Why Counselling Psychology?
There are many psychotherapeutic approaches – some have long traditions (like Psychoanalytic, Jungian, British Object Relations, behavioural therapy), others are very new (eg Neuro-psychotherapy, Emotion-Focused Therapy, Mentalisation Therapy, DBT). Some are fairly structured (eg CBT) and based on evidence-based treatment protocols, others are more phenomenological, ie based on individual’s subjective experience. In general, these are harder to “operationalise” ie to structure and evaluate and for those reasons they may not be provided on the NHS which in general only funds treatments for which there is a lot of scientific evidence. Some are short-term (predominantly in the NHS), others longer-term (predominantly in the private sector). It can be hard to know where to start!
Good Life Psychology attempts to bridge a gap that exists between many of these approaches, take the best out of each of them and integrate them into a model of change that includes elements of Insight, Emotional Experience, Imagination, Rehearsal and Practice. In my practice I include Body and Mind, Thinking, Sensing, Feeling and Action, the Individual Experience and Social structures that shape and affect that experience.
Philosophically, I situate my work broadly within the humanistic-existential paradigms based on unconditional positive regard for the client, importance of the client’s subjective experience and a belief in innate adaptive healing capacity that we each possess, given the right conditions. Ethically, I work in a transparent, supportive and empowering way, seek to create open and transparent therapeutic relationship. I work with an awareness of structural inequalities in society and try to address them by developing programmes that are accessible to those on lower incomes.
This sits well with my core training in the discipline of Counselling Psychology which in the UK encompasses training in all the major psychotherapeutic paradigms (psychodynamic, humanistic, CBT) and grounds them within a wider framework of psychological knowledge, creating a model of scientist-practitioner. Most recently, we have seen an explosion of neuroscience research on the brain and the nervous system and attempts to integrate that research with the practice of psychotherapy. Through Continuous Professional Development, as a scientist-practitioner I keep myself abreast of these changes and incorporate them into my practice.
However, perhaps uniquely amongst science disciplines, Counselling Psychology privileges respect for the personal, subjective experience of the client over and above notions of diagnosis, assessment and treatment, as well as the pursuit of innovative, phenomenological methods for understanding human experience. It acknowledges that “how to live well?” is not a purely scientific question. It seeks an answer to this question with reference to subjectivity of each person’s unique lived experience, their values, beliefs and the broader social context of their life.
Values of Counselling Psychology bear directly on my own therapeutic work: I do offer expertise, but do not seek to be an “expert”. Instead, I work with you as an equal partner, a fellow traveller on the journey of life. I invite you to collaborate with me as we both try find answers to the age-old questions: what it means to live with integrity and how to create a life that has value and meaning.
For more information on the distinctive nature of Counselling Psychology you can refer to an interesting article here: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/996/1/SusanStrauss-ScientistPractitionerChapter%20with%20D%20Bury-1Mar12.pdf.
Or, if you have any questions or wish to think together whether the Good Life Psychology Programme would be suitable for you you can contact me to book a FREE no-obligation 20-minute telephone Consultation.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Is your orientation psychoanalytic/psychodynamic, CBT or humanistic?
I draw from all these approaches and my work integrates elements of each.
– Like in psychoanalytic/psychodynamic method, I work to generate “insight” and discover some of the unconscious motivations/fears/drives that lie behind a person’s behaviour
– Unlike in the psychodynamic method I do not interpret the unconscious, but use experiential somatic methods to guide you to discover them in the sessions
– Unlike psychodynamic practitioners, I do disclose some information about myself if I believe this would be therapeutically useful. In this way, I do not present a “blank screen” onto which you could project your unconscious drives/fears for us to “work through” in an open-ended process but make myself known to you as an ordinary person.
– I adopt a humanistic paradigm whereby I aim to reduce power differentials inherent in the therapist-client relationship and creating a more equal, collaborative partnership between us.
– However, I do pay attention to any feelings you may have about therapy and/or myself and invite explicit exploration of these themes using experiential methods.
– I use cognitive methods such as those from CBT to process experiential insights, create solid understanding and order. For example, we will consider what implicit core beliefs you hold about yourself, others and relationships. We may work to enquire whether these beliefs are still adaptive to you or do they need “updating”.
– I also use CBT methods of behavioural experiments, exposure and guided imagery.
– I use EMDR to work with trauma, phobia and anxieties that seem “irrational” to your thinking brain, yet difficult to eliminate.
I often work with people who have found that a “pure” CBT or psychodynamic approach was not suitable for them.
As a Psychologist, I integrate different therapeutic modalities using a Formulation-based approach. Psychological Formulation is a hypothesis about a person’s difficulties, which links theory with practice and guides the work we do. It is shared, “live” document that creates the foundation of the work we do.
What if I have more questions?
You can email me if you have any questions or would like to book a FREE no-obligation 20 minute telephone consultation to discuss your needs.
I also offer a reduced fee of £25 for the Initial Meeting as I appreciate that sometimes clients may wish to meet with a number of therapists before being able to get a feeling for what approach would be right for them.
What will happen next?
During or soon after our Initial Meeting, we will agree the proposed Plan of Work and what it hopes to achieve. I will explain the rationale behind the recommendations I make. We will have an opportunity to think through whether the approach I offer is right for you. If it does not seem to be, I will provide some guidance as to what else I think might be more suitable.
If we both feel happy to proceed, we will think about the scope and the time-frame of the work and the point at which we will review. We will follow the proposed plan whilst remaining flexible in order to remain sensitive to your needs as they emerge in your response to the work itself, at all times paying attention to your feeling safe and supported in your work with me.