Hope is the foundation stone of my counselling practice.
Although suffering is part and parcel of life, I believe that even in the darkest times, if we feel understood and valued, we will find the courage to make changes and move forward constructively.
My approach to counselling is Person-centred, an established and proven way of working informed by the work of Carl Rogers. Research supports my experience, both as a client and as a counsellor, that this is a powerfully effective approach.
It is often helpful to say what Person-centred counselling is not about: it is not like a doctor-patient relationship where one person is an expert, diagnosing and deciding on the best treatment for the other. Nor is it about pushing clients to deal with issues, past or present, that they are not ready to deal with. Rather than listening to diagnoses or following instructions, clients have an active and equal role in a collaborative relationship. So I work to create an environment, characterised by safety and honesty, which will allow us to build a trusting relationship in which you will feel supported in sharing and exploring your thoughts and feelings, at your own pace, to better understand your needs and how to meet them.
Emotional suffering, as I understand it as a Person-centred counsellor, is not a sign of illness nor ‘disorder’ but rather a universal fact of life and an understandable human response to difficult experiences. Feelings are meant to be felt: distress is not illness.
Feeling sufficiently safe to explore painful feelings and traumatic experiences in counselling, should you choose to do so, is an essential focus of my work. I therefore complement my Person-centred practice with a neuroscience-informed approach to working with trauma, 'complex PTSD’, stress, anxiety and depression.
The body and mind are inextricably linked and paying attention to what the body is telling us can be very useful, particularly when we are overwhelmed by our emotional response to people or events. To this end, I sometimes combine my counselling approach with a focus on what's happening in the body, but only if this is something that seems relevant to you. We can also work collaboratively with psychological education resources and we can explore practices for enhancing self-compassion and resilience, if you feel these may be helpful to you.
I believe that at the core of most challenges we face is the way we consciously or unconsciously relate to ourselves. Developing a compassionate relationship with ourselves is one of the most powerful things we can do for our mental health. I aim to support you in developing compassion for your vulnerabilities as well as a better understanding of your needs and your strengths.
A Person-centred approach deeply respects the fact that your struggle is completely unique to you. While I bring many qualities to sessions, you bring your lifetime’s experience of being you. Your circumstances are unique - your story, the experiences you’ve lived and felt- no one else experienced those in that particular manner but you. You are therefore the only true ‘expert’ on you! My role is to support you in accessing and trusting this expertise, in order to find your own answers. No one else can give you these.
As human beings we have more in common than that which separates us. No one gets away without some share of sorrow and we are all challenged by the uncertainty and vulnerability of human existence. Change happens to us all, whether we choose it or not and we all grieve life’s inevitable losses. I therefore incorporate an existential outlook into my Person-centred base, to facilitate a thoughtful space in which the 'big questions’ of life, death, loneliness, anxiety and personal meaning may be explored, should this feel helpful for you.
Fundamentally, I believe that the key to constructive change is accepting that we will encounter many things in life that we are powerless to control, and that it is ultimately how we, as individuals, choose to respond to these experiences that is most empowering. If we can come to trust our feelings and our own understanding about what matters to us, we often find that we have considerable control over our lives, in the conscious choices we make.
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