I try to help the person who comes for counselling achieve whatever changes he or she wants to achieve. This means that I will listen carefully to what you say, empathise with how you feel and enable you to take what action you decide on. We all need allies and counselling is a good way to get an ally in the struggle to regain a sense of control.
I began my studies in a place where D.W. Winnicott’s work was used as the basis of our approach. Winnicott believed, as I do, that people have within them an innate sense of what is helpful but that they sometimes need help accessing this. I admire Winnicott’s flexibility, his kindness. He would help an individual assess his or her needs rather than trying to fit people into boxes. Over time I have also learnt that people most often respond well to the simple human things, such as being carefully listened to and having their feelings accepted by another person. Empathy and acceptance are things which Carl Rogers thought highly of. His work has been another influence on me. I am indebted too to the many other therapists and counsellors, including those who have worked with me and helped at difficult times in my life. I also owe a lot to the clients I have worked with who have taught me so much.
My basic belief is that we are a very resilient species. We are able to survive incredibly traumatic experiences and stay alive, intact and with our ethical framework still in place. Nevertheless, we can be derailed by small events, perhaps because we have been dealing with so much already. Such an apparently minor event may be the proverbial ‘straw which breaks the camel’s back’. I think of people as being a delicate mixture of strength and vulnerability, both of which play an important part in making us the complex beings we are. Counselling and therapy are a way to deal with problems that arise when these two are out of balance or other things go wrong. My job, in the counselling and therapy work I do, is to help to try to correct this imbalance and address what has gone wrong. This can help increase self-confidence and begin to improve the quality of life.
I have a number of years experience of working with mental health problems right across the spectrum from temporary anxieties due to set-backs to more deep-seated difficulties such as depression to psychosis. I believe that people can fully recover from whatever distress they are going through.