What my clients say when beginning therapy:
Each client brings a unique presence to bear on the work of therapy and my first task is to listen closely to your own reading of your situation. The initial session will often involve learning something of your life story and helping you to feel safe and comfortable enough to agree to work with me.
What so many clients' stories have in common is a sense of wanting " something more" from life.
Counselling and psychotherapy can provide a bridge from your current unhappiness to that elusive something more, sharing your emotional pain with a skilled and compassionate listener but also learning and practicing new ways of thinking, feeling, relating and being.
At the simplest level, my task as a counsellor is to help you to manage your problem better.
I begin by trying to understanding your current scenario.
Then, together, we identify the scenario you would prefer to move towards.
Then we can begin to work through the obstacles and levers to making changes, all the while testing out and refining strategies which work for you.
The outcome is usually an increased sense of confidence in managing the issues you have brought.
This approach can be extremely practical and helpful, but maybe it lacks the "something more" you are seeking. Call it Meaning, Truth or Soul, but there is often a deeper level of understanding to which many of my clients aspire.
As a therapist my task is not just to hear the many personal details you may bring me, but also to pay attention to what you may be saying non-verbally, at the more subtle levels of communication. All good counsellors should be able to make you feel safe and listened to, as well as mirroring back to you what you have said and what you haven't said, in helping you to make sense of your experience. My own approach is also at times to open out the spiritual dimension of the issues you may bring. That doesn't mean that you need to believe in God or that I am engaged in some sort of indoctrination. My therapeutic work is soul-based in the wider original sense of psychology as "the study of the soul," not merely “mind” or “personality.”
That, I believe, is the crossover point between counselling and psychotherapy.
My work is driven, not by theory, but by a heart-felt connection with you. In the safety and intimacy of the therapy room we can together explore the exciting difference between who you think you are and who you really are, underneath the masks you feel obliged to wear in order to please your family, your partner or your boss. Dreams and fantasies, with all the symbols and archetypal figures they contain, provide one approach to exploring the inner life. Away from the demands of the external world and the false self we live out there, dreaming is a time when our true self gets to express its deepest fears, desires and joys. Likewise, creative expression such as writing, artwork and photography can help us to develop the clues to our unlived lives.
The long-term goal is to bring into everyday awareness the riches of the unconscious, which could be lost if we remain stuck with our old defences, negative thinking or self-destructive behaviour. As therapy continues, you will come to recognise the ways in which your true self is seeking to express itself, not only in the therapy room but in transforming your daily life.
My training has introduced me to a wide range of psychological approaches. Depending on your personal needs and the growing trust we build together, I can be very flexible in the use of tools and techniques on which I can draw.
I was born in Warrington in 1960 and was educated in Manchester and at the Universities of Oxford and London. I worked as a teacher then as a priest in parishes, hospitals and university chaplaincy. After leaving the priesthood I retrained as a counsellor, psychotherapist and supervisor. I have spent the past 15 years building a private practice in central London, working with couples and individuals.
My personal therapy continues to help me make sense of life, but I have probably learned most from working with my clients and supervisees. I like to think that two decades' privileged experience as a skilled helper makes me well-equipped to help you feel seen, heard and understood.