A COUNSELLING service is being offered at a Northern auction mart site.

It has been launched by counsellor Adam Eagle in partnership with Hexham and Northern Marts, at the Hexham site, in what may be a first for auction marts in the UK.

Adam said the service was designed to help farmers and others working in the industry, who often experienced depression, anxiety and other emotional difficulties.

These might be worsened by aspects of farmers’ lives, such as isolation, acute commercial pressures and the tradition of self-reliance.

Robert Addison, managing director of Hexham and Northern Marts, said: “If it helps someone then that’s grand,” adding marts were agricultural hubs which provided support for their communities as well as selling livestock.

“There are a lot of lonely people about who might just need someone to share something,” he said.

“If it can do something good for the community, that’s what auction marts are here for.

“We are here to sell cattle and sheep, and to help the community as well.”

Adam said: “The support given to farmers by some bodies, by providing a friendly, sympathetic ear and social contact with others, is to be applauded.

“One hoped-for result of this type of contact is that a farmer who is struggling emotionally may start to acknowledge to himself, and perhaps others, that there is a problem. This is a big step. To then decide to look for help to sort this problem out is another significant step.

“The good news is that meeting a counsellor is a welcoming and positive experience. He knows the courage that it may have taken to come. He is non-judgemental, confidential, genuine and focused on understanding and helping you. Above all he is fully trained to undertake, together with his client, a safe and professional process of psychological treatment to resolve and heal the issues.” He said a counsellor could not guarantee that every client would gain the outcome he or she seeks, but counselling was now a well-established, well-recognised and mainstream profession.

Adam said someone may think “the problem I have with my farm has made me depressed. The farm problem isn’t going to go away just because I am seeing a counsellor”.

But counselling might explore many avenues, including how the person is responding to the problem, what emotions are brought up, whether they have realistic expectations about how well they can solve problems and whether they are focusing only on this issue to the exclusion of other parts of their life. “Are there any other ways of looking at solving the farm problem? Are these uncomfortable to contemplate? Why might this be?

“Counselling deals with what is happening and why. It is a close partnership or alliance, looking at who we are and how we became that person. It deals with our emotions, thoughts and behaviour, and takes a step back to look at how we deal with the world around us and how that is working for us. It is action-orientated with goals and ‘contracts’. It brings about change, healing and growth.”

He said the counselling service at Hexham had been made as easy as possible to access, being available in the early evening as well as afternoons, to accommodate farmers’ varied working patterns. “For complete confidentiality, counselling only takes place on non-market days. The building is quiet and clients go directly to meet the counsellor.”

The service was ‘free to explore’, with no fee for an initial consultation when farmers could get a feel for how the process might work for them. After that the 50-minute sessions were charged at £32 and counselling was on a weekly basis. It could be short-term, lasting a few weeks, or longer-term depending on the issues concerned and what the client is looking for.

* Adam can be contacted by email aeagle@live.co.uk, phone 0790 220 9473, or phone Hexham and Northern Marts on 01434 605444.