Neroli at Talachre beach, North Wales

So, as you know my name is Neroli Oakley, and I work as a Person-Centred Therapist or Counsellor in my “Head Shed” located in Bignall End, Staffordshire, England.

I was born in 1975 in Crewe, Cheshire, and I have lived in various places, including a year (1996-7) spent as an English Assistant in Quimperle, France. I am married, and we have an autistic son.

Dorothy Hodgkin Building, Keele University

I studied Law and French Dual Honours at Keele University (1993 – 1998), and I studied for my PGCE (Secondary) at University College Chester (1998-9). I successfully completed my Post Graduate Diploma in Counselling Psychology at Keele University in 2014.

People have always intrigued me, and their stories have always made me think. I love working with them, and I can’t help wanting them to be able to live their best life. Throughout my life I have worked in various roles that have involved working with all sorts of people, of all ages, and from all walks of life. Amongst other things I have been a cleaner, a care-worker, a carer/companion (bit like a support worker), a child development instructor, a water babies swim teacher, a teacher (1999-2004), an education welfare officer (2004-8) and I have been a Counsellor in Private Practice since 2014.

Within a year of starting teaching, I realised that the best bit of the job was the contact, and interaction with pupils, staff and families. I heard all sorts of stories, and I couldn’t help but want to help. I met many support staff, and started to realise that that was where my heart was.

Journey into Counselling

I began my Counselling Training in 2005, completing my preliminary training at South Cheshire College. My efforts stalled at that point as my boss at that time wouldn’t release me to train further. She knew that I would leave and follow my heart in to Counselling! I had my son in 2007… what a life-changing learning curve that has been, and continues to be.

I spent some time volunteering for a local branch of the Samaritans (2012-2013), where I couldn’t use my real name as it’s so unusual it wouldn’t really protect anyone’s confidentiality. An occasional client says “your voice seems very familiar”, which makes me wonder if I was the voice on the line, in the wee small hours.

During training and since qualifying I worked with Place2Be, Embrace CVOC and The Dove Service. At The Dove Service I worked both as a sessional counsellor and on a Tier 2 project for Staffordshire County Council and CAMHS to provide one-to-one therapy sessions for children and young people aged 4 to 18 in schools and children’s centres.

Setting up the Head Shed

In 2019, I celebrated my Private Practice having been open for 5 years. On average I see 12-15 clients a week, 3-4 sessions a day; I limit how many clients I see, so that my clients get the best attention and service possible. I have been a registered member of the BACP since 2013. I have a Clinical Supervisor that I see every month, and I work within the BACP ethical framework for the counselling professions.

The past 5 years have been an absolute pleasure and joy, but also a challenge, a total roller coaster. Clients and I have experienced some amazing highs, mixed in with some heart-wrenching lows. I have worked with over 100 very varied, extremely special individuals. Each client has brought something unique to our counselling space, and I have learnt something from each and every one of them. I wonder what the next 5 years might bring to The Head Shed…?

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