Principles behind my work
These are some of the principles that I've found are important in my work.
How people change
and try to change ourselves, we can really only change when we fully
are now¹. Tricia Scott, who I trained with in the 1980s, was the first person to make me aware of the
importance of self-acceptance and she once told me a story that illustrates it
perfectly. The North Wind and the Sun had a competition to determine
get the cloak off a traveller the fastest. Well the North Wind blew and
and tore holes in his cloak, but the traveller wrapped it ever tighter
him. But the sun just shone and warmed the traveller, and he took his
off. So therapy for me is about enabling a person to take their cloak
off when it's warm and, equally important, putting it back on again
when it grows cold. It's the process of learning about ourselves from
of curiosity, engaging both our feelings and our brains to understand,
and even forgive ourselves, and then let the change happen
all on its
own. Of course it’s not that simple, because we get entrenched in deep
but I have experienced significant change occurring from
principle, both in myself and in people I have worked with.
Our emotional history
According to Reichian and bioenergetics theory, our emotional history inhabits and forms our body. Sometimes, what a person says in words is different to what seems evident in their physical bearing. I work to try to harmonise these aspects of self-expression. Gestalt therapy, also, places a lot of emphasis on bringing to a person’s awareness the feeling that is beneath the words. To be able to speak from your heart as well as your brain is a joyous experience that gives personal strength and a precious feeling of integrity.
Reich believed that our defensive system is held not only in the mind but in the muscles and cells of the body. From birth, we instinctively use our breath and our muscles to defend against pain – we restrict our breathing and tense our muscles when afraid, for example – and our bodies become shaped and determined around and through these restrictions. We block or divert the movement of ‘energy’ (or life force or free expression) by building internal barricades. These manifest not only in the muscles but in the form of attitudes, which are the building blocks of character. We do this as babies and young children to survive, but although our life circumstances change as we grow older, we are stuck in habits of relating, moving, breathing and being that we cannot consciously reverse. Because the patterns are often set before we are conscious, we need help to assimilate and understand the experiences that made us develop them. In our work together, I aim to help you make sense of what's happened in your life. In my experience, this helps builds inner strength and harmony.
What makes therapy work
There are many theoretical approaches and I integrate several of them within my practice. Research has shown time and again that it is the level of trust between therapist and client that is the most important factor in successful therapy. If you choose to come to me for therapy, you need to feel sure that I can accept you, warts and all, because if there's any doubt in your mind about that, you won't be able to do the most important thing - accept yourself, your limitations, your strengths and your humanity. In the event that you don't feel I am right for you, I will always help you find the right way forward.
¹ In Gestalt theory, this is called the Paradoxical Theory of Change.