Monday, 1 August 2011

Self help guru's bid for Dorridge centre

A SELF help author wants to set up a “counselling and life coaching centre” for up to 14 “wealthy and well-educated” people in Dorridge.


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Harley Street psychotherapist Benjamin Fry wants to use seven-bedroom Orchard House in Earlswood Road to offer residential stays of one to three months.

A planning application says clients include those with “neurotic life concerns, anxiety, depression and undesirable habits such as over-eating, gambling etc”.

Mr Fry (below) has appeared on the BBC Three series Spendaholics and is author of “How To Be Happy” and “What’s Wrong With You”.

The application says: “Clients will have a course of structured therapy, comprising a combination of group therapy, individual counselling and other therapies specific to their issues.”

The applications adds: “In a therapeutic community such as this, the aim is to undo a lifetime of such habits, one of which is often withdrawal or isolation, and one of the prime aims is to encourage clients to work together as a group to support each other.”

It says: “There are sometimes objections raised to this kind of use from local residents on the perception of the nature of the clients and of fear of crime.

“It must be stressed that clients will typically be wealthy and well-education, and most will be referred by the applicant’s Harley street practice and from other colleagues in central London.

“As such, any such concerns would be wholly without foundation.”


It adds: “The proposal will provide a rehabilitation centre which will benefit society as a whole.”

A member of staff will always be on site and there will be “occasional” group outings to evening meetings. Residents will not be allowed off site unaccompanied.

The planning application to Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council seeks to use the house as a centre for two years. No structural changes are planned.

Mr Fry’s official biography says he is a “child of misfortune and privilege” who was born into a wealthy family but lost his mother at eleven months.

It says in his 20s he sought help for “emotional issues and was able to spend the time and money necessary to really explore what was wrong with him”.

It says: “He discovered that despite his gilt-edged education at top private schools and Oxford University he really knew nothing about the most fundamental aspects of enjoying and understanding his own life. He decided that that should change.”

It comes as plans were also unveiled to create a drug rehabilitation centre for wealthy Middle East clients in Hockley Heath.

The private Aylesbury House Hotel has been sold to Right Start Foundation International for the project.

A statement on its website says: “The project is still in the early stages of its development.

“We are still actively consulting a wide range of stakeholders, specialists and interested bodies.”

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