Can you help someone with my problem?
Whilst on paper we can separate out distinct problem areas or issues – motivation, self-esteem, bereavement, abuse, sex, adoption, divorce etc – I see myself more as working with individuals, each with their own unique personality. In 20 years I have helped people with all sorts of issues. Perhaps it will help to know some of the issues people have come to me with:
abuse (sexual, mental or physical)
anxiety and panic
bereavement (including cot death)
divorce and separation
eating disorders or food-use disorders
guilt about past behaviour
self-esteem and self-confidence
What if I don’t have a problem – I just want to get more out of life?
I think everyone I see is ultimately coming to me because they want more out of life.
Will you offer me coping strategies?
I don’t do that directly, as the way I work is more about increasing self-awareness. However, people often find they come up with their own strategies, as a result of the work.
What are the different types of therapy on offer?
At the last count there were about 300 different types of psychological therapy. Pretty much all of these address the mind, body and soul, and thoughts, feelings and behaviours, and see what can be understood about how we are in the world. But I think the most important thing is the quality of the therapeutic relationship itself, rather than the methods.
How do you work?
My job is to develop a conversation with you in which I try to get to know you. Along the way, I communicate to you how I see you, and we explore together whether my perceptions fit with yours. From a technical point of view, I work psychodynamically, also integrating elements of the Humanistic approaches. This means making sense of ‘what makes us tick’ in the context of relationships in our life, both past and present.
What is your background?
I worked in industry as an export sales representative, then later as a guitar teacher before doing this work.
What professional experience do you have?
Since starting to work in this field in 1992 I have worked in a number of settings – student counselling, divorce counselling, community centre, in NHS GP practices and for workplace-stress counselling programmes. I have also worked with separated parents, in Family Mediation. Since 2003 I have concentrated on my private counselling and therapy practice.
What are your life experiences?
This is a tricky one to answer as I often don’t give a huge amount of information about my personal life to my therapy clients, which could clutter the space. On the other hand you would want me to have a richness of my own experience so that I can empathise with others’ experience. I’ll pass on this question.
Have you had your own therapy?
I think it is essential for a good therapist to have spent substantial time sorting through their own issues in personal therapy, so yes, I have been in both individual and group therapy.
How long does therapy last?
I have done a lot of time-limited work lasting 3 months or so. Some important issues can be addressed in that time-length. However, most people who see me privately come for longer than that.
Is the first appointment an assessment?
I try to steer clear of this word because it can remind people of being tested at school. However, the first meeting is about me assessing whether I can help you, and about you assessing whether therapy with me is the right step for you now.
How can I check out whether you are the therapist for me?
This is another difficult one. I don’t think It’s easy to tell on the phone, though a bit can be gleaned from tone of voice etc. Unless you have been recommended me by name, it’s a bit of a shot in the dark. The best way is to make an initial appointment with me, when you can get a flavour of what it might be like.
What is supervision?
Most professional associations require their members to have supervision. This is a confidential setting where I talk over my work with another therapist, in order to process my feelings and to make sense of the therapy. It’s not a very good term, I think, as it makes it sound like it’s there to check up on me. It might even suggest that if it were not there, quality control would suffer. It’s really about consultation with a colleague to look at things together from a number of different angles.
Are you a member of a professional organisation?
I am a Senior Accredited Counsellor/Psychotherapist with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.
Do you deal with couples where resentment has built up?
Yes. I believe all human beings have feelings that are stored over time, and that it’s usually a good thing to become more aware of these. We then are in a better position to make good choices about how we act.
How do you handle a session where one partner comes out with a stream of criticism of the other and refuses to take responsibility for their own actions?
It’s my job to help anyone – and in couples therapy that means both partners – see what they are doing and own or take responsibility for their actions and feelings, but it’s not a straightforward process. ‘You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t force it to drink… etc’
I try to establish a vibe in the therapy room where things can gradually be said in an honest but non-destructive way. If it’s to be helpful it has to be both supportive (accepting) and challenging for both people.
If you want to take this further, please ask your husband to get in touch with me and confirm that he would like to have an initial consultation with you. I will then offer the two of a time to meet with me.