As far as I can remember I have always had a love and a real affinity for horses (donkeys too!). There is something about both breeds that left me with an immediate sense of calm and happiness when in their presence.
It seemed that wherever I went throughout my childhood, I would find the nearest dog, horse or donkey. As a teenager, I spent my weekends doing the heavy jobs and mucking out at a local stud. It was tough work and I spent little time with the mares and foals, but, for the time I did spend with them it felt worth it! I loved it though my parents thought I was mad!
I began to realise the therapeutic value that animals can bring to people when I worked at a local children's hospice. Whilst working there as a paediatric nurse, I also took my dog, Jake as a PAT dog. Though it was known he could be stubborn, he would show gentleness and understanding to families and children when they were at their most vulnerable and was well loved by everyone. I then changed role to provide bereavement support for siblings within the hospice and soon learned the value of offering to "take Jake for a walk and talk": The value of walking in nature without the need for making eye contact - how this simple act helped children and young people feel more relaxed and able to express and process their emotions more freely.
I came into riding and owning horses late in my life and have recently realised that my real passion is not for riding but for understanding and simply being with horses. I have learned that the less I ask the more they give.
Training as an EFP (Equine facilitated psychotherapist) brings all of my passions together - my interest in people and helping them at a point of feeling vulnerable and helpless and my love for horses and their innate abilities to be able to mirror and communicate with us in the absence of judgement.
I have obtained a qualification as a LEAP EFP practitioner - Level 5
( https://www.leapequine.com/practitioner-training/level-5-diploma-in-equine-facilitated-psychotherapy/ ) and am looking forward to continually developing this practice and helping clients access therapy, individual to their needs, in the presence of horses.
Specific experiences/ client work
- Bereavement - terminal illness, life threatening illnesses and grief work.
- Siblings of children with terminal illnesses, physical and learning disabilities.
- Emergency workers and Key workers, nurses and medical staff.
My professional journey -
My interest in supporting bereaved children and young people initially took me to volunteering for a local Bereavement Charity "Daisys Dream" https://www.daisysdream.org.uk/ . I then began working at a Children’s Hospice as a Paediatric Palliative Care Nurse. I was privileged to gain valuable insight into the lives of chronically sick children – often with complex physical and cognitive disabilities – as well as the specific needs of the wider family: The emotional needs of the brothers and sisters of these children became evident. Consequently, I developed and managed a Sibling Support Service within the hospice: providing both pre and post bereavement support - face to face, within groups and within schools.
With a change of career, I specialised in providing online counselling, talks and workshops to both parents and families of children with disabilities / special needs as part of a local charity "Diagnosis Support Service" http://www.parentingspecialchildren.co.uk/index.php?page_id=40
I completed a General Certificate in Online Counselling Skills (2010) through OLT and the Diploma in Online Therapeutic Supervision (2013, OLT) and until 2015, (it’s closure) I worked for 'COAP' counselling children and young people who lived with an alcoholic parent or carer - this counselling work was exclusively via emails http://www.coap.org.uk/
I then worked as a tutor at OLT, tutoring for the certificate in online counselling and then the Diploma in Online Supervision (DOTS) http://www.onlinetrainingforcounsellors.co.uk/ )
My therapeutic approach within all my work is integrative acknowledging the flexibility required when supporting young people and all clients who often present feeling vulnerable in the first instance.
Previous work has included working pro re nata as an online and face to face counsellor for a local children's charity: 'Swings & Smiles' supporting children and young people who live with a sibling who has a severe disability / special needs. https://www.swingsandsmiles.co.uk/. More recently I have returned as a volunteer to help out with their Sibling Support Programme.
Until recently, I worked as a Senior tutor at The Academy for Online Counselling and Psychotherapy providing training in Digital Supervision. https://www.acadtherapy.online/
Alongside my EFP practice, I provide online supervision for counsellors working online and/or face to face with a specific interest in supervising counsellors working with young people and young adults. I also provide face to face counselling for young people pre and post bereavement referred from within the local community.
ACTO Directorship and Competencies -
Until August 2020 I was a Director of ACTO https://acto-org.uk/ bringing a focus on children and young people receiving online counselling and leading on the ACTO online supervision competences.
Children and Young People Competencies
Publication 2018 -
“Supervising online counsellors of young people” – Jan Stiff (Excerpt)
"At a time where the provision of online counselling for young people is expanding, yet there is a scarceness of supervisors trained in online supervision, this chapter aims to provide an introduction to the role of the online supervisor (CYP) offering supervision to counsellors counselling young people online with insights from personal practice. Since every young client, every online supervisee and every online supervisor are unique, some points within this chapter are likely to be up for discussion and I would welcome readers’ feedback.""Online Supervision: A Handbook for Practitioners (Psychotherapy 2.0) 1st Edition - Anne Stokes - 2018"
ACCPH Directory - Senior / Accredited member
ACTO Senior Professional member