St Albans fitness coach inspired to run London Marathon 2018 on behalf of The Counselling Foundation

November 16, 2017 2:15 pm Published by

A local fitness and wellbeing coach has been inspired to run The 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon for a local counselling charity that started him on his journey to overcome anxiety and depression five years ago.

Barrie Johnston, who became a personal trainer 10 years ago, discovered The Counselling Foundation charity after researching local counselling services. He recognised he was struggling with his own low mood and self-esteem as a result of using his reserves to help others with emotional support. Barry says, “it was at that point that I realised it was my own emotional fitness that I needed support with.”

The benefits of receiving weekly counselling had a profound and long-lasting impact and have now inspired Barrie to run on behalf of the charity who helped him gain a greater understanding of himself.

Reflecting on his counselling, Barrie said: “It was a scheduled time in my week when I would stop, breathe and just sit still to reflect on how I was feeling. Whenever I would leave a session it felt like a weight had been lifted from me and I felt much more balanced in my mood. I have always had a very inner critical voice and powerful feelings of never being good enough, counselling helped me change these and give me true perspective in my life.”

“Having benefitted so much from the services at The Counselling Foundation I want to be able to help those who can’t afford the services to get access to the same help that I received”.

Angela Pask, Marketing Communications Officer said, “we are thrilled that Barrie has chosen to run on behalf of our charity; we hope by sharing his story it will encourage others, especially men to come forward and seek the help of our counselling services”.

Barrie aims to raise £4,000 for The Counselling Foundation which would help cover the costs of weekly counselling sessions for up to four people for a year, making an enormous difference to those who may be struggling with a range of concerns including abuse, depression, life changes, work issues, anxiety and depression.

The Foundation asked Barrie to share his experiences of counselling to give an insight into what someone can expect from attending weekly counselling sessions.

How would you describe your experience of counselling?
I was anxious and nervous to start, I put it off for about two years before finally making contact and getting started. Apart from the original nerves it has been an incredibly positive part of my life. Yes, there were ups and downs as I worked through challenging emotions and sometimes I did feel frustrated feeling like I was going in circles. But I can honestly say that I always felt better for attending a session no matter how challenging I found it. It was like a moment in my week when I pressed pause, reflected on my feelings and always knew I was going in the right direction.  My counsellor made this possible by her kindness and ability to help me feel able to work through my challenges.

How would you encourage others to seek counselling and what advice/tips would you give to anyone thinking about having counselling?
If you’re struggling with low mood and low energy which never seems to improve, that feeling of being stuck, finding someone to speak to outside of your circle of friends and family can be hugely beneficial. It can seem very daunting, but I can assure you that the warm reception you will receive will quickly put you at ease.

You’re very open about your experience and we’re hoping by speaking out that you will encourage others to come forward and seek counselling – how do people react when you share your experience of counselling?
Most people are curious, or they will say “me too”.  It’s getting more common and accepted – thankfully that we all need some extra support sometimes.  To explain it to someone who has never tried it I say it’s like someone asking me for help improving their physical fitness, but counselling is your emotional fitness.  We get so far on our own but a helping hand and a connection to someone else can make a massive difference.

There is a strong link between physical fitness and good mental health, Barrie shares his insight and the benefits he has discovered.
“For me, exercising is critical to keeping me feeling good emotionally as well as the obvious physical fitness benefits. The challenge for me and others is that when you aren’t in a good place emotionally, finding the motivation to exercise can be incredibly difficult.  I find that exercise first thing in the morning helps as it gets it done so you don’t have to worry about it for the rest of the day.  Also, the fact you’ve done something positive first thing lifts your mood, as well as the boost of happy chemicals your brain gets from the exercise.”

“We thank Barrie for his enthusiasm, energy and support and we look forward to supporting Barrie through his training programme ahead of his London Marathon run on Sunday 22 April 2018”.  Angela Pask, Marketing Communications.

The Counselling Foundation is passionate about promoting positive mental health and also runs a counselling training centre that provides a full fiveyear BACP accredited programme for those wanting to become a counsellor, including part time courses and oneday workshops on a wide range of topics.

For further information on counselling or training please contact the Foundation on 01727 868585 or visit


The Counselling Foundation:

Angela Pask

Communications Officer

Tel: 01727 582602








The Counselling Foundation is a leading charity providing low cost, quality counselling and counselling training for the better mental health and educational advancement of our communities.

Founded in 1974, the Foundation has now become one of the largest counselling and counselling training centres outside of London, with five centres in Bedford, Broxbourne, Luton, St Albans and Stevenage, delivering over 30,000 counselling sessions a year including NHS contracts across the counties.

Tags: , , , ,

Categorised in: , , , , , ,