My Multi Disciplinary Approach
My initial training gave me a good foundation. My subsequent experience as a clinician told me that no single approach, no matter how effective it can be, is the answer to everything and everybody.
That’s why, over the years, I’ve been studying and practicing a variety of different methods. This gives me the possibility of being flexible and creative and thus having a better chance of giving you something more suited to your own needs. These are some of the approaches I currently use.
General and Solution Focused Counselling
Counselling is a safe and confidential place where you can express all your feelings and thoughts without being judged. The first step is to work together to recognise what is really happening on and under the surface. My aim is to empower and equip you to understand your inner experience and behaviour better and make the changes that you need doing to achieve a better balance in life.
Counselling is usually short term (1-8 sessions) and in my experience sometimes just a few relatively simple explanations and tools can make a huge difference in how you feel and act. Read More...
I started learning listening and reflecting skills in 2001 and have been developing these since then in many thousands of sessions. More recently (2011-2017), in my work as a telephone counsellor on the helpline of Care First, an EAP, I developed the capacity to understand the essence of people’s issues in a short time and quickly move to steps in how these can be addressed, during brief one-off conversations of around 30 minutes.
Solution Focused counselling is practical and pragmatic, directed to make positive changes. I can offer you this skill and experience to help you decide, at your own pace, the next step in dealing with whatever difficulty you are experiencing at the moment.
Psychodynamic therapy is rooted in Freud’s psychoanalysis, and was further developed by Jung, Adler, Klein and Ericson, amongst others. The aim is to bring the unconscious mind into consciousness. It takes the view that our unconscious holds onto painful feelings and memories, which are too difficult for the conscious mind to process. In order to ensure these memories and experiences do not surface, many people will develop defences, such as denial and projections. Read More...
Psychodynamic uses free association, which involves the client talking freely to the therapist – saying the first things that come to mind; explores therapeutic transference which is the redirection of feelings for a significant person – especially those unconsciously retained from childhood – onto the therapist; and interpretation, when the therapist offers their insights on the client’s inner experiences, often making links between things not consciously recognised.
A great deal of my personal therapy, previous to and during my initial training, WPF Certificate in Counselling Skills, was psychodynamic based and this was my first step into learning about psychotherapy. Through it I became more aware of my feelings, thoughts and childhood trauma. This self reflection also enabled me to start understanding more consciously my inner self and how it affected my (often ineffective) actions. These insights fed my curiosity and I learned a great deal about my inner experience, which is not basically different from other people, as we all share the same humanity.
CBT – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
CBT is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and painful feelings can trap you in a vicious cycle.
CBT aims to help you deal with overwhelming problems in a more positive way by breaking them down into smaller parts. You’re shown how to change these negative patterns to improve the way you feel. Unlike some other talking therapies, CBT deals with your current problems, rather than focusing on issues from your past. It looks for practical ways to improve your state of mind on a daily basis.
We work together in noticing whether any thoughts or behaviours are unhelpful, and thinking about whether these could be changed. There is a great deal of research evidence to show that CBT works effectively in treating depression, anxiety and other issues. This research has been carefully reviewed by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). Read More...
It is common to use Socratic questioning in CBT and this can help you become more aware of underlying assumptions and beliefs that often control your unhelpful behaviour in a less than conscious way. During the sessions, we can work collaboratively in breaking down your problems into their separate parts – such as your thoughts, physical feelings, emotions and actions. This is sometimes called functional analysis.
Through this process we determine the effect they have on each other and on you and how to change unhelpful thoughts and behaviours. I then might ask you to practise these changes in your daily life. fulfill can be a very structured process with form filling and homework. It requires a strong commitment from you.
I first came into contact with CBT on the second year of my training by chance as I moved and had to find another course to continue.
The more I learned about CBT the more convinced I became of its effectiveness. It is simple, clear and really helps you understand yourself and change quickly. What clenched it was starting having this kind of therapy for me, as a client. In a few weeks of having CBT I progressed more than with years of other methods.
My training was mostly based on the work of Christine Padesky who wrote “Mind Over Mood” which I strongly recommend. Later I attended a 2-day workshop in London with her and found it very inspiring. Since then I’ve been studying this approach further and especially learning with colleagues in clinical supervision about real clients and problems arising from my work.
Schema Therapy is an integrative therapeutic approach developed by Jeffery Young that is primarily aimed at treating those who have entrenched interpersonal and self-identity difficulties associated with a diagnosis of personality disorder. ST combines aspects of cognitive, behavioural, psychodynamic, attachment and gestalt models.
I was first introduced to this during my CBT training and then I read Reinventing Your Life by Young and Klosko and Schema Therapy: a Practitioner’s Guide by Young, Klosko and Weishaar.
In 2013 I attended Schema Focused Therapy and the use of CBT in the treatment of Complex Trauma a course run by Helen Kennerly.
I am not an expert on this approach but I use sometimes some of its tools to help people address some entrenched core beliefs or schema.
Chairwork is a psychotherapeutic technique that typically involves the use of two chairs that face one another. The client sits on or stands behind one chair and has a dialogue with an imagined other person or another part of themselves sitting in the opposite chair. Often the client moves back and forth between the two chairs and speaks from different aspects of themselves or other people. It has its origins in Jacob Moreno’s drama therapy and Fritz Pearls gestalt therapy using where role playing is used.
I was first introduced to this during my formal CBT training. In 2016 I attended a workshop on Transformational Chairwork by Scott Kellogg which encouraged me to start using it in my work .
As client I also tried this approach with a therapist and it helped me.
I have helped some clients with this technique and they found it effective.
Mindfulness is awareness of the present moment without judgement. Many of the difficulties we face, like anxiety, depression, anger and lack of confidence can be helped with the practice of Mindfulness. It can bring a sense of balance and tranquillity in our lives and increase our well-being significantly.
I’ve known about Mindfulness for many years, but it was during a conversation with my clinical supervisor in 2009 that I became more formally involved. I read Full Catastrophe Living and Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn and this led me to start practising regularly on my own the Sitting Meditation, the Body Scan, and Mindful Yoga, with the guidance of tapes. Read More...
In 2011 I attended the workshop Teaching Clients to Use Mindfulness Skills and this helped me to start introducing it to clients in counselling sessions. Later that year I did the 8-week programme in a group run by John Waller. It was life-changing. I became more balanced and possibly it was one of the best things I’ve ever done. In 2015 I did again the 8-week programme online. It took me a few steps further in understanding the neuroscience behind it and strengthened my regular practice.
I’ve been weaving Mindfulness into my counselling sessions for about 8 years. I find that clients get a huge benefit from this.
CFT – COMPASSION FOCUSED THERAPY
One of the things I have learned from my work and life, in general, is that most of us are troubled by self hate and struggle with loving ourselves. This is indeed the most common problem of people who seek my help and the source of all other issues.
CFT, aka Mindful Compassion or Self Compassion, helps us develop a kinder and more compassionate approach to ourselves. It helps us be more aware of how often the inner critic voice takes over our mind. It helps us understand how this adds to our common problems, making it more difficult to deal with them. It aims to create a sense of safety in the troubled world of our fears. This is done through exercises that nurture soothing and self reassuring and help us in our daily struggle to love ourselves. Read More...
I’ve been interested in this approach since 2012, mostly through my practice of Mindfulness and reading The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself From Chronic Unhappiness by Mark Williams et al. In 2013 attended an introduction to CFT workshop by Paul Gilbert, which joined many dots for me and gave me the impetus to start using this method with my clients.
Since then I read and listened several times to other more specific CFT books including Compassion Focused Therapy by Paul Gilbert, The Mindful Path To Self Compassion by Christopher Germer, Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff, Mindful Compassion by Gilbert and Choden and It Wasn’t Your Fault: Freeing Yourself From The Shame of Childhood Abuse With The Power of Self-Compassion by Beverley Engel. These books are not only full of inspiring ideas but they also contain many practical exercises that are simple to learn and practise.
I am constantly researching this approach and increasingly introducing it to my clients. I find this a very powerful and effective tool.
COMPASSIONATE COMMUNICATION (Inspired on NVC)
Is the art of being aware of and express our feelings and needs as well as being able to request what we would like to change, whilst at the same time respecting the other person and being aware of their feelings, needs and wants.
I first came in contact with NVC in 2002 as I was training to become a facilitator of parenting groups with Parentline Plus. Their parenting programmes were inspired on this method of communication started by Marshall Rosenberg. Subsequently I attended a Non-Violent Communication Foundation Course run by Bridget Belgrave. Read More...
In my 5 year job delivering parenting programmes to around 400 groups I honed my understanding of NVC and refined my practice. The more I did it the more sense it made. I find NVC a very simple method and the most important single factor in improving the way we deal with our differences with each other.
In 2006 I attended a workshop on Mediation with NVC by Marshall Rosenberg himself.
For 16 years I’ve been practising and teaching this form of communication to help improve relationships in couples, with children, in the family and at work. This can also be a major tool in dealing with any conflicts.
At my age I have amassed a significant experience in relationships in all kinds of settings (personal, family, work, groups, organisations). I’ve been in many situations when things went terribly wrong and also in others where things worked well.
I have a particular interest in how we relate to each other because I think that a great deal of our wellbeing depends on healthy relationships.
I provide support to couples of any orientation, families, or any groups of people that are finding difficulties in relating to each other.
My first experience of relationship therapy was in the 80s in my first marriage. We went to Relate for couple counselling and then for sex therapy. A few years later, when the marriage had broken down and I was starting a new relationship at the same time that I was experiencing significant relationship problems at work, I started personal therapy where interpersonal issues were explored in great detail. I learned about anger management, understanding my needs, assertiveness and many other things. All this was very useful. Read More...
In 2001 I trained as a community mediator and did several cases of mediation in neighbour disputes. In 2002 I started training with Parentline Plus and became a facilitator of parenting groups. Through this work I learned a lot about relationships between parents and children and about communication skills based on the Non-Violent Communication approach. Later I attended other courses on NVC, including one with Marshall Rosenberg himself on mediation.
In 2007 I attended a 7-week course based on the Systemic Model of Family Therapy and Counselling for couples.
In the course of my 16-years work as a counsellor I have helped many couples, families and groups to address their difficulties.
My approach is very flexible and draws on all my personal experience and all my therapeutic training and experience. I rely on my ability to understand people’s problems and my creative use of my knowledge.
Broadly speaking I help people to move away from finding faults in each other, from focusing on who is right and who is wrong, to a blame free attitude where each one expresses freely and safely how they feel and what they want and don’t want. I remain rigorously impartial and I facilitate the dialogue, ensuring that everyone is listened to and understood. This can be a slow process, but essential. Sometimes I teach communication skills. All this makes it easier to explore the real differences and how to find solutions that are acceptable to all.