Counselling and Peer Support


At First Steps our psychotherapist and counsellors offer individual sessions for anyone affected by eating disorders. Daytime and evening appointments are available for a series of up to 12 sessions (to be reviewed after 6), for some clients who seek longer support our care plan may be extended to offer a series of up to 18 sessions (reviewed after 6 and 12).

It is kindly asked that a recommended £10 donation is given for these counselling sessions which will ensure that First Steps can continue to provide our services to many other people suffering from mental health and eating disorders.  As a charity, we reinvest 100% of fundraising back into our services.

Person Centred Therapy (PCT)

Person Centred Therapy is a non-directive, humanistic approach. It works on the basis that individuals have a natural innate drive toward their own wellbeing, otherwise known as their self-actualising tendency. 

The therapist works to gain an understanding of the clients’ perspective and works with the reality being experienced in that moment.  Whilst doing this the counsellor is taking a genuine and open approach, and provides core conditions of therapy to create a compassionate and empathic environments for the client to open up without fear of being judged. 

In doing so they are given freedom to explore their innermost thoughts in order to better understand their struggles, and find their own way to overcome them, which has the potential to create longer lasting change.

Attachment Theory (AT)

Attachment Theory conceptualises the safety and security by a primary caregiver to an infant as vital to increasing the infants survival chances. There is a universal need for attachment between infant and their primary caregiver when in need of care and distressed.

As infants develop through life and into adulthood, future attachments may be made with other substitute caregivers that please their basic attachment needs and underpin the development of identity. As a behavioural system, this theory facilitates the individual to develop autonomy, trust and knowledge to deal with any threats to the self that go together with the identity formation process. 

As such, the importance of the individuals early years and first relationship with their primary caregivers is explored in psychotherapy to see what impact they have on them in the present day.  This can be very helpful in understanding and examining unprocessed feelings within these early relationships, and how they may be playing out in unhelpful ways in adulthood. 

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an evidenced-based practice that has been used for decades to treat mental health conditions and more recently eating disorders.

Typically an individual talks about issues and problems at hand and learns to identify negative patterns in thinking, emotions, and behaviours. The client and our psychotherapist builds therapeutic rapport and trust agreeing a joint treatment plan to progress forward together as the eating disorder care plan.

The psychotherapist-client will address and reduce negative behaviours that are associated with the eating disorder with the counsellor providing education and awareness to healthier eating, behaviours and cognitive processes.

Coping strategies are typically developed for managing negative emotions, usually distraction, prolonging urges, and stopping thoughts are some of the skills taught to cope with overwhelming triggers and feelings.

The cognitive phase involves restructuring techniques where clients are encouraged to challenge their internal thought process and identify unhealthy interfering thoughts which are replaced with evidenced based eating disorder coping techniques to help shift perspectives.

CBT for eating disorders is focused on overcoming distorted thoughts about self, body image and self-esteem and how this relates to disordered eating and to reduce unhealthy practices that can impact mental and physical wellbeing.

The final stage of CBT for eating disorders involves the maintenance and relapse-prevention phase and focuses on the skills learned during the previous stages to create a comprehensive self-care recovery plan.

This plan involves improving self-care as individuals become more comfortable with learnt skills and the knowledge to identify triggers to prevent replace and deterioration. Another part of First Steps CBT care plan is to build upon the clients self-confidence encouraging them to join our eating disorder groups and even to consider the benefits of befriending, providing their own lived experience for the direct benefit of new clients starting out at the beginning of their peer support and counselling recovery journey.

CBT-T Eating Disorders

CBT helps to normalise eating behaviours and responses to food, helping to regulate thoughts, and emotions and the actions that can be taken as part of self-care when eating disorders symptoms are present.

Private Clients

First Steps works hard to ensure that we can keep on top of our counselling and peer support waiting lists whilst also working double hard to ensure that our approach to funding our services remains sustainable for sufferers today and next generations.

Everybody who completes an initial assessment with one of our councellors or support workers is offered the opportunity to join our funded waiting list, but some people and their families choose to fund their care plan through our private counselling option.  Private clients do not loose their place on our funded waiting list, instead are able to access specialist eating disorder support straight away and then migrate at no further cost once the waiting list allows.

As a charitable organisation our rates per session are significantly below what of many private CBT and IAPT counselling services charge and the fee covers the professional counsellor and costs for providing the service by First Steps with 100% of this income reinvested into our core services which means that we can fund and support many more people waiting to access our acclaimed recovery services.

If you would like to find out further information or to sign up for one or more services we provide, please contact First Steps on 01332 367571 or Or alternatively, you can self-refer online here

CBT-T Peer Support for Young People

We offer between 8 to 10 one-to-one sessions for children and young people (5 to 18) to support them on their recovery journey. Using personal experiences, knowledge and skills, our Specialist Support Officers deliver person-centred, 45-minute sessions designed to empower individuals and motivate young people to make positive changes in their lives.

Many young people also choose to engage in our weekly support programme with opportunities to get involved in peer-led groups, activities, enhanced learning opportunities and volunteering, proven to remove isolation and enrich lives to thrive.

Mum, Dad and older siblings also choose to be more involved, having won the support of their loved one, by joining one of our 5 weeks Skills for Carers workshops which equips the family to become active partners in recovery.

First Steps ED workS in partnership with other local services to help provide a variety of support options for families and their children, and adults receiving our support can gain access to other benefits and opportunities.

Do you feel that exercise is controlling your life?

If so, First Steps was one of the first specialist eating disorders services in the UK to offer the Loughborough Eating-Disorder Activity Therapy [LEAP] Programme which is designed to support those struggling with compulsive exercise in conjunction with their eating disorder.

LEAP primary aim(s) align closely with dancers athletes coaches sports clubs BASEM dieticians who are credible in safe coaching practices for example:

  • Educating the service user about the cognitive view of the maintenance of compulsive exercise.
  • Promoting an insight into the factors maintaining a service user’s attitudes, beliefs and behaviours towards exercise.
  • Educating the service user about what constitutes ‘healthy’ exercise
  • Introducing the service user to the cognitive skills and strategies necessary to challenge maladaptive attitudes, beliefs and behaviours towards exercise
  • Educating the service user about relapse prevention

LEAP is not aimed at making service users stop exercising, but rather educates them about what constitutes ‘healthy/non compulsive’ exercise”.
LEAP is:

  • Based on a Cognitive-Behavioural approach to challenging compulsive exercise
  • A closed group environment
  • Research-based
  • 8 sessions in duration

Pets As Therapy

Hello First Steplings,

My name is Tinka, I am a Jack Russell aged 8 years young!

I first came to First Steps when my companion died, as I was very upset and was off my food for a long time. My owner (Cathy) decided that I needed to do some voluntary work to get me out of the house!

Volunteering at First Steps has given me a new lease of life and I adore being a P.A.T Dog as I can’t get enough fuss and attention and everyone is so lovely to me!

I attend the Support Group For All Ages and you may occasionally see me at the Young Persons Support Group. I am in the office most days and I also attend board meetings and other meetings at our offices with professionals and volunteers. I love being with people and going for walks.

Please feel free to pop in and see me!

My official P.A.T Dog registration number is 1072973


Hypnosis is a natural state that everyone has experienced. It’s not magical or mysterious. Anything that fully absorbs your attention so that you ignore distractions is an experience of hypnosis.

Here at First Steps, we are pleased to offer this type of therapy on a fortnightly basis. 

To receive support or for more information regarding any of this support, please contact First Steps on 01332 367571 or

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