My Approach

... I am a Relational Intergrative Practitioner

Relational means...

...that I provide a therapeutic relationship that supports and fosters your healing and growth. I offer you both the opportunity to risk being yourself with me - and to discover who you can be when you feel truly accepted for who you are.

Integrative means...

...that I draw on a number of therapeutic approaches, psychological theories and research to enable me to respond flexibly to your therapeutic needs and serve your best interests.  Working this way enables me to adapt the way I work to suit you, to ensure I am meeting your individual needs in a way which feels comfortable for you

Approaches I use

My training is Integrative, meaning that I can draw from a variety of models, theories and practices to match the uniqueness of your situation. From a foundation of Humanistic principles informed by Rogerian person-centred theory, and incorporates psychoanalytic thinking, attachment theory, existential philosophy, phenomenology and transactional analysis.  I take a special interest in early life experiences, since applying such a developmental approach can bring profound and lasting change.  In addition, I draw on a wide body of knowledge from psychology, philosophy, feminism, spirituality, sociology, neuroscience and trauma and health research.  It's not necessary for you to be familiar with these terms to benefit from therapy, however if you are interested to read more then there is further information here.  Theories aside, ultimately what is important is you and your experience.

 

At the heart of my working style is a lively inquisitiveness around how my clients use metaphor and imagery.  As a result I like to work with dream, myth, story, and symbolism. For those who find it especially hard to express their feelings, and find 'talking therapies' sometimes too challenging - using the imagination, and working with objects or art, can offer a new dimension. There is no pressure to find the exact words to convey a feeling and there is no pressure to talk in detail about difficult or painful experiences - an image or object can 'speak' for you.  Often ‘light bulb’ moments of recognition and understanding, triggered as subconscious feelings, are brought to the surface using creative therapy techniques.

Fundamentally, I believe in the primacy of the here and now relationship between you and me, client and therapist. There is ample research showing that what ultimately heals and brings about change are alive, exciting and meaningful relationships, and this is what we would seek to find and build together in the therapy space. This is because I believe that our deepest emotional and psychological wounds occur within relationships, and that is where they also heal. Gentle, non-judgemental exploration in a safe therapeutic relationship yields important insights, healing and growth, particularly in the areas of self-esteem, confidence and relationships. I like to consider the therapy room as a place for 'safe emergencies': somewhere you can be all of yourself, perhaps for the first time. It's a rehearsal space too, ideal for trying out new ways of communicating and presenting yourself to the world.  The therapeutic relationship is a key factor in helping us to understand patterns in our lives which can be unhelpful or destructive and for working through these. This will lead to improvements both in your day to day life and relationships (with yourself and others) outside of the therapy room.

My views on mental health

I do not assume that mental health issues are just biological, or a result of some sort of chemical imbalance in the brain.  Economic, social, political and relational environments also affect how we think, feel and act.  Intrinsic within providing mental health diagnoses is the belief, or world view, that our behaviours and difficulties can be pathologised.  

My approach to mental health recognises and considers the various experiences life can bring and involves an understanding that, from time to time, life can be challenging and that the difficulties we are experiencing are a normal response to this. The approach that I take to therapy therefore involves working with you as an individual and your unique lived experience rather than confining a problem or issue to a diagnosis.

I also consider feelings, symptoms and behavioural patterns to be messages from the self.  Therapy can help to make sense of and better understand these messages, which can begin to ease symptoms and relieve distress.

What is the difference between counselling & psychotherapy? 

There is no one definitive definition of psychotherapy or counselling and the way psychotherapists and counsellors work can often overlap. Both use talking therapy to help someone tackle an emotional difficulty, but the training for each is different.  Although the terms are often used interchangeably, there is usually a sense that psychotherapy is longer term and more appropriate for issues that are deep seated and rooted in someone’s past, whereas counselling may be shorter term and appropriate for a single issue of a more recent onset. In this sense counselling and psychotherapy can be regarded as opposite ends of a continuum and there can be an overlap and natural progression between them.

 

Both counselling and psychotherapy involve establishing a confidential relationship between therapist and client in which the client feels able to talk freely about whatever is troubling them. The idea is that by listening carefully and attentively the therapist can start to gain an understanding of their client’s experiences, what it is like to be them and help them explore not only how they’ve arrived at this point in their life, but what their options might be for the future (if that is important). By talking about themselves and their situation, people usually find that, at the very least, something opens up, or shifts for them – whether it’s a different way of looking at things or simply how to be.  Given this (and the research supports this claim) the personal and relational qualities of counsellors and psychotherapists are worth far more than their academic levels or professional educations when it comes to therapeutic outcomes, and the amount of personal therapy in which an individual practitioner has engaged will play an important role in this. 

 

As such, I would suggest the most important this to think about when choosing a therapist, or between counselling and psychotherapy, is whether you feel the therapist is the right fit for you, whether you feel you can work with them and whether they have engaged in their own extensive personal therapy. For your safety, ensuring the counsellor or psychotherapist is qualified and a member of a professional body is also important. 

 

Most therapists expect a first session to be about establishing whether you feel you can work together. It's ok to see more than one therapist for a first session in order to make the right choice. This might take more effort initially however will pay off in the long-term if it means you find the right person for you first time.