A Philosophical, Relational and Scientific Approach
My therapeutic approach has been influenced by many theories spanning a broad range of subject areas, most notably, philosophy, attachment theory, trauma psychotherapy and neurophysiology. During my cross-modality training I learnt how to blend ideas and skills from each of these areas. This process has been facilitated by the pioneering work of a number of mental health experts including trauma therapist, Peter Levine, and neuroscientist, Stephen Porges. I have also been inspired by retired physician, Dr Gabor Mate, who skilfully weaves together theories and data from a vast range of sources. Central to Mate's therapeutic approach is the belief that all suffering results from a disconnect from the self, and that healing requires a re-connection to the client's internal world. Since healing also requires the presence of a caring other, the process by which this occurs is necessarily a relational one. It is the emotional bond with the therapist that allows the client to reconnect with who they truly are, free themselves from the past and gain access to vital, internal sources of energy.
Finding Your Truth
My role is very simply, with warmth and sensitivity, to encourage curiosity regarding what is going on for you, the client. Human beings have a strong need to connect with their own truth which can set them free from unhelpful behavioural and emotional patterns. The therapeutic process involves gently guiding the client through an honest exploration of their experiences whilst learning how to better access and tolerate their emotions. Over time this process leads to a greater level of understanding and awareness regarding the way they are currently choosing to live their life and how they might change or improve it. A simple shift in the way clients perceive their problems, one built on self-compassion and truth rather than self-criticism and denial, is often experienced by clients as a huge step in the right direction. This process also helps clients develop greater resilience in the face of future challenges. Paradoxically, the clients who make good progress vis-a-vis their therapy goals often find that it is more about self-acceptance than actual change.
Holism and Spirituality
It is widely acknowledged that much of the distress that clients bring to therapy originates from early childhood and, in particular, broken or dysfunctional family relationships and corresponding problems in self-regulation. These emotional wounds can be so deeply buried that they remain unconscious, often showing up in later life as physical symptoms ranging from teeth grinding, jaw clenching and general aches and pains, to chronic fatigue and digestive problems. This points to mind and body being in conflict and explains why holistic approaches to psychotherapy, which seek to bring mind and body back into harmony, are highly effective. Healing, in effect, is the conscious process of recognising that the strength and wisdom to attend to our needs lies within us. And, as Dr Gabor Mate points out, trauma lies not in the original distressing experience, but in the resulting disconnection from the self. It is for this reason that my therapy sessions tend to be more focused on the present than the past since the present moment, as proffered by the great spiritual teacher Eckhart Toller, is the only place you can truly find yourself. Learning how to be alive and conscious in the "here and now" is perhaps the single most important lesson that life can offer.
Working with The Body
A key part of the process is to help clients develop a greater appreciation and awareness of their physical body so that they can learn how to better regulate their own physiology. As human beings we experience our lives first and foremost through our bodies, which are wired primarily for survival. This has important implications regarding how to improve our overall sense of well-being, especially when we begin to feel stressed. Body work, including simple breathing and grounding exercises, can be very helpful, for example, for people suffering from panic attacks. Feeling overly anxious can be an inhibiting, if not debilitating, condition and time spent tuning into and attending to bodily sensations can significantly reduce physical and emotional tension.