Counselling and Body psychotherapy
Finding a therapist can be daunting for lots of reasons, particularly if it's your first time coming for therapy. On this page I say a bit about how I work therapeutically and the variety of clients I've worked with over the past 17 years. My hope is that what I say will give you a flavour of the way I work so you can start to get a sense of whether it might resonate with the way you work and what you're looking for in coming to therapy at the moment.
I am registered and accredited with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and practice in accordance with its ethical framework. You can also find out more about the practicalities of coming for therapy.
The therapy relationship. I see the quality of the relationship between the client and therapist as equally important as a sound theoretical and experiential training and grounding in different approaches. Being receptive to each new client coming for therapy is an art, and is at the heart of the way I work. Each person coming for therapy is unique and therefore the process of working therapeutically is unique. What I find most important for therapy to be useful and effective is to create between us a confidential, respectful and collaborative relationship which supports the therapeutic and healing work to happen.
Clients. I work with women, men, and those who identify as non-binary, gender fluid, and agender, living through a range of experiences. I count myself as fortunate that people who come to see me tend to be from a range of cultural backgrounds, varying ages, and working environments (from those who are self-employed, un-employed, retired, training as therapists themselves, bringing up children, between places, working in the public, private and not for profit sectors). In terms of sexual orientation I have worked with clients who see themselves as gay, straight, bi, celibate, queer, and/or unsure.
What clients bring. 'What's therapy for?' is a question I find myself mulling over quite a bit. Of course, it's often very different things for different people at different times. For some, therapy is about meaning-making, for others it's figuring out how to rebuild life following a distressing loss, bereavement or shock, maybe it's doing what we can to heal the trauma of an abuse past, or living with depression, or seeking clarity or peace in the midst of stressful lives.
An integrative, relational, body-based approach. I work integratively, which means that I draw upon an integration of a few different counselling and psychotherapeutic traditions and approaches. I was originally trained in the Humanistic tradition and have since integrated approaches from the psychodynamic tradition, in particular, theory and practice which includes a live awareness of the body; its gestures, movements and stuckness (find out more about body psychotherapy.) The particular tradition within which I have trained is known as Embodied-Relational therapy. I have trained as a healer and am fascinated by different energy models and the more energetic, less verbal aspects of this work. I have also trained in pre and peri natal psychology and am fascinated by in how the experience from conception to birth and our early months on earth shape us. Having been a practising Buddhist for 25 years I also draw upon my experience of mindfulness and loving-kindness, the practice of ethics and Buddhist ideas regarding the nature of self, body-mind and how to live.
Indoors and outdoors. I offer therapy sessions both indoors and outdoors, given that both are valuable contexts for learning and therapeutic change and are part of my deepening engagement as an ecopsychologist. For some clients being outdoors offers the conditions to be more aware of the immediacy and vibrancy of their aliveness, reflected back through the elements and other people and beings. It can also feel more challenging, given that who or what will be encountered is less known. Working outdoors can take many forms: simply going outside and noticing what changes in the therapy, going for a guided walk or holding a ceremony or ritual in a place which has meaning to a client for a particular reason. You can read a bit more about 'Wild therapy' here.
'Spiritual' accompaniment. Perhaps because I am a practising Buddhist and interested in healing in faith contexts some clients come to see me with an interest in mindfulness and/or spiritual accompaniment, others because of the themes of the books I have authored. I put the world 'spiritual' in inverted commas here, as it can mean such different things to different people - spiritual is a broad church! I've worked with quite a few clients who are activitst, or very socially engaged, and also interested in meditation or some form of quietening, in balancing being and doing - perhaps recovering from burnout - knowing when to rest and when to act.
'Meditating with character' meditation mentoring. Since the publication of my first book I am finding that clients wish to do one to one work exploring the book's themes. These are concerned - in an experiential way - with our embodying and disembodying tendencies with the aim of feeling more 'at home' in our skin and in our relationship with others and the wider world.
'Other than mother' and the parenthood decision. Since the publication of my second book 'Other than Mother' I have very much appreciated working with clients in the midst of the parenthood decision. I love supporting clients and couples in this decision-making process - whatever they ultimately decide. If they decide to start a family I am glad to support them, given the impact of consciousness and care on the next generation in this intimate area of life. If they decide to remain childfree I am happy to see the unfolding of their creativity rather than procreativity.
The bigger picture. I am increasingly engaged in how the wider social, economic, ecological, and political backdrop and other than human life influence clients and the therapeutic relationship. This interest weaves together my prior academic training as a social scientist, my practical work on sustainable development projects in sub Saharan Africa, my experience to date as a therapist and my facilitation work with activists, engaged Buddhists, those working for social change. I am a member of Climate Psychology Alliance and the UK's Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility (PCSR), and a former member of PCSR's steering group, and editor of PCSR's in house magazine 'Transformations'.