I won't just listen to your current struggles kindly, compassionately and with understanding. I will bring you a trained, professional and objective eye to help you make real and lasting change in your life - so that you feel fulfilled.
Therapy that works
I mainly use an amazing kind of therapy known as Acceptance and Commitment therapy (ACT). ACT is one of the world’s fastest growing therapies with huge amounts of gold standard scientific evidence. I received my training from Dr Russ Harris.
You may have heard of mindfulness - and this is an important part of my offer to you. It is not meditation, sitting with crossed legs or chanting, but a range of techniques 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.
I will always have time to talk about your problems, past and present - but 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 path in counselling and therapy as a psychology student at Cambridge University from where I graduated back in 1993. Coming from a relatively humble background my experience 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 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.
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 guilt 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 really wanted to know 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's 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.
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 a Registered Member of BACP.
My counselling experience is broad and I have counselled in a variety of settings including the NHS as a staff counsellor, a large hospice with those experiencing grief and bereavement, a sexual violence and abuse service and as an alcohol / substance misuse counsellor.