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What is Psychotherapy?

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Psychotherapy offers you the opportunity to explore personal issues in a confidential environment.  This helps you develop your own unique sense of yourself which brings clarity and a renewed sense of purpose, paving the way for you to move forward pro-actively.

The type of therapy I offer is often called "integrative“, meaning that my approach is drawn from a range of therapeutic genres.


The way a therapy session evolves is unique to everyone and impossible to predict in advance.  The commitment is literally to show up and from there we work with whatever emerges. I get that this can be terrifying, especially at the beginning.  I am not in the business of making things awkward or difficult - I am open and friendly, and I will support you to feel as comfortable as you can be.

My main counselling training was at Durham University and was primarily person-centred.  It was a full time Masters level course which incorporated personal therapy for us as participants, group process work, theory and skills training.    Person-centred counselling was developed in the 1960s by Carl Rogers and is still widely taught and practised today.  It places a high value on the relationship between the therapist and the person seeking support, and in essence works on the basis that if the relationship provides certain core characteristics the conditions will be such that change is inevitable.  This can sound simplistic but in practice the conditions are far from easy!  

In the past 6 years or so I have become fascinated by the neuroscience which is providing a robust theory and research base for the phenomena which we see in "successful" therapeutic processes.  In 2022 I completed a year long programme live online with Dr Bonnie Badenoch, a 79 year old psychotherapist, teacher and author.  Bonnie is gifted at translating neuroscientific concepts into accessible language.  This was Bonnie's final run of the programme pre-retirement  so it was a unique and rich opportunity to learn with one of the most respected and experienced practitioners of relational psychotherapy.

What are psychotherapy sessions like?


Please know there are no "blank screen" scenarios which people can - rightfully - be concerned about.  People often notice that I'm very "down to earth" in my approach and I don't hide my personality.  I'm human. 

So we will find a way to be present with each other which is at least tolerable (!) and hopefully in time somewhat enjoyable.  Therapy is actually not all doom and gloom, talking about your problems, crying and becoming more dysregulated.  The opposite is more often the case - you will end up more balanced and "integrated" (less internal conflict), and when you go to the difficult places you will be able to go there at a different pace and in a different way. 

This links into a key aspect of your experiencing which I encourage you to pay attention to in therapy with me - your nervous system.  When we relate to each other, whether we think we are hiding it or not, our nervous systems are communicating below the level of conscious thought.  No matter what words are actually spoken.  

In therapy this is called working with neuroception as well as perception (conscious thoughts and feelings).  It is our neuroception which directly affects our wellbeing, albeit below the level of awareness.  This is why we can "cover up" only for so long.

My training on working with the nervous system was with Deb Dana on a year long programme live online  in 2020-21.  She would say something like "If the brain and nervous system got into a fight, the nervous system would win every time!"   It doesn't matter how much you want to "do therapy", trust and enter into the process, it is your nervous system which will have the final say.  This is why some people get themselves through the door of a therapist's office and never actually "get around" to doing the work they need to do.  Or they might appreciate having had the opportunity to talk but not actually experience their relationships or their quality of life as having changed in a significant way. 

For Curious People | Rhythm of Regulation

In psychotherapy we have the opportunity to attend to the relationship between our nervous systems.  There is no right or wrong and no quick fixes, but if we can be curious and open to what is there on that level we just might be able to welcome it, get to know where it is coming from and offer some connection. 

Dr Stephen Porges, a highly respected psychologist and neuroscientist, writes about co-regulation and connection as a "biological imperative".  By this he means that we aren't meant to "self regulate" or go it alone.  These are adaptive responses to survive in unfriendly or unsafe environments and relationships.  Nevertheless, when we come into an experience of genuine safety and welcome with another we are "wired" to seek connection, however momentary that may be in the beginning.  The neuroplasticity of our brains throughout the life span means that this is possible no matter what age we are.  Yes, of course, it would ideally happen when we are little but the positive news emerging from the neuroscience over the past 20 years is that early childhood experiences and traumas are not a lifelong sentence as was previously believed.

In summary, a psychotherapeutic process can provide a relationship and environment conducive to deep healing and reconsolidation of neural pathways.   I am going to finish this section here as I am so very aware that this is a special interest topic for me and I can easily "infodump"!  I would be delighted to explore further with anyone who is interested. 

Trauma and the Nervous System: A Polyvagal Perspective - YouTube    

Stephen Porges Safety IS the Treatment - YouTube

Sometimes people enter psychotherapy when they've hit rock bottom and for others it can feel like they go "down" before things begin to improve.  When you are not alone, though, you are unlikely to become overwhelmed and frozen. Instead, you have the possibility to tread out new pathways and possibilities in real time, with the consistent support and attunement a therapist can offer.

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