Ally’s story

Alison Hollingshead

BACP Registered Counsellor and Psychotherapist

Ally has always been interested in people, the mind and psychological wellbeing and was aware from a young age that she wanted to become a counsellor. Ally studied Psychology at University where she met Asha. They became firm friends, sharing similar mindset and interests. Following undergraduate studies, Ally worked as a Mental Health Worker, PA, Admin Manager, Mental Health Carers Support worker and a Registered Home Manager. In 2013 Ally established her busy and successful counselling practice, and has worked with charities to support women and children with thier mental health and wellbeing.

So why Free Spirits? Alison has experienced people close to her being severely affected by alcohol, and her relationship with alcohol was once quite unhealthy. Conditioned into alcohol being a socially acceptable way to cope, relax and boost confidence, Ally used this as a coping strategy throughout her teens and twenties. However, looking back with a healthier perspective, she realised that alcohol had become a burden and a mask.

Working with people to build healthier coping strategies and self-awareness is something that Alison is truly passionate about.


Here is a little about me, as I feel it is important that you work with a therapist that you can relate to.

From the age of fifteen I knew I wanted to become a counsellor. I had some difficult childhood experiences which, as an adult has led me to have a real desire to help others process and overcome their own difficult life experiences. I have truly benefited from counselling and the process has allowed me to accept who I am. I feel able to navigate and cope with whatever life throws at me. I am not immune, but know what I need to do to look after myself. Only through our vulnerabilities can we experience our humanity.

I enjoy the outdoors, walking, climbing, running, bike riding, camping and pottering in the garden. Being outside is one of my main coping tools. I also love reading, writing, cooking, pottery, art, meeting my close friends and spending time with my family. I am super grateful, every day for the amount of joy motherhood has brought into my life.

Honesty, transparency, humour, connection and communication are the virtues which I value in myself and others.


I’m a Person-Centered Counsellor, Psychotherapist and Supervisor. I am warm, friendly and compassionate. I want to help you to reach a better place within your life.

I believe you are your own expert and that you know yourself enough to know what is best for you. Sometimes this needs uncovering, and together we can do this. I won’t tell you what to do, but I can offer suggestions or information that may be useful to you. Together we can explore your experience and celebrate the lightbulb moments as they come. 

My style of counselling holds you at the centre, so you can bring the content to the session and together we can open it up and explore it as much as you need to. I value getting to know you by hearing your thoughts and experiences, and exploring your emotions at your pace.

I’m curious and ask open questions, allowing you space to share as much detail as you want. I will never judge you or minimise your experience. I offer reflections and notice themes that can lead to valuable insights. 


  • Diploma – Life Coaching – 2020
  • Certificate in Supervision – 2018
  • Post Graduate Diploma (Level 7) in Counselling and Psychotherapy – University of Salford – 2013
  • BSc(Hons) Psychology – Manchester Metropolitan University – 2005

Training and Professional Development

  • Tackling Addictions
  • Building Resilient Families
  • Counselling Gender, Sex and Sexuality
  • Counselling with Children and Young People
  • Counselling Trauma and Sexual Abuse
  • Working with Diversity 
  • Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults
  • Congruence in Person Centered Counselling 
  • Stigma and Equality
  • Counselling with Suicidal Clients
  • Working with Bereavement 
  • LGBTQ+ Awareness
  • Mindfulness 
  • First Aid (children and adults)
  • Risk Assessments
  • Treating Intrusive Thoughts and the Inner Critical Voice
  • Mental Health First Aid


I have have thousands of hours’ worth of experience which include working with expereinces of:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Low Self-Esteem
  • Anger
  • Low Confidence
  • Abuse and Bullying
  • Work Place Issues
  • Gender Identity
  • Sexuality
  • Discrimination
  • Sexual Problems
  • Addictions
  • Relationship Problems
  • Communication difficulties
  • Loss and Bereavement
  • Difficulties Conceiving, Miscarriage and Loss
  • Parenting issues
  • Divorce

I have worked as a counsellor since 2012 and have worked in mental health settings for 20 years with children, young people and adults. I have worked in the following settings: 

  • Private Practice 
  • Womens Charity
  • Mental Health Charity
  • NHS and IAPT settings
  • Care Homes
  • Children and Young Peoples services
  • Rape and Sexual Abuse Counselling

Membership and Code of Ethics

I am a registered member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. I work in accordance with the BACP Ethical Framework. I attend regular supervision and have an enhanced DBS. I am fully insured.

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