I draw on a variety of therapeutic perspectives in my practice. I encourage people to shape the therapeutic process with me, and to develop their inner and outer resources and creativity.
We look together at how the past has influenced the present, to deepen self-awareness and catalyse change. We explore significant relationships, and address unresolved issues and conflicts. I encourage people to express parts of themselves which have been denied or suppressed, so that their lives and relationships can become richer and more authentic.
We all have parts which help us navigate our lives. When things are going well, we are often not aware of our parts because they are working harmoniously together. When things aren't going so well, our parts often fragment and erupt. An angry part can attack a friend, colleague or partner. A frightened part can make us retreat and withdraw. A manager part can go into overdrive and wear us out.
Each of our parts wants to help, although they can act in unhelpful ways when they are triggered. Parts work allows us to see which aspects of our psyche we identify as "me" and those we judge as "other". It helps us inhabit the space between them in which new choices can arise.
- E M Forster
The Therapeutic Relationship
Finding the right therapist can be a daunting task, particularly for the first time. After a couple of false starts, I found therapists who changed my life because of the depth and genuineness of our encounters: the integrative counsellor who saw how lonely I was and walked me home after our first session; the psychodynamic therapist who gave me a tiny wooden panda to hold between sessions; and the Jungian analyst who helped me find a glazier when my car window shattered en route to our appointment. Their simple acts of kindness touched me deeply, and their probity kept me safe.
In the words of Irvin Yalom, an existentialist psychotherapist I love, “it’s the relationship that heals”. Yalom cites abundant research evidence that good outcomes in counselling and psychotherapy “depend on the intensity, the warmth, the genuineness, and the empathy of the therapeutic relationship." This has certainly been my experience, as both a client and a therapist.
Where does this leave you when you are looking for a counsellor or psychotherapist? Drawing on the research evidence, there are several questions it is important to consider about potential therapists. Are they warm? Are they genuine? Do they have good boundaries? Are they empathic? Are they kind? We are vulnerable in therapy, and need "fellow travellers" we can trust.
- Irvin Yalom, Lying on the Couch