Research into the effectiveness of psychotherapy has tended to throw up three findings, again and again:
I originally trained in Psychosynthesis, but after many years in practice, I now am convinced that people need to be heard as individuals and to be responded to personally, rather than have ‘treatment’ delivered according to a textbook.
People who come for sessions with me are meeting someone who is experienced in this work. This doesn’t suit everyone: you may want to choose a therapist who is younger to feel they’re more on your wavelength; or for your first taste of therapy you might choose someone more newly-qualified (and indeed probably cheaper) than me. Many of my clients nowadays are people who have had other therapists or other types of therapy before coming here, and may already have a good idea of what they may be looking for in the work. But personally, I don’t mind if you’re a beginner in therapy or an ‘old hand’.
I think people are always the experts on themselves (having had a lifetime of experience of being who they are), but they can’t always recognise their own expertise. My job is to learn about them and then respond as clearly and candidly as I can, to show how their strategy for living looks from the outside. Then we can talk about how those viewpoints fit together, and what new approaches can be created from that.
For this process to be fruitful and creative, we both have to be involved, so I can’t hide behind a professional persona. I don’t just listen, and it’s crucial that I freely offer my opinions from time to time. I attempt to be as real as I can. I often make intuitive decisions in relating – but I rely on getting as much feedback from you as I give, so we can stay in touch with each other as much as possible throughout the process. In this way we build a relationship together not for the purpose of friendship, nor to offer ‘tea and sympathy’, but in order to get clearer about how you make sense of your world and tackle life’s inevitable challenges.
I’ll respect your viewpoint, whatever it is – though I may often see things differently and will probably say so
I may offer exercises or imagery to help explore what you’re bringing, or perhaps sometimes set ‘homework’ – but always in agreement with you that this is relevant and purposeful in relation to your aims.
I may well be affected by what you talk about – after all, I’m human too – so may see me get sad, or become irritable, or look worried or bored … and I don’t expect you to look after me, or change what you’re talking about because of my reaction. Instead, we may well begin to talk about how other people’s reactions to you (such as mine) influence you, and what you might feel and do when that happens.
I will probably check out with you at some stage the ‘big questions’ we face in life: where do you think your life is heading? what matters most to you? but also some of the most prosaic ones like: how do you look after yourself on a day-to-day basis? how do you actually talk to your partner or to colleagues? how does that feel?
The sessions will sometimes be surprising, sometimes more peaceful, sometimes upsetting, sometimes fun. All these things belong in therapy, I believe … and they all enrich the sessions and through that, the quality of life.
What I’m saying here mainly applies to therapy sessions, which have formed the basis of my practice for years, but as you can imagine these elements are at the centre of my whole professional approach.
So whether we’re working in couples sessions, individual mentoring, supervision or some other format, some aspect of this will always be there.
phone: 01206 393104
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71 South Street, Manningtree, Essex CO11 1DT