Letter: Marriage guidance helps couples find their own solutions

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The Independent Online
ANYONE setting up a training programme knows there will always be a small percentage of students who fall by the wayside as Joanna Gibbon ('Bad guidance?', 27 March) did early on in our 1992 diploma course. I feel, however, that it is important to set the record straight on a few key points and not to leave uncorrected a shabby impression of a serious and long- established agency.

Our training is designed to ensure the delivery of a first- class counselling service to couples in trouble. Not all of them come with the same agenda. Many are struggling to maintain a marriage or relationship while others are looking for the least damaging way to end it. Some are trying to build new lives for themselves after divorce or bereavement. Our work lies in helping them to carve out their own solutions, not in trying to achieve prescriptive results.

All clients are treated the same and so are all counsellors. Clients get the same service, regardless of how much or how little they can afford to contribute. Counsellors are paid the same rate regardless of how much or how little their client pays. They do not get a percentage. There is no problem in 'making' our clients pay. Most are happy to contribute as generously as they can.

We are keen to recruit counsellors from different sections of society. When we launched the training five years ago we set up a bursary fund to help trainees who are unable to afford the full cost, and each year bursaries are given. Counsellors are not instructed that they must not tell clients they are trainees. We hope for honesty from our clients; we expect it from our counsellors.

If Joanna was unhappy with the training she made the right decision in leaving.

Renate Olins

Director, London Marriage

Guidance Council, London W1

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