My immediate goal is to help alleviate emotional pain and confusion and to build self confidence towards a fresh start in life. To do this I specialise in short, to long term, psychodynamic psychotherapy which consists of a series of conversations between you and me.
These conversations are conducted in a spirit of sensitivity, warmth and understanding in the confidential space of my office. You sit face to face with me and we talk. This might seem a bit daunting to begin with, but it doesn’t take long before it becomes comfortable and some say, even easier to do with a trusty therapist than with family or friends. The therapist, after all, is eager to understand the world as you feel it and see it!
What do we talk about?
Anything that you bring: pain, anxiety, depression, stress, confusions, anger, lack of anger; your abuse from others, your self-abuse, your harsh opinion of yourself, your attempts to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol.
Or you might bring your flailing relationships, your past relationships; guilt, shame, regrets, grief, loss and disappointments. At other times you might bring emptiness and despair, obsessive habits, perhaps a belief that the world always gets you wrong and nobody treats you the way you want to be treated.
You might also bring your hopes, ideas, dreams, fantasies, longings, needs and desires, plans and aspirations. The again you might bring feelings around the gap you feel between your ambitions and achievements, or a sense of falseness or superiority. Sometimes, especially as you start to move on again, you might bring your joy and playfulness and some good news including news of some alleviation of pain or a tiny improvement in a relationship!
Most significantly you might bring stories of trauma, the devastating thing or things that have happened to you or your family, friends or colleagues at any time in your life. Here I am thinking about the things that trap us and cause a kind of arrestation in our growth and development especially if they occurred when we were very young. It is true to say, however, that at whatever age we are when it happens, some experiences of trauma leave us stuck: death, illnesses, accidents, divorce, secrets, betrayals, bankruptcy, emigration, imprisonment, torture, and police, military and paramedic work. You might add here: controlling spouses, difficult children, exploitative managers, professional failures. By trauma, I mean both major grievous events like some of these just mentioned, and/or thousands of repetitions of small, but hurtful, incidents occurring over a life time. If someone has told you often enough that you are stupid or hopeless or worthless, you will no doubt have believed it and chances are, will have also called yourself such names.
Sometimes these events and situations do not stop hurting long after they cease to occur. Traumatic ways of relating can continue to infect future relationships and they continue to impede the enjoyment of life. It is important to remember that Posttraumatic Syndrome is called ‘the failure of time to heal wounds (van der Kolk, 1996)’. Psychotherapy cannot change the fact that these things occurred; but is can render them less excruciating so that real life can resume its flow instead of remaining devastated and destroyed by those events or situations of the past.
Over time, as you tell your story or stories and as I listen to you and respond, things begin to happen. One thing is that over some weeks you get into the way of experiencing my interest, concern and human fellow feeling and I get to experience your growing commitment to the process, your trust in me and your increasing interest in your own self. We engage in the process of setting up the conditions for your own self reflection – which of course begins to happen in between your sessions as well as in the room with me. You begin to observe your feelings thoughts and behaviours and even relationships in an increasingly new light.
Meanwhile, as we work together we will have been busy setting up an authentic relationship between us. It is this working and trusting relationship that you and I set up with each other that becomes the instrument of recovery and a new way of being with yourself, with your family and friends — hopefully, for life. Ideally you will: leave off, for example, sabotaging yourself, or accepting abuse from others; you will regulate your feelings and behaviours; and find new ways of being.
These changes will not come about from conscious or cognitive goal setting and rational rules of your own imposing or mine. The task is to allow these changes to happen from the experience of the therapist as the one who resonates your personal world in such a way that it is transformed into an inner experience of your own. From deep within, you can begin to grow in awareness, self reflection; you start to develop a robust sense of your continuity of being and an emerging empirical understanding of a new way of being.
Of course in this increasingly easy and natural dialogue between us, there is a serious, researched and proven theoretical and clinical training that underpins my contributions to the conversation. These are the professional strengths of my work, my scaffolding and your protection and healing.
And today psychotherapy has increasing support from neuroscience and other evidence based research in assessing the efficaciousness of the therapeutic work.