Welcome to heartswork

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

July 2017


Most of the time the public narrative is shaped by the powers that be using the press and the broadcast media to present their way of seeing and running the world as the only possible option. Anyone suggesting more than minor changes is dismissed as mad or bad and subject to a combination of ridicule and abuse. The common story is that the rich and powerful are rich and powerful because they deserve their wealth and power and have the right to shape the world as they see fit whatever the consequences for the rest of us. It is much easier to incite prejudice than to appeal to reason especially if you have no limit to how low you will go.

It sometimes takes a single tragic event to illuminate the state of the world. Now just about everyone carries a smartphone and can take pictures and communicate quickly around the world. In Kensington and Chelsea we can see that local people offered immediate and massive support to the survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire and the local council was paralysed in its’ response and as I write is still failing miserably to the point where central government is having to take over local services.

A letter in The Guardian

“In 2014, I received my Kensington and Chelsea council tax bill and a letter from the leader of the council, Nicholas Paget-Brown, explaining that all residents who pay council tax in full would “receive a one-off payment of £100”, to be deducted from the bill. This bonus, the letter continued, was due to the council’s careful management of its finances over the years, “consistently delivering greater efficiencies while improving services”. Austerity, K&C style: you give to the rich while taking from the poor (nobody with discounted bills or claiming council tax support was eligible to share in the bounty of the town hall blue-chips).

On a Conservative website, Paget-Brown further explained that “thanks to an overachieving efficiency drive”, the council was “well ahead of [its] savings targets for the year”. Triple AAA credit status, how nice. In deciding what to do with this surplus, he continued, “we have taken the view that it is simply wrong to discount from our calculations whose money this was in the first place. In short, we think the right place for it is back with our residents.”

In May 2014, the local election returned a huge majority of Conservative councillors. Business as usual. For years, the Royal Borough has got away with bribing the electorate with its own money. For years, the Royal Borough has been running huge underspends in its revenue budgets which it then transfers into capital reserves. The underspend in the 2016-17 adult services budget alone is £1.9m. Apparently, adult services in the area are doing so well they don’t need the money. And every other social service must be performing brilliantly, as the council’s projected reserves of £167m by the end of 2016-17 has climbed to a staggering £209m – that’s £42m surplus to requirements. How many sprinkler systems is that?

As the toxic ash of Grenfell Tower’s vanity cladding falls over the neighbouring streets, we are left with the acrid truth in our throats: regeneration in the Royal Borough is in fact a crime of greed and selfishness. I took the refund. At the time, I felt uncomfortable with this decision and the ways in which I justified it to myself. And then I forgot about it, until the smoke drifting into my flat in the early hours of Wednesday woke me up. Today, I gave it back. It wasn’t ever mine to keep. I handed it over in cash to a vicar running a refuge for the victims of the fire in a local church. I explained that it was not a donation, not a charitable act, that it was guilt money and he was doing me a kindness by taking it off my hands.

If you live in Kensington and Chelsea, please, give your rebate back. But not to the council, which seems to have trouble in identifying those – “our residents” – who might actually need it.”

Name and address supplied

Kensington and Chelsea Councillor Catherine Faulks ( a Baroness married to a Q.C. and ex-Tory minister) when asked why the council had deducted rent from a Grenfell Towers residents’ account after the fire said: “Oh come on, that’s a tiny thing – I mean it’s not a tiny thing for them it’s a huge thing and it’s very upsetting.” In another part of the interview she said “I know you’re hearing a lot of noise about nothing happening but actually, on the ground there is a lot of hand-holding going on and I haven’t heard anyone in the media speak to someone who is receiving that help.” I looked up Councillor Faulks and it turns out she’s a trained counsellor. How did she manage to miss the parts of her training about empathy, ethics and trauma?

Whilst there are some wild conspiracy theories doing the rounds, the facts are quite shocking enough. Brandon Lewis, who was recently promoted to immigration minister, said in 2014 that building developers should not be forced to fit sprinklers. He told MPs: “We believe that it is the responsibility of the fire industry, rather than the Government, to market fire sprinkler systems effectively and to encourage their wider installation.” and on the actual day of the fire a group of the rich and powerful called the Red Tape Initiative was meeting to consider reducing or abolish regulations about building standards.


A judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick has been appointed to lead an inquiry. The former Court of Appeal judge ruled in 2014 to relocate a female housing tenant in central London facing homelessness 50 miles from her home. Her lawyers condemned the ruling as setting a “terrible precedent for local authorities to engage in social cleansing of the poor on a mass scale”, and the Supreme Court later overturned his ruling.

If you are in any doubt why the residents are so angry and why they are so suspicious of the local authority and the government see The tenants web page which shows how the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has treated it’s tenants over many years.

History On the 15th April 1989 96 football fans died and 766 were injured in Hillsborough football stadium. The gutter press blamed the fans, the police lied over and over again and the Thatcher government backed the police. After a courageous 28 year long campaign the relatives of the victims finally got to the truth and 6 people including senior police officers have recently been charged with manslaughter and conspiring to pervert the course of justice.


Part of the maiden speech of Laura Pidcock M.P. for North West Durham.

“Turning to this place, this building is intimidating. It reeks of the establishment and of power; its systems are confusing—some may say archaic—and it was built at a time when my class and my sex would have been denied a place within it because we were deemed unworthy. I believe that the intimidating nature of this place is not accidental. The clothes, the language, and the obsession with hierarchies, control and domination are symbolic of the system at large. But the most frustrating thing has been to sit opposite those people who tell me that things are better, and that suffering has lessened for my constituents. I would like them to come and tell the people who have been sanctioned that things are better. I would like them to tell that to the teacher in my constituency who was recently made redundant. I would like them to talk to the 16,500 people in County Durham in receipt of food parcels. I would like them to talk to the nurses, the junior doctors and the firefighters—come and tell them that years of austerity have improved their practice or their profession. I will end with this: we can choose, in this place, to be self-obsessed, to perpetrate fear and greed, to be a monument to injustice, or this can be a place that ​elevates equality, facilitates the power of the people, and esteems and properly funds a rich network of public services so that nobody is left in the indignity of poverty.”

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
July onwards......

Counsellors and Psychotherapist Join the Union!

Counsellors and Psychotherapists Join the Union!

Now I know for certain that I’ll be here until Christmas I decided to run the…….
Starting in September
Heartswork Certificate in Couples Counselling 2017

Tutor: Steve Richards
The aim of this course is to provide experiential and theoretical learning for people who wish to develop and improve their work to become skilled and reflective couples counsellors. The course is integrative and humanistic in philosophy and has additional content from other schools which the tutor has found interesting and useful. This course is intended for people who have training and experience in working with individuals and wish to develop their capacity to work with couples. The course is integrative and is intended to develop skills knowledge and confidence. The topics covered will include: Boundaries Ethics and Protection
Ideals and Expectations
Emotional Literacy
Personality Adaptations
Culture Class and Social Change
Gender and Roles
Managing the effects on the counsellor of Couples work

To gain the Certificate students will be required to:
· attend all modules

· actively participate on the course

· keep an ongoing journal showing their understanding of the course contents and ability to reflect on their process and practice. This will assessed by the tutor and an external assessor.

The dates: Saturdays: 23rd September
21st October
11th November 25th November
9th December
Times: 9.30-4.30 Cost: £ 400-00 (may be paid in instalments) Venue: The address is Lodge Counselling 9A High Street Crowborough TN6 2QA.

Places will be limited so to secure your place or find out more please call me on 07970-211834 or email steve.heartswork@gmail.com

Working in the Here and Now Saturday 28th October 2017

The expression “here and now” is used often in counselling and psychotherapy alongside such terms as genuineness , authenticity and intimacy. Carl Rogers described the therapeutic process as moving from the “there and then to the here and now”, Transactional Analysts describe the Adult ego state as being in the “here and now” and Gestalt therapists work largely in the moment. Although their approach does not place the same emphasis on the therapeutic relationship as the catalyst for change there is increasing recognition by our Cognitive-Behavioural colleagues of the value of Mindfulness (the ability to consciously notice thinking and feeling right in the moment) for their clients.
This workshop is about integrating methods to increase and deepen our contact with clients respectfully and contractually whatever our original training

Times: 9.30-4.30 Cost: £ 80-00 (may be paid in instalments) Venue: The address is Lodge Counselling 9A High Street Crowborough TN6 2QA.

Places will be limited so to secure your place or find out more please call me on 07970-211834 or email steve.heartswork@gmail.com

From Alistair Mayor
If you have any young men in your life needing to be met, this is an opportunity for their wild nature to be witnessed and for them to take the long awaited steps to being a man.

Boys Rites of Passage Camp 2017

Tuesday 15th-Saturday 19th August
A 5 day camp for boys aged 13-17 years in an ancient Sussex woodland

contact: www.wildnature.org.uk

All the best Alistair Mayor – Psychotherapist / Tutor / Mentor / Guide


I hope to see as many of you as possible in the coming months and Yasmin and I will arrange some get-togethers in the Autumn. Of course you can always ring/mail and say hello at any time.



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