Dr Caroline Vermes, Director 

Hello, I am the Director of Oakwood Psychology Services, and a Chartered HCPC Registered Counselling Psychologist.

Oakwood Psychology Services provides counselling and CBT services by contract to the NHS.  We offer personalised, knowledgeable psychological therapies to help improve our clients’ emotional and relational wellbeing. We also provide well-supported training placements and supervision for trainee psychological therapists. The Oakwood team comprises caring and dedicated practitioners, administrators, support staff and trainees. Oakwood is proud to be a BACP Accredited Service.

Work history

I qualified with a Master’s degree in Education – Counselling Psychology in New Jersey, USA in 1994.  In 2000 I became a US Nationally Certified Counsellor (NCC) and went on to be amongst the first 300 counsellors in New Jersey to earn State Licensure as a Professional Counsellor (LPC).

From 1994 –2000 I held staff psychotherapist positions on psychiatric units at St Clare’s Hospital, Boonton, NJ, and the University Medical Center, Princeton, N.J. During this time I also worked as an associate counsellor in a number of private practices, most notably the Center for Optimum Living in Kinnelon, NJ, with Dr Sal Benanti from 1995 to 2002.

In 2002 I moved to Manchester, UK, a city I am proud to call home.

In 2003 I commenced work with Dr Barbara Douglas at the North West Centre for Eating Disorders, based in Stockport. This service was first commissioned as a community eating disorder service (CEDS) by the NHS in 1997, and has continued to work in partnership with Stockport [PCT] CCG ever since. I took on leadership of the service in 2006, and went on to develop a stepped care model for eating disorders, including lower intensity guided self-help and group therapy options, as well as tailored family and individual therapy approaches. I also established a successful supported meals club which offers practical help for people with more severe or enduring eating disorders.

In 2006 I developed a selective placement programme for counsellors and counselling psychologists in advanced training.  To date, we have mentored around 50 counsellors studying at universities including Manchester, Salford, Derby, Teesside, Keele, Wolverhampton, Chester, Bolton, and City University, London.  Our trainees do excellent clinical work while building their practice portfolios towards qualification.

In 2011 I was awarded a grant by the Northwest Regional Development Agency to undertake the LEAD SME management programme at Manchester Metropolitan University Business School. I subsequently published a BPS guidance document and a textbook chapter on the practicalities of social entrepreneurship in mental health service delivery.

In 2011-2014 the Oakwood team partnered with Dr Sheena Bedi and ABL Health to train and develop multidisciplinary staff teams. I led the psychological therapy team delivering group and individual counselling for health-related behaviour change programmes within NHS-commissioned Specialist Weight Management Services (SWMS) in Manchester, Salford, Tameside, Oldham, Bury, Stockport and Blackpool.

More recently, in 2018 I completed doctoral research in Counselling Psychology at the University of Manchester. My study investigated how clients make therapy work through social, experiential and reflective learning.

Current research includes an investigation into rates of weight restoration in anorexia care in community eating disorder services around the UK.

Beyond my responsibilities in counselling service leadership, I have since 2018 been an employed Lecturer in Counselling Psychology at the University of Manchester.

Outside my paid work, I manage the St James and Emmanuel Church & Heritage Lottery Fund Oral History Project in Didsbury, Manchester. I am also a Trustee of Home Café, a charitable social space affiliated with St James and Emmanuel Church.

Education

2018: D.Couns.Psych, Manchester University

2012: LEAD, Manchester Metropolitan University

2010: MA, Counselling Studies, University of Manchester

2000: NJ Licensed Professional Counsellor (LPC), US Nationally Certified Counsellor (NCC)

1994: M.Ed, Counselling Psychology, Rutgers University, New Jersey

1988: BA Art History (Cum Laude), Drew University, New Jersey

Memberships

Accredited Member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)

Chartered Member of the British Psychological Society (BPS)

Full Member of the Division of Counselling Psychology of the British Psychological Society (DCoP)

Awards

1997: Lifetime membership of Psi Chi, the International Honour Society in Psychology

1992 – 1995: Kings Scholarship

Publications

Vermes, C. (2013). An Introduction to Bidding for Public Sector Contracts for Counselling Psychologists. British Psychological Society.

Vermes, C. (2016). Becoming an Entrepreneur-Practitioner. In Douglas, B., Woolfe, R., Strawbridge, S., Kasket, E. and Galbraith, V. (Eds). The Handbook of Counselling Psychology (4th Edition, 616- 639). London: Sage.

Vermes, C. (2017). The individualism impasse in counselling psychology. Counselling Psychology Review, 32(1), 44-53.

Vermes, C. (2017). Eating disorders. In C. Feltham, T. Hanley and L. A. Winter (Eds). The Sage Handbook of Counselling and Psychotherapy (4th Edition, 421-426). London: Sage.

Conference presentations

2019 British Psychological Society Division of Counselling Psychology Conference: [Workshop] Critical empirical concept analysis in counselling psychology research

2016 British Psychological Society Psychology 4 Students Conference: [Keynote address] One size does not fit all: A counselling psychology career perspective

2016 British Psychological Society Division of Counselling Psychology Conference:  [Poster presentation] [Systematic review] What could psychological therapists do better? A systematic review of client unsatisfactory experiences

2014 & 2015 British Psychological Society Division of Counselling Psychology Conference:  [Practice Presentation] Entrepreneur-practitioner meets attractive tender: What’s next?

2014 British Psychological Society Division of Counselling Psychology Conference:  [Practice presentation] Public health specialist weight management services: What can counselling psychology contribute?

2011 British Psychological Society Annual Conference: [Symposium] [MA Dissertation] Cost-effectiveness of guided self-help for binge eating disorder

2010 British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies

Annual Conference: [MA Dissertation] Cost-effectiveness of guided self-help for binge eating disorder

2010 BEAT National Eating Disorders Charity Annual Conference:  [Practice presentation] Guided self-help and stepped care in community services

2001 AA/BA-NJ Eating Disorders Charity Annual Professional Conference: [Theory presentation] Beauty, booze and cigarettes: How advertising intoxicates girl-image