My aim is to help people find clarity, and we do this together by focusing on a few things: finding a good understanding of your situation, seeing and appreciating all the different aspects of yourself, and building a warm and productive working relationship between the two of us so we feel comfortable being honest with each other and facing the stuff that’s too difficult or painful to fully face alone.
I won’t be giving you simple answers or quick solutions - you’re not going to hear me say “have you tried / why don’t you…?” (because I bet you already have!). But I will be with you to help you work it out, offering interest, open-mindedness and honesty to keep your exploration fresh and useful. My goal is to make therapy a collaborative, empowering and transformative experience, which will help you feel freer and better equipped to deal with life’s challenges and changes.
Being an 'integrative' counsellor means combining different types of therapy, because your situation will be unique and I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all approach to understanding or improving things. There’s lots of different ways of looking at a problem or situation, and lots of tools or techniques that we can try out to help. I do tend to favour some methods more than others, so some of the things you’re more likely to see or experience when working with me are:
You take the lead - I approach sessions in what’s known as a ‘person-centred’ way, with you deciding on a goal you’d be happy with, and what you want to talk about each session. That’s because you are the main agent of change in your life, and I am there to facilitate. So I usually let clients do the interpreting themselves while I provide a gentle attentive presence which respects your need to look after yourself (going at your pace).
I love my clients - when you see people being brave and honest, thoughtful, complicated, persistent, vulnerable - in short, real - how can you not? Things which you might have seen in yourself as weaknesses, mistakes or unlikable characteristics are usually creative solutions you developed without even realising it, to help and protect yourself at a time when you needed to. To understand and really appreciate those aspects of yourself, we’d think about your history and people who have influenced you. We look at how your ways of coping with life are still serving you well (which is why you continue to use them) and how they may be causing you trouble too. Clients find the way I take interest in them, see their point of view, and appreciate who they are to be a really validating and heartening experience.
Thanks to Freud, therapists are notorious for trying to delve into the unconscious - which is often known as ‘psychoanalytic’ therapy. That can seem a bit intimidating, as if we're trying to read your thoughts or analyse everyone! But what it tends to mean in my work is finding the ‘edge of awareness’ in both you and myself - and working to add a little more to what we’re aware of. Sometimes that involves turning to something other than words, because so much of what we are and what we experience is not verbal. We can try drawing, arranging everyday objects into ‘sculptures’, making up characters and storylines, bringing photos, lyrics, poems or art that mean something to you, or finding physical postures or movements that express what something feels like. But we only do what you’re comfortable with and feels like a good idea to you.
The research into what makes therapy work says the most important factor is how the two of us get along, so a big part of my therapy is to build a working relationship that feels safe to you, so that opening up and taking risks is easier and more comfortable. This is part of what you might see called ‘attachment’ theory or therapy, and one of the ideas is that you’ve got a place to experience a supportive, predictable relationship, and work out if there’s anything getting in the way of doing that, so it’s easier for you to create more of them for yourself in the rest of your life.