Award Winning mental health campaigners inspire The Counselling Foundation’s next generation of counsellors

November 21, 2017 12:32 pm Published by

The St Albans based charity hosted the event on Friday 17 November, and welcomed staff, trustees and over 100 graduates from The Counselling Foundation’s Certificate, Diploma and Advanced Diploma courses along with friends and family to celebrate their achievements.    Studying to become a counsellor is an emotional and often reflective journey that takes a minimum of five years to become fully accredited and the graduation event marks a phenomenal highlight in a graduating counsellor’s career.

Jonny Benjamin and Neil Laybourn, shared their inspirational story of how Neil’s small act of kindness prevented Jonny’s suicide attempt from Waterloo Bridge in 2008. The pair were reunited following Jonny’s twitter campaign six years later to find the stranger who saved his life which has seen them both become ambassadors for the charity, Rethink Mental Health. They now work together tirelessly campaigning for a better understanding of mental health and to aid suicide prevention.

Their story has become synonymously known as ‘Stranger on the Bridge’ following the Channel 4 documentary of their journey.  Jonny said “Tonight was fantastic I am excited for you guys graduating today and your future helping people talk.  I never forget the people who have had an impact on me and got me to where I am today.”  He emphasised the importance of the relationship he has with his counsellor in aiding his ongoing recovery.

One in four of us will experience emotional distress at some point in our lives, providing talking therapy via counselling is an invaluable and rewarding career to embark upon.

Noel Hargrave, Head of Counselling Training and Counselling Services for The Counselling Foundation said: “Training to become a counsellor is no easy undertaking, it requires commitment, time, personal development, academic ability and counselling experience”.

He went on to say: “The changing face of mental health services in the UK, demonstrates why The Counselling Foundation and organisations like ours are so important. The prevalence of mental health problems is increasing year on year for each mental health condition. There is an enormous need for counselling and psychotherapy.”

charlotte carter & Jonny Benjamin

Last year the Foundation provided 10,000 charitably funded counselling sessions to those suffering from emotional distress, ensuring everyone in the communities of Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire has access to counselling regardless of income. Trainees studying at the Foundation play a fundamental role in providing this service as part of their clinical training.

The application process for core counselling training courses starting in September 2018 will open in March 2018. Introduction to Counselling courses are widely available throughout the year across Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.

For further details on counselling training courses please visit:



students receiving certificates

Students with Jonny & Neil

jonny & Neil speaking

Categorised in: