To help you decide whether you think I may be the right person for you to undertake therapy with here is a taste of my style of working.
My therapeutic approach is called integrative and pluralistic which means that I draw on different psychological theories and create a foundation based on humanistic principles of authenticity and compassion. The advantage of this is that I can offer you a tailored and bespoke therapy program according to your unique needs and provide a space which feels welcoming and safe.
I may use aspects, theories, techniques and tools from different modalities across each of your sessions and stages of your therapeutic process, according to my professional judgement and your needs. Sometimes I may deem it beneficial to follow just one or two models to reach the goals or to work in a framework which you are drawn to.
Overall, I often draw from person-centered therapy; mindfulness-based interventions; compassion-focused therapy (CFT) and psychodynamic therapy which are outlined below. I often incorporate guided meditations and other creative processes. Also, I work with clients in a collaborative way so we may set goals and tasks together and regularly review how the therapy is progressing.
I am passionate about supporting individuals to find balance in their lives, optimise their self development, increase sense of meaningfulness and experience more peace and joy.
Humanistic and Person-centred counselling
The foundation of my work is governed by humanistic person-centred principles, founded by Psychologist, Carl Rogers, which is based on healing and positive growth. The premise is that given the right conditions we can reach our full potential and become our ‘true’ self (self-actualisation). I offer these conditions which are based on non-judgement, authenticity and empathic understanding.
You are believed to be the expert on yourself so are encouraged to connect with your own issues, feelings, beliefs, behaviour and worldview. This helps you become more self-aware and develop independence so in the future you are able to navigate life issues more confidently, find your own solutions, trust your own decisions and have a greater sense of self-identity.
This approach is particularly helpful for those that would benefit from strengthening their own sense of identity, connect with their inner wisdom and authenticity, find inner meaning, build self-confidence and self-esteem, and tap into inner resources.
Mindfulness-based interventions are widely accepted and backed by scientific research on their therapeutic effectiveness. Mindfulness is commonly described as a state in which we become more aware of our physical, mental, emotional and behavioral being, in the present moment, without making judgments.
By attending to our experiencing with acceptance and non-judgement we are able to become less reactive and create space for more helpful and constructive thinking and responding. Awareness of the relationship between our thoughts, emotions and body reactions means we can decrease our propensity to become overwhelmed by them.
Mindfulness-based interventions integrate cognitive behavioral techniques with mindfulness strategies. Breathing exercises, body scan meditations and guided imagery are typically undertaken within this approach. Regular mindfulness practice promotes insight and emotional healing over time. New neural networks can be established and new ways of responding can be learnt.
These interventions are applied to many psychological issues including anxiety, stress and depression/low mood.
There are now several approaches which involve mindfulness principles and techniques including Compassion-focussed therapy (CFT), Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), Mindfulness- based stress reduction therapy (MBSR), Dialetical Behaviour therapy (DBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). My working framework is informed particularly by CFT and MBCT/MBSR principles.
Compassion-focused therapy (CFT)
Psychologist Dr Paul Gilbert developed CFT, an evidence-based form of psychotherapy, which draws on evolutionary, social and developmental psychology and neuroscience. This form of therapy enables you to cultivate skills in compassion for yourself and others. This helps regulation of your mood and can generate feelings of safety, self-acceptance and comfort. Similar to mindfulness-based interventions you will learn about the science behind the mind-body connection and the skills necessary to practice mind and body awareness.
Research indicates that humans have three different emotion regulation systems: a threat system which generates fear, anger and disgust to help protect us; a drive system, which motivates us towards goals and resources and a soothing system, which is linked with feelings of happiness and activated by feeling socially connected, cared for and safe. The aim of CFT is to bring these systems into balance.
Psychological disturbances can arise from an imbalance between these three systems. For example, if we have elevated levels of shame and self-criticism we may have had inadequate stimulation of our soothing system early in life, and over stimulation of our threat system. Consequently being kind to ourselves can be challenging and hypersensitivity to criticism maybe apparent.
An overactive threat system can be caused by bullying, early life neglect, trauma or abuse and may manifest as anxiety and depression/low mood and other psychological conditions. The objective of CFT is neutralise this imbalance in the emotion regulation systems and to focus on increasing the propensity of our soothing/self-compassion system. Developing self-compassion can help transform our attitude towards our self and others and it can allow us to embrace feelings of contentment.
Typically, when working within this framework, I provide psycho-education on the evolution of the brain and the regulation systems. I help you with compassionate mind training through appreciation/savoring exercises; ability to pay attention to the current moment without judgment (mindfulness) and compassion-focused imagery exercises.
Oftentimes our current psychological distress is shaped by past experiences and we may not be conscious of the influence that our earlier life has on us now. Exploration and analysis of early life can give us insight into why we have repeating patterns and themes in our lives.
Recognising the origins of our social difficulties for example can pave the way to understanding ourselves more. Our therapeutic relationship is central to this way of working as it can reveal your ways of relating and interacting with others.
Furthermore, we may identify that we developed defenses over the years to protect ourselves from experiencing uncomfortable feelings and memories. Gaining insight into these in our current life can help us to move forward and make changes. In a safe therapeutic space you can process earlier vulnerable feelings which allow the defense mechanisms to reduce.
My role is to help you feel contained and safe and we may draw on attachment theory to help understand how the quality of your early life relationships has shaped your relationship with your ‘self’ and others.
Many clients benefit from this type of exploration whilst for others it may not be a necessary part of their healing journey.