Frequently Asked Questions

What is Counselling and Psychotherapy?

The terms counselling and psychotherapy are applied differently by a range of different authors, counselling approaches, and countries. 

Individual needs vary from client to client and we, at Hope Valley Counselling, are flexible.

Counselling can be defined as a confidential contractual relationship between the client and the counsellor which is a relatively short-term intervention (up to a year but often much shorter e.g. 10 weeks) and may include educational and information giving aspects. Telephone or Skype is appropriate for counselling.

Gillie defines psychotherapy, which she distinguishes from counselling, although it contains the basic aspects of counselling, as longer-term (over a year), and which addresses developmental and characterological issues, in depth, within an ongoing therapeutic healing relationship.

For more information see: UKCP website and BACP website including Its good to talk.


What is Gestalt Psychotherapy? 

The goal of the Gestalt approach is awareness of self and self in relationship to others. Self-awareness gives us the opportunity to make the changes in life we want to make and increases our choices.

Gestalt is a creative, respectful and non-judgemental approach which includes ‘talking therapy’ but may also involve role play, ‘two chair work’, movement, metaphor, body awareness or exploration of dreams – all intended to raise awareness. 

What is like to work with Dr. Gillie Jenkinson?

In sessions, Gillie will listen carefully and she is interactive. She does not maintain long silences or offer a 'blank screen' required by some approaches.

Specifically, when working with former cult members and survivors of undue influence, Gillie brings her personal experience along with a deep understanding of cults, thought-reform and her professional training into each conversation. The aim is for clients to understand their experience on both an emotional and cognitive level – an essential element in recovery as identified in her research.

What should I expect before counselling commences?


  1. A client will contact us to discuss the different approaches for psychotherapy, counselling or Post-Cult Counselling.
  2. The first session will take between 1-2 hours and will provide the opportunity for both the therapist and the client to assess whether they feel they can work well together. This will be charged at the hourly rate for therapy.
  3. A counselling agreement is then provided. This is mutually agreed upon at the start of therapy and sets out the expectations and boundaries for the counselling/psychotherapy.
  4. Finally, the client will be asked to fill out a brief form which highlights the issues they wish to address. The client will be asked to fill out a similar form at the end of therapy, and 6 months post, to determine the effectiveness of the counselling.

How do Skype and telephone sessions work?

Gillie Jenkinson has been counselling clients by Skype and telephone for many years – including eleven years staffing a helpline at Sheffield Rape and Sexual Abuse Counselling Service. She has also trained others to provide telephone counselling and support. 

While she prefers to meet face-to-face before commencing, she understands that this is not always practical. 

Skype and telephone sessions are charged by the hour and the client will initiate the call.

What is a cult and have I been exposed to one?


Deciding whether you've been in a cult is for you to say. However, one of the problems is that it is sometimes hard to tell.  Some former member’s definitions uncovered during Gillie’s MA Research are:


  • “A cult is where a person/s become/s devoted to a person or regime, be it religious/sexual etc. People lose their sense of self. Often these cults are abusive and about power and control.
  • A cult is a group or a gathering of people who are following strict doctrines of some kind, most of the time a distortion of some religious beliefs, and whose leadership exercise power, control, and abusive techniques to subdue their followers into obedience. These groups deny the individual's capacity for discernment and critical thinking.
  • A pyramid-shaped group, with the leader at the top, who try to control members' behaviour, emotions, thoughts and information they receive. There is deceit in what they promise/expect and the leader's objective is to gain power and money from the members by whatever means: manipulation/breaking the law/psychological/emotional/physical/sexual abuse.
  • A group (or person) that uses manipulative means, whether psychological or physical, to dominate and control its members, so robbing them of their free will.
  • A cult has several characteristics: the main is having a charismatic leader and the group believing they are 'The Chosen Few' i.e. if people want to leave they will be seen as bad, evil, lost etc. The family contact is lost if the member's family doesn't want to be involved.
  • A person/group/church which makes members dependent on them and takes away their choice, freedom and autonomy, using unethical means to do so; such as fear, force, violence, abuse and any sort of psychological/emotional manipulation or dishonesty. Such people/groups/churches ultimately have their own interests in mind and care little, if anything, for the well-being of those they abuse.” 

What is the different between a first generation (1G) and second generation (2G or SGAs)? 

The cultic studies literature increasingly refers to those who join or who are recruited into a cult as adults as "first generation" (1G) and those spending all or part of their childhood in a cult as "second generation" (2G) or SGAs (second generation adults).

SGA cult leavers have, to a large degree, had to speak out about their own experiences because their very particular difficulties have not been recognised by society.

SGA's may need to discover their real self, whereas 1G may need to recover their real self. Both may have developed a cult pseudo-personality. 

What is a 'Third Culture Kid' (TCK)?

A Third Culture Kid is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’, or primary, culture. The TCK may not have full ownership of any culture, but may build relationships to them all. The TCK’s sense of belonging is, therefore, in relationship to others of similar background, rather than one culture or another .

Find out more at the TCK World Website and by reading ‘Third Culture Kids: Growing up Among Worlds’.

What is Spiritual Abuse?

Hope Valley Counselling use the term spiritual abuse quite broadly and have worked with individuals who have said that they had been spiritually abused in a number of faith/belief systems as well as in therapy groups and abusive relationships.

Spiritual Abuse can be present in mainstream religion, in fringe groups, cults, and new religious movements (NRMs). Spiritual Abuse occurs when a powerful or charismatic individual takes advantage of their followers. They will be in a position of authority and be: trained and approved by society to represent God; or be self-selected and have the hubris to believe they represent ‘god’ or a higher spiritual being; or believe they are an incarnation of a ‘god’ or a higher spiritual being. When the only route to ‘God’ or spiritual enlightenment is through the spiritual figure, the power imbalance can lead to followers being coerced to hand over their life, thinking, decision making, to various degrees, to the spiritual figure and to become dependent. Spiritual abuse can lead to sexual abuse (including minister and clergy sexual abuse), psychological and emotional abuse and has been likened to spiritual rape.

Spiritual abuse can have a damaging effect on an individual’s spiritual identity or soul and can destroy hope. The individual’s aspiration to be good can be perverted, affecting the very essence of their being. Spiritual abuse can negatively affect an individual’s sense of self and personal identity. Spiritual abuse can occur in cults. Spiritual abuse can occur in what is assumed by society to be a safe and moral space e.g. Church or Mosque and may therefore be overlooked, minimised or go unacknowledged. [Various sources]