Hello, my name is Joanne Hepworth and I am a trained Marriage Guidance and Relationship Counsellor.
My journey to becoming a Counsellor began quite a while ago when I experienced a number of personal issues in my life & in my own marraige. If you have spare few minutes I would like to tell you a little bit about it.
When I was 21 I got married and moved to a different country. At the time I didn't know anyone other than my husband and left behind a number of close friends and family members.
This was before social media and at the time even mobile phones were unpredictable and cost a lot of money to use overseas, so I became quite isolated, quite quickly.
After only a short time I started experiencing problems. I started to withdraw into myself and developed irrational fears of being in, what I perceived, as dangerous situations. I lost trust in my own actions and thoughts and doubted the things I had just done. In short I thought I was losing my mind.
My illness developed and continued over a quite a long time. It turned what once was a very outgoing and sociable young lady into a scared and reclusive shell of that person. However, my saving grace came in the form of a few different things.
Firstly I refused to not speak up. I went to see the local GP and was very open and honest with him about what I was thinking and experiencing. Thankfully he prescribed me medication and sent me to see the Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN). This was my first encounter of any type of counselling and this, along with other things, saved my life.
The CPN worked closely with me for a few weeks and introduced me to some Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques. I was instantly amazed at how quickly I was able to see real change in my symptoms and quickly gained back some control of my emotions and thought processes.
From then on I was hooked.
The support I received quite literally changed my life and I wanted more than anything to be able to do that for somebody else.
So, whilst living overseas I started training with the Open University and over a period of 6 years I completed a BSc (hons) in Psychology & Counselling, achieving a first class degree with honors. At that point in my life I had moved back to the UK and, stubbornly fixed on the idea of becoming a CBT therapist, I had started looking for my next venture. I then came across a course at my local University, a Level 3 course in Person Centred Counselling skills. Now I will be honest this was not CBT and I was not sold on it, but having no other courses available in my area, I signed up and I loved it.
Person Centred counselling is a talking therapy and offers a humanistic approach to counselling. Instead of relying on the Counsellor to interpret the clients unconscious thoughts, Person Centred counselling supports the client in understanding their own conscious awareness of themselves. Basically, the process allows the clients to talk freely about their concerns whilst the counsellor helps them in understanding what they already know about themselves. Yes this is a very simplified explanation and there is a lot more to it than simply talking but this is a quick overview.
Having completed my Level 3 course with a distinction, I was ready for my next course but yet again I was faced with the prospect of either travelling hundreds of miles to study or choosing a different course. It was at that time that I discovered Relationship counselling.
Now you may remember earlier in my tale I mentioned that I had a number of things to thank for getting over my illness. One of those was my husband. At the time I was very newly married and my husband had no idea how to handle my illness or the effects it had on our marriage. There were times when I was withdrawn and quiet, there were times when I was emotional and there were times when I was angry. Above anything else, I was scared all of the time and for my husband this was an irrational fear that he could not understand.
My marriage did not last, but it did continue for 5 years and during that time the support my husband gave me was undeniably one of the things that helped me get better. He was very good and very understanding, even though he didn't understand........However, those 5 years our relationship had taken too much and we separated. I took my, then 3 year old, son and moved back to the UK alone.
Why am I telling you this? Well because when the option of Relationship Counselling landed on my lap I was more than a little interested. I had first hand experience of some of the problems that can affect marriages and again wanted to help. I wanted to use my professional qualifications in counselling, psychology and human behaviour and my experience of both my own relationship issues and of counselling individual clients, to help other couples.
Shortly after, I started training with Relate UK, the UK's largest provider of Marriage Guidance & Relationship Counselling, and I completed my practical and professional training achieving a Level 4 Diploma in Relationship Counselling. Since then I have continued my professional development with courses on OCD, anger, sex & intimacy, grief, solution focused therapy and online counselling.
Over the years I have completed various courses and achieved lot's of experience in different areas of counselling and support. I have worked with couples and individuals and use all of the skills and knowledge I have gained to offer my clients an integrated approach to counselling. Drawing from lot's of different approaches I work with clients to provide a service that suits them.
I can honestly say I love my job.
Of course, as a Counsellor, the training never stops and I am now working towards a Level 5 Diploma is Psychotherapeutic Counselling, a slightly different approach which lends more focus to the unconscious mind. However, I have no doubt whatever I learn now and in the future I will continue to put my clients at the centre of my work and use all of the experience to help them in the way they need it.
Wow, so that is me in a nutshell. I am sure you was not expecting to learn quite that much about me but I hope I have allowed you to see an element of me and the work I do. If there is anything else you would like to know please do not hesitate to send me an email or give me a call. I am always happy to help.