About psychotherapy and how I work

Below is a description of how I work with people, and how the psychotherapy process and methods I use work generally. Everyone responds uniquely because everyone is unique, and we have all had different life experiences. For these reasons I tailor the way I work with people according to their individual responses, using a variety of approaches. Psychotherapy is a highly creative process.

Psychotherapy is about healing of the psyche, and it promotes this in a diversity of ways. Some aspects of us are conscious, but many are unconscious, so in psychotherapy we work with both what we are consciously aware of and what we are unaware of within ourselves. All your life experiences since infancy, all your relationships, all your social conditionings, all the mistreatment, kindness and nurturing you receive from others, all these both consciously yet largely unconsciously shape your self-image, emotional patterns, belief structures, behaviour, relationships, physical body, energy and life generally. With support and guidance you can gradually re-shape these patterns.

To me psychotherapy is in many ways about our relationships: with ourselves; with the people in our lives; with our emotions and beliefs; with our bodies; with social structures and society at large; with our work; with money; with change; with time; with pain; with illness; with ageing; with death; with loss; with expectation and disappointment; with injustice; with choice; with the unknown; with nature; with that which is greater than ourselves… What is hopeful is that our relationship with anything is malleable. And as we form a different relationship with these things, we discover a different experience.

So we work with everything: belief structures; emotions; bodily sensations and patterns that show in the body; self-image; values; behavioural patterns, your ways of relating to others; your ways of relating to societal structures; existential fears; spirituality. All of these are important and also interconnected, so when changes are made in one area, that often flows through to other areas of your life.

The process of psychotherapy is an unfolding, a dynamic, yet gradual process, and one of discovery. It’s a self-reflective process. A process of noticing, with curiosity. It is a process of learning. You will engage in dialogue, both with me, and in inner dialogues. To access unconscious aspects of yourself, you make inward contact by slowing down, quietening your thoughts, sensing into your body and listening inwardly. I guide you through this process. Much of what emerges, emerges through bodily responses. The body both stores and reveals a lot of important information. So we tune in to it. The body also contains a lot of resources which you can tune into and develop. Working with the body is also a key way that we can regulate the nervous system.

And you learn how to be kinder and gentler with yourself. You learn how to relate to yourself with more curiosity rather than judgement. You investigate complexities. You gain perspective, and start to feel less alone in your struggles. We are all different yet also similar in many ways. You can increasingly develop these profoundly beneficial skills through this work, while also building on existing strengths. Importantly, psychotherapy is optimistic. It operates on the understanding that there’s something within you that’s always moving towards healing and growth. We can uncover and work with obstacles to this. There is always a way forward. For all these reasons, to me psychotherapy means freedom unfolding.

Your mental resilience and capacity to be with your feelings grows over time. We have already developed resilience through the difficulties we have faced in life, and as we heal the pain from those experiences, we realise we have more resilience than we would have had, had we not experienced them. As you tune in and listen to your feelings, you discover that they contain important and valuable information. You can then use your feelings to empower yourself, and move forward in your life. You can bring any challenges you are experiencing to sessions, and we can see whether therapy can help.

I have studied a variety of different kinds of therapies. The main methods I use are:

Focusing: Focusing is a powerful way of learning how to be in relationship with the contents of your mind, your experience, and your responses to situations: your thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, memories, images, etc. By learning to be with your experience and listen to the messages that arise from your body-mind, you can connect with your inner knowing, inner guidance, and gain agency and self-trust. In turn, your internal navigation system develops towards greater flow, growth and your whole perspective widens. When your own insights emerge, and from a deep place inside, not only does this nourish you, there are also positive shifts in your experience. Focusing originated through research into people who benefited most from psychotherapy, and is based on what promoted change and growth.

Body psychotherapy: Body psychotherapy recognises that your life experiences impact and are stored within your entire mind, including your physical body and energy system. Our mind, body and energy system are inseparable, and they reflect one another. And so we work with the body and energy system, as well as with thoughts, emotions and beliefs. It is a very holistic approach. Working with the body can involve various exercises and working with blocked muscular patterns, releasing tension stored in the body’s fascia, and blocked energy and emotions, promoting energy flow. This process builds increasingly greater vitality.

The Realization Process: The Realization Process is a process of gradually becoming increasingly embodied, and becoming more yourself. You can discover your body to be a resource. And if you wish, over time you can experience yourself as interconnected with everything, and use this experience of oneness or unity as a source of healing. It helps people to realise their full natural human capacities, such as their love, power, intelligence, voice, emotional breadth and more. It also helps release tension patterns in the body and helps people find more stillness, spaciousness and vitality. People gradually become increasingly grounded, embodied, resilient, and uncover a deeper, richer experience of all aspects of themselves and their lives. It is not a belief system, it’s simply uncovering a natural human experience, and discovering your authentic self. People who are not spiritual seekers can still benefit enormously from grounding, embodiment and working with tension patterns in the body.

Narrative therapy: Working with our narratives is so important, because we continually create narratives around all of our life experiences. You can learn how to become consciously aware of the stories you create, how they shape your life and maintain problems, critique the scripts you have learned, and contemplate and construct alternative, more helpful, more chosen stories about yourself and your life experiences.

Parts work: You may have noticed sometimes that there seem to be different aspects or ‘parts’ of yourself. In one situation you may find that one aspect of you comes out, and in another situation a different aspect of you emerges. Or you may notice that one part of you wants to do one thing, another part of you wants to do something else. Parts work helps us to get to know these different aspects of ourselves, learning what they want for us in our lives, discover disowned parts of ourselves, and to resolve inner conflicts. One type of Parts work that is currently popular is called Internal Family Systems therapy.

Existential therapy: We all have underlying existential anxieties that emerge from inescapable realities of life: fear of death, illness, isolation, uncertainty, change, loss, pain, freedom and choice. While we understandably tend to distract ourselves, existential therapy helps us learn to accept and examine these things. The more we can accept and examine them, the less they will frighten us and the more fulfilment we can find in our lives.

Breathing training: Breathing is so important, because how we breathe affects our emotional, mental and physical state (and vice versa). The Buteyko method helps to reset and regulate how you breathe. It is based on the body of scientific research on breathing, and works primarily to normalise the biochemistry of breathing, which is important for the oxygenation of your cells, blood flow, and muscle relaxation. It also helps to regulate the nervous system and stimulates the vagus nerve, which regulates many bodily functions and induces relaxation. In addition to Buteyko I work with the biomechanics of the breathing muscles, such as the diaphragm, and also with tension patterns in the body and emotional responses that constrict breath flow. I also work with breathing indirectly, if working with breath directly is difficult for people.

Therapy is a gradual process of growing in awareness, learning and unlearning. However, you should start to notice some progress and have a clear sense of whether it is helpful in the first few sessions. A big part of therapy is helping you make contact with your own internal processes and inner wisdom. When you can do this you will know progress is being made, you will feel it. It helps to know that reconnecting to ourselves is a natural process. And that you can feel it.

Some common signs of progress are: you gain more contact with yourself; you start to become aware of and regulate your emotions more easily; you gain in self-acceptance and self-trust; your relationships improve; you feel freer and more vitality in your body; you gain wider perspectives on things; your thinking becomes more flexible; you have a broader experience of yourself, discovering capacities in yourself you were unaware of; your comfort zones broaden; and you feel greater choice in what you do, and how you respond to situations.

For various ethical reasons I don’t publish client testimonials on my website.