I practice Counselling from a humanistic, Person-Centred and experiential foundation, underpinned by a relational, somatic and existential frame of reference.
My humanistic, Person-Centred foundation has imbued in me a deep respect and trust in the autonomy, uniqueness, and inner resources of each individual.
The person-centred approach, properly understood, is a radical, principled and human approach that is ‘heretical to the psychiatric understanding of mental illness. It’s theory of mental distress is based on internalised oppression and the effect of person centred therapy is to reduce the power that others have had over clients and thus increase their own personal power or “power from within” (Gillian Proctor).
This approach is at the heart of all I do.
My aim is to empower each person to realise their full potential – becoming more in tune with and more acceptiong and trusting of their own direct experience or felt-sense; using these feelings and needs as a guide for living authentically.
I truly believe that we each possess within ourselves everything that we need to live full, fulfilling and satisfying lives… and that, beyond whatever difficulties we may be experiencing right now, there is an underlying state of wholeness (or health / wellbeing), that is available to all of us.
Sometimes we just need a gentle, caring companion and guide to help us to see our own potential and find our way from inner conflict and confusion to clarity, wholeness and authenticity.
I am often moved by the courage and resilience of the human spirit, and our ability to overcome adversity. I work from a perspective that recognises that everyone has the potential to heal, grow and flourish, given the right conditions for growth; that there is a natural capacity within all of us to grow, which is nurtured when we are truly heard, understood and accepted as we are.
I aim to offer you these conditions in your therapeutic relationship
– a non-judgemental, unconditional warmth, caring, prizing and radical acceptance and embracing (of all parts of you)
– a sincere striving to understand what it is like to be you in a deeply attuned way, to see the world through your eyes and validate your feelings, needs, experience and sense of self…
– and a radical realness, genuineness, honesty and humanness in our relationship, striving to be my whole, real self with you so that we can have a genuine encounter.
This relationship allows you a safe space for exploration and healing.
“It is the relationship that heals” (Irvin Yalom)
I do not believe it is beneficial for you for me to hide behind a professional facade or be a disengaged ‘suit behind a desk‘. Instead, I hope to be able to meet you at relational depth, that is, to form a meaningful connection with you and an authentic encounter between two human beings that supports your growth and healing.
Therapy at its best invites “a profound contact” in which both client and therapist are “both fully real” with each other (Mick Cooper). I, therefore, strive to be both fully present and fully human with my clients, to enable you to feel fully seen, understood and cared for.
Experiential and Somatic approach
I embrace the power of experiential, expressive, and somatic approaches to inner work. I have come to trust that the body is a vital resource and that working with ‘felt sense’ in the body in the here and now can go much deeper than working at the level of thinking. It is my belief and experience that truly feeling, experiencing and expressing our emotions promotes deep cathartic release, processing and healing.
Whilst holding space for you, I strive to be fully present and ‘in the moment‘ as a form of deeply attentive, mindful relating. “A therapists’ presence provides an invitation to the client to feel met, understood, and safe which allows movement towards natural wholeness“. (Shari Gellar)
I believe that my spiritual practice (I am a daily meditator with over a decade of Zen training experience) enhances my ability to offer present-moment, compassionate awareness and therapeutic presence when working with my clients, as well as offering me a existential, psycho-spiritual perspective for those clients who are exploring their spirituality or existential concerns.
Existential Frame of Reference
Inspired by the work of Irvin Yalom, Rollo May and James Bugental, as well as my study of eastern philosophy, Zen Buddhism and traditional African and Irish spirituality, my approach to counselling is underpinned by an existential frame of reference that addresses the ‘great matter of life and death’.
It is Yalom’s “…primary assumption…that basic anxiety emerges from a person’s endeavours, conscious and unconscious, to cope with the harsh facts of life, the ‘givens’ of existence.”
– How do we come to terms with death and impermanence?
– How do we find a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives?
– How do we come to terms with the responsibility of our freedom to make our own choices and with the limits imposed by life on our choices?
– How do we make peace with what we can and cannot control?
As such, I strive to practice therapy in a way that is aware of and sensitive to the existential dilemmas that lurk beneath our everyday concerns. I believe exploring such issues in the context of therapy can be illuminating and empowering.
I am passionate about working to decolonize therapy, You can read more about this means to me here