Information on Local Counsellors and other Professionals with Eating Disorder Expertise
It can be very difficult to find a counsellor who is comfortable with dealing with eating disorders, and one who will take on both adult clients, adolescents and children, and of course other family members.
This list of local counsellors has been put together by me to provide families with a starting point. They all have different backgrounds, different training, different professional affiliations and different approaches. The thing they have in common is that they have proven success in working with young people affected by eating disorders and their families. These counsellors may be able to provide support whilst you are waiting for an NHS referral, and also after the NHS have discharged the patient. Eating disorders don’t go away over night and good therapeutic support can dramatically improve outcomes and reduce relapse rates. The key is to find a counsellor who your loved one can connect with and I suggest carers call several in the first instance to discuss individual requirements. The list is by no means exhaustive and I am always happy to find new counsellors with eating disorder experience. I have listed the counsellors alphabetically with contact details. There is some background info on each one further down the page.
Please satisfy yourself that the counsellor you are contacting has the correct qualifications to meet your needs – this is something that can be clarified at the assessment session before you start working together or before you meet. The material available on this website is designed to provide general information only. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is accurate, it does not constitute legal or other professional advice. This document does not endorse and does not accept any responsibility or liability for the contents of websites referenced by an external link. There is no financial relationship between the Carer Support Group and the counsellors listed.
A Brief Introduction to each professional:
Bernadette Wright- Tunbridge Wells
I work as a BACP (Accred) Counsellor and Qualified Clinical Supervisor and Professional Trainer. I qualified in 2005 as a General Practitioner and very quickly recognised a common denominator between the majority of my clients – low self-esteem, poor body image and problems with assertiveness (they tended to use anger as a way of communicating or were easily intimidated and/or bent against their will).
So many of my clients were presenting in this way, with self-loathing and a limited ability to be kind to themselves. Furthermore, I was working with a lot of clients who were clinically obese or painfully skinny and learnt very quickly that even the ones presenting with normal body weight were often abusing themselves by self-harming and substance abuse, poor diet – often coupled with difficult and challenging relationships with themselves and others, and were clearly using food/alcohol/nicotine or other mood altering substances to self-medicate, either by overeating or indeed under eating.
When considering all of the above I felt very strongly that I needed to embark on further training and in 2007 I trained as a Master Practitioner in Eating Disorders and Obesity, at The National Centre for Eating Disorders (NCFED).
I am now a Registered Supervisor and currently attending the current year’s training course as an assistant to Deanne Jade, Principal and Founder of the NCFED, in order to ensure my skills remain cutting edge.
Claire and Jake Boyle - Rye, East Sussex
I am an NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) Master Practitioner and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Coach whose aim is to enable positive, rapid, lasting change. I am committed to providing a relaxed, professional approach allowing each and every individual to achieve their goals. Claire trained with Ian McDermott, one of the world’s most renowned NLP trainers certified since 1988. Ian McDermott is a best-selling author of many NLP books as well as being a registered UKCP Psychotherapist.
My interest in eating disorders stems from my own journey of recovery from an eating disorder and in recent years I have had had particular success working with eating disorders and negative self talk.
My husband Jake is a talented NLP practitioner whose expertise include public speaking, performance anxiety and success in interviews, exams and auditions. Jake works with CONFIDENCE as a ‘state’ that can be accessed and amplified when needed. Jake allows individuals to know in detail, HOW and WHEN to feel confident. Jake has had particular success in recent years working with carers of young people with eating disorders.
Clare Brooks – Sevenoaks
Tel: 07760 826281
As an integrative counsellor I am able to use several different types of therapy, enabling me to have various approaches to suit different issues. These include looking at the past (psycho-dynamic), the present (person centred/humanistic) and strategies for future change (CBT). I have experience working with adults and teenagers in an NHS setting, children/adolescents in one to one sessions in schools throughout Kent and I have a private practice in Sevenoaks. I also have experience in working at Family Matters (UK Charity for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse). I am a member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).
My interest in Eating Disorders developed over the years as a result of exposure to many people with ‘disordered eating’ with several being on the unhealthy end of the spectrum and needing help. Subsequently I experienced a personal loss of a family member who suffered from Anorexia. I truly believe she would still be with us today if she had received help and support when this first emerged in her teens.
Caroline Clarke Wooster - Cranbrook
I am a counsellor offering a range of therapies to clients in Cranbrook and the surrounding areas. In particular I use cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) techniques in order to tailor therapy carefully to individual clients, and I am also a clinical Hypnotherapist. I am a member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).
I have experience in differing settings, GP surgeries, community settings and in schools. I have worked for the last ten years in schools providing counselling therapy to children and adolescents as well as working privately with children, adolescents and adults.
My interest in working with eating disorders has grown gradually as I have had more young people with eating disorders on my caseload. I have found that EMDR is very useful in changing beliefs about themselves and the food and compliments a traditional CBT approach.
Catherine Palmer – Sevenoaks
Being trained as an integrative counsellor specialising in Person Centred, Transactional Analysis and Gestalt therapy means we can work together in a way most suited to your personal needs. My practice is non-judgemental, irrespective of your age, nationality, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
My counselling experience includes working with individuals who have experienced a wide spectrum of issues. As well as my work in private practice, I have worked as a bereavement counsellor in a hospice and as a school counsellor, supporting teenagers and young people. For the past 2 years I have worked in a Children’s Centre, in Tunbridge Wells, counselling young parents. I am a member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy(BACP).
Gwen Davies – Kent Wide Early Intervention Service
I specialise within the field of early interventions for eating disorders as well as working with patients who have a diagnosis. Early signs and symptoms of an eating disorder can often go untreated resulting in symptoms becoming more entrenched and requiring input at the crisis stage. I am delighted to offer a fast, effective service that can support individuals at the early stages of their difficulties. The input can prevent long term deterioration that could lead to a diagnosis or admission into hospital. According to ‘NICE’ guidelines for the management of eating disorders in those over 8 years old: “People with eating disorders should be assessed and treated at the earliest opportunity.” I am a qualified mental health nurse with over 12 years experience, 5 years of which were within eating disorders, supporting clients with early symptoms in the community. I have a 2 year post graduate certificate in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and a degree in Public Health.
Alan Heyes – Therapy Partners - North Kent & Medway
Therapy partners and Rewrite your Story offer therapeutic support using Nice approved individual eating-disorder-focused cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT-ED) to support children and young people suffering from eating disorders We can also offer support for those people close to them including parents, friends and teachers. Our work follows on from a successful NHS Funded Pilot project in 2016/17and has a special focus on early intervention and quick referral to therapy.
We have a limited number of funded places available in North Kent and Medway, each case is funded on an individual basis, and we would be be happy to talk to you regarding assessment and funding criteria. We provide supports across Kent and at our clinic in Maidstone based at Maidstone Community Support Centre.
Further details can be found at https://www.therapypartners.co.uk/children-and-young-people/rewrite-your-story
Fiona Hooper – Tunbridge Wells
Tel: 07904 920904
I am a trained and qualified counsellor and therapist with more than 10 years clinical practice and a proven record of helping clients move towards change, growth and development. Clients are referred to me from all walks of life with a range of experiences and difficulties. I work with couples, individuals and groups of all ages. I also have extensive expertise in families, young people and children. To supplement my psychodynamic training, I increasingly use Transactional Analysis and Mindfulness in my work. . I am a member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).
In addition to working as a therapist, I also have considerable experience training young people, parents and schools towards an understanding and management of a range of issues, including eating disorders, self-harm and bereavement.
Jack Jacobs – Mental Fitness Coach
Having recovered from anorexia nervosa I decided to move away from the corporate world of finance and use my lived experience of recovery to help others to improve their lives. I am a member of the Association for Coaching and I coach individuals of all ages and backgrounds to explore, discover and learn more about themselves, by providing a safe, non-judgemental and confidential space for my clients speak openly and honestly.
Ultimately, I facilitate meaningful conversations to guide, support and empower my clients to unleash their full potential. I fundamentally believe that we all have the power to achieve anything we want to if we put our minds to it. Whether that be building a business, overcoming mental health illnesses or your greatest and wildest dream – it’s about you and your mindset. My mission is simple, to impact people positively.
Jennifer Low – Dietitian Sevenoaks
I am a Registered Dietitian and have a degree in Psychology and an MSc in Nutrition. I have specialised in eating disorders since 2008, and have worked with both adults and children in NHS services, as well as privately.
According to NICE guidelines, Dietitians should not work in isolation with people with an eating disorder, and I find that when a client has therapy working with them is a lot more effective. I work in a patient-centred way, and am careful to build trust and honesty in my relationship with my clients and their families.
I love working with people to improve their quality of life and their relationship with food. Many clients will need to be following meal plans in order to recover lost weight, and I also focus on challenging eating disorder related behaviours, education on food and nutrients and how energy is used in the body, working through fear foods and trying to incorporate them into every day life, moving towards eating family foods and being able to have meals outside of the home.
Gillian McArthur - Horsmonden, Kent
I am an experienced accredited BACP counsellor working with adults and young people. I am in private practice in my home in Horsmonden and I have also worked across a broad spectrum of secondary school settings. I have specialist training in working with eating disorders with the National Centre for Eating Disorders, an enormously successful approach to eating disorders which uses Positive psychology, CBT, Motivational interventions and Nutritional rehabilitation. I am able to work with Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge eating, Orthorexia and Obesity.
I also have a Diploma in integrative counselling which means that I use different approaches and models of counselling according to the individual needs of each client. I believe that I provide a safe, comfortable and non- judgemental practice and therapy for many other issues which include but are not limited to abuse, anxiety, bereavement, depression, stress, trauma and relationship issues.
Paul Marro - Four Elms, Sevenoaks, Tunbridge Wells & Maidstone
I qualified as a Cognitive Hypnotherapist and NLP Practitioner with the Quest Institute, when I graduated on their world-renowned Diploma in Cognitive Hypnotherapy. Cognitive hypnotherapy is cutting-edge – it was developed by Trevor Silvester of the Quest Institute at the beginning of the 21st century. It uses a wide variety of methods from other psychological disciplines such as NLP, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and psychotherapy, but at its heart lies the belief that trance states are something we all do regularly every day (just think of the trance you enter when you’re driving to a familiar location like work), and that we all have the innate capability to resolve our own life issues in the best way for us.
To help people achieve these positive changes in their lives, cognitive hypnotherapists use many psychological, hypnotic and linguistic techniques, including WordWeaving, a unique and sophisticated toolset that helps us to create specific language patterns for clients which are much more likely to be subconsciously accepted and acted upon. These methods help us to direct our clients towards their solution state, the place they really want to get to.
Jo Pearson – Sevenoaks
Jo Pearson, a new part-time member of the Think CBT team. Jo specialises in the treatment of complex eating and body image problems, as well as working as a Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist in general psychological practice.
In addition to being a qualified and BABCP accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist, Jo has worked as a Psychiatric nurse within an NHS specialist eating disorders unit. Jo has extensive experience and specialist training in complex eating problems and works with adults and young people in the NHS and private practice.
Caroline Romaine – Tunbridge Wells
I am an accredited BACP therapist with over 20 years experience in the profession. I am primarily a cognitive behavioural and systemic therapist although my training has taken in many of the recognised counselling techniques and theories. This means that I can fit my approach to best suit the clients needs. Clients are all individuals and so we work together to find the best way forward. I work alongside my clients in an active and involved way and am transparent in my style so you always understand where I am coming from and how I am working with you. Counselling does not need to be lengthy – sometimes even just one session can be useful. I work with a variety of problems including depression, anxiety, abuse, panic, stress, trauma, obsession, eating disorders, couple and family relationships.
Lisa Smith – Nutritionist - Harley Street, Canterbury & Tonbridge
Nutriology is run by Lisa Smith. Lisa qualified in 2005 and currently works as a Nutritionist within high profile, integrated private healthcare clinics in London, as well as in her private practice in Tonbridge, Kent.
In the private practice, Lisa actively works with individuals and corporate employees to improve health and performance by optimising diet and lifestyle. It is not all about strict, faddy diets, health foods and vitamin supplements. It’s about helping your body get the nutrients it needs to work properly in the world we live in – a busy, demanding and at times, stressful place.
Nutriology works with individuals, schools, businesses and organisations, to design nutrition and wellness programmes that help achieve improved health and performance levels. We don’t believe in a ‘one size fits all’ diet, but will work alongside you, your organisation or key individuals within your organisation, to design programmes that fits in with and takes account of the demands of the individuals lifestyle and helps restore them to full, vibrant health.
Laura Hearn - Recovery Coach
Laura Hearn is the founder of the globally recognised online artblog ‘Jiggsy,’ which uses its unique creative tool ‘The Jiggsaw’ to connect people affected by an eating disorder and mental ill health.
Laura is also a TV News producer for the BBC, and regularly speaks about her experience of recovery from an eating disorder, and how she learnt to heal after spending 8 months in an inpatient treatment centre in the US. She uses her extensive knowledge within broadcasting, to remove the stigma of mental illness in the workplace, and to encourage leaders to realise the financial and moral benefits of putting wellbeing at the heart of everything they do.
As a mental health consultant, Laura uses the tools she learnt in the US to train leaders in mental health awareness and advise organisations on their mental health strategy. Laura delivers keynotes on mental health, and coaches leaders on the value of adapting their organisations to retain staff, avoid long term absences and ultimately create productive working environments.
Laura has delivered workshops to companies, schools, charities and organisations, to help clients develop confidence and identity from within. Laura is also recovery coach with the Carolyn Costin Institute, to help clients realise that being ‘recovered’ is possible for everyone.
I am a qualified integrative therapist, registered with the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) specialising in children and adolescents. My training includes an Undergraduate Degree in Childhood Studies, a certificate and post graduate diploma in Therapeutic Counselling and a certificate in dialectical behavioural therapy. The way I work incorporates methods from various therapies (cognitive behavioural therapy, dialectical behavioural therapy and psychodynamic counselling) in order to achieve a tailor made approach to each individual.
My work experience has included a young offenders prison, providing therapeutic support to young people and their families whilst in custody. Here I experienced working with individuals who had committed very serious crimes and predominantly engaged in anti-social behaviour. I then moved on to work on the Child and Adolescent Mental Health inpatient ward at the Priory Hospital. The majority of my work here was with young people suffering from severe mental health, so significantly that they were admitted under section. These young people presented with eating disorders, self-harm, and suicidal ideation. My next role was with NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), where I worked with young people presenting with depression, anxiety, OCD and eating disorders.
I run my own private practice called TEEN MINDS COUNSELLING. I am able to provide support to the young person and their family as well as attending school meetings and providing input to other services involved.
I am keen to work with young people suffering from most mental health presentations, however my particular interests are emerging borderline personality disorder and eating disorders. I have a family member who has suffered from anorexia for ten years so I also have personal experience on how a mental health issue can affect the whole family dynamic and not just the individual.
Veronica Kamerling - Eating Disorder Expert and Carer
Private Practice Clinical Partners Wimpole Street London W1
I am the mother of three children a son and two daughters and both my daughters had an eating disorder and are now in good recovery. One daughter had anorexia and the other had bulimia and compulsive overeating. I also looked after my brother who had schizophrenia. I run my own organisation called “Eating Disorders and Carers” which I have done for 16 years and the organisation was set up to support carers and families.
I know only too well how challenging and stressful looking after those with mental illness can be. The feelings of isolation, despair and guilt can be overwhelming and it is sometimes difficult to know what to do for the best. It is because of my own personal experience that I have had over the years, of both caring for my family and running my own organisation, that I am now able to support other families. It is important to seek help and look after yourself when the person you are looking after first becomes ill as it is all part of the recovery process.
In my private practice I am offering individual sessions for carers to help you develop skills to navigate the stormy waters of caring for a loved one with any type of mental illness, to communicate with your loved one and to role model self care.
In addition to my private practice I do a large amount of other work. This includes training professionals and families, inspecting secure units and setting the standards, sitting on a variety of advisory boards as well as presenting at conferences and professional and family groups.
Things to Consider when Choosing a Counsellor:
As you all know the NHS is very under resourced and often there are long waiting lists, appointments get cancelled at the last minute and patients are often discharged when they still have a long way to go on rebuilding their confidence, developing new more healthy coping strategies and improving their overall emotional wellbeing. In addition there are times when other members of the family can become extremely tired, depressed, angry etc and for them a little bit of therapy can go a long way.
I have compiled a list of possible questions (in no particular order) you could ask when approaching a counsellor for the first time either for your loved one or other family members. You could pick and choose questions relevant for your situation and of course put them in your own words:
- How long have you been practicing?
- What kinds of issues do you normally see? Do you have a special interest in eating disorders?
- Have you and do you normally see clients with eating disorders?
- Can we discuss your position on confidentiality? (eg: my daughter is 18 but is happy for me to be included in the process OR my 16 year old daughter doesn’t want me involved, but I need to understand the process)
- Under what circumstances would you break confidentiality?
- Are you part of any registered associations? Which ones?
- What is your educational background?
- Where is your office located?
- When are you available?
- Do you work year round? Do you have any extended breaks planned?
- How much do you charge per session?
- Do you have any package deals for your sessions?
- Do you offer reduced rates for special situations?
- How often do you suggest I (or my son/ daughter/ other family member) see you?
- If I come to see you, am I covered under my medical insurance?
- Do you give receipts for your sessions?
- What is the minimum time you need for me to cancel an appointment? Will it cost me?
- How much in advance do I have to book an appointment with you?
- Do you just have your private practice? Where else do you work?
- What is your availability for emergencies?
- What type(s) of therapy do you use?
- Do you do group sessions or family sessions?
- What is your position on pharmaceutical therapy and naturally based therapies?
Please feel free to add to this list.
After you’ve chosen a therapist, it’s completely fine to have a trial run. If after the first few sessions you/ your loved one doesn’t feel that the relationship is working, it’s okay to keep looking. Remember that this working relationship has to start somewhere, and the therapist/ client get to know each other better over time. The best method of choosing a counsellor is to listen to your gut reaction.
There are many benefits of other family members accessing therapy (role modelling self care, acknowledging the stresses of caring for someone with an eating disorder, to help build confidence and resilience in the face of the eating disorder, to consider making small changes etc) Apart from the private counsellor route it is also worth asking your GPs of the availability of free counselling for adults, and all schools should be able to provide counselling for siblings. These counsellors do not need to be experts in eating disorders as they will be working with the client who hasn’t got an eating disorder to help build coping strategies to deal with the stress of living with and coping with caring for someone with an eating disorder.