Deciding what to say about myself first is probably as difficult for me as it is for you to find your first words in a counselling session – what is most important, how to get myself across properly? In that I think I have stumbled upon what I would like to stress about myself and my work first – I am human just like you and we are equals. There is this image of the expert psychotherapist, seated behind a “patient”, cold and detached, rooting around in the sub-conscious and then prescribing a cure. Almost everything about that sentence does not apply to me. I say almost because while I do not consider myself the expert on each person’s life and mental health, I am a professional with a great deal of knowledge and training in how to support the real experts – my clients – in making new decisions and finding ways to live more fully and authentically. I am not seated behind you, but face to face where we can begin to meet each other and build a relationship which supports growth and healing. Alternatively I may at times sit by your side if it ever feels that you need me “on your side” when exploring a particular issue. I am not cold and detached, but offer an innate warmth and acceptance as well as a commitment to our work together. I am myself in the room – this means that although it will be your life and your story that we talk about, you can be sure that I am my authentic self in the room, that I will bring my real thoughts and feelings to the work to help us understand what is going on in your life. Nevertheless there are important clear professional boundaries that hold our therapeutic relationship, so that you and I both know what is offered and expected. The place where we meet, the times at which we meet, how long our sessions last, the confidentiality that is kept and how we will react if our paths ever cross “in the real world” – all these boundaries will be agreed upon between us and can be trusted to keep our work safe and unblurred.
How Does Counselling Work Then?
Well, it works because the two of us will come together with a joint commitment to change and improve aspects of your inner and outer world. This commitment with another person in itself makes change more likely (consider the new years resolutions that somehow never work). I will endeavor to create a space that is non-judgmental, empathic and real in which you will in time feel safe to open up and explore the dilemma, the grief, the pain, the dissatisfaction, the anger, the loss… that you bring. Just in telling your story, things will likely start to shift, as being truly heard is healing in itself. However, I will also bring my extensive training and knowledge of various models of human functioning and relationships to our sessions and at times introduce one that seems to fit or that may offer insight. The truth is that the real healing that takes place in counselling is a little harder to pinpoint but certainly takes place in the relationship itself. Human relationships are what most enrich our lives and we are born intent on forging strong bonds. Unfortunately one of the givens of existence is that relationships, though often wonderful and supportive, always let us down to some degree – they are as flawed and imperfect as we are (which in my view is also what makes them and us beautiful). So I will go out on a limb here and suggest that most wounds that bring people to counselling are wounds caused by or created within relationship or the lack thereof. Forging a real, authentic therapeutic relationship unburdened by a past, a shared life, or expectations for you to be anything but yourself, will allow you to heal those wounds and have unmet needs met. In that way the counselling room can become a dress rehearsal for real life where you can take what you have learned into your relationships and find healthier, more balanced ways of being with others.
I am a fully qualified counsellor with a Postgraduate Diploma from the University of Brighton, which has a reputation for both academic and clinical excellence and is accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy(BACP). I gained in depth training in different approaches, such as Person-Centred Therapy, Transactional Analysis, Gestalt therapy and Existential Therapy. With an awareness of various types of counselling, I believe I am equipped to meet each person as a unique individual, without the need to fit them into one fixed model. In this way I can offer an open encounter, in which theory only plays a guiding role at times when it is useful.
I have also undergone advanced training in Group and Couples Therapy as well as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and other meditative approaches and can incorporate these in our sessions if you wish.
I am always committed to learning and developing as a counsellor and for this reason am regularly in continual professional development.
Although I believe in meeting the person and not the symptom, I have experience counselling individuals facing a number of difficulties in their lives, such as
– family and relationship issues
– divorce and separation
– substance addiction
– low self-esteem
– eating disorders
– anger management
– postnatal depression