Hi, I'm Francis Norton. We all get stuck sometimes - in a loop, down a dark hole, between a rock and a hard place. Whatever shape your troubles take, I will provide a calm, relaxed space where you can expect to be heard, understood, and accepted, allowing you to re-evaluate any distorted personal or occupational relationships in your life.
I have had clients from the City, academia, medicine and self-employment. There are patterns - they all have so much to give, but this same drive has led them down a damaging path. And this is what I help with.
I know what burnout can feel like, and I was astonished to find in training that this common hazard to mental and physical wellbeing is almost entirely absent from counselling theory and practice. My mission - both professional and personal - is to fill this gap as best I can, especially at a time when this is a burning issue for so many in front-line services.
Do you recognise any of these?
Anxiety loops its way through the mind and the body, alerting our mind that something needs urgent attention while preparing our body for urgent action.
Like so much of human nature, this is helpful in the right context, when the situation does indeed demand action - wondering about our loved ones or threats to our own welfare. But when the anxiety is excessive - too intense or too persistent - it can become unhelpful, even disabling.
Counselling can help you see where the anxiety is coming from, and develop better ways of relating to yourself, your world and your triggers.
Burnout is the nemesis of the highly motivated, from city high-flyers and startup founders to medics, dentists and vets.
It is typically situational, marked by exhaustion, persistent negative emotions, and often feelings of reduced competence.
Another part of the burnout dynamic is the impact of emotional exhaustion on our human connections. As friendships and intimate relationships suffer, so stress builds.
Those suffering from burnout typically blame themselves, intensifying this vicious circle. Counselling can help restore a more balanced perspective, and help you to relate to employment and other stresses in more helpful ways.
Depression can involve feelings of guilt, helplessness, low self-esteem and even thoughts of death and suicide.
Counselling can help you identify and engage with these negative feelings, acknowledging and accepting them, so that you can move on to cope better - with them, and with life.
How many sessions do we need?
I offer both the traditional open-ended relationship and Single Session Counselling.
Structured open-ended counselling
The normal path for counselling allows the client to develop new ways of relating to their world, which may require them to relate in new ways to themselves and their history. This doesn't happen lightly, and as someone whose agency work involved working with clients for up to a year I have had the privilege of witnessing real - and sometimes extraordinary - change and growth in those with whom I shared the room.
But I've also seen change happen more rapidly, and in order to help the process I like to suggest to clients that we review their situation every six sessions or so. If they're happy with how things are changing we can continue on a weekly basis; if it feels done we can wrap it up there or they can continue with monthly sessions to help them keep an eye on how things are unfolding. Of course the client can also terminate the relationship at any time if they feel that they're not making progress or that I am not the right person for them - that's fine too. However it ends, my clients are always welcome back.
Single Session Counselling
Single Session Counselling, or SSC, is a structured, evidence-based and client-centred way of helping the client to identify their most urgent problem and come away from the session with a viable strategy for change.
In the context of counselling for burnout, clients often have very specific situational challenges, and I am very happy to help them identify a single urgent issue on which they would like to make progress, look at the strengths they can bring to the challenge, and help them develop a solution which can then be practiced within the session. The SSC service comes with both a free initial chat, and a follow-up call to help evaluate impact and options, and of course includes the possibility of following up with more sessions.
I charge £95 for a normal session or for single session counselling.
I reserve a number of sessions per week for frontline workers or others who cannot afford the full rate but would benefit from what I offer.
What is burnout?Burnout is what happens to people when the stress in their lives is so high or so persistent that instead of generating energy and meaning, they experience a combination of exhaustion, cynicism and inadequacy. While there are many perspectives on burnout, the simplest is to see it as an llustration of what happens when you get into far right of the Stress Performance Curve:
What is happening to me?If you are experiencing emotional exhaustion, growing cynicism or feelings of inadequacy you may be on the path to burnout. There are various well-respected burnout tests, the best known being the Maslach Burnout Inventory. A more general perspective is, are you reacting to stresses in your work or personal life in new and unhelpful ways like: - using poor coping mechanisms like alcohol or obsessive training; - loss of temper and damage to personal relationships, or - uncharacteristic errors or disengagement at work If so burnout may be the simplest and most helpful explanation of what is happening to you.
Can you prevent burnout?There are well-understood ways of buffering against burnout, such as: maintaining your work life balance ensuring that you get downtime to recover from stress looking after your social support If you find it hard to take these steps even though you feel you should, or that burnout has a pattern of recurring in your life, I suggest talking to a counsellor.
Can you recover from burnout?Yes, but the work involved may depend on how far the burnout has gone. One model for the burnout journey is Herb Freudenberger's 12 Stages of Burnout: Like all models, this is an approximation - no-one steps neatly through each stage in sequence. But it does capture much experience and understanding, so we can say that if you're in the first third you may well be able to sort yourself out by changing your priorities and setting boundaries; if you're in the middle third, you might want to consider talking to HR or employing a coach, and if you're in the final third you should consider working with a counsellor or psychotherapist.
What can I do if I'm worried about a friend, relative or colleague?"I have had clients come to me because friends, family or colleagues have seen troubling changes in their well-being and behaviour. Sometimes people suffering from burnout experience it as personal inadequacy, compounding their existing stresses with feelings of failure, loss of identity, and even shame. This makes them reluctant to recognise the role of external factors, or to consider seeking help. Understanding that role of burnout in your own situation is the first step to recovery, but if you are suggesting this to someone else, please tread gently.
What if my question isn't answered here?Then I need to improve this FAQ! Get in touch using the Contact Form, and I will give your question my best answer.
Get in touch using the contact form, or go straight ahead and book a free getting-to-know-you Zoom or phone call here.
As well as Zoom sessions, I give in-person counselling at these peaceful and central spaces:
3 Lombard Court, London, EC3V 9BJ Near Bank and Monument
76A Battersea Rise, London, SW11 1EH Near Clapham Junction and Northcote Road
19 Nassau Street, London, W1W7AF Near Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road