Deciding to seek help when you are in crisis can be a daunting experience -- but it can also be a liberating one. Our pain can often be a message that there is something amiss in our lives, and I believe it is important that we listen to that message.
My aim as a therapist is to work collaboratively with you to explore your experiences, and to help you uncover what that message might be. I think of myself as a guide and facilitator in this exploration, helping you to reach a deeper understanding of your experience, and to look at your situation from fresh angles and perspectives.
Therapy as a safe space:
I understand that when you come to see me you may be feeling confused, isolated and anxious and the decision to reach out for help can be a difficult one. That is why the relationship with a psychotherapist is crucial: you need to feel as if you are in a safe, trusting and supportive space. My aim as a therapist is to create this safe space that you can work from to investigate and understand these difficult thoughts and feelings. I won't give you advice or tell you what to do: I believe that you are ultimately the expert on your own life. What I will provide is a space in which to share and stay with how you are feeling, and one in which you can feel heard.
Therapy as a tool for understanding:
I am trained to work integratively. That means I bring together a number of different therapeutic approaches and draw on a broad range of theory and technique to best support you. For instance, I work with the idea of the unconscious mind which often motivates us to think and behave in ways we barely understand -- and, by exploring your thoughts and behaviours, together we can help understand what lies behind them. Becoming conscious of those patterns can be the first step to challenging them. This, in turn, can help you to make different choices in life.
Therapy as a way of learning about relating:
I am very interested in the relationship between client and therapist, as this gives us clues as to how you relate to people in your everyday life. This self-knowledge can empower you to think about how you relate to the people around you: your family, partner and friends. What choices do you make in your relationships? What do you think people feel about you, and why? All these assumptions inform the relationships you have in your life, and by exploring them in great detail, we can help you to reflect upon whether they are working for you, and help you to relate in a more open and healthy way.
Therapy for the mind and body:
When I work with a client, I listen to the words that are spoken, while also being aware of the language of the body. I believe that the mind and body are intimately connected and I often draw a client's attention to their breath, or to their bodily sensations, which can give us important clues to how a person is really feeling. Learning this awareness, can help you to reconnect with your inner self, that may have got drowned out through years of people pleasing, or fear of being your authentic self.
Therapy as mindfulness awareness:
I also use the concept of mindfulness in my therapeutic work. What this means in simple terms is paying close attention to the present moment and non-judgementally examining thoughts and feelings as they arise. This heightened awareness brings with it an ability to accept our present-moment reality, and any emotions we may be having. Too often, we deny our feelings, and mindfulness is another way of enabling ourselves to become aware of them, and respect and value them as a useful guide for who we truly are. An integrative approach recognises the importance of this whole person, valuing an awareness of body, feelings, intellect and spirit.
Therapy as empowerment:
In my experience, the therapeutic journey is one of self-exploration and eventual self-empowerment. This exploration, and emerging self-awareness, can enable you, the client, to take back control of your life. You can then overcome self-defeating behaviours, that lead to a feeling of powerlessness and low self-esteem. It is an emotional, psychological and financial investment in your self, which can help you to escape from ways of living that seem to be more to do with the expectations of others. Therapy can help you reconnect with your own authentic self, and allow you to experience how you truly feel and think.