Therapy provides a safe, confidential space to explore, and come to understand better places of pain, distress and suffering.
In the light of this understanding, we can find new ways of relating to these difficulties and to begin to let go of unhelpful struggles.
With courage, and commitment to the things that matter most to you, it is possible to find and cultivate our human potential for wisdom, kindness, courage, and compassion.
Problems we can work with
People come to therapy for different reasons. Sometimes it is to get one to one help with difficult feelings, such as anxiety, anger, shame, fear, depression or grief. Some people hold emotional wounds from traumatic experiences, perhaps in early life or more recently. Some feel stuck in their work or career. Others may be experiencing difficulties in personal relationships. And others may not be entirely sure what is wrong but feel a sense of dissatisfaction with life. We can use therapy for any of these reasons.
The cognitive behavioural tradition, complemented by research into compassion and contextual behavioural science, has produced a wide range of evidence based interventions effective for many psychological problems that we can draw upon to address your needs. These include:
obsessive compulsive disorder
body image problems
trauma and PTSD
emotional and behavioural difficulties arising from living with autism
Duration of therapy
How long you spend in therapy will depend on the problems we are working with, and the goals you are working towards. I can offer brief, short term therapy, or can work longer term where that would be more helpful.
Typically, I suggest an initial meeting where you can get a sense of how it might be working with me, and I can find out more about what you would like to work on. We can then decide together about next steps.
If we both agree to continue, it can be helpful to commit to at least 6 weeks to get a sense of the process of therapy, and we can make further plans at that stage.
You will always be in in the driver's seat, and can end sessions whenever you feel ready, or wish, to do so.
What happens in therapy
It is quite common to feel somewhat nervous or ambivalent about coming to therapy for the first time; opening up about the things that are most personal to you may not an easy thing to do.
In our sessions, everything you say will be handled respectfully and carefully. No matter how painful or difficult the issue is for you, you will not be judged. Everything will be treated confidentially, and every effort will be made to help you feel safe so as to be able to share what you need to, and to start to try things in your life that could bring about the changes you would like to see.
You will be in the driving seat, and we will work together to address the things that are important to you. In this way, psychotherapy will be an active and collaborative process. You will have space to reflect and to speak openly, and I will listen carefully. I will ask questions and give you feedback, and I invite you to ask me questions and give me feedback on the process too. We will come to a shared understanding of what your difficulties are, and what keeps them going.
Sessions are oriented by goals that are guided by your values. This gives us a focus and can help provide a means of measuring whether therapy is moving you in the right direction. With time, attention, courage, and care we can work together as a team to bring some clarity to what actually happens at times of difficulty, and to try to understand better the life-draining and distressing patterns of thinking, emotions and behaviour that are troubling you.
I might provide some information to contextualise our work, and we will very likely practice some skills to help you manage difficult thoughts and feelings more effectively - such as mindful awareness, emotion regulation, skilful perspective taking, and harnessing the power of imagination - all to help you to take compassionate, effective action in the face of difficulty and move forward in your life. Importantly, we will think of things for you to try out between appointments to put into action in your life. In this way, your therapy is not confined to the 50 minutes we meet each week.
My role will be to facilitate your inquiry into your own experience so you come to better understand your mind, and to learn psychological skills to live effectively in the midst of life's challenges. Ultimately, my goal is for you to learn to become your own therapist, and to learn how to access your own resources of wisdom, compassion, courage and commitment at times in your life when you need it.
Commitment to high quality, ethical practice
I endeavour to maintain the highest possible standards and am committed to keeping up to date with good practice through continued professional development and specialist clinical supervision.
For more information about my training and qualifications, please see here.
The approach to therapy
I am fully accredited with the British Association for Behavioural And Cognitive Psychotherapies, and my work is firmly rooted in the cognitive behavioural tradition.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (or CBT) is best thought of as a 'family' of approaches that have a foundation in the cognitive and behavioural sciences. This foundation is recognised by many as one of the great strengths of the CBT approach to therapy; the theory and practice of CBT is based not only on good ideas (for there are many great ideas about how and why we suffer), but also upon what empirical data from research tells us about what is effective in helping people make real change in their lives.
The body of literature that underpins and informs CBT is huge. It includes the specific studies into CBT protocols for treating particular disorders, but also draws upon a much wider span of sciences including developmental and evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, sociology and biology, to name but a few. This research helps us to understand which interventions are likely to help bring about therapeutic change for which people with which problems.
CBT has come a long way since its early beginnings. In recent decades an important contribution has been made by the extensive research into contextual behavioural science and the application of mindfulness and compassion in psychotherapy. As a result, several models of therapy have emerged within the CBT family that offer new ways of skilfully responding to life's difficulties, including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT), and Functional Analytic Psychotherapy (FAP). Because of the richness they offer to the therapeutic process, I draw heavily on these models in my work.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
In ACT the focus is on developing psychological flexibility - the ability to be present and consciously responsive to a given situation in the service of chosen values. It is a skills-based and experiential approach utilising mindfulness, acceptance, and taking effective, meaningful actions.
Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT)
In CFT, therapy is oriented around the cultivation of compassion to help understand and come into a different relationship with our places of pain and suffering. Compassion is understood in evolutionary and psychological terms as a sensitivity to suffering and the wish to alleviate it. Therapy aims to make accessing our capacity for compassion possible, through imagery, mindful awareness and embodiment.
Functional Analytic Psychotherapy (FAP)
This is an approach to psychotherapy that is based in clinical behaviour analysis. It is highly consistent with contextual behavioural science that underpins ACT, and explicitly foregrounds what happens in the exchanges between client and therapist in the therapeutic relationship as a vehicle for enhancing and reinforcing meaningful client change.
Bringing these together, we learn how to develop new perspectives on the self that are more flexible, responsive, adaptive, compassionate and courageous. This approach is skills-based - drawing heavily upon mindfulness exercises and meditation, imaginative skills, clarifying values and taking meaningful actions. With practice and development of new skills it is possible to come into a new relationship with old hurts and emotional patterns. We can begin to relate to difficulties differently; taking valued, compassionate action in the service of being the person you want to be, deep in your heart.