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Sept 2020: Counsellors transforming lives across Poole and Dorset


Being a teenager has never been straightforward but in the 21st century it is probably more challenging than ever before.

Yes, there are the pressures that have always been there – friendship groups, exams, family battles and so on. But throw some more contemporary flames onto that fire – on-line bullying, negative body imaging, exposure to unhealthy social media – and you appreciate the potential impact to health and wellbeing for young people trying to negotiate that hazardous path from childhood to adulthood.

Which is why it is important, critical even, that teenagers have someone to talk to, someone to confide in, someone from outside of their immediate social and family circle to share things with.

Someone trained to listen.

And it’s why Castleman Healthcare are so proud of the impact their two teenage counsellors have had in helping address the needs of so many teenagers across Poole North and East Dorset.

Debbie Gamble and Melissa Stockley were recruited as Teenage Counsellors by Castleman in January and have had a significant impact already. Their work has taken place in an environment which has been a challenge, for them as well as the teenagers they are trying to help.

Within a few short weeks of taking up their posts the country was in Covid lockdown and both Debbie and Melissa found themselves working remotely, trying to offer guidance and advice to anxious teenagers over the phone when they would far rather have been seeing them face to face.

As Debbie says: “I made some resources and assessment forms to utilise in the face to face sessions, so when the telephone work started it was all a learning curve. But I was pleasantly surprised how everyone adapted and still managed to open up about their anxieties.”

To date, Debbie and Melissa have worked with almost 150 young people throughout the area with over 1,000 appointments.

Debbie added: “It has been an honour and privilege supporting the young people through this very strange year, despite not being able to see them face to face. We have still had the option to do worksheets and other craft activities, so the service has been productive and has achieved some really positive outcomes.”

Here are some examples of case studies which have been in Debbie and Melissa’s in-trays over their first few months working in Poole North and East Dorset.


Unable to eat a normal meal or try new foods due to anxieties over food texture and feeling sick: 14 sessions

Developed coping strategies – for example, homemade stress balls, painting pebbles, listening to beach music – to work on fears. Encouraged journal writing and family discussions, then started to introduce new foods. By the end of the sessions the teenager was reporting normal eating patterns and able to experiment with new foods.


Low mood/lack of motivation/ASD – reluctant to leave bedroom and house (physical debilitating symptoms also involved); fear of unknown scenarios: 11 sessions

Explored what was going on in their life and how to focus on the positives rather than the negatives. Encouraged small goals, for example, visiting the garden once, daily. Built on this further by leaving the house while in conversation with the counsellor.


Anxiety around certain situations, for example, school assembly halls and shopping centres: Still ongoing

Developing coping strategies to manage anxiety in open spaces, particularly in school in places such as assembly halls. Explored a fear of fainting, worry about lighting and openness and concerns about how peers may judge when anxiety happens. Developing confidence and self-belief by drawing on calming and soothing techniques such as mindfulness and positive self-talk. A key milestone is that the client has been able to work in a café while the sessions are ongoing.

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Castleman Healthcare Limited
The Harvey Practice
18 Kirkway
BH18 8EE
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