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Posted on 19 August 2020

Meet our new counsellor

Recently, I caught up with Sean Horan, the latest addition to Acorn’s counselling team. Sean clued me up on his latest role and his personal experience of addiction recovery.
Acorn’s continued success comes from their staff, 85% of who have lived experience of addiction. This unique peer-led approach clearly delivers results, as shown by Sean’s own remarkable journey.
Sean is now using his own experience of addiction to support others through their recovery.

I was in addiction for 25 years. I started doing RAMP (Reduction and Motivation Programme) as a client, so that was my first introduction to Acorn. Then, I got funding to come into Acorn treatment centre in Stockport back in 2013.

Once I had completed my treatment, I went on to be a volunteer. I volunteered on RAMP for a year and then got a job as a programme facilitator in Manchester. Following that, I began delivering the programme in prisons and did that for about 5 years.

“I love my job. I’ve loved every job that I’ve had at Acorn”


In the meantime, I decided I wanted to study to become a counsellor. I applied to University to do a degree. Since I had no qualifications up to getting clean, I had to sit a mature student exam in proper exam settings. I passed the exam and got in.

I got into University but, once they saw my DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) I received a letter to say my place had been withdrawn. After a week at University, I was told I couldn’t attend due to their policy around people with criminal records. I was absolutely gutted. That had always been my dream to go to university.

Anyway, I picked myself up and went to Stockport College instead to study level 4 counselling. I qualified there about 18 months ago.

Around the same time, I started delivering combination learning for Acorn Academy. I delivered the first-ever Everyday Safe programme in prison, a domestic violence perpetrators programme. It got really good feedback. Initially, the offender management team were quite reluctant to let it go ahead. But, after we’d completed the first programme, they started to put it on sentence plans and asking offenders to go on it. It was really successful. The feedback from the participants was incredibly positive.

I worked for the Academy for about a year, which I loved. Then, because of COVID, I made my services available should there be greater need elsewhere. Because Acorn couldn’t keep the treatment centre open, they were keeping clients in the individual houses and delivering treatment from there. So I went to a facility in Ashton and started delivering group therapy.

“I believe in it. I believe in everything that I’m working on”


Then, a job came up in Burnley and I decided to apply for it. There was a bit of conflict for me because I loved the job I was doing at the Academy. But I applied and got the job. Now, I’ve been here for about six weeks and I absolutely love it.

Monday Tuesday and Thursday we’re doing group therapy. So, we’re doing work around life stories, reading them and discussing them together in group sessions. These are people who have been in active addiction for a number of years and are trying to make a better life for themselves and their families. They’re essentially trying to take some responsibility for everything that’s gone on in their lives.

I love my job. I’ve loved every job that I’ve had at Acorn. I did RAMP as a client and then facilitated it. I did the combination learning as a client and then facilitated it. I’d also been in the treatment centre having group therapy and now I’m the counsellor delivering the group therapy. So it’s quite a turnaround if that’s the right way to put it.

I think with every role I’ve done because I’ve done it myself, I have that passion for it. Whatever I’ve done, the group therapy, the RAMP and the combination learning, each one of those have really had an impact on my life. So, I have that passion because it’s so personal to me. That passion comes out in how I deliver it and work with people because I know how good it can be. How worthwhile it can be. I believe in it. I believe in everything that I’m working on.

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