I would describe my practice as a psychotherapeutic counsellor, as humanistic and integrative in orientation.
The UK Council for Pschotherapy (UKCP) states that:
"As its name suggests, psychotherapeutic counselling is a type of counselling that draws from theories and approaches used in psychotherapy" (UKCP).
Psychotherapeutic Counselling, has been distinguished from traditional counselling by its emphasis on the co-creation of an in-depth therapeutic relationship; wherein the suffering human being is viewed holistically, body, mind and soul and in the context of a concrete life situation and developmental stage. In short, it means being able to work at depth emotionally and psychologically with clients.
Humanistic simply means that I work with you as a whole human being, a person, a person who we believe has the postive human potential to improve their life and living should they wish or want to.
Integrative means that I integrate, as appropriate, various techniques, skills etc from a range of counselling and psychotherapeutic approaches, but my overall approach is influenced largely by Humanistic and particularly Gestalt.
I see the therapeutic relationship as crucial for healing and growth. It is important to me that I offer a relationship that is non-judgmental, respectful and safe with clear professional boundaries. I see both support and challenge as essential parts of a therapy relationship. Therapy is a commitment, which requires courage and honesty from both client and therapist.
Often people seek therapy when they have got stuck in repetitive patterns of feelings, thoughts, body sensations and actions. Therapy is a process that enables clients to increase their awareness of these patterns and thus make their own choices about changes they want to make in their lives. As well as increasing awareness of the client’s patterns, as a humanist integrative psychotherapeutic counsellor, I help create opportunities for clients to try out new ways of being in the world.
My short term work approach is influenced by an integration of brief gestalt therapy and solution focussed therapy.
Since qualifying, however, and I have ten years post qualifying experience and much of it in the NHS, I have undertaken advanced 4 year training in Gestalt Psychotherapy and a further 2 years in Developmental and Somatic Psychotherapy which is now influencing much more of how I work with clients.
Gestalt Psychotherapy has an holistic approach to human functioning – the mind, body, emotions and spirit entwined as an interactive whole, constantly working to achieve balance. An individual’s personal growth is encouraged through development of self awareness and self support for appropriate, spontaneous and creative contact with others.
The learning and application of Gestalt Therapy is experientially based and experimentally oriented. As a therapist I work with what is immediately obvious and available to awareness, in the Here and Now. Blocks in awareness and behaviour may emerge in the therapy in the same way as they manifest themselves in the client's life. From there the therapy may proceed in small steps using mini-experiments with new behaviours in order to expand awareness. In this way optimal support for creative and adaptive contact with one’s environment becomes possible. It’s an interactive process where past experiences and future longings are appreciated and explored as manifested in present thinking, feeling and behaving. Ideally, and with time, the client experiences relief as s/he becomes able to expand their experience and behaviour. In this way gestalt psychotherapy results in an increased capacity for living more authentically and fully.
The Gestalt approach is much more than a psychotherapy which enables people to cope with their daily lives. It is a deep philosophy that also provides a practical method of transformation, leading progressively to the realisation of the evolving authentic self. The aim is the awakening of a person’s full potential, supporting what is most alive and energising.
Gestalt Psychotherapy is based on the philosophy of trusting the human potential for a growing relationship with their particular environment. Gestalt as a method has a holistic approach to psychotherapy and is based on a core belief that the desired outcome of psychotherapy is achieved through heightened awareness within the therapeutic relationship in conjunction with creative and active experimentation.
The Gestalt Psychotherapy and Training Institute (GPTI) describes Gestalt therapy as:
Gestalt provides a practical, creative approach to psychotherapy and emphasises, that we can only be understood as part of the environment in which we live. It underlines the importance of the connection between events and the settings in which the events occur. In the famous phrase: “no man is an island”: we all influence and are influenced by our surroundings all the time.
The therapeutic relationship is integral to the process of growth and involves supporting a fuller sense of the ways that experience emerges, including feelings thoughts and actions, in different situations and at different times. The approach focuses on the development of holistic awareness of each other, our circumstances and how we function differently in different situations. Through raised awareness of moment-to-moment activity in the therapeutic setting, choices about how we live, interact with our world and make contact with others are increased" (GPTI).
In a nutshell, as they say, I work with you holistically as whole person including your body. This does not mean touch or anything like that. I am able to work using my own body and observation of movement etc. to inform my work with you. This might mean working with you to raise awareness of how you might be holding you body or body parts for example. There are many ways of working. The most important aspect of my work is to establish a professional yet therapeutic relationship with you. For greater explanation, please see the next page.
Developmental and Somatic Psychotherapy
I have received training in Developmental Somatic Psychotherapy with Dr Ruella Frank (2011-13) in NYC. In short, this is a gestalt framed psychotherapy with a focus on six fundamental movement patterns and how they structure our neurological emotional and mental functioning from new born right through to adulthood and beyond.
"Developmental Somatic Psychotherapy, developed by Ruella Frank, Ph.D., is a relational and movement-oriented psychotherapy within a contemporary gestalt therapy framework.
Inspired by the work of developmental psychologists, motor theorists, and somatic educators, Developmental Somatic Psychotherapy is a template for understanding and working with early psycho-physical blocks as they emerge in present moments of the adult therapy session. Attending to movement patterns within therapy is particularly powerful when guided by current developmental thinking. Psychotherapists from all training modalities are welcome so as to learn how this approach may be integrated within their clinical practice.
In each training module: Learners study the roots of psychological development as it emerges through affective/movement patterns within the infant and caregiver dyad, and apply this understanding to present of the client and therapist dyad. Developmental Somatic Psychotherapy’s comprehensive system of phenomenological analysis allows practitioners to diagnose and treat their clients using movement experiments. Learners are taught a variety of developmental movements and their relation to psychological functioning. Since the core of this training is experiential, an in-depth personal exploration of these early patterns is emphasized. Developing a distinct and cohesive experience of their own body teaches therapists to pay acute attention to the subtle rhythmic nonverbal patterns that continually emerge within the client and therapist relationship." (Somatic Studies).