This is recent client feedback on this service. Below, we give some context on how and why we offer people the opportunity to give feedback, and our/their choice to share it:-
‘[therapist name removed] has been fantastic for me during 2016. She has been instrumental in getting me back on my feet and I am near getting a new job as we speak!’
‘Really helpful, friendly and kind. They care about what you have to say. Thank you.’
‘I have been seeing [therapist name removed] over the past few months and have found her supportive, understanding and informative. She has helped me learn so much about myself, and I’m now prepared to go on with the next stage of my journey. I think the service PGCS offers is truly wonderful.’
‘Hope saves lives (and makes many others more happy too). Thank you.’
‘Palace Gate Counselling Service has provided invaluable, professional help to me over the years as someone with severe chronic illness and depression. My sessions with [therapist name removed] have helped me cope with everything from managing pain to healing and nurturing relationships, family, friends and carers etc. Tremendous help! Excellent service; discreet and confidential; professional counselling. Offers more than a shoulder to cry on…can open a door to powerful healing, acceptance and peace.’
‘I feel very comfortable and safe with my counsellor [therapist name removed]. I feel I can trust her, which has been (and is) a big problem for me, trusting any professional.’
‘I see [therapist name removed] and I can say without a shadow of a doubt she has enabled me to make sense of my actions and myself which would have been impossible to achieve otherwise. All the staff at PGC are warm, kind and professional. It is an oasis of calm for me at this point in my life when everything else seems like a stormy sea. My time in counselling is an oasis. Spending time talking and thinking helps me find ‘North’ again (and again, and again). Thank you.’
‘An excellent service that helps you see that there is another side to life, helping adjust thinking and thought processes to deal, cope, and manage situations in life.’
‘Palace Gate have been amazing. They have given me access to counselling that the NHS couldn’t provide and I otherwise couldn’t afford. [Therapist name removed] has been a constant positive in my life these past months and made more difference than I could have hoped for – she’s given me the ability to be me for the first time, and to be happy. I can’t thank you enough!’
‘Helped me…forever grateful… The brill lady who helped me with moving on was [therapist name removed] .. she was great.’
‘[therapist name removed] my counsellor for the past 2 months has been fully supportive and a huge inspiration in dark times. I am so happy to have found a service that I can afford and that understands how important flexibility is for someone experiencing depression etc.’
‘Very, very good.’
‘I have been seeing [therapist name removed] for a few years now and she has been my guide through some rough times. PGCS has helped me review myself and my actions in a safe, non-judgmental environment and I’ve really become a better person because they’ve held my hand. I’m eternally grateful and lucky to have them in my life.’
‘Everyone so friendly, makes a big help, and nice surroundings. My therapist gives me 200% of her attention and abilities. An outstanding service.’
‘This is an amazing service. I owe an awful lot to [therapist name removed] and can never thank her enough. She has changed my life beyond belief for which I am truly very grateful.’
‘[therapist name removed] has been of terrific help. I value her professional assistance most highly.’
‘When I first started seeing [therapist name removed], I felt so low I really saw no way out of my dark gloomy world. At that time I was skeptical that just talking about my life would have any effect. But the way she makes you think and question why you think and feel the way you do in a totally non threatening unbiased way is a real credit to her. And over a period of time she has helped me change the way I feel about myself, my life and I now see a light at the end of the tunnel. I respect [her] skill and professionalism and genuine deep caring. I would not hesitate to recommend [her] and Palace Gate to anyone, the thought of where I’d be now without them is a frightening one.’
‘My therapist [name removed] is fantastic! She’s very professional and makes me feel very comfortable in our sessions.’
‘[therapist name removed] has been a massive part of my recovery from a very traumatic time. It has been invaluable to me. Without this service I would be lost. Thank you so much.’
‘[therapist name removed] is amazing and has helped me so much – thank you all for providing such a wonderful service.’
‘My therapist seems to ‘get me’ right away or checks if she is not sure. I feel understood and empathised for, not alone – so important. Sometimes keeping the meeting is all that keeps me going.’
‘A very valuable and discreet service. [therapist name removed] has helped me rationalise and move forward by intelligent and thought-provoking questions and alternate viewpoints.’
‘[therapist name removed] has always shown me genuine care, respect and kindness, to match her great knowledge and skills as a counsellor. I cannot praise her enough.’
‘You really helped me find my feet, when it seemed everything was too much to handle. I can’t quite put into words the impact our sessions had.’
‘[therapist name removed] dealt with my panic attacks very well, She was really great and with out her support at times I do not know where I would be today. I have to say that Palace Gate was a true help to me and I could not have wished for better. If I wanted more counselling, I would like to have it at Palace Gate.’
‘I find the service extremely valuable. It is affordable, which is important. I find my therapist [name removed] very good. She listens and responds in a way that makes me feel valued.’
‘Thank you so much for all the help and support you gave me this past year. I am so truly grateful and thought you might like to know [piece of personal good news]. I doubt very much that would have happened without you.’
Through this blog, we spend a lot of time sharing some of how we see therapy at this service, and some of our experiences/thoughts doing this work. This feels important and useful, in terms of having and furthering dialogues in the therapeutic world. Within a person-centred ethos, it has from the outset also felt essential to swing around to other perspectives, and particularly those of people accessing therapy here or elsewhere. So we often post relevant links.
In addition, we have recently launched a new ‘Feedback’ resource, because it feels helpful for people thinking about coming to this service, to have an opportunity to hear from those who have already done so.
There are various routes by which people can give us feedback. Our therapists routinely check in with people they work with, on how they think the work is going, on what is working well, on what might need more time, on where they wish to put attention and intention. Those reviews inform our counselling supervision process.
We also have an Ethos Statement covering our therapeutic work:-
For people coming here, their primary therapeutic relationship is with their particular therapist. However they are also in relationship with us as a service. Ethical responsibility is held between therapist and service. It is important to us to monitor the quality of the service we offer, to support our therapists in the work they do, and to stay in close contact with that work. We do this through our in-house supervision function, and also in other ways. Our Ethos Statement offers a route for people accessing therapy to engage directly with our supervision and administrative teams, in case that is wanted or needed – although, in practice, this is rare and most people choose to talk to their own therapist.
We don’t go in here for many fixed policies and procedures – from a person-centered perspective, everything is moment/circumstance-specific, and so we favour processes…. to allow us to engage with whatever arises, carefully and responsively. From that starting point, we think it can be useful to have a number of different ways to do something, on the basis that one size does not fit all. So a few months ago, we created a further system to offer people coming to this service the opportunity to give direct written feedback on their experience. We structured this:-
- so we are not soliciting feedback – this is a ‘passive’ offering, and it is entirely with the relevant person whether or not they pay attention to the opportunity and choose to give feedback;
- to allow privacy (including from their therapist, if they want that);
- to allow anonymity if the person concerned wants that – although they can of course choose to give their name, and they have the option of asking for a response from our supervision team (so far no-one has taken up this latter possibility);
- to offer them the option of allowing us to share their feedback. So far, everyone has chosen to do this. Many choose this service because they have a colleague, friend or family member with experience of us. It feels important to us – and clearly to them – to share information about people’s experiences here, where we can, for others to use in their decision-making process around choosing a therapist.
Since we instituted the system, we have received a steady trickle of responses, from some of the 150 or so people who come here each week. The majority do not participate, preferring instead to cover feedback in sessions.
In size and client numbers, this is a substantial service, and so people often perceive a substantial organization standing behind that. We have a lot of experience and wisdom under our roof. We offer affordable therapy to those who could not afford private rates, and also work with many people who pay a full commercial rate to come here. We work with a wide range of issues, and people with significant psychiatric histories, and/or difficulties in accessing helpful services elsewhere At any one time, we have some 20-25 qualified therapists, with diverse day jobs in private practice, education, the health service etc. They volunteer time here, because it matters to them that high quality therapy is available to everyone. We are also a long-standing service – of nearly 20 years. All of that can create the false perception of a large professional structure, with paid employees. In fact, we are a group of volunteers, working collaboratively, with no employees at all and all the administration done on an unpaid basis by a tiny handful of people.
So in that context especially, we have been touched and heartened by the nature of this feedback. Clearly we already have a sense day-to-day, of the value of what we offer people. They tell us. They recommend us. We see the effects of their doing the work they came to do. For most of our history, we were organisational members of the BACP (we chose to leave in October 2013, for reasons covered elsewhere in this blog). We never experienced a client complaint, nor have we since we left. So we know how much this service matters, both to its clients and its therapists. But for all that, it has meant a lot to see people’s experiences recorded in words. So thank you to those people, and to our therapists working with them.
Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter
Counselling Exeter since 1994