Experience – Counselling

Happy Birthday from a FDAMH champion!

Happy 40th Birthday FDAMH

How did the staff and service users’ of FDAMH help me put the light on when I was in a dark place. It’s was over 23 yrs ago a walked into the old FDAMH building in Thornhill Rd, it was dark dingy full smoke as the service users were allowed to smoke in the building. I had looked into becoming a volunteer, I was starting to get my life back on track after I had been living an unmanageable, dysfunctional life for about 7 yrs with mental health issues, fulled with alcohol having being admitted to various physcatric hospitals, sectioned under the mental health act for being a risk to myself and others, had my fair share of getting that jag on the left buttock, medicated out my nut. Attended so many therapy sessions over the years it was clear I was never going to be good in those relaxation classes. That just wasn’t going to happen.

I suffered from PTSD, depression, manic highs after surviving a serious road accident where 5 men were killed, 3 being good friends work mates. I could have easily got stuck in the system, under phycatric doctors take medication the rest of my life. I really didn’t want that. I need to change my ways, shift my thinking, my behaviours, and take some serious ownership off my own health well-being.

That day I walked into FDAMH I remember being welcomed by Stuart Aitken who was the volunteer co-ordination I didn’t know how much my life would change from that day till today. I’m a working progress. I have failed so many times, made so many mistakes, always looking how to progressing to be the better version of myself

I volunteered for almost 3 yrs at FDAMH I ran the carpet bowls, organised the bingo with my American accident, I haven’t a clue why American. The service users won small coin like piece metal which they could exchange for tea coffee, or bowl soup after the bowls. I gave out that much to the winners I think they were still circulating about a year later. I ran pool, dart competitions, Making sure the new comers were made to feel welcome and felt a place of safety get a cup of tea a chat if need be.

I remember in Stuart wisdom FDAMH he sent me on a counselling course. I think I was seeing a Phycatrist. Phycologist and other profession at that time, I don’t know what I learned but I remember upsetting one person who was at the course because I couldn’t sit at peace for two min while were learning our listening skills. I’ve still got my Certificate with all the skills I learned over the 12 wks course.

I attended/supported the self-help group with Margaret that was interesting realising just how unfortunate people were how lucky they were to have a place to come for support, share their concerns or just have a place to just Be.

I felt like part off the furniture in FDHMH, my life was slowly coming together, I wouldn’t say I had the light on, more like I was at time in control of my own Dimmer light switch. It wasn’t easy but looking back then life was becoming easier. FDHMH the people who attended were my inspiration, I was never judges, never felt alone we were all an equal no matter of your experience with your mental health, where you were at that time The doors never closed always a warm welcome . The service users became my friend’s, we played Football every Friday this was when I met Neil who was a new employe by FDAMH. I was crap at foot-ball never had an interest in it. When I first came to FDAMH I was about 18st I was just getting myself into shape.

I was into walking then took up running , cycling which had its benefits as I could run up down a park all day times forgetting the ball as Neil would shout “Turn and Face turn and Face” I look back and think off the times when we play football for hours I would get side effects from my medication, I go all blurred eyed. If a closed one I could see, if I opened it got worse. So I go in goals, and then had to cycle all the way home with eye shut. We had some amazing time playing football, none off us were great at football we just got so much out of it, ticking all the boxes in how to improve our health and well-being. We even got into a final at a Mental Health Charity event for service users across Scotland. So would must have had some qualities.

In my time at FDHMH I was doing other voluntary work, working in youth clubs in my local community off Bonnybridge I went to collage got a SVQ level 2 Basic needs in Care. There no doubt in my mind I was lost in the education system I was 30 before I was screened for dyslexia had no qualifications to my name so to go to college was a daunting experience, then I fell in love with learning and my life was progressing Long story short. Few yrs I worked and managed and ran youth clubs in Falkirk then Stirling council only to go on to Dundee University I got a degree in Com Ed, I was awarded adult learner off the BBC My claim to fame was I made a video with Jackie Bird promoting Adult Learning Scottish Government Campaign encouraging adults getting back into learning . And life moves on.

Never far from FDAMH keeping in touch with my good friend Neil. The old Thornhill Rd building was closed and FDAMH had moved into a state the art purpose built building. I pop in time from time I meet the new staff. Listen to Neil letting me know how amazing he was, always had the kettle on have a chat about life.

There were times in my life when my dimmer light wasn’t as bright I would have liked it to be. My mental health was always there in the back ground moods were like on a plengilum swing at times always in relation to what was going on in my life I did access FDAMH Counselling service in looking for directions as life and life circumstances has a way of telling you doing ok when really you might not be.

I’m known for challenging myself to the limits I cycled the WHW in 24 hrs a good few yrs ago raising money for the project. I never thought of ever having to pay back to FDAMH for helping me to help myself for the life I had. I did get involved in a FDHMH charity event walking over 10 hills in the Ochil’s to raise needed funds for a new self-help group for Family and friends who lost someone through Suicide. That was many yrs ago. Last August I walked the WHW for the same self-help group unfortunately my navigation skills weren’t the best in the dark got lost few times . I walked 115mls in 39hrs. (I tried walk WHW in 35 hrs its only 96mls) What an challenge, I was a broken man I raised quite a bit off money more importantly I raise awareness for this much needed service for the people across the Forth Vally.

I’ve accomplished some amazing achievements in my adult life, one walking to Mount Everest Base Camp raising much needed funds and the profile for FDHMH. It took over year plan organise raise funds for the trek and lots of charity events in my local area raising over £3000 for FDAMH.

It took me 12 days trekking through the mountains of Nepal. This was Beyond my wildest dreams. This was never in my life line. But yip I did walk to MBC 2016. I got the name The Yak Man from the Sherpas who were taking groups up the mountain. While others rested for the end of the day I was away venturing into ice glaciers looking for hidden gems no one may have found. This was Life changing experience, I still ware my FDAMH hoodie with pride, brings back so many happy memories. Ones I love to share.

John Wells on Base Camp Trek

Remember I told you about my Counselling skills course Stuart put me on, well today I’m back improving my listening skills and Iv almost finished my COSCA counselling course run by FDHMH, by the most amazing tutor Wendy who has been far the one the best tutor I have had. It’s more than just a counselling qualification Il have, it all about re writing the narrative, learning more about who is the real John, what’s he all about, how does he tick, why does he think the way he thinks. It about having those special qualities to listen to others with-out being judgmental, or opinionated when someone trusts you that they want to share with you their concerns, worries. That’s a very privileged place to be when someone trust you with their story. I’ve had that much counselling over the years by so many professions I thought I knew everything about Me. How wrong was I

I may take my qualification further and do a Diploma and become a qualified Councillor at the mean time I have other plans I can use my listening skills but I certainly not rule it out

I don’t see myself other than the messenger for FDHMH, ye I might push myself to the limits doing extreme challenges, only because I can. And if I’m going to be doing extreme challenges I see a wee opportunity to raise funds for FDAMH most importantly raise that profile of the services FDHMH provide for those who are in need in support with their mental health, of family across the Forth Valley.

It’s time to celebrate FDAMH 40th Birthday, that good age a long time the reaching out to so many people who for whatever reason .

I’m sure there are so many success stories, of the people who have accessed this amazing service throughout the years. Young and Old. And if there is ever a time, the climate were living in. Mental Health is at its worse ever we need services like FDAMH to keep those door open the phones at the ready to reach out to those in need.

Il be for ever grateful to FDAMH and the people who has crossed my path over the years They opening the door to me, giving me that confidence self-belief that I’m worthy, no matter where I was in my life all those years ago. Volunteering was the start off my journey in recovery.

Old Bob my best pal in the world who no longer with us was always parsing FDAMH for helping Me to help myself put the light on when I a dark place. I have a loving supportive family, a good career working with children in Residential Care, I known to the kids as Big Johnny even though I’m no very big.

We all need a champion in our lives. I’ve had so many amazing influence’s in my life all starting with the lovely staff and services at FDAMH

Happy Birthday FDAMH , mind keep me a wee bit Birthday cake

June 2021

Tags: Bereaved by Suicide, Counselling, FDAMH, Volunteering
08/06/2021 at 5:23 pm

Counselling – through commitment and trust to new self-belief and a better future

It was suggested to me that I should attend FDAMH for some support. I didn’t know anything about the organisation and I didn’t know anything about counselling. I didn’t want to come into the building. I was very nervous, scared and everything negative I could think of. I didn’t know what I was letting myself in for and in the beginning I felt scared of my Counsellor because I thought she was the adult and I was the child.

I thought my counsellor would have given up on me because of my silence each week. At times it felt like torture but I always hoped next week would be a better week so I stuck with it. As the weeks went by being able to open up to my Counsellor helped me to believe in myself. I started to see things differently and for the first time in my life I felt I could trust someone. I learned that I could make my own choices in life and didn’t have to rely on other people to make them for me.

I now feel hopeful about life. I am about to start my first job and I feel determined to move on.

Provided April 2015

Tags: Counselling
01/06/2015 at 2:24 pm

Darkness to Light

Dear Friends,
I’m sorry I hastily call you friends when I don’t know you. Fellow suffers is not what I am either, so if I met you I’m sure we would be friends. Let me tell you about my journey in FDAMH.

When I first was asked by my doctor to go and get counselling, I said no way, I was scared, I was a failure and a nut job. In the end I finally agreed. “Deary me , what was I doing”.

However I came, a 70 year old woman. Anxious, nervous and downright afraid.
However when I got to FDAMH the first person I met was the girl at the desk, what a nice smile, I got taken to the waiting room after I signed in.

At first when I met my counsellor I thought nice girl but I don’t think I’ll be able to talk much to her. I was so wrong, she made me feel at ease by gently asking me a little about myself. That done as the weeks went by I started to feel better about myself. At first I always blamed me for what went on, but as the weeks went on in honesty and truth made me realise that I am not to blame for other people, we are all responsible for our own self as everyone is responsible for their self.

So to finish I do not blame myself for anyone else’s badness or down right wickedness. I now know what has happened to me was and is not my fault. Darkness to Light, that is what I got from my counsellor and FDAMH.

Remember be honest and open. Without it there would be nothing at the end. I am happier now that I know I’m not to blame, so good luck on your journey my friends.

Provided: November 2014

Tags: Counselling
09/12/2014 at 12:39 pm

Being a counselling volunteer

Over the last year I have had a very good experience at FDAMH. The clinical work is excellent and I have seen a wide range of clients in terms of age, gender and presenting issues. The referral procedure works well and Liz offers excellent mentoring and line management. She is organised and supportive and always gives me time when I need it. Liz has organised some excellent training opportunities from which I have learned a lot about for when working with clients.


Tags: Counselling, Volunteering
27/11/2013 at 6:22 pm

Client feedback on the Counselling Service in 2012/13

Each paragraph below is a different voice revealing what people said to us about the counselling service after completing their sessions.

“It’s been a lifeline. Would not have coped without it – still struggling, will probably be back. Very good.”

“I have been really pleased with my counselling, just having someone to talk too, I really don’t speak a lot about my mental Health and it has helped me by trying to find out about my illness. Counselling service provided was excellent, my Counsellor was great and really helped me.”

“Very pleased with the one-to-one sessions. Very satisfied with the counselling. I found it welcoming and friendly. And it helped me, my counsellor was very understanding. Thanks”

“Very helpful”

“I thought the first counsellor I was assigned to was not well suited to me, however after raising this with the co-ordinator, I was assigned someone else reasonably quickly which was very beneficial.”

“It has helped me look at things in a different light.”

“I never knew my counselling would help me as much as it has, by helping me looking at the things I was struggling with, I can manage my life better by looking at the bigger picture, I learnt -I was normal. Just dealt with things wrong.”

“Full course and counsellor were exceptional”


“My counsellor was patient, kind and gave me a great insight into ‘me’ helped my confidence and self esteem greatly”

“Useful, took so much from the service, helped me to understand not just myself but others, helped me to link the present with events of the past.”

“The counselling I received was excellent and very inspiring to me. Thank you so much”

“(1.) A bit more information on the type of counselling that would be received. (2.) Expected some homework./Something to work on at home.”

“I had an excellent counsellor who listened and understood.”

“Counselling has been one of the best undertakings of my life. My counsellor was fantastic. A weight has lifted. Thank you!”

“I feel grateful that someone was listening to me without judging me”

“My counsellor has been very helpful, understanding and welcoming.”

“I am very pleased, at the moment I feel a lot better, it was good to talk to my counsellor and having support, I needed thank you very much.”

“(I was) made to feel at ease and welcome.”

“I was unsure if this would work for me – it was a fantastic resource. I was able to talk freely and to consider my feelings in a non-biased atmosphere. It allowed me to open new beginnings and leave the past behind. A big thank you to my counsellor.”


“My counsellor made me feel important from day one and has made a huge difference on my outlook on life – gratefully appreciated”

“Very relaxed setting, I felt I was able to cover any topic I wished.”

“Was a nice feeling not to be judged.”

Tags: Counselling
27/11/2013 at 6:15 pm

Volunteering with the Counselling Service

I have been a volunteer with FDAMH’s counselling service for over three years and during these three years there has not been a day that I have not looked forward to the challenges and rewards working at the centre brings. I experience working within the service as a boundaried and safe place which is nurturing and supportive and respectful of clients and counsellors alike. I value having ready access to the formal support that is afforded by the co-ordinator and FDAMH’s wider administrative team. Participating in the training evenings has been a welcomed opportunity to linking up with fellow counsellors as well as enhancing my learning.
The counselling service provides an invaluable resource to local people particularly at a time of major cut backs and the lengthy waiting time to access other mental health supports. The recent expansion of the Fast Track project is a welcome addition complimenting the core service.


Tags: Counselling, Volunteering
26/11/2013 at 9:25 pm