Counselling For Disabled

What is Counselling?

Sometimes there is a misconception that counselling is advice giving but this is not the case. Counselling is a talking therapy which can be life enhancing, promoting positive change. Emotional Respite Disability Counselling Service offers person-centred counselling delivered by a counsellor with a physical disability.  It offers those affected by disabilities a unique opportunity to work with a physically disabled counsellor who has the professional knowledge and personal insight to offer a deep understanding of disability issues. Person-centred counselling aims to achieve personal growth and change within the individual by providing a confidential space of acceptance, genuineness, understanding and empathy.

I founded Emotional Respite Disability Counselling Service as an individual with Spinal Muscular Atrophy type II and Scoliosis. Therefore I have personal insight into what it is like to live with a disability. I felt it was important to create a service where clients could feel that their counsellor could relate to and understand their personal experiences. I am passionate about being able to provide an advanced empathic understanding of disability related issues due to developing a greater awareness from personal experiences.

I became a qualified person-centred counsellor in 2008 and spent several years studying and working in various settings as a counsellor. As my practice developed I became aware of the lack of specialist counselling to support those affected by disabilities. Many services offer peer support but in my view the next level of professional support was rarely available for one to one therapy.  What was even rarer were disability services being delivered by someone with a disability.  Generic counselling services could be offered to those affected by disabilities but research has shown that many disabled people report having to explain themselves within their sessions to convey meaning. I wanted to create a service where people affected by disabilities could have a one to one service offering a deep level of empathy and understanding. Emotional Respite Disability Counselling Service was established to do just that.

Helen Rutherford

Tel: 07809877360


Twitter: @emotionalresp

Statistics show that 1 in 4 people will experience mental health problems every year. People with disabilities have many things to deal with to establish a level of ‘normality’ in their lives. Spontaneity can be an issue for some as their lives are meticulously planned to achieve different goals and this can be frustrating. Often disabled individuals cannot always achieve the things they want due to many factors such as social and physical barriers, as well as relying on others to enable them. Personal freedom can be an issue for those who are not positively supported by others to reach their potential. There can be a sense of overcoming and adjusting to any disability not only for the individual but for those around them. Some individuals cope perfectly well and adjust to living with a disability and life is ‘normal’ for them.  They accept themselves and who they are as individuals and this is no different to anyone else, the difference lies in the challenges thrown up at them, and how they deal with their situation.  Others may find the constant challenges more overwhelming and this may affect their mood, self esteem and confidence. It can be an isolating experience living with a disability at times. It’s not unreasonable to think that some of the challenges and stresses of living with a disability may impact on individuals emotionally and psychologically. I want individuals who access this service to know that I will be able to understand and relate to them through facing some of these everyday challenges myself.

I think it is important to acknowledge the care givers and enablers who support their loved ones throughout their lives. I provide support for the families, partners and carers as I am aware of the impact disabilities may have on relationships and family life. I feel I can offer a deep understanding and personal insight into supporting those affected by disability.

I considered some of the barriers people with disabilities and their families face and wanted to ensure that this service was as accessible as possible. Therefore counselling is offered in a variety of formats. I offer face to face counselling in North East England from accessible premises or home visits if the clients home is accessible. To reach those further afield I offer telephone counselling within the UK and online video/audio counselling worldwide so that counselling support can be fitted around the clients’ needs. Many people with disabilities may feel unable to commit to accessing counselling in person so this is a service they can access from the comfort of their own home.

As a qualified CPCAB counselling supervisor I am also able to offer support to other professionals working within this area of expertise. I felt it was important for me to take this step professionally to help enhance the practice of others as disability is not addressed in depth within counselling training. I feel I can use my knowledge and insight to positively impact on counselling and it is another way I am able to contribute to promoting a better understanding of disabilities.

This service supports individuals from a range of disabling conditions including a disability the individual was born with, a progressive debilitating illness, or disability as a result of an accident. This service will tackle issues such as loss, grief, frustration, anxiety, low self-esteem, assertiveness, bereavement, empowerment, coping strategies, depression, isolation, diagnosis, self esteem, negative thoughts, relationship difficulties, anger, worry, hopelessness, oppression, progressive illness, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, guilt, independence, transition, and stress. It will also offer support to find practical solutions to everyday problems.

Author: Helen Rutherford BA Hons Counselling, MBACP register (No.065042)