselves person-centred purists. Instead, we look for therapists who find a fit with our ethos, and who work in a way that seems attuned to the guiding principles and values here. Mostly this seems to work, and makes for considerable diversity, and interesting/creative meetings of ideas and differences.
All our therapists volunteer some of their time, to support a service that is important to us, politically, philosophically, emotionally.
We see about 160 clients each week, and take on 400-500 new clients each year. We work with self-referring adults. Our clients come from many sources, e.g. personal recommendations, or via the internet.
We are usually able to offer an hour’s therapy once a week (which may continue for varying periods, from a few weeks to – in some situations – a few years). We look at whether this is likely to be a helpful level of support when a prospective new client comes for an initial appointment – obviously some people may need more/different support.
Our therapists are highly experienced and effective, capable of working with clients bringing a very wide range of issues and experiences. We work with individuals, couples and groups.
Person-centred therapy arose from the work of Carl Rogers in the 1940s/50s, and is an established and proven way of working. Research supports our daily experience that this is a powerful and effective approach for many people, including those with medical model diagnoses and extensive experience in the psychiatric system.
We have a website, Facebook page and Twitter account, all of which are client-facing. Clearly prospective, current or past clients may also visit this blog, and are very welcome. This site is not about our service offering as such. It is intended instead as an invitation to reflection, debate and relationship, for fellow talking therapists, as well as other kinds of therapist, and any who are interested in engaging with questions arising from the work we do, and wider questions arising within our time and our cultures, about what it means to be a human being in the world, and how we can most serve ourselves and each other, fostering connection, relationship, healing and growth.
We will include links to articles and other items we think are interesting, also articles written by our therapists/others.
We are developing an email-based mailing list, with a view to creating community with those sharing some of our values and vision. Please contact us if you would like to be included in that. We will not be selling our mailing list or disclosing it to anyone else.