ABC Coaching and Counselling Services, Hebden Bridge, near Halifax, West Yorkshire, HX7 8HJ


Counselling, coaching and psychotherapy with Jim Byrne or Renata Taylor-Byrne

Established since 1998

We’ll help you to solve all your emotional, behavioural, relationship, lifestyle and career management problems; including: anger management; couples therapy; stress management; depression and anxiety counselling; assertive communication; self-confidence; the role of nutrition and exercise in emotional wellbeing; meditation; relaxation; attachment problems; personality adaptations; and so on.


Telephone: 01422 843 629

Emailjim.byrne@abc-counselling.com or renata@abc-counselling.org


Counselling, diet, and the body-brain-mind of the counselling client

Ellis-video-imageIn 1962, Dr Albert Ellis, the creator of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), wrote that human disturbance is always and only a result of the beliefs (or thoughts) of the disturbed individual[1]. The problem with this statement is as follows: Back in 1944, thirty-six young men agreed to engage in a semi-starvation diet experiment, in the Laboratory of Physiological Hygiene at the University of Minnesota: (Keys, 1950)[2]; and that study proved that one of the effects of nutrient-deficiency is emotional disturbance!  (And since it only takes one black swan to invalidate the claim that ‘all swans are white’, it only takes one scientific study showing that dietary factors can cause emotional disturbances to invalidate the claim that ‘all disturbances are caused by beliefs!’  And since the whole of CBT is based on the claim that the client disturbs themselves by holding unreasonable beliefs or negative thoughts, the whole of CBT is now in crisis!)

The results of the Minnesota Starvation Experiment have been summarized as follows, by two authors at the American Psychological Association:

“Amid the privations of World War II, 36 men voluntarily starved themselves so that researchers and relief workers could learn about how to help people recover from starvation.

“They reported fatigue, irritability, depression and apathy. Interestingly, the men also reported decreases in mental ability, although mental testing of the men did not support this belief.”  And their sex urge disappeared completely.” (Professor Bonnie Kaplan, who has studied the reports carefully, expands this list as follows: “Depression, hysteria, irritability, self-mutilation, apathy/lethargy, social withdrawal and inability to concentrate”[3].)

Given the insights of this research, why should anybody feel any sense of stigma about ‘mental health issues’?  What if all of their problems could be cleared up by working on their diet, their gut health, and their general level of stress?  (And perhaps re-writing or re-thinking their personal and family history?)

“The Minnesota Starvation Experiment … reminds us that in psychology studies of mind and body, science and practice can converge to deal with real problems in the real world.”[4]

Despite the fact that the American Psychological Association knows of this research, in which semi-starvation, or extreme nutrient deficiency, resulted in fatigue, irritability, depression and apathy, no significant evidence exists that counsellors and psychotherapists normally take the diet of their clients into account.  (A junk food diet is a form of semi-starvation from the point of view of nutrient-deficiency! And there is now evidence that trans-fats and high sugar content results in emotional disturbances, such as angry outbursts and depression).


End Notes

[1] Ellis, A. (1962) Reason and Emotion in Psychotherapy.  New York: Carol Publishing Group.

[2] Keys, A., Brozek, J., Henshel, A., Mickelson, O., & Taylor, H.L. (1950). The biology of human starvation, (Vols. 1–2). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

[3] Kaplan, B.J., Julia J. Ricklidge, Amy Romijn, and Kevin Flood (2015) The emerging field of nutritional mental health: Inflammation, the microbiome, oxidative stress, and mitochondrial function.  Clinical Psychological Science, Vol.3(6): 964-980.

[4] American Psychological Association: The psychology of hunger. By Dr David Baker and Natacha Keramidas, October 2013, Vol 44, No. 9. Online: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/10/hunger.aspx


Who are we?

Next we would like to introduce ourselves, and tell you what we do; and then we will present some insights into our own system of Holistic Counselling and Lifestyle Coaching.


About your counsellors

We (Jim Byrne and Renata Taylor-Byrne) have studied more than a dozen systems of counselling[5], coaching and psychotherapy, over many years, and not one of them takes adequate account of the fact that we are body-minds, and that our bodies are strongly affected by what we eat, and whether or not we exercise, and whether or not we attend to the health of our gut bacteria.

We are:

1. Dr Jim Byrne:


honetpieMy name is Jim Byrne.

I have a doctoral degree in counselling (DCoun) from the University of Manchester, UK (2002-2009).  A master’s degree in education (MA(Ed)) from the Open University, UK (1991-1994). And a diploma in counselling psychology and psychotherapy (DipCPPsych-Rus) from Rusland College, Bath, UK (2001-2003).

I also have two certificates in Rational Emotive and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (RE&CBT), from the Albert Ellis Institute, NYC, with the University of Birmingham (November 2005); and the old Institute for REBT, in Bristol, UK (November 1999).

I practice a system of counselling which integrates the best and most useful elements of the fifteen or so systems I have studied, including CBT, Attachment theory, Affect regulation theory, Object relations theory, Person-centred counselling, Transactional Analysis, and many others.  (My system is called Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy, or E-CENT counselling for short.  What is E-CENT counselling?***)  E-CENT counselling also incorporates insights into the body-brain-mind link.  So we deal with the whole client, and not just with their ‘mind’.

…For more about Dr Jim, please go to the About Dr Jim Byrne page.***


2. Renata Taylor-Byrne:

renata-taylor-byrne-lifestyle-coachHello, and welcome to this page about my background experience and qualifications.

My name is Renata Taylor-Byrne, and I am a qualified and accredited coach/ counsellor. I have an honours degree in Psychology from the Open University; a Diploma in Stress Management; and Diplomas in CBT, Coaching, and Nutrition; as well as certificates in REBT and Transactional Analysis.  My main specialism is Lifestyle Coaching, whereby I help individuals to review their self-management approach to life, including their stress management strategies; communication style (assertive, passive or aggressive); diet, exercise program, relaxation strategies; self-esteem and self-confidence; relationship skills; plus personal and professional goal setting and goal achievement.

I was introduced to personal and spiritual development issues by my father, from the age of fourteen years, when he introduced me to the philosophical ideas of Krishnamurti, Gurdjieff, L. Ron Hubbard, Sufism, Zen and a number of other disciplines.

…For more information about me, please go to the About Renata Taylor-Byrne page.***


Although Dr Albert Ellis and Dr Tim Beck argued that our emotional distress is caused by our own thoughts and beliefs, in E-CENT counselling we argue that emotional disturbances are multi-causal phenomena.  Some of the causal factors determining our emotional state include diet, exercise, gut bacteria, self-talk (or self-story), environmental restimulation of feelings from the past, relaxation, meditation, current relationships, historic relationships, and general environmental stressors, etc.  Here is a brief insight into the gut-brain-emotion axis:

“Anyone who has ever felt nauseous or lost their appetite because of grief, fear or shock, knows that stress has an impact on the gut.  It has been more than a decade since animal studies began making the correlation between stress and changes in gut microbes.  The connection between stress, depression and anxiety is well established, and dozens of studies are now looking at how these conditions affect bugs in the gut.  The big questions – such as which comes first, the microbe shift or the depression – have yet to be answered. Because it’s a two-way street, though, it looks as if correcting the gut microbiome (or gut bacteria population, variety and balance JWB) could be a new way to treat depression”.  (Footnote: Dinan, T.G. and Cryan, J.F. 2013, Sept; 25(9): Pages 713-719: Melancholic microbes: a link between gut microbiota and depression?  Available online).

Quotation from: Celeste McGovern (2017) Bugs in the system. What Doctors Don’t Tell You, Jan 2017, Pages 28-36).


Comment: Our way of understanding this new research is this: Food is probably going to prove to be the best medicine for emotional distress (all other things being equal – including general stress level, current relationships, historic relationships, regular physical exercise, sleep pattern, and so on.  Holistic. Holistic. Holistic!)  And supplementation with friendly gut bacteria, combined with eating the right kinds of foods will prove to be important.  Big Pharma’s drugs for emotional distress have proved to be a social disaster, with hugely damaging side-effects, and a distraction from the real causes and cures!



Of course, we are not suggesting that ‘talk therapy’ is now completely redundant.  But rather, that talk therapists need to understand the client as a body-brain-mind-environment whole, which is just as much a product of diet and exercise as it is of family history and psychological ‘habits of mind’.

To take one example, the so-called ‘self’ of the client can be defined in a number of different ways.  One useful distinction is between the ‘somatic self’ and the ‘autobiographical self’.  Most systems of counselling and therapy are equipped to deal with the autobiographical (or narrative) self of the client, but not of the somatic self.  The somatic self is the body-based sense of being ‘this one here’. And the feelings associated with this state – of being this one here – are driven by how well this body has rested recently – in terms of sleep and relaxation. Whether it is well-hydrated.  Whether it has been fed a nutritious diet, with adequate levels of essential vitamins and minerals.  Whether it has been exposed to excessive sedentary activity, or is well exercised.  And whether it has its ‘sympathetic’ (stressed) or ‘parasympathetic’ (relaxed) nervous system switched on!

All potential counselling clients should make sure they choose a counsellor who can relate to them as a whole body-brain-mind-environment complexity.

And, all counsellors currently practising should take a look at re-training to become an Holistic Counsellor / Lifestyle Coach.***


Whether you are a potential counselling client, or a curious counsellor:

…For more, please go to Homepage Extension No.1: Background.***

Footer information

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services, 27 Wood End, Hebden Bridge, HX7 8HJ, UK.

If you want to write to us, then please use our official address above, as used by the Post Office: (27 Wood End, Hebden Bridge, HX7 8HJ, West Yorkshire, UK).

But if searching for us on Google Maps, try 27 Keighley Road.  (Because Google Maps messed up the mapping of this area!)

On the other hand, if you are using a Satnav system, sometimes 27 Wood End will find us, and sometimes 27 Keighley Road.  (Sorry it’s so complicated).

Telephone: 01422 843 629 (UK): 44 1422 843 629 (from outside the UK)

Email: Admin at ABC



*Footnote: There is a problem with Google maps for our area: To search for 27 Wood End, you have to substitute 27 Keighley Road, HX7 8HJ.  (But the accurate address [according to the Post Office] is 27 Wood End).  See the Directions for finding us.***


Counselling and coaching ethics

We operate according to a range of ethical codes – see our respective divisional pages for details.

We provide coaching and counselling services for adults aged 18 years and above.  We do not offer any services to children, nor to anyone below the age of eighteen years.  But we do not publish anything that could be harmful to the interests and needs of children.


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