I’m an integrative therapist, which basically means that I weave different approaches into my practice.
These might include working with creative materials or the sand tray or looking in detail at your dreams. As I am trained in both counselling and psychotherapy, I can draw on a number of different approaches depending upon your needs and preferences.
Therapy isn't just about resolving problems in our lives. It's also very much about personal growth and development – exploring our ‘blind spots’ with a trusted other. We can't see our own blind spots by virtue of that very reason – but that’s where a counsellor or psychotherapist can help.
Self-awareness is one of the most important skills for a person to have – and also one of the most difficult. Having self-awareness might be the single biggest challenge in the world of personal growth because it is both so essential and so difficult to see ourselves clearly.
You might have spent a lifetime and lots of energy trying to adapt or trying to maintain the mask you present to the outer world. This could be something you developed as a child – something you may not even be aware of – which served its purpose then, but may now be a hindrance.
Often, we enter therapy with a vague idea that “If I could only get rid of this part of myself, or change that bit, then everything would be just fine” … The paradox, of course, is that the more we can accept the ‘less loved’ aspects of ourselves, the parts we perhaps think of as ‘bad’ or ‘shameful’, the more this allows these parts of ourselves to transform.
This, in turn, enables us to be more authentic – warts and all – whilst still liking ourselves.
In describing ‘talking therapies’, the terms counselling and psychotherapy are frequently used interchangeably.
The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) doesn’t distinguish between them, while The UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) acknowledges that psychotherapy training tends to be longer and students are required to undertake extensive personal therapy as a key aspect of their training.
This doesn't necessarily mean that one is better than the other. They’re just different.
In the short term, counselling may help you regain a sense of wellbeing. However, this exploration can open up into how current problems may be reflecting unresolved childhood issues, which is where counselling and psychotherapy usefully overlap.
Psychotherapy can allow for a deeper exploration over an extended period of time, enabling you to really get to know yourself better. Instead of focusing in on individual problems, psychotherapy considers patterns of behaviour – recurrent feelings and strategies you may have developed as a child in order to manage and make sense of your environment. It requires an openness to explore your past and its impact upon your present.
The aim of psychotherapy is to heal the underlying issues which fuel your ongoing struggles. My job as a psychotherapist is to help you resolve past experiences and lay the foundations for a satisfying, brighter future.
Whilst counselling might have you asking, "What can I do and change to feel better?", psychotherapy might also find you exploring, "Who am I?" and "How did I become this person (in the wider context of my family history)?” Beyond that, you might ask "Who do I really want to be, deep down?".
The Tibetan word for compassion (Nyingje) translates as “noble heart” (Nyin = heart / gje = noble).
Self-compassion is not something soft, but an act of courage on our parts: to turn ‘with a noble heart’ towards the aspects of ourselves we might prefer not to acknowledge. These are not always what we might consider ‘bad things’ – sometimes it's the courage to acknowledge our lighter qualities.
When we acknowledge these, we have the capacity to transform them. It’s denying them which keeps them stuck.
Developing self-compassion builds emotional resilience. It offers us support in difficult situations. At the same time, our inner-critic isn't something to be dismissed; in its rather clumsy way, it is trying to keep us safe. So, as we get to know it better, to listen to it with an open curiosity, the possibility of transformation opens up.
Your inner-critic can become your inner-champion or an inner-guardian. I like to use the example of the musical Matilda; would you prefer to be encouraged to reach your goals by Miss Trunchbull (a fearsome inner-critic) or Miss Honey (an inner-champion)? Give yourself the grace to make mistakes and the kindness to forgive yourself when you do.
My role, as your therapist, is to help you bring these different parts into greater harmony.
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
– Anais Nin
Brainspotting was developed from EMDR – eye movement desensitisation reprocessing (evidence based and recognised by the NHS).
Whilst using Brainspotting, I have experienced and witnessed the body’s extraordinary ability to hold trauma, but also its wisdom to know precisely what it needs in order to release it.
Where we look affects how we feel. With Brainspotting, you might recall a distressing life event, as we focus upon the sensations and emotions held within your body. Then as we locate the eye position where you feel this most strongly, we work on reducing your distress and releasing or decreasing trauma held within your body, leaving you with a greater sense of calm and ease.
Brainspotting is primarily a resource model, which enables you to spontaneously make connections between events, then safely release the trauma held within your body.
Our body's innate wisdom knows precisely what it needs in order to release trauma, no matter how long it has been embedded in our system. Brainspotting is a powerful tool which can unblock the things stopping you from making the most of your skills and your relationships - or from taking that leap of faith from the unsatisfactory, but relatively safe and familiar life you are experiencing, to something more joyful and meaningful!
Brainspotting in action: sportsman Mackey Sasser
Despite playing in Major League Baseball for close to a decade, catcher Mackey Sasser's career ground to a halt after an injury on the pitch (a collision with another player) which resulted in him hesitating before throwing the ball back, thus stopping him from doing what he did best.
In an award winning documentary "Fields of Fear" that examined the mental side of sports, Alex Gibney looked at Sasser's treatment and showed founder David Grand using Brainspotting in his work with the famous sportsman. This film showed how childhood trauma can resurface to overwhelm a professional athlete, and how addressing it can lead to recovery; transforming despair into hope, meaning and purpose.