I offer you a therapeutic space where you can take a breath, settle for a while and have room to discuss the things most important to you in a supportive, non-judgmental, understanding and sensitive therapeutic relationship.
The approach to counselling and therapy I would like to offer you
I will work with you as an individual to understand your story and where you currently find yourself in your life – you will not receive an unhelpful one-size-fits-all approach.
We will work together to understand the current obstacles to your wellbeing and find realistic and helpful ways for you to overcome these and move towards a more satisfying and fulfilling life.
Depending on your own personal preferences and your current situation, we can decide to focus more on the present, future or past; we will also explore and establish whether you prefer a more or a less ‘active’ approach to your therapy.
In ‘technical’ counselling terms I use a combination of Person Centred Counselling and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or ACT.
Person-centred counselling is an extremely effective form of counselling that focuses on really exploring and getting to the heart of how you are thinking and feeling. It can be very useful to get to the root of your deep-seated problems, to make space, to think, feel, and grieve where necessary.
ACT takes counselling beyond simply talking about problems, though that will be an important part of it, and embodies a more active approach that involves:
- Learning skills to handle difficult thoughts and feelings more effectively, so they have less impact and influence over you.
- Clarifying your ‘values’: what matters to you, what you want to stand for, how you want to treat yourself and others, what gives you a sense of meaning or purpose.
- Taking action: to solve problems, and do things that make life better.
- Leaving each session with a plan of action – something that will make a positive difference. This will always be an invitation, you will never be ‘obliged’ to do this.
My qualifications and experience
I obtained my BA (Hons) degree in Psychology in 1993 and a Certificate in Education in 1994.
I completed my counselling training at Keele University in 2015 and hold a Post Graduate Diploma in Counselling Psychology – which is accredited by the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). I am also a Registered Member of BACP.
My counselling experience is broad and includes roles as bereavement and grief counsellor; bereavement group facilitator; sexual abuse counsellor; employee support counsellor; alcohol / substance misuse counsellor.
What evidence is there that my approach is effective?
There is a wealth of evidence that demonstrates the effectiveness of the counselling approaches I use:
ACT is one of the world’s fastest growing therapies - and has evidence to support its effectiveness from almost 200 randomized controlled trials, the gold standard of psychological research.
Person Centred Counselling has been used effectively since the 1960s and more than 200 quantitative outcome studies demonstrate that this counselling approach is statistically and clinically equivalent compared to different therapies such as CBT.
My path in counselling and therapy started back in the 90's when I graduated in psychology, though I was to take a few twists and turns before arriving in the world of counselling.
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 the particular challenges faced by women in the workplace. I certainly had my highs and many happy and fulfilling experiences during these corporate years - but I more generally experienced a significant degree of dissatisfaction in life including 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. Certainly many of us were relying on less healthy choices to get many of us through - alcohol being one of the favourites, which of course created it's own problems. Probably because of this I have a special professional interest in women who struggle with drinking.
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 still experienced probably even higher levels of unhappiness and somehow still lacked a sense of meaning and purpose.
A big part of me just couldn’t understand why I felt this way – and I felt extremely guilty and ashamed that even though I had so much, I still felt depressed and unfulfilled. I had achieved all the goals that society said would make me feel happy. But it wasn’t working. And I was determined to find out why. 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 might make me happy - properly and genuinely and in a way which would last and not be dependent on other people or material things. 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 approach to therapy – and I know it sounds like a cliché – everything started to make sense and fall into place. All of my other counselling qualifications and knowledge fitted so neatly into it, but I found ACT to be bigger and more exciting. It has had a wonderful and huge impact on my life.
Almost instantly, I sensed purpose and meaning which had been missing for so long. Perhaps most crucially I learned - or, more accurately, continue to learn – how to deal with painful thoughts and feelings. I have built a stronger connection with myself and others, and now experience that sense of warmth and belonging I had been searching for so unsuccessfully for so long.
This marked a big change for me and gave me the confidence and commitment to start my own counselling and therapy enterprise: On With My Life.