“The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality”~ Andrew Solomon
I’m passionate about mental health, and will never stop reading, learning or being curious about wellbeing and vitality. I have a special interest in learning about how to heal from experiences that overwhelm us and can lead to severe emotional and physical dysregulation: This is sometimes understood as PTSD or CPTSD (Post Traumatic Stress ‘Disorder’, or Complex PTSD – often stemming from childhood), and sometimes as chronic or high-level stress that is ‘too big’ for our systems to understand and process.
I’ve done my own work on personal growth, and have first hand experience as a counselling client – which means I have a great deal of respect for the work my clients do, as well as for the energy they bring to the journey of positive change.
In everyday life I’m a reader, a rambler, a tea drinker, and I love long conversations, the thrill of a certain kind of horror movie, and being anywhere there’s a sea breeze.
I’m perennially in awe of the diversity of human experience, and our capacity for compassion and strength.
About my counselling approach:
I specialise in working with women, as this is where my life experience, training and personal values are best expressed. If you’re a man (or male identified) and in search of a counsellor I highly recommend having a browse of the either the ACA’s “find a counsellor” page or having a look on “Psychology Today”.
I also have a special interest in supporting the adult children of parents with a mental illness, substance abuse issues or emotional dysregulation, as well as in working with clients with chronic illness. Supporting clients to process and integrate trauma and complex trauma is an ongoing area of professional interest. You can read more here.
I have a ‘whole person’ approach to mental health, and believe that wellbeing and vitality are ‘bio-psycho-social’ – that is, our mental health and emotional wellbeing are influenced very strongly by:
- Our physical health, including whether we are experiencing chronic illness or injury,
- Our social and family connections and responsibilities,
- Our experience of where we fit in our culture, or cultures,
- And the inner strategies and tools we use to manage our inner lives, public life, and relationships.
Along with this ‘bio-psycho-social’ framework, I use what is known as a ‘common factors’ approach to counselling. The ‘common factors’ approach acknowledges that there are ‘common factors’ at work behind many different approaches to therapeutic change, and that by focusing on these factors to keep therapy organised, we can include strategies from many different therapeutic approaches (as long as we’re using them correctly and thoughtfully).
Research suggests that these ‘common factors’ include elements like:
- A good rapport or connection with your counsellor,
- An agreement between your counsellor and yourself on the goal being pursued in therapy,
- Whether you feel that you and your counsellor are working together toward your goal (collaboration).
- Whether your counsellor is skilled in the techniques and approach they are using.
The specific therapeutic approaches I draw from include Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Mindful Self Compassion (MSC) and Motivational Interviewing (MI).
My approach is “strength-based” and “client-centered”. All this means is that I work with each client to uncover their particular strengths, resources, preferences, values, and motivations, as these are the things that are going to be the best fit for each client as we work together toward positive change. One size very rarely fits all, and understanding what each client needs is a great way to make sure we’re working in a way that will suit individual needs.
Finally, with a postgraduate qualification in teaching, I know how powerful having the right information at the right time can be. Education can provide a real sense of personal agency, as well as supporting good choices, and simply helping us to understand our experience better. Providing interested clients with “psychoeducation”, which “teaches problem-solving and communication skills and provides education and resources in an empathetic and supportive environment”* is an important aspect of my approach.
*quote from wikipedia
My experience includes:
- Practical training in mental health skills such as the use of grounding techniques to help regulate emotions.
- Finding healthy and valued ways to connect in times of isolation or loneliness.
- Grief and loss – whether of loved ones, valued hopes and goals, grief surrounding changes to the body and health, or other significant losses.
- Negotiating a “new normal” following diagnosis of chronic or severe illness, or undergoing invasive treatments.
- Significant experience working with those undergoing oncology treatments, and navigating life following treatment.
- Therapeutic work with depression (including chronic depression).
- Managing and transforming anxiety and stress.
- Support for those experiencing ongoing interaction with medical and health systems, or seeking diagnoses.
- Support for those caring for others.
- Adapting to major ‘life changes’ and transitions.
- Significant experience using meditation and mindfulness techniques in therapeutic contexts.
- Developing and delivering wellbeing and mental health seminars and education.