Mental health, talking therapies, to use two current phrases, is getting more focus these days. This is a good thing – but what does it mean?
For me, counselling is the opportunity for people to spend quality time exploring the feelings and issues which they carry. I believe we are made up of body, mind and spirit, and each of these is inter-related with the others. Therefore, if we feel depressed or anxious, or we are sad because we have lost someone we love, it can radically alter the way we live, affect the way we feel physically, and for some even raise very deep existential questions, including questions of faith.
I believe in the value and uniqueness of each individual. I also believe that within each person there is a core, genuine Self. This is what some might refer to as ‘potential’. That potential can only find fruition if the conditions for growth are just right, but sadly this is often not the case because of the imperfections of the significant people in our lives, the society around us, and so on. Therefore in order to find acceptance and love we modify how we behave , and form a Belief System of learned behaviours.
People come to counselling for various reasons. They are often experiencing an inner tension between the real self and the life strategies employed as a result of the Belief System which has been constructed. The counselling work is centred around the creation of a genuine, non-judgemental and empathic therapeutic relationship where there is no agenda. It allows for the real self to have a voice and enables the individual to explore inner tensions and anxieties. This exploration enables the person to realise his/her self-worth and re-assess the various issues and the feelings that exist.
My approach is based on the Person-Centred model of counselling, which as the name suggests is focussed on the individual or the couple rather on a set agenda of mine. I may also employ techniques from other schools of thought, for example the Parent/Adult/Child theories from Transactional Analysis. I will sometimes suggest some creative methods, but that will be agreed upon with each person.
It’s my privilege to help facilitate the exploration of feelings and issues. I do this not by offering solutions or strategies but by offering empathy, encouragement, supportive challenge, and helping to identify links so that hopefully the individual or couple will be able to see things differently.
I call it ‘Pastoral Counselling’ because I feel it is important to allow individuals and couples to explore areas of spirituality if they feel it appropriate. Spirituality forms an important part of who I am, but it is important also to say that I will never aim to persuade anyone to follow any set of beliefs.
The Person-Centred approach to counselling (as described in the ‘My Approach’ box above) works particularly well for Couples Counselling, where blame is put aside in order to focus on your relationship. Relationships can easily be overlooked, and their importance should not be underestimated. The relationship in this instance is an entity which expresses the coming together of two people – it is more than the sum of the parts, if you like. It needs to be given the chance to express how it feels. One of the keys to this is to get you to look at how well you communicate as a couple, and that’s one of the main things I focus on in Couples Counselling.
For more information, see the Couples Counselling page.
Confidentiality is not the same as keeping things secret. I will not divulge anything which you might share, nor will I keep records which might identify people about whom we might speak. I will reserve the right, however, to breach such confidentiality where others might be harmed or where drug abuse is taking place, to give two examples. This is in line with BACP guidelines and forms part of my ethical code of practice.