Welcome to heartswork

Stephen Richards (counsellor, supervisor, consultant, trainer, east, west, sussex, kent)

December 2018

At 11pm on March 29th 2019, the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union. Still to be decided is what precisely will happen on Brexit day and what kind of deal, if any, Britain will leave with.

On the following day 30th March 2019 I will be doing a workshop: ** “Therapy in Troubled Times” at Lodge Counselling 9A High Street Crowborough TN6 2QA. Places will be limited so please book early by email and pay a non-returnable deposit of £20-00. The cost is £80-00 for the day (9.30-4.30) and I’ll provide tea,coffee biscuits etc.

What the…..?!

Watching and listening to the news I often find myself thinking “What did she/he just say ? That can’t be right/sounds absurd/is impossible only to find that the surreal is all too real and the people who are supposed to be in charge of the affairs of state are not even in charge of themselves and seem unaware of how completely unqualified they are for the jobs they hold. I’m not talking about morality- I’ve long held the view that morality like paying taxes only applies to the “little people” in the eyes of our rulers. I’m not even talking about truth as a wider concept – just basic knowledge for anyone who can read newspapers or listen to the radio.

British austerity ‘callous’, says UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty

Channel 4 News – the United Nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty, Professor Philip Alston, has published his report on the situation facing millions in poverty in this country. ‘Punitive, mean-spirited, and callous,’ that’s how he described the Government’s austerity policies. And he says the rise in child poverty is a ‘social calamity and economic disaster’.
Prof Alston made the comments following a 12-day, nine-city trip to the UK. According to his report, approximately 14 million people in the UK are living in poverty, with 1.5 million classes as destitute, and unable to afford basic essentials. He says the Government is in a determined state of denial about the situation.

The only slight bit of cheer in the latest round of resignations from the government was the departure of Esther McVey from the Department of Work and Pensions. Her replacement is Amber Rudd who despite being the M.P. for Hastings and Rye thinks the UN guy has got it all wrong and government policy is fine. Does she ever spend any time in the Hastings part of her constituency?


The UK’s best-paid boss, co-founder of online gambling firm Bet365 Denise Coates, has received another bumper pay rise.

The firm’s accounts show compensation, for the firm’s “highest paid director” rising to £265m including dividends.That was £48m higher than the total she received last year as the popularity of online gambling continues to grow.

“In the UK, it is estimated that around 350,000 people are suffering from a gambling addiction. In recent years, the number of people experiencing problems with gambling has increased due to economic troubles associated with the global recession and an increase in the number of gambling outlets. It is now easier than ever before to gamble, with a huge number of online betting shops and games sites enabling people to gamble 24 hours a day. Every year, over 7 billion pounds is spent on gambling.” gamblingaddiction.org.uk

More gambling

Boris Johnson was paid almost £100,000 to deliver a two-hour speech to a hedge fund* in New York earlier this month.

*an offshore investment fund, typically formed as a private limited partnership, that engages in speculation using credit or borrowed capital.

The most recent entry in the register of MPs interests shows he was paid £94,508 for the speech at the investment firm’s office in America on November 2. Travel and accommodation was also provided.

The wages per year for an MP as of April 2018 are £77,379.

This payment comes on top of the £23,000 he receives every month to write a weekly newspaper column. The register shows he also received almost £9,500 in book royalties in the past two months, to add to a total of £18,000 he has already been paid by publishers during 2018. Mr Johnson was also paid £2,000 for another column in a different paper, which helped his total earnings outside Parliament for 2018 reach around £244,000.

When he was being paid £94,508 plus expenses what kind of wisdom and information was he imparting? I’ve seen and read interviews and speeches by him and recently watched the documentary about his time in the Foreign Office and didn’t hear anything other than his need to make jokes and show-off. In the documentary the diplomats attempting to advise him were very professional but plainly not amused. On resigning from his post as Foreign Secretary he was of course free to pile up his outside earnings.

History Karen Bradley, the secretary of state for Northern Ireland, said:“I freely admit that when I started this job, I didn’t understand some of the deep-seated and deep-rooted issues that there are in Northern Ireland. I didn’t understand things like when elections are fought, for example, in Northern Ireland – people who are nationalists don’t vote for unionist parties and vice versa.” Good luck with the DUP Karen.
Geography Three weeks ago the then Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab: “I hadn’t quite understood the full extent of this, but if you look at the UK and look at how we trade in goods, we are particularly reliant on the Dover-Calais crossing.” Now resigned. Not of course because knowing nothing about trade or geography might be a handicap in the job.


“The day after we vote to leave we hold all the cards and we can choose the path we want”. Michael Gove (9 April 2016)

“Getting out of the EU can be quick and easy – the UK holds most of the cards in any negotiation “ John Redwood (17 July 2016)

“To me, Brexit is easy.” Nigel Farage(20 September 2016)

“We won’t know the full economic consequences for a very long time. The overwhelming opportunity for Brexit is over the next 50 years.” Jacob Rees-Mogg July 2017

“The free trade agreement that we will have to do with the European Union should be one of the easiest in human history.” Liam Fox (20 July 2017)

Liam Fox is still a member of the cabinet. I heard him on the radio recently and it seems that he might actually have realised that he and his Brexiteer friends have been selling a pack of lies and delusions and the May deal is more or less the deal that is on offer. The idea that we can “have our cake and eat it” is as deluded as the fantasy of endless extra money for the NHS on leaving the EU. Fox is desperate to get trade deals with the Trump administration which is good news for those of you who like your beef with extra hormones, chicken washed in chlorine and are completely sanguine about American companies running chunks of the NHS. In the meantime we are turning our backs on our nearest neighbours one of whom said on Armistice Day, November 11th…

Speech by a grown-up

“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. In saying ‘our interests first, whatever happens to the others,’ you erase the most precious thing a nation can have, that which makes it live, that which causes it to be great and that which is most important: its moral values.
“Old demons are resurfacing. History sometimes threatens to take its tragic course again and compromise our hope of peace. Let us vow to prioritise peace over everything.”He said the traces of the first world war had never been erased from Europe nor the Middle East and called on countries to stand together in “goodwill” against climate change, poverty and inequality. “Let us build our hopes rather than playing our fears against each other.”

President Macron November 11th 2018.

I’m no fan of his politics but compared to the drivel coming out of Washington and London this sounds like someone who has a grasp of history and geography and understands about climate change.

And, and, and…..

Hard to remember sometimes but most people most of the time are doing their best to do the right thing for themselves their families and for the wider society. Despite all the problems in our public services brought about by political malice and incompetence the majority of the staff of our schools,hospitals,social services, police force etc continue to provide the backbone of our society. If you have to wait for an ambulance or a hospital bed, your childrens’ teacher seems very tired and stressed, it isn’t their fault- they are doing their best under difficult and sometimes impossible circumstances. It is the festive season and I hope you all give yourselves time off from the cares of the world to enjoy whatever kind of holiday that is right for you. I saw a t-shirt recently that had printed on the front “ I like to party-and by party I mean read a book”. Eric Berne the founder of Transactional Analysis said he enjoyed what he called “ a jumping up and down kind of party”. Whatever your preference I wish you well and hope to see some of you in March and hear from anyone at any time by phone or email.



A couple of weeks ago I ran the Cardiff 5k Run for Victory around the suburb of Whitchurch. There was a great party atmosphere and we had a lovely time.My aims were to: a) survive b) complete the run c) not finish last. Mission accomplished!

We are both really enjoying living here. Most of our journeys are done with our free bus passes and where we live we don’t have to wait more than a few minutes. I’m loving visits to the Central Library a beautiful and comfortable modern building which is a joy to browse or sit in and there are plenty of independent cafes,restaurants,bars and shops as well as the big shopping centres which could be anywhere-except that all signage and announcements are in Welsh and English. Last weekend was declared a traffic-free day in the city and we had the additional excitement of Cardiff city F.C. s victory parade after winning promotion to the Premier League. You didn’t have to be a football fan to enjoy the loud but good natured celebrations. The builders arrive on Tuesday for an estimated 12 weeks so we will be camping in some parts of the house whilst other bits are being demolished and a kitchen/diner,ground floor shower room and outside walled patio constructed. We’ll have to practice staying calm and keep reminding ourselves that it will be lovely when it’s finished! The vegetables in the greenhouse and the bits of garden that won’t be affected by the building works are thriving in the warm weather and it is a great joy to me to tend the garden and look forward to developing it over time. We have trees and flowers in full bloom now and it is wonderful to wake up to bird song on these bright days.
Yasmin and I watched the Royal wedding and amongst the usual displays of pomp and unearned privilege there were some great moments.
Even for a hardened leftie like me the actual behaviour of the happy couple looked very much like two people who love each other. The music was great, the flowers and garlands were fantastic and then came the sermon from Bishop Michael Curry – the first black presiding bishop of the US Episcopal Church. He spoke with passion and joy and I think some of the congregation were very uncomfortable. This is just an extract that will explain why….

“That’s what love is. Love is not selfish and self-centred. Love can be sacrificial, and in so doing, becomes redemptive. And that way of unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive love changes lives, and it can change this world.

“If you don’t believe me, just stop and imagine. Think and imagine a world where love is the way.”

“Imagine our homes and families where love is the way. Imagine neighbourhoods and communities where love is the way.

“Imagine governments and nations where love is the way. Imagine business and commerce where this love is the way.

“Imagine this tired old world where love is the way. When love is the way – unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive.

“When love is the way, then no child will go to bed hungry in this world ever again.

“When love is the way, we will let justice roll down like a mighty stream and righteousness like an ever-flowing brook.

“When love is the way, poverty will become history. When love is the way, the earth will be a sanctuary.

“When love is the way, we will lay down our swords and shields, down by the riverside, to study war no more.

“When love is the way, there’s plenty good room – plenty good room – for all of God’s children.

“Because when love is the way, we actually treat each other, well… like we are actually family.

“When love is the way, we know that God is the source of us all, and we are brothers and sisters, children of God.

“My brothers and sisters, that’s a new heaven, a new earth, a new world, a new human family.

Amen to that Bishop Michael and Namaste to you all.

*We are coming back to Sussex in July and there are places left on the:
  • Workshop in the Big Yurt by Steve Richards*

Different strokes for different folks

Saturday 7th July 9.30-4.30

A theoretical and experiential workshop for counsellors and psychotherapists exploring differing needs for contact and recognition

Please bring food to share . I’ll provide tea,coffee,water etc.

Venue: The Big Yurt at Glynleigh Organic Farm (between Hailsham and Stone Cross)

(From the Hailsham direction take the first left turn after Hilliers Garden Centre B2014. From the Stone Cross direction take the first right turn just before the Garden Centre. The Yurt is on the left and we’ll mark the entrance and meet you.)

Cost: £80-00 (12 places)

phone: 07970-211834

Who I am …

My name is Stephen Richards. For the past 30 years I have been self employed as a counsellor, supervisor, consultant and trainer working with a wide variety of individuals, couples, groups and organisations.

I have had substantial training in Person-Centred Counselling and Transactional Analysis Psychotherapy and have had additional training and personal experience with Gestalt therapy, Bodywork and Psychosynthesis therapies.

I am a qualified supervisor and have developed and taught professional training courses in counselling, supervision, counselling skills and groupwork.

In recent years I have also been involved in the Advanced Diploma in Forensic Counselling and Psychotherapy course and the Advanced Diploma course in Counselling and Psychotherapy with Children and Families both at Wealden College.

I have run CPD and personal growth workshops for several years ranging from “Using DSM-IV the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association” through to “Body Breath and Soul-Exploring Eastern Techniques of Personal Growth”.

An increasing area of work for me is in public, private and voluntary sector organisations. I train and mentor managers to develop their thinking and skills and act as a consultant to directors and managers in coping with day-to-day problems and developing and implementing effective systems to prevent them arising.

Why “heartswork”?

For the past few years I’ve had a website www.working-in-relationship.co.uk and I’ve been pleased with the content, so I’ve kept most of it on this site.

My problem was that although “working in relationship” is the only brief description which covers the different kinds of work I do it doesn’t trip off the tongue and if you’re a hunt and peck typist like me it takes a while to type and there is plenty of opportunity for error.

The title “heartswork” is inspired by my remembering a conversation I had with a Transactional Analyst from Seattle, Elaine Childs-Gowell about 20 years ago. Elaine, who died in 2006 is most well known for her book “Good Grief Rituals” and unbeknownst to me at the time was a powerful human rights activist and had a Ph.D for her studies of Shamanism. She said to me,very simply, “You have found your heart’s work and that is the important thing.”

Why the lotus logo?

In the various strands of Buddhism and Hinduism the lotus is a frequently used symbol with a variety of meanings. For me the meaning is that a flower of great beauty and symmetry is born and flourishes in the muddiest of ponds.


I believe the value of my work lies largely in the quality of relationships I make with my clients and colleagues. My success is measured by their continuing trust in my ability and character and I take as evidence the changes in their thoughts, feelings and behaviour they make with my help.

In all the different kinds of work I do my aim is to bring out the best in people which can sometimes mean helping them to understand and change some aspects of themselves which they may find unacceptable or to manage painful realities.

I believe firmly in personal responsibility, mine and my client’s, rather than external regulation and I am therefore accountable to my clients, colleagues and my conscience to behave with integrity.
I have professional supervision to enable me to be supported and challenged in my continuing growth and development. In addition I have substantial personal experience of therapy beginning in 1984 with 6 years in group therapy.

Like many of my colleagues I have serious concerns about people helping others without an in-depth examination of their own motives and the humility to seek help with their own problems. Given a choice between the practitioner who recognises he is a fallible human being who sometimes makes mistakes and sometimes needs help and the kind who never makes mistakes and never needs help – I strongly recommend the former kind!

Old-fashioned as it may be I still believe that freedom, equality and cooperation are the best conditions for healthy individuals and a healthy society.

Finding the right person

Probably the best way to pick a counsellor or psychotherapist, trainer or consultant is by word of mouth.

If people you trust say that someone is a good practitioner, go to see them (or if you want organisational work ask them to come and see you) and decide for yourself if they seem the kind of person you want to talk to, ask about their professional training and experience and see if they are open and direct in reply to your questions.

The most important thing is that they are responsive and pay good attention to you and that they make clear contracts about payment, the limits to confidentiality etc. (Please note that total confidentiality is not morally or legally sustainable).

If they are shifty, flaky, evasive, pompous, scared, scary or you simply don’t like or trust them, go elsewhere however elevated their qualifications or reputation.

If you are not in my vicinity or need a specialist service call me anyway and I will refer to someone I know whose work I trust.* I have extensive contacts in East Sussex, Kent and West Sussex and some further afield.

*Please note this is about getting the right service for you. I receive no payment for referrals.

Stephen Richards
June 2018 workshop

Counsellors and Psychotherapist Join the Union!

Counsellors and Psychotherapists Join the Union!

From Andy Spencer

  • Strokes and Games. A Workshop by 2 Counsellors (Andy Spencer & Maria Russo)*

Sunday February 3rd 2019.
10-5pm at the The Wilbury Clinic in Hove.
Cost £70
To book e mail Andy Spencer at spencerandrew03@gmail.com or 07760351733
Our experiential course offers the following:
• Basic theory of Transactional Analysis;
• An explanation of Strokes and Games and a practical exercise giving and receiving them;
• Ego States (Parent, Adult and Child) and how to use them with ourselves and clients.

Rooms for hire in Crowborough Sally Valentine has rooms for hire at Lodge Counselling in Crowborough. I use them myself, they’re just right and the atmosphere is great as you would expect! Call her on 07885-760764. Therapy Room available for hire at Eastbourne Therapy Clinic, 16 Lushington Road. Available for permanent 1/2 days and full days and also adhoc hourly basis. For more information, contact Claire Pooley on 07595 465948 or Clairepooley@sky.com

Ongoing work….

If you’re looking for bespoke training, supervision or consultancy or therapy for yourself please bear me in mind and of course keep in touch and let me know what you are up to.

I love this…

“The true opposite of obedience is not disobedience but independence. The true opposite of order is not disorder but freedom. The true opposite of control is not chaos but self-control.
from “Kith: The Riddle of the Childscape” by Jay Griffiths extract from an article in the Guardian Weekend supplement 4th April 2013

“Confidence, clarity and compassion are essential qualities of a teacher.” B.K.S.Iyengar

B.K.S. Iyengar died on the 20th August 2014 aged 94. If you want an inspiring story of a man who triumphed over illness and made a difference to people all over the world read about this man.

and this…

“In neo-classical economic theory, it is claimed without evidence that people are basically self-seeking, that they want above all the satisfaction of their material desires: what economists call “maximising utility”. The ultimate objective of mankind is economic growth, and that is maximized only through raw, and lightly regulated, competition. If the rewards of this system are spread unevenly, that is a necessary price. Others on the planet are to be regarded as either customers, competitors or factors of production. Effects upon the planet itself are mere “externalities” to the model, with no reckoning of the cost – at least for now. Nowhere in this analysis appears factors such as human cooperation, love, trust, compassion or hatred, curiosity or beauty. Nowhere appears the concept of meaning. What cannot be measured is ignored. But the trouble is that once our basic needs for shelter and food have been met, these factors may be the most important of all.”

Carne Ross, The Leaderless Revolution: How Ordinary People Will Take Power and Change Politics in the 21st Century