"Never give up. For that is just the place and time the tide will turn."
Harriet Beecher Stowe
My name is Claire Kerby and I started Wye Valley Counselling in 2012 in a small way, expanding its presence and geographic reach in 2020 with the help of Zoom, FaceTime and other such platforms. I also see people face to face in central Hereford, Herefordshire.
I welcome all adults age 16 plus who feel they need help with their lives for whatever reason that may be. As far as I am concerned, we are all flawed and we all occasionally make poor choices. I see my role as helping you come to terms with the way things are and supporting you into making changes to improve your life.
Further details of who I am and the way I work can be seen on this website, but if in doubt, text or call and ask.
In essence, whether online or in person, my aim is to offer a safe space where you can talk honestly and openly about anything that is bothering you. It could be because of something that has happened recently, or maybe from way back in the past: it really doesn’t matter and whatever it is, everything will be kept strictly confidential. You won’t be judged.
I came to counselling after 30 years spent in the market research industry, the best part of which was having the privilege to enter people’s lives and have extended face to face conversations with them. This experience gave me strong listening skills and an easy approachability which serves my clients well during counselling (or so I’ve been told)!
Having learned all there was to learn at the time about shaving habits, mobile phones, detergents and the like I decided to go into counselling via studying for a post graduate diploma in Counselling from Bristol University. This was an integrative course which involved training in different types of counselling, such as gestalt, psychodynamic, CBT, family systems and more. I now use this learning in my client work according to each individual’s needs.
My hope is that for those to whom I speak, our conversations will result in their lives being truly enhanced in ways that really count.
We are all flawed and it’s not our fault. It is also completely OK to be flawed and to need and want help navigating life, whether it’s stress from work, bereavement, addiction or just struggling with daily life as it is. There is a lot of truth in the phrase, ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’, and I’ve found with my clients that even taking the step to talk to someone about how they’re coping makes them feel less alone and their problems seem smaller.
The prospect of seeing a counsellor can seem daunting and for many people it’s a big step, but putting some time aside for yourself to speak to someone trained to help you can be hugely beneficial.
Life isn’t easy. A lot of the knocks are manageable and we cope well, but sometimes they can come out of the blue, and maybe keep on coming, reducing our self-esteem and confidence over time. We may not have even been responsible for the knocks but that is part of the experience of being human and trying to brush things under the carpet or doing the classic ‘stiff upper lip’ thing doesn’t always work.
“Life is like a river. Sometimes it sweeps you along and sometimes the rapids come out of nowhere.” - Emma Smith
If you can bring yourself to pick up the phone you have done the hardest part of the counselling process, so feel pleased with yourself. If you can’t face doing that, then send a text to say when you’ll be free to speak and I’ll give you a ring so we can arrange a time for an initial call.
This lasts 20-30 minutes and has three main functions:
⦁ For you to tell me a bit about what has been going on in your life and what has brought you to counselling: what you may be wanting to achieve in counselling / what you’re wanting to change in your life.
⦁ For me to talk about my counselling approach, how much I charge (standard, discounted or other).
⦁ If we both agree, a discussion on the best route forward (such as having an in-person session or talking over the phone or platform such as Zoom), to talk about frequency of contact and to arrange the date and time for the first session.
Some people may only need two or three sessions in total, others may need a longer term commitment. We can discuss your needs during the initial call and then take it week by week.
Sessions last 50 minutes each, although a small number of clients prefer shorter, maybe more frequent sessions of half an hour. I encourage sessions to occur weekly or fortnightly at the same time and in the same place, in order to retain a sense of rhythm and continuity. Having said that, I want to ensure you get what you need out of the sessions so can be flexible for clients who ask for them to be less regular, possibly fortnightly or even monthly, as ‘check-ups’/ ‘drop-ins’.
The majority of clients choose to have conversations via Zoom or FaceTime. Approximately one third of the sessions I have with people take place at either the Fred Bulmer Centre (daytime) or at the Kindle Centre (evening), both of which are in central Hereford, Herefordshire. A few prefer having phone calls and on occasion I visit people in their own home. The decision is made entirely based on your needs and preference.
Apart from the possible extra for room hire, charges are the same whether you choose to have them face-to-face, online or via telephone. Finally, I send you my ‘counselling agreement’ which confirms our arrangement, provides payment details and asks a few personal questions (name, address, date of birth, doctor’s details), all in accordance with GDPR requirements and the BACP code of conduct. This needs to be signed and returned before our first session.
"Everything is change and you can’t step twice into the same river." – Heraclitis
The first two or three sessions tend to be very exploratory providing valuable background: why counselling, why now and what has led to the need?
Once we have uncovered the reasons lying behind the initial counselling approach we focus on unpicking these, exploring the detail. This may involve searching the past, friend and family relationships, generational trauma, previous experiences of seeking help. If meeting face to face, and only if you are comfortable with the approach, I may make use of ‘creative’ counselling approaches in order to gain a clearer picture of the relationships in your life, for example, or to use music or art to help you express your feelings and beliefs.
I may introduce mindfulness and mindful meditation techniques too if I feel they may be of value to you, but only if you are in agreement to learn about them and give them a try. For most people, clear, easy to use techniques can become valuable tools to learn, such as those typically used in CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy).
This begins when we both feel the time is appropriate. We will ensure there are no missing pieces in the jigsaw of your life that we haven’t covered, and that you feel confident about your life ahead and how you’ll cope with the future’s knocks you’ll undoubtedly encounter.
“We steer the boat. We don’t alter the river.” - J Earl
I feel privileged that I count a broad spectrum of adults aged 16 plus amongst my clients. A lot of my work involves people who are feeling, or experiencing the following:
anger/frustration/having a short fuse
relationship problems (possibly within family/with children)
uncertainties stemming from past behavioural issues
bereavement (whether expected and predicted or sudden/out of the blue, recently or in the past, single or several)
loss (which could encompass one or more causes such as: home, job, child(ren) - maybe due to separation/court order, partner/spouse through separation/abandonment/divorce, status e.g. financial or via job loss, disability (anticipated or unexpected)
sense of a lack of direction
feelings of having lost their ‘mojo’, and possibility of identity/purpose
Many of my clients are in their twenties or thirties, sometimes describing uncertainty over their future which may have become worse because of COVID. They may describe not wanting to burden their friends of family any more: talking to a ‘stranger’ who won’t judge them, and who will keep their conversations confidential can seem like a ‘release’.
Others come with experience of a well-lived life which may have hit a bit of a wall which may seem insurmountable or at least challenging to navigate. Ill health for themselves or people close to them may present difficulties, as can coping with possibly unexpected loneliness or loss.
Finally, I have raised three children who are now in their twenties. I am used to being a mum, a daughter, sibling, and single parent, and have some understanding of the issues young people face as they navigate the uncertain and frequently challenging world in which they find themselves. In addition to this, I find my own experiences of loss and a relatively recent diagnosis of MS help make my counselling approach empathic and non-judgemental.
By way of qualifications and experience I have the following and as a member of the BACP I adhere to their codes of practice and conduct including having regular supervision, insurance, and continuous professional development. :
MBACP (Member of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy)
Member of the Private Practice Group within the BACP
Key counselling training: post graduate diploma in Counselling from University of Bristol 2012, (an integrative course) which included additional training in areas such as Systems, Gestalt, Psychodynamics, and CBT
Currently volunteer with MIND Hereford at Safe Haven
(Previously) Volunteer Cruse Bereavement worker
Breathworks Mindfulness training (first stage)
BA (Hons) from Kings College London
Various, frequent CPD courses most recently in anger management, mental health and trans-generational post traumatic stress
"Just because you’ve hit rock bottom doesn’t mean you have to stay there." – Robert Downey Jr
What My Clients Say
"I feel incredibly fortunate to have connected with Claire. A little nervous and daunted about the process, Claire was kind, patient, professional and offered real and very practical advice and techniques that were relevant to me and my circumstances. The process helped me move forward and gave me a sense of perspective and progress that is invaluable. I also feel that my sessions will equip me going forwards in life and feel stronger for it. I cannot recommend her services highly enough to anyone thinking of reaching out."
Gemma, June 2021
"Absolutely fantastic, as soon as I had a session with Claire my whole mindset has changed, professional and honest, I've never had counselling before so I was a bit nervous, I was able to chat openly and felt supported. Really recommend if you feel you need some help."
Jennie, Feb 2021
Paul, Aug 2020
"I've just finished my sessions with Claire after working with her for 6 months, and she has been nothing short of amazing. Claire was so understanding, kind and took her time to understand me, how I think, and find the best way to communicate things to me in the best way for me to understand. She also has a no nonsense approach and will call me at when I need to be, which helped so much with grounding me in reality and helped so much with making me think more rationally again. She's helped me build up my confidence, rationalise my thoughts, and help me learn techniques to deal with the really stressful and depressing period of my life I was in, as well as to prepare me to use everything I've learned in the future. All in all, I'm in a much better place now thanks to my sessions with Claire and everyone around me has noticed the progress and improvement while I was working with her and afterwards. I strongly encourage anyone to give her a try as I had such a fantastic journey with her."
Samantha, March 2021
My standard rate is £50 per session (plus a £10 contribution to room hire if required). I limit my charge to £35 for a smaller number of clients who may be unable to access help if this lower rate was not available).