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York St John Communities Centre

Meet members
of our team

Find out more about our counsellors,
advisory board members and office team.

Composite image of 21 headshots of team members at the Counselling and Mental Health Centre.

Our counsellors

Lynne is Professor of Counselling and Mental Health, a British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) Accredited and Registered Counsellor and Psychotherapist, and a trained supervisor of practitioners working within the counselling and helping professions.

Lynne is founding Director of the York St John Communities Centre and its associated Research and Training Clinic Consortium; with members drawn from several counselling and mental health centres set in Universities across the UK. Lynne is researching domestic abuse, in collaboration with a regional charity, exploring early intervention groups for young people who have been caught up in domestic violence situations.  Lynne is also currently developing projects on online bereavement groups and online delivery of therapy.

When not working, Lynne loves having time with her partner and friends, pottering in the garden and yard, beachcombing and exploring bookshops!

Divine is a Professor of Counselling Psychology and Programme Director for the Doctorate in Counselling Psychology at York St John University. He is a Chartered Psychologist and Counselling Psychologist. He is registered as a chartered member with the British Psychological Society and as a Practitioner Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council.  Divine is also registered with the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy as an Adult Psychotherapist. He has many years of various work experience working in diverse psychiatric/clinical and therapeutic settings including the UK National Health Service (NHS), voluntary sector and private practice. Divine’s psychotherapeutic interests are in exploring working with trauma, complex psychological distress,  as well as working with those experiencing relational problems. Divine co-authored and edited numerous books in counselling and psychotherapy. His two latest co-edited books are Love and Therapy: In relationship (Co-edited with Stephen Paul) and The Person-Centred Counselling and Psychotherapy Handbook: Origins, Developments and Current Applications (Co-edited with Colin Lago).

Trish is Associate Head for Counselling and is a BACP registered and accredited counsellor and qualified supervisor. Previously she worked for many years in the voluntary and university counselling sectors. She trains counsellors and works with experienced counsellors in the NHS. Trish is a humanistic counsellor working from a process-experiential position who privileges the relational aspects of counselling.

Penn is a Senior Lecturer in Counselling and Programme Lead for the BA Counselling courses at York St John University. She is a Chartered Psychologist and a registered member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. Penn is a humanistic-integrative counsellor with a particular interest in understanding the meaning individuals give to their experiences as well as in exploring creative and relational ways of working. She has worked with adults, children, and young people in a variety of settings including clinical wards, third sector charities, universities, and housing organisations. Her research and therapeutic interests are in trauma, mental health rehabilitation and recovery, and bereavement. 

Dr Sylvie Simonds is a psychotherapist specialising in perinatal mental health and parent-infant therapy extending to dyadic and triadic work. She is also leading the development and implementation of a new perinatal and parent-infant therapy counselling services 'Hear with Baby' within the new Families Centre based in York.

Andy has been a counsellor since 2002. He is a humanistic practitioner who works with a pluralistic perspective. He is an accredited member of the BACP and a member of the Association of Integrative Coach Therapists. He has worked as a counsellor in a number of diverse settings (e.g. schools, colleges, mental health settings) with a variety of clients and issues. His research has included the application of psychotherapeutic models to coaching and the use of coaching with clients accessing mental health services. Andy will provide general counselling services for the centre.

Gary is a Psychotherapeutic Counsellor, researcher and lecturer. He has been in private practice for the past four years and has experience working with a range of individual clients, couples and groups. Gary specialises in working with family members who have problems controlling their anger and sustaining their close relationships. In the centre, Gary offers family members who have anger problems the opportunity to take part in a highly effective 10-week anger management programme aimed at reducing their angry behaviours and helping to create a calmer family environment.

Aishah is currently studying for her Masters in Counselling at York St John University. She has over 11 years of work experience in various industries while working in Qatar. Her career began in education, working as a kindergarten teacher in an international school. Prior to moving to the UK, she was business development manager in an advertising agency, where she spent 4 years working in the new business department.

Aishah’s life experiences and passion for working with people have led her to pursue a career in counselling. She is a humanistic-integrative counsellor and strongly believes that that all clients are individual and meaningful therapy stems from the therapeutic relationship.

Aishah loves to meet new people, travel, read books and cook different types of cuisines.

Alex Hannay is finishing his training with the Northern Guild of Counselling and Psychotherapy. With years of experience working in palliative care, Alex has a particular interest in supporting people anticipating, living through or reflecting upon challenging periods of change or loss. Previously, Alex has worked as a cultural historian, exploring ways in which individuals and communities draw different meanings from their shared heritage.  

Annabel is a qualified psychotherapeutic counsellor in private practice and a psychotherapist in training, working towards an MSc in psychotherapy at The Northern Guild.  She is BACP registered and has worked for over 20 years as an occupational therapist in the NHS, public and private sectors.  Annabel is a relational-integrative therapist, which means that the relationship is the vehicle through which goals can be worked on.  She uses creative tools in her therapeutic approach, to provide an alternative way of working if preferred, also being a qualified drama therapist.  Annabel has extensive experience of supporting people with a range of emotional, physical and/or sensory difficulties.

Belinda has just completed a foundation degree in Therapeutic Counselling. She has an MSc in Environmental Management 'People and Communities.' She is a mentor for people with spinal cord injuries, (with BackUp Trust). She works part time at Leeds Medical School as a facilitator on the IDEALS program (innovation, development, enterprise and leadership and safety). After an eventful 60 years she has recently retrained to enable her to work alongside people who are seeking support through challenging times. She used to love travelling and sailing but now enjoys mini adventures on the North York Moors.

Caro’s approach is humanistic. This means that she provides a non-judgmental and facilitative space in which people can find their own best path through whatever troubles them and on to lead more fulfilling lives.

Caro works with clients bringing a variety of concerns and has a special interest in helping people to cope after a bereavement.

From her own and her clients’ experiences, Caro developed an expertise in helping people to return to work after a bereavement and is a specialist advisor for the Institute of Directors. She was a supervisor at Cruse, the bereavement support charity.

Caro has a degree in Psychology (Open), a Master’s in Coaching and Counselling from Birkbeck, University of London (Merit) and a Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling from York St John (Distinction).

Debbie is a qualified person-centred practitioner, who works within a pluralistic perspective.  She has a Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling and is a Registered Member of the BACP.  Debbie has experience of counselling within the voluntary sector and in primary education. She has worked with a wide range of people and issues including depression, anxiety, trauma, abuse, loss, bereavement, relationship difficulties and unresolved issues from childhood.

As a counsellor, Jasmine's key strength is in being able to form a strong relationship with her clients by listening attentively, conveying empathy, showing unconditional regard, supporting the client’s self-efficacy, and developing trust. For her, the client must be at the centre of the therapy. Therefore, she works collaboratively and is flexible in tailoring approaches to suit each individual person. She has been able to draw on a wide range of theoretical models to help her understand counselling and the healing process. For example, she has trained in pluralistic, person-centred and relational approaches. Initially, she trained at Abertay University in Dundee and is now completing training at Leeds Beckett University. 

Over time, she has supported clients with a variety of concerns spanning: domestic violence, abusive relationships, issues stemming from upbringing, anxiety, anger management, divorce, depression, bereavement and low self-esteem. She keeps confidentiality and ensures client data is safe.

Finally, she is known to be caring, hardworking, resilient, very committed to her clients and have a positive attitude. She is grateful to have consistently had very positive feedback on her work with clients and is open to learning how to enhance the client’s experience of counselling. 

John is a BACP accredited and registered counsellor He is a Visiting Research Fellow of York St John University and Director of the Bereavement Service of the Communities Centre. He has specialised in bereavement counselling for 20 years. His book, Supporting People through Loss and Grief: An Introduction for Counsellors and other Caring Practitioners. (2014, London: Jessica Kingsley) is used widely to train bereavement counsellors.

John’s hobbies are crafting things from wood, photography and wildlife gardening. He plays drums in a Yorkshire rock band: Coil, which he first joined in 1980.

Jon is a qualified psychotherapist with York St John’s Communities Centre. He is currently working on his MA dissertation which looks at the issue of vulnerability in Rugby League. He has a growing professional interest in the male experience of psychotherapy and the impact of change, retirement and loss on mental health. His approach with a client is to work together to build a therapy and a way of working that is uniquely theirs, using a strong working relationship through which to begin to uncover and address the challenges the client is facing.

Mark is an integrative Counsellor/Psychotherapist. This means he is not restricted to the way he works and can adapt his style to suit the needs of the client. He is a registered member of the BACP and is educated to postgraduate level in Counselling and Psychotherapy. In addition to providing voluntary counselling with the Centre, Mark works as a referral therapist for Mind and has a private practice.

Mark worked for many years as an IT Project Manager until significant personal tragedy and trauma caused him to re-evaluate his life. He sought out personal therapy and the experience transformed his life. He turned his back on a successful but unfulfilling career and is now passionately dedicated to providing the same help that he received.

As part of his self-care Mark likes to spend time hiking, reading, listening to music, cooking and relaxing with his wife and friends.

Richard is a humanistic counsellor working from an integrative perspective and is a registered member of the BACP. Richard initially qualified as a Nurse working extensively in Oncology / Palliative and End of Life Care in both hospital and community settings. Specialising as a Charge Nurse in symptom control, pain management and clinical triage. He holds qualifications in Clinical Leadership, Clinical Supervision, and Healthcare Ethics and Law. Richard holds a MA in Counselling and is dedicated to lifelong continued professional development. Richard has substantial experience working with clients living with disabilities (both visible and invisible health conditions including body dysmorphia). He also has extensive experience working with clients with complex mental health conditions, issues with addiction, and eating disorders. He has likewise facilitated clients with gender, identity, sexuality, sexual intimacy / kink positivity and relationship diversity / equality issues. He specialises in working with clients with self identity issues, suicidal ideation and those who have experienced sexual abuse / trauma utilising creative resources within therapeutic work. 

As a PhD researcher within the centre he is passionate in his investigation into the field of counselling, disability, and intersectionality. His PhD proposal seeks to further investigate the concept of the wounded healer, when the physically wounded facilitates others to heal. Specifically the counselling process of a physically disabled counsellor with chronic pain and their work with clients. This he is dedicated to improving both his own professional practice while also contributing to the field of research He hopes to motivate and encourage others to find their own purpose and to ensure further diversity to be integrated into the field of counselling. Richard is proud to deliver continuing professional development training in the topics of: assessment and complex case management, creative working, sexuality and identity and ethical working. 

Roger has been counselling for the past two years. He works for a range of organisations including Cruse Bereavement and Phoenix Health and Wellbeing in Leeds as well as the Communities Centre. He also works as a mentor on a development project for York Mind supporting people who are trying to get back into work. Before starting a career in counselling he worked for over 30 years as a trainer for a range of private and public organisations, running projects both in the UK and overseas.

Advisory Board

Dr Andrew Reeves is an Associate Professor in the Counselling Professions and Mental Health, a BACP Senior Accredited Counsellor/Psychotherapist and a Registered Social Worker.  He had over 30 years experience as a social worker and therapist working with a full range of clients, including those experiencing mental health crisis.  He is Director of Education for the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust and is past-Chair of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, and past Editor-in-Chief of Counselling and Psychotherapy Research journal.  He has published articles, book chapters and books in his specialist area of working with clients at risk.

With a 30 year career in community development and citizen engagement spanning both voluntary and public sectors Joe is currently Head of Commissioning at York where he leads the authority’s early intervention and prevention programmes and work on ABCD.  A key member of the international Cities of Service coalition Joe has led the development of social action strategies in York and Barnsley. Previously, he was Head of Stronger Communities at Barnsley Council with co-responsibility for the development of the Council’s area arrangements, social inclusion and award winning community engagement and neighbourhood renewal programmes. An excellent networker and collaborative leader.

Dr Steve Wright is an early intervention psychiatrist and deputy medical director with Tees, Esk & Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust. He is the clinical lead for Mental Health for Humber Coast & Vale Health & Care Partnership and Clinical Advisor to the Yorkshire & Humber Early Intervention Clinical Network. He has a long-standing interest in youth mental health and is currently involved with national studies looking at the therapeutic benefits of social connectedness and reducing the physical health inequalities faced by people with mental illness.

William Cox is a non-profit leader and York based businessman currently studying Counselling, Coaching and Mentoring at York St John University. William is passionate about personal development and alongside his degree course is completing a Diploma in Personal Performance Coaching.

As Chair of non-profit organisation Generate, William's vision is to bring much needed support to the transgender community, advocating for those in need and educating wider society on supporting, accepting and integrating trans people socially and in meaningful employment. 

William's years of experience in the Gender Identity field has taken him to parliament contributing to the Women and Equalities Select Committee's inquiry on trans healthcare, and various other advisory roles to organisations including NHS England, BBC and ITV television.

Adam Pike is a second-year student studying counselling, coaching and mentoring at York St John. He has been an ex-service user with Tees Esk Wear Valley (TEWV) and North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) and has a good understanding of services and how service users voices matter.

Adam has been part of TEWV’s service user involvement group, has helped NYCC launch their mental health pathway by delivering a presentation to North Yorkshire's social care teams. He has helped recruit adult mental health social workers and was on a committee to appoint a director of the North Yorkshire rural health alliance.

Adam most recently completed over 300 hours volunteer placement working at MIND in Harrogate, where he helped staff transition to online working, provided support to clients and developed an emotional support service to be run out of hours to help support the local area with TEWV.

More information coming soon.

Evie is a senior manager at IDAS and oversees commissioned services for victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence across North Yorkshire.

She also manages services for young people who are both affected by domestic abuse at home or displaying abusive behaviours, and has a long history of developing services taking a whole family approach.

Before joining IDAS, Evie managed a social prescribing service in West Leeds and worked closely with Public Health to research and deliver interventions to reduce male suicide in LS12.

More information coming soon.

Our office team

  • Centre Director - Lynne Gabriel
  • Deputy Director - Professor Divine Charura
  • Deputy Director - Dr Trish Hobman
  • Centre Manager - Nikki Jephson
  • Finance Administrator - Jill Overfield
  • Systems and Data Administrator - Jordan Hall
  • Office Administrator - Pat Armstrong
  • Office Administrator - Stephanie Anjos
  • Director of Centre Bereavement Services - John Wilson (

Get in touch

Communities Centre

York St John University, Lord Mayor's Walk, York, YO31 7EX

Get directions

01904 876 562

This number is in use from 6.00pm to 8.00pm on Mondays and Wednesdays. You can leave a message on our confidential telephone line and we will return your call as soon as possible.

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