A team of therapists volunteered their expertise on ITV1’s This Morning programme and answered calls from viewers concerned about relationships and divorce.
Now BACP member Pauline Orchard hopes their appearance on the popular daytime TV programme, alongside regular hosts Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield, will help demystify therapy and encourage more people to seek help.
Pauline said: “You had people who are being encouraged by Holly and Phil, these friendly, warm, familiar faces, to call or text and I think people couldn’t believe that the phone was answered.
“Most of the callers had never had any form of counselling or psychotherapy. In most instances they said that they didn’t have any idea that it could be so wonderful.
“They were then very open to thinking about the next step and seeking a counsellor or psychotherapist, which is incredible.”
She added: “We didn’t have very long with people. You are used to your 50 minutes, but this was quite different.
“We had 15 to 20 minutes to offer an ear, some calm space for people to be heard and some empathy.
“We were able to talk to people, give information, get them to think about their support systems and who they can talk to, and to encourage them to get some support.”
Pauline is a psychotherapist at London-based Tavistock Relationships, an organisational member of BACP which also delivers BACP-accredited training. She answered the phones alongside her colleagues Joanna Harrison and Jennifer Kelly with assistance from Deidre Sanders, The Sun’s agony aunt of 39 years who has been helping This Morning viewers since 2016.
“People feel they tend to know people on the TV as they are watching them on daily,” said Pauline.
“Deidre has been doing this work for nearly 40 years. I had this sense of her as such a well-known, trusted figure, who is warm and empathetic but also straight-talking.
“It was an incredible positive experience.”
Pauline said the calls were recorded in case of issues arising further down the line and that everyone who attempted to call the programme would be receiving a call-back.
“We were given an extensive list of helplines as well,” said Pauline, who manned the This Morning phonelines for more than four hours. “They were very well informed on the programme.
“The toughest thing was seeing the numbers of calls that couldn’t be answered. But numbers were being taken and any that were not answered are going to be phoned back by This Morning’s team.”
To find a counsellor, coach or therapist to help with relationships, visit our Find a Therapist directory.