A North East therapist who worked in Harley Street has returned to her roots to help businesses reduce stress and absenteeism among staff and ensure a more productive workforce.

Sian Barnard, a cognitive behavioural psychotherapist and trainer, works with companies to introduce new ways of working to make employees more effective. She runs workshops and one to one sessions from her Peaceful Minds Academy at the Regent Centre in Gosforth.

Sian, who is originally from Bedlington, spent more than a quarter of a century in London where she treated stressed, anxious and depressed executives. But on moving back to the North East, she decided to take a different approach.

She said: “Rather than treating the issues, I am now helping businesses to prevent problems arising in the first place.

“The sessions teach psychological principles that managers can use with staff to reduce stress and anxiety levels, and make them self-sufficient. I teach people the basics of cognitive behavioural therapy. It allows you to take control again and helps to reduce stress and negative emotions.”

Sian, who uses the techniques herself every day, has created a suite of modules to help businesses deal with workloads and deadlines, conflicts and assertiveness, and how to be supportive and cope without support. Her sessions also include coping therapies for the growing number of people who suffer from insomnia, a condition that is costing business millions of pounds every year in absenteeism and sickness.

One of the companies that has benefited from the workshops is Blyth-based Weir Insurance.

MD Karen Weir said: “Weir Insurance recently held a breakfast seminar for some of our business clients on the topic of stress awareness delivered by Sian. She demonstrated a great deal of knowledge and understanding. Our clients said it was helpful to them personally, with their approach to their business and their employee’s needs and circumstances. Sian has certainly enhanced our reputation with our clients.”

The courses are run over half a day and follow-up sessions can also be booked to explore cognitive behavioural therapy in greater depth.

“At the moment, stress and absenteeism seem to running at epidemic levels within businesses,” said Sian.

“Businesses that tackle it are more likely to see better bottom line results than those who try to ignore the issue, and they will benefit from improved profits as well as a happier, healthier and more motivated workforce.”

The courses are ideal for solicitors, financial companies, office managers and HR departments. But Sian also offers help to individuals with other problems that are holding them back.

She has successfully cured a range of phobias, from fear of flying and boats, to rarer issues such as selective eating disorders where the sufferer would not eat certain foods.

To find out more about what Sian’s therapies offer, both from a business and individual perspective, please go to www.peacefulmindsacademy.com.