Welcome to heartswork

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

March 2019

As I write we are no nearer knowing whether we are going to crash out of the EU with no deal, a deal will be struck or there will be some other idea cobbled together to try and square the circle of Brexit. Whatever happens, and it is tragically true that no-one, including the people who brought this about, knows, I will be doing my …
Workshop * On 30th March 2019*
“Therapy in Troubled Times” at Lodge Counselling 9A High Street Crowborough TN6 2QA. Places will be limited so please book early 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. Please call, mail or text for a place – Time is running out !!!!!!
Whatever the outcome of the Brexit debacle the tensions and fundamental fragility of our social, economic and political systems are laid bare. In my complacency I had assumed like many people that despite setbacks and diversions we were moving towards a more tolerant, liberal and equal society where the prejudices that were commonly held when I was brought up in the 1950s were no longer acceptable. Silly me. The revolution that began with the election of the Thatcher government has continued under both political parties and reached a high (low?) point with the Brexit vote. Instead of heralding an end to poverty and inequality the new revolutionaries unchecked by “moderates” are from the political right and are steadily undoing the gains that have been made since 1945 in health, education and welfare. After the crash of 2008 the classic ploy of imposing austerity to save “the economy” whilst using the media to suggest that the failings of the system were the fault of foreigners as represented by the European Union and/or the profligacy of the previous Labour government. As far as I can remember very few bankers of any nationality were required to pay back any of their own money much less face prosecution for fraud or even being fired for negligence. According to the gutter press low pay and cuts to public services were the fault of immigrants who are as poor or poorer than you are – not the bosses paying lousy wages unchecked by weakened trade unions. Crude nationalism is an easier sell than rational analysis especially if you have been brought up on a diet of imperial delusions. The idea that a country of 60 million people will have the same bargaining power as an alliance of 260 million people can only be held if you believe that somehow our country has the same clout as it had in days of empire. Choosing to stop being a major player in a powerful political and economic alliance because somehow we are “special” combines national narcissism and self harm.

  • Umberto Eco*
    There are disturbing historical parallels with rise of fascism in the the 1930s. All over the world extreme right nationalists are gaining power so it is good to remind ourselves that rather than use the term fascist as an all purpose political swear word we need to understand what it really is. This won’t offer us too much comfort unlike the extreme right the rest of us need to understand the world before we attempt to change it. The Italian writer and philosopher gave this useful guide.

While Eco is firm in claiming “There was only one Nazism,” he says, “the fascist game can be played in many forms, and the name of the game does not change.” Eco reduces the qualities of what he calls “Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism” down to 14 “typical” features. “These features,” writes the novelist and semiotician, “cannot be organized into a system; many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it.”

The cult of tradition. “One has only to look at the syllabus of every fascist movement to find the major traditionalist thinkers. The Nazi gnosis was nourished by traditionalist, syncretistic, occult elements.”
The rejection of modernism. “The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is seen as the beginning of modern depravity. In this sense Ur-Fascism can be defined as irrationalism.”
The cult of action for action’s sake. “Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, any previous reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation.”
Disagreement is treason. “The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism. In modern culture the scientific community praises disagreement as a way to improve knowledge.”
Fear of difference. “The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders. Thus Ur-Fascism is racist by definition.”
Appeal to social frustration. “One of the most typical features of the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups.”
The obsession with a plot. “The followers must feel besieged. The easiest way to solve the plot is the appeal to xenophobia.”
The enemy is both strong and weak. “By a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak.”
Pacifism is trafficking with the enemy. “For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle.”
Contempt for the weak. “Elitism is a typical aspect of any reactionary ideology.”
Everybody is educated to become a hero. “In Ur-Fascist ideology, heroism is the norm. This cult of heroism is strictly linked with the cult of death.”
Machismo and weaponry. “Machismo implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality.”
Selective populism. “There is in our future a TV or Internet populism, in which the emotional response of a selected group of citizens can be presented and accepted as the Voice of the People.”
Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak. “All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning.”
Some of those criteria look very close to the current situation here and round the world so it is essential that we are all vigilant and don’t allow expressions of racism and plain old-fashioned lying to go unchallenged. As well as protest now more than ever we need to support and encourage each other and people who are constructive and thoughtful about making the world a better place.



phone: 07970-211834

Who I am …

My name is Stephen Richards. For the past 32 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
March 2019 workshop

Counsellors and Psychotherapist Join the Union!

Counsellors and Psychotherapists Join the Union!

See the main article for my workshop “Therapy in Troubled Times” 30th March 2109

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