Counselling and Psychotherapy

Why choose counselling?

We understand that considering to engage in counselling can feel like a big step and that you are likely going to have questions about what entails, whether this is your first time or you’ve had counselling in the past.

The aim of counselling is to provide you with a safe, non-judgemental and understanding space to give you the time and freedom to talk about and work through your worries or difficulties with someone who can help. Counselling is never something you should feel forced into but rather is there for when you feel ready to be supported to work through your struggles. It can be really hard and sometimes overwhelming to open up to someone about personal issues, but with time and practice, it can be a life changing experience.    

How does First Steps ED counselling work?

Our large cohort of counsellors and psychotherapists provide 1:1 therapy to individuals aged 16 and above with eating disorders and general mental health difficulties.

The majority of our counsellors and psychotherapists are integrative, meaning that they are able to derive from a range of therapeutic approaches to tailor support to your needs. Your counselling assessment is where you can let us know any preferences you may have, whether it be a particular gender of counsellor or a particular speciality or approach and this will help us find you the best match. You can also choose from our range of daytime, evening and weekend appointments. It’s also okay if you’re not sure, that’s what we’re here for to help work out alongside you!

What are my counselling options?

Option 1: How would I like to receive my counselling?

You can choose to engage with counselling either face-to-face, virtually via our secure video clinic platform or via telephone.

Option 2: Would I like the funded or private route?

There are two counselling routes that you are welcome to take, these being the funded route or the private route.

Funded route:

On the funded route, you can access up to 18 weekly 50-minute sessions, with session progress being reviewed at six-session intervals. On this route, sessions are at a cost of £20 each, or a concession rate of £10 per session for those who meet our financial hardship criteria. As a charity, 100% of all contributions are reinvested back into our services to increase the number of people we are able to offer our essential concession support options to.

Private route:

Our private counselling route provides an immediate start with one of our qualified counsellors and psychotherapists. This route allows you to have as many sessions as you feel necessary on your recovery journey, without a maximum session number cap. Our private counselling is provided at £45 per session. 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 ED as well as helping to support many more people waiting to access our acclaimed mental health and eating disorders recovery services.

Your employer, Employer Assistances Programme (EAP) or private health insurance may be able to cover your private session costs.

I am a carer, can I receive counselling?

With many of our team being parents and carers themselves, we understand how difficult it can be caring for a loved one with mental health struggles. Juggling family life, supporting your loved one and maintaining your own wellbeing can be exhausting, often resulting in the latter becoming neglected. Our counselling is open to all, including parents and carers, even if their loved one is not accessing support themselves at First Steps ED.

I am an employer, can I refer an employee for First Steps ED counselling?

Absolutely! We understand the importance of mental health and wellbeing for both employee and employer. We provide an employer referral pathway for their employees to access our private counselling. For more information, please get in touch.

How can I access counselling at First Steps ED?

Whether you would like to refer yourself, or would like to refer on behalf of another as a family member or professional, simply complete our referral form on our website here.

You can also contact us on 01332 367571 or for more information and a member of the team will be happy to help.

CBT-T Peer Support for Children and Young People

From our years of experience supporting individuals within the mental health sector, we at First Steps ED know two things; one, mental health difficulties can impact anyone at any age, including children and young people. Two, as with all forms of support, early intervention is key to successful recovery.

Within our Children and Young People (CYP) service, our trained Specialist Support Officers provide 10 weekly 1:1 support sessions for children and young people between the ages of 5 and 18. Each 45-minute session is designed to empower and motivate young people to overcome their struggles and take positive strides to improve their mental health and wellbeing.  

Our CYP Specialist Support Officers are dual trained in eating disorders and autism and follow our acclaimed, compassionate, assets, and self-actuation care plan approach.

Our CYP services are free at the point of need, thanks to a range of grants and funders who support our charity.

Those who choose to engage with our other services alongside our peer support receive the added benefits of our weekly support programme with opportunities to get involved in peer-led groups, activities, enhanced learning opportunities and volunteering, proven to eradicate isolation and enrich lives.

As a family-orientated service, we encourage the involvement of the family in the growing and repairing along the recovery journey together. By engaging in one of our funded Skills for Carers workshops, parents, carers and older siblings can gain the skills, knowledge and confidence to support both themselves and their loved ones as active partners in recovery.

First Steps ED also 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?

First Steps ED was one of the first specialist eating disorders services in the UK to offer the Loughborough Eating-Disorder Activity Therapy Programme (LEAP), designed to support those struggling with compulsive exercise in conjunction with their eating difficulties ordisorder. This cognitive-behavioural, research-based approach offers a closed group environment of 8 sessions to support those struggling with compulsive exercise.

The primary aims of LEAP align closely with the safe coaching practices of sports and dietitian professionals, such as:

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

LEAP is not aimed at pressurising or forcing individuals to stop or give up exercising, but rather provides education on what constitutes healthy/non compulsive exercise.


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 ED, we are pleased to offer this type of therapy from our qualified Hypnotherapy practitioner, Sandra, on a fortnightly basis. 

Kundalini Yoga

There are many different types of yoga. But one variation that’s become increasingly popular for people struggling with eating disorders is Kundalini yoga. The reason: Proponents of the practice say it gives them a serious energy boost and helps them de-stress. Some people even say it’s increased their passion and purpose in life.

Just like any yoga class, you can expect to be downward dogging and planking, but what sets Kundalini yoga apart from other types of yoga is its focus on using your breath to harness energy within you. Through meditation, chanting, and singing, Kundalini yoga enhances your practice by promoting more self-awareness.

Our qualified Yoga practitioner, delivers a class on a fortnightly basis. 

Pets As Therapy (P.A.T)

Hello First Steplings,

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

I first came to First Steps ED when my companion diedand my owner (First Steps ED Founder, Cathy) decided that I needed to do some voluntary work to get me out of the house!

Volunteering at First Steps ED 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 am in the office most days and would love to say hello and have a cuddle so please feel free to pop in and see me!

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

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

Alternatively, you can refer online here

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