Right of Reply: Sarah Bowler
The chief executive of the charity Relate answers Virginia Ironside's sceptical article about analysts and counsellors
Tuesday 11 May 1999
Counselling and therapy are related activities operating at different levels, using a multitude of approaches and theories. Relate is a counselling agency focusing on inter-personal relationships with an expressed aim to help people to build better relationships. Quality control and quality assurance are the hallmarks of Relate's services to the general public.
But, as Virginia Ironside states, unfortunately anyone can call themselves a counsellor. This does little to promote a positive image of the profession, and neither do the stereotypes of counselling in popular culture, whether that is in Woody Allen films or The Simpsons (especially the counsellor's electric shock machine), or, indeed, in The Independent.
Relate is not working to fulfil Virginia Ironside's stereotypes. Our aim is to help. This does include giving an explanation of the service and does not involve "saying very little". We work to specific codes of ethics. Relate does not view its role as telling people what is right or wrong for their relationship, although consumer feedback is that many would like that. It does not involve "dependency". The average number of sessions at Relate is six, and in response to public feedback Relate has been introducing a one-session service as well.
On the whole, the feedback we get is that people say they find our service to be of help and value to them. It is true that we cannot prove what would have happened had they not had counselling. My dentist cannot prove what would have happened had I not had my teeth checked, but most people don't find that a problem or conclude that dentists are a waste. There are studies that show a positive benefit to counselling. Proof that it's bad to talk is harder to come by.
TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food