I won't just listen to your current struggles compassionately and with understanding.
I'll support you in making real and lasting change in your life - so that you feel more at peace with your past and more in control of your present and future. The experience you will bring to our counselling sessions is unique, and I welcome all kinds of people in my practice. Whatever your age, lifestyle, culture, sexuality or gender – my commitment is to see you for who you are and support you to shine in the way you choose.
Therapy that works
An important part of my offer to you is Acceptance and Commitment therapy (ACT). ACT is a modern type of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and is one of the world’s fastest growing therapies with a large amount of evidence to support its effectiveness. I received my training from Dr Russ Harris.
You may have heard of mindfulness - I prefer the term 'watchfulness' - and this is an important part of our work together. It's not about meditation or positive thinking, but a range of techniques that can help us 'watch' how your individual mind works in order to understand when it might be being unhelpful and creating suffering or difficulties for you. This watchfulness has been proven to help tame a busy mind prone to anxiety, stress and depression - and to make your mind work for you rather than against you.
We will always have time to make sense of your past - your past is usually important and influences your current behaviour more than you may be aware - and come to terms with whatever that may have held for you. However, I will also encourage you to keep your focus firmly on the doing of things that will be helpful for your present and future.
I started my winding path in counselling and therapy as a psychology student back in the 90s. Coming from a relatively humble background my experience at Cambridge University amongst some of the world’s most privileged people gave me a rich learning experience and put me on a huge learning curve - which I perhaps wasn’t quite ready for at the time! I look back fondly on these years, and still have precious friends from back then, but also recall the huge and painful pressures I faced as a young person trying to make their way in the world.
While my heart lay in counselling and helping others, I wasn’t ready or in the right place to go down this path and got sucked into the London corporate career world in marketing communications – about the closest I could get to psychology and understanding minds in the business place! My years in large organisations were invaluable in giving me direct insight to the many forms of stress and anxiety in the workplace including bullying, discrimination, stress, handling difficult managers and colleagues and burn out. I certainly had my highs and many happy and fulfilling experiences during these corporate years - but I also experienced a significant degree of stress, anxiety and unhappiness - and I also witnessed this daily amongst my colleagues. Maybe, like me, they felt their life lacked a sense of meaning and purpose.
I expected things to get better when I married, started a family and downsized my career to one which fitted better round my new priority – my family. I tried all kinds of combinations: full time mom, part-time work, full-time work. Yet I continued to experience feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt and never felt really at peace with myself.
Explanations offered to me by my GP, my therapist and my friends always seemed over-simplistic: that it was all due to an 'unhappy childhood' or negative thinking or a chemical imbalance in my brain. These ‘answers’ didn’t fit.
So I started my own personal journey to find out what was wrong. I have been down a lot of blind alleys and dead ends. But eventually, it led me to ACT – Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. As soon as I encountered this practical and very accessible approach to therapy everything started to feel more understandable and manageable. ACT helps - and continues to help - me quickly and effectively deal with worry, stress, anxiety, low mood, difficult relationships - in summary, the crap that life throws at me.
ACT isn't a complicated or 'magic' approach to therapy. It offers common sense and insight into how the human brain and mind work - and how this often works against us feeling in control or fulfilled.
It's not too big a claim to say that ACT helped me turn my mind around, helping me develop the confidence and commitment to start my own counselling and therapy enterprise: On With My Life.
My qualifications and experience
I received my counselling training at Keele University and hold a Post Graduate Diploma in Counselling Psychology – which is accredited by the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). I am also an Accredited and Registered Member of BACP.
My counselling experience has been gained in a variety of settings including the NHS as an employee counsellor, a large hospice with those experiencing grief and bereavement, a sexual violence and abuse service and as an alcohol / substance misuse counsellor.