Many people use the terms ‘psychotherapy’ and ‘counselling’ interchangeably. However, I tend to think of counselling as a short-term form of therapy in which a client wishes to focus on a particular issue for a brief period of time, perhaps 6 to 12 sessions. Sometimes a client may find that the counselling has opened up other areas they wish to explore, and they may decide to extend beyond the fixed number of sessions to work in a more open-ended way. But for many clients brief counselling is all they require at a particular time.
Counselling is a chance to explore, reflect and be heard
Counselling with me is a shared undertaking to make sense of your experience. I think of myself as a companion and facilitator in your exploration, and together we will try to work towards a deep understanding of your experience and look at the situation from different perspectives and new angles. I bring energy, warmth, sensitivity and frankness to my client relationships and provide a supportive and non-judgmental environment; sometimes just hearing yourself say out loud the things you have been feeling can bring relief and clarity. I won't give you advice or tell you what to do; I believe that you are ultimately the expert on your own life. Counselling with me is first and foremost a safe and confidential space in which to share and stay with how you are feeling, and be heard.
Counselling can be challenging
The way I work is concerned with exploring the choices we make in our lives, the meanings we ascribe to aspects of our world, and the ways in which we can become stuck with our ways of being. Together we will look at your personal value systems and consider how they inform the way you live your life; you may begin to challenge your feelings and the assumptions you make about your life, and gain some clarity about where you are, and where you want to be. Counselling is an opportunity to explore how you relate to the people in your life and to the experiences you have; a space in which to reflect upon the decisions you are making and the possibilities which may lie ahead.
Counselling is an opportunity to grow
We all have parts of ourselves that we would rather not know or that we try to ignore. This can be for any number of reasons, but ironically it is often these parts that we most need to come to terms with if we want to grow and develop. Counselling helps us to do this by acting like a mirror. I will hold up the mirror in such a way that you may see something new in your reflection. As you examine your reflection and explore these previously ‘unknown’ parts of yourself, you may begin to see yourself differently and more completely. You may begin to accept and welcome those aspects of yourself that are usually judged or exiled by yourself or others. Together we will make use of the dynamics between us in our relationship to explore how you are experienced by others and this feedback can be a powerful tool for self-development. Counselling is a collaborative process and, crucially, the more you put into your counselling, the more you will get out of it and benefit from this unique investment in yourself.
My approach to counselling
My approach to counselling is called existential-phenomenological, which is a lot more down-to-earth than it sounds! It means that the counselling has its roots in philosophy, and has at its core an exploration of how you are living your life right now; I won't offer you 'techniques' or shoehorn you into any theoretical category or model, and together we will focus on whatever emerges as important for you. Counselling is different with every client and grows into something unique as the relationship develops; it is this relationship, based on trust, which provides the right conditions for change. My intention as a counsellor is to be as present as possible in order to explore carefully the challenges my clients are living with.
Though counselling with me is primarily existential-phenomenological, I also have training in CBT and integrative therapy, including psychodynamic and person-centred models, and I draw on these when I feel they may be helpful to my clients. I also have a particular interest in Attachment Theory and the effect that early experiences can have upon our adult relationships.
"The true voyage of discovery lies not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."