A Range of Methods to Draw On
The therapeutic approaches and methods used by the therapist influence how the client feels in sessions and also determine the levels of engagement and collaboration. In my counselling approach I draw on a range of methods and skills, including Person-Centred Approach, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Gestalt and Focusing. The particular situation of each client, their personality and style of working will determine which tool is most useful.
Below is just a brief description of my style of work – talking on the phone or meeting in person can give you a fuller sense of how I practice and answer any queries you have.
For the majority of people, emotional and mental pain stems from challenging relationships and from the consequent difficulty of creating and sustaining fulfilling bonds with others. When we are able to cultivate nourishing relationships in which we feel truly understood and that allow us to be authentic, this experience leads to an increased level of wellbeing. This is the reason why my work focuses on creating a supportive therapeutic alliance – a relationship in which the client feels ‘held’ but not trapped, noticed but not scrutinised. In this non-judgmental, open space the mind can settle and the heart can open, so that transformation is possible.
Some counsellors prefer to remain quiet in sessions, occasionally reflecting on what the client says and communicating empathy through their body language and facial expressions. While this style of relating can be extremely valuable, I tend to work differently. There are times when the situation calls for a more proactive mode of operating, in which both the client and the counsellor discuss issues, share views and compare observations. This atmosphere of mutuality, where both the client and the therapist actively participate in the therapeutic process, often helps clients to feel less self-conscious and isolated. It allows clients to get the know the counsellor’s ways of thinking and perceiving, rather than having to guess what is happening for the counsellor.
The conceptual, thinking mind is a wonderful tool as it can help people to understand the source of their difficulties, to gain new perspectives and to see clearly which habits to let go of and which new habits to develop. If all the therapeutic work is done only on the intellectual level, however, the value of therapy can be diminished. By gradually tuning into the bodily sensations, the clients gain access to a whole range of valuable information that can be described as somatic knowing. Our bodies have their own wisdom and when we start listening to the silent language of sensations (such as the signs of bodily tension or relaxation, or the quality of our breathing), we increase both our insight and our ability to respond authentically. As a therapist, I might invite clients to gradually shift their attention to their bodies, so that they can connect to their own somatic knowing and use the body as a place of comfort and ease of being.