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I first became interested in counselling as a career in the late 90s after having my own personal therapy, which helped me to address the violence and bullying I experienced in school. My interest in specialising in male abuse grew after attending further counselling which helped me address my own physical abuse, sexual assault and sexual exploitation.
As a male, I believed that talking to a counsellor about these issues was something I shouldn’t be doing. I believed that seeing a counsellor meant I was weak and ‘not a real man.’ Being male, I felt pressured to “just get on with it” and behave in certain ways which included not showing my emotions, using humour and trying to appear unaffected. The longer I maintained these behaviours, the harder it was for me to live a functional life.
Talking about these issues in counselling was difficult at first, but they were stopping me from living my life in the way I wanted to. I realised that seeing a counsellor and talking through these issues was not a sign of weakness; I’d done something that I found difficult to do. This was a sign of strength! Talking about being raped and groomed wasn’t easy but my counsellor made it comfortable enough for me to talk about my experience. I addressed these issues in counselling, which eventually helped me to live my life in a happier, healthier and more functional way.
I am a qualified therapist and since 2004 I have provided one-to-one counselling and psychotherapy to children, young people and adults on a wide range of issues.
While I specialise in working with male sexual abuse, I am also experienced in working with other issues such as stress, depression, anxiety, trauma, bereavement, anger, low self-esteem, relationship difficulties and more.
Since 2004 I have worked with a variety of individuals including those affected by bereavement via Cruse Bereavement Care, those addressing issues relating to their sexual orientation via Terrence Higgins Trust and Freshwinds Birmingham, and children affected by a range of issues via Relate’s Time for You service and in a number of secondary schools.
Since 2007 I have worked in private practice, ran a counselling service in the Midlands and also provided counselling for ITV and a number of Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs).
I am registered and accredited with The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) meaning my counselling practice has been deemed sufficiently ethical.
Since 2012 I have provided private Person Centred supervision to qualified and trainee counsellors working in settings such as schools, colleges, GP surgeries, voluntary sector services, crisis centres and other counselling organisations.
I have significant experience in working with safeguarding issues and supervising counsellors and other practitioners working with children and young people in high risk situations, including those involved in child sexual exploitation (CSE), those affected by trauma and those with suicidal thoughts.
I specialise in working with male sexual abuse and have significant experience in working with men and boys affected by rape, sexual abuse, sexual assaults and sexual violence. I have over eight years experience of managing a male only sexual exploitation service and in supporting boys and men at risk of, or who have experienced sexual exploitation and abuse. I am also an experienced trainer and public speaker addressing male sexual abuse on a national level.
As a survivor of abuse I know personally and professionally how males often find it particularly difficult to ask for help and seek counselling. This is due to old fashioned gender stereotypes and perceived ideas about what it means to male. During childhood and adolescence boys are often given messages about how they should and shouldn't behave e.g. 'man up,' 'don't cry,' 'grow a pair,' 'be a big man.' These messages often shape a boy's idea of their masculinity, what it means to be male and how they need to behave as a man. This can result in boys becoming men who think they need to respond to problems by expressing violence and/or suppressing emotions.
I have significant experience in public speaking and developing and delivering nationally recognised training addressing the grooming and sexual abuse/exploitation of boys and men. This training aims to identify boys and men at risk of sexual exploitation and address the sexist and gender biased practice often targeted at males. I have also worked with various organisations and practitioners to help make their services and practice accessible to, and inclusive of boys and men.
Since 2009 I have delivered male sexual abuse training to thousands of professionals and services across the country including large children's charities, voluntary sector organisations, child sexual exploitation services, youth provisions, counselling organisations, CAMHS services, educational professionals, sexual health practitioners, other health professionals, housing workers, children's social care, safeguarding children boards and various police forces and local authority work forces.
I have also delivered training to various groups of professionals on other issues such as basic counselling skills and sexual orientation.
Qualifications and Accreditation
2012 - Post-Graduate Certificate in Person-Centred Supervision by Temenos, Sheffield
2009 - BACP Accreditation
2008 - BACP Accredited Practitioner's Course in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) University of Birmingham
2006 - BACP Accredited Diploma in Person Centred Counselling and Psychotherapy, University of Warwick
2003 - Level two certificate in counselling skills and studies, Thomas Danby College, Leeds
2002 - Introductory counselling certificate, Thomas Danby College, Leeds
As males are generally seen as the stronger and less vulnerable sex this gives many boys and men an added difficulty to overcome, particularly when they have experienced sexual violence/abuse. When boys and men do not have the space to talk about their issues and appropriately express their emotions it can result in outbursts of uncontrollable rage, severe anxiety, chronic depression and in some cases the manifestation of a physical ailment. Males who have experienced sexual violence/abuse sometimes believe their masculinity has been attacked and that asking for help and seeking support is another threat to their masculinity. It is important to remember that when men talk about their problems and express their feelings this is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength.
Between 2013 and 2015 I also managed a project working with child sexual exploitation (CSE) organisations across the country helping them develop their services for boys. The number of boys referred for support increased from 91 to 249 across 20 local authorities. I have also developed and implemented various national initiatives, resources and campaigns aimed at tackling the sexual exploitation of boys. I have appeared in local and national media highlighting the issues faced by men and boys who are raped, abused and sexually exploited and I have contributed to research and various publications including 'Children and Young People Now' and 'Inside Man' by Dan Bell and Glen Poole.
Since 2009 I have delivered training to thousands of professionals across the country addressing the sexual abuse and exploitation of boys and men and the difficulties they face in asking for help. In 2014 my work in the field of male sexual abuse was acknowledged when I was also nominated for an' Unsung Hero Award' and was a finalist in the category, 'Longest Journey Under Challenging Conditions'.