A Plymouth counselling practice, run by Nigel Summerton, is celebrating its twenty-fifth year of helping others find a balance between the modern stresses of personal and work life living, along with emotional stability. This month OM Magazine talks to Nigel and his colleague Jo Maguire, about how the practice has changed over 25 years in business.
Plymouth counselling practice, Personal and Relationship Counselling, (PRC), is a private practice of Counsellors and Psychotherapists established in 1994. Over the past 25 years, the team has provided an invaluable confidential counselling and psychotherapy service for the people of Devon & Cornwall.
In 1994 Gwen Cawse and John Washbrook opened the practice, and at this time, it was run entirely from the top floor of a building based in Looe St on the Barbican. In 2000, Gwen and John decided to expand the practice and advertised for a new relationship counsellor. Not long out of training, Nigel Summerton applied for the advertised role and came on board to become the third member of the team. Nigel began his training as a relationship counsellor in 1996, and later trained as a general counsellor to broaden his knowledge when working with individuals.
Nigel stepped into the role of running PRC after Gwen and John decided to retire. Taking over a practice with a well-established reputation has allowed Nigel to develop and grow the business, there is now a team of eight counsellors and the practice has expanded from just the top floor to currently fill all three floors in the building. With a substantial client base and many of their clients recommending them to others, there is no other local independent counselling organisation that has seen as many clients as PRC.
In 1980 when he was in his early 20’s, a motorbike accident resulted in the amputation of his left arm, below the elbow, this resulted in the end of his career in the Royal Navy.
“At the time I got quite depressed”, Nigel explains, “We didn’t think much about counselling back in the 80s, it wasn’t something on the radar.” A second motorcycle accident in 1994, left Nigel wheelchair-bound for a year and it was after this accident that he decided to train as a counsellor.
Nigel recalls “After my second accident, I found that talking to a counsellor helped immensely with the emotional healing required to carry on and live a fulfilling life, I realised the benefits of talking to somebody about my feelings in order to move on”. Now working with clients who are going through difficult times, his personal experience helps him to empathise with them. “I think that’s the great thing about all of the counsellors here at PRC, we’ve all had a lot of life experience, both from our own experiences and through working with people”.
One of the practitioners at PRC Jo Maguire, originally trained as an addiction counsellor with the NHS and then later went on to qualify as a CBT Therapist. Jo works with a wide range of people struggling with real-life issues. Fourteen years ago, love saw her relocate to Plymouth. She has been working at PRC for the last 10 years as a full-time relationship and CBT Therapist.
The other six members of the well-respected PRC team include a mix of both female and male counsellors, all of whom bring a different professional package to the practice.
The most experienced psychotherapist Les Parsons, who has been at the practice for almost 12 years. He originally trained as a psychiatric nurse and worked within community mental health projects for many years before concentrating on his own psychotherapy practice, using Transactional Analysis as a key approach to his work.
Tracy Ede, has over 20 years’ experience working with emotional and trauma-based distress. Her early career began in residential and outreach settings. Tracy is a well-established counsellor within a therapy team, supporting young people and their families in special needs educational settings in Plymouth. She uses an integrative, holistic approach with the belief that there is ‘no one size fits all’ therapy.
Naheed Holmes, who has previously worked with addictions and eating disorders, works with an integrative approach. This offers the opportunity to work collaboratively with clients in a way that supports their individual needs, with a broad range of issues that also include depression, anxiety, trauma, identity, and loss.
Jane Doggart, is a highly experienced general Counsellor of 25 years and a specialist Addictions Therapist. Jane’s uses a person-centered approach and Transactional Analysis and sees her role as a therapist to educate and facilitate change.
Steve Worsley, an ex-Royal Marine brings a wealth of life experience to his therapy. As well as a military background, Steve has worked extensively with offenders and has a background in sports therapy.
The youngest and most recently qualified member of the team, Marcia Morton, brings her own dynamic energy to the practice, working with a humanistic approach, believing that we all have our own answers from within.
All the counsellors have a wealth of experience and meet often to consider best practice, and ensure that they are working within the BACP (the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy) Ethical Framework. Each counsellor must demonstrate ongoing professional development.
Nigel explains, “We all undergo supervision for an hour and a half every month to help deal with our workloads, this supervision makes sure that we are all working ethically as well as helping us all stay self-aware, safeguarding both ourselves and our clients”.
To ensure the practice continues to evolve and offer the best service available, the practitioners at PRC meet twice a month to catch up with each other, and brainstorm ideas on how they can help clients get past whatever issues they are facing. These meetings also help the counsellors look after one another, and talk about the difficulties they face. “It is quite distressing to hear the situations that some people have been through in their lives, and we often need to support one another here.”
The close family type network of the team ensures a practice that really does make you feel safe and secure.
It’s become undeniable, that there is an increase in people struggling with mental health. Our world today is less human-friendly than it used to be, emotions seem to have taken a back seat, and people are underestimating how important they are and where they fit. With the increased usage of social media having a huge impact on mental health, it is clear that there is a lack of compassion and understanding of how we humans’ function and communicate.
“We live in a world where the expectation is that we should strive for happiness all of the time. Although at PRC we are great fans of happiness, it’s just not realistic to have continuous happiness. Life can be very tough and we will all at times feel sad, angry, worried, lonely or ashamed – these feelings are part of being human.”
“The aim of counselling, is to help people recognise and voice these feelings without fear of being ridiculed or judged. Accepting and sharing painful feelings is one of the most important steps on the road to recovery.”
The practice provides counselling for couples, individuals & young people facing many types of problems such as; stress and anxiety, depression, self-esteem, and confidence, eating disorders, (CBT) cognitive behavioural therapy, marital and relationship issues, bereavement and loss, and difficulties with intimacy and sexual problems. The practitioners at PRC have each been selected for their experience, qualifications, and personalities – their combined knowledge means they can offer a wide range of different expertise and specialties.
“It takes many years to build a good reputation and to become established as a counsellor; there aren’t many practices that have been around for as long as us, and what you can get from knowing we’ve been established 25 years, is that you don’t achieve this unless you are providing a good quality service. So, you’ll know that if you come to us, there’s an established team who have built an excellent reputation who will listen and take care of you.”
If you feel that you need to talk to someone from PRC about yourself or on behalf of somebody else, then do not hesitate to get in touch via phone, email or the website (details listed below).
Call us: 01752 266000
36 Looe Street, Plymouth, PL4 0EB