My name is Stephen and I’m a Psychotherapist and Existential Analyst in Stepps, Glasgow, Scotland, about 4 miles northeast from the city centre. It is a quiet, residential location with free parking.
Qualifications: BA (Hons), MA (Psych), MA (Ex. Psych)
I did over six years of psychotherapy training, and have two Masters degrees: one in Integrative Psychotherapy and Counselling, and the other in Existential Psychotherapy and Counselling, both earned with Distinction.
Professional Experience: 20 years
I have 20 years experience as a psychotherapist, with ten years experience in the NHS, working as a psychotherapist in tertiary care with over twenty patients a week referred to me by GPs, Psychiatrists, Community Mental Health Teams and Social Workers; supporting patients with a wide variety of both serious psychiatric and everyday life difficulties ranging from depression and anxiety, struggles with relationships, the effects of neglect, abuse and trauma in childhood and adulthood, and low self-esteem, to severe and enduring mental health and personality issues and disorders.
I also have several years experience working in the judicial system, with victims of crime, with bereaved people, and with persons both in the community and in residential settings who have mental health needs, substance misuse issues, and homelessness difficulties.
Other Qualifications: Yoga Instructor, Trained Artist
In addition I’m a qualified yoga teacher and trained as a fine artist and incorporate aspects of these in the service of stress relief, anxiety management, relaxation training and the therapeutic use of art, creative media and writing to help patients access and express experiences that are too difficult or painful to put into spoken words. This is especially helpful in allowing both adults and younger people to explore difficult, painful and traumatic experiences in ways that are less distressing than talking.
Existential Analysis is fundamentally de-stigmatising of patients, and seeks to relate to individuals primarily in human terms rather than via their problems or diagnostic labels.
Most of my learning about human suffering has come from the wide variety of people and situations I have encountered in my life, not least via events and periods of suffering, trauma or struggle that I have personally survived and worked through to a place of healing. Like many of my patients I’ve also gone through the kinds of experiences that can leave us feeling wrecked, overwhelmed or at the end of our rope: hurt, let down, bereaved, unloved, shamed, abused, exploited, humiliated, furious, depressed; times where I felt too anxious or uncertain to talk about my experiences, or sensed strongly that no-one and no service really understood me when I made the effort to reach out.
Having someone genuine to turn to can be critical when we are at our most fragile. Indeed, in my opinion it is crucial for anyone seeking therapeutic help – particularly where deep or powerful feelings and experiences are involved – to find a psychotherapist who has survived and healed from their own traumatic experiences and painful life struggles. Such therapists tend to have a lot of courage to be authentic with their patients: to be unafraid of powerful emotions, powerful truths, and the kinds of frightening or embarassing experiences that accompany trauma and abuse from which others may shy away or respond academically. Having someone fearless by your side whilst you tackle your own pain is something academic qualifications alone cannot provide.
I’ve spent thousands of clinical hours with patients, psychotherapists, counsellors, psychiatrists, psychologists and other professionals in the workplace, and received many years of therapy myself as part of my training requirements, as well as a person in need. I know what has been helpful and what hasn’t, what has engaged me and what has put me off, and this also informs my way of working, which you will find honest, genuine and to the point. Because personal authenticity in the therapeutic relationship is what makes therapy work.
My therapeutic orientation is called Existential Analysis – an experiential, holistic, hermeneutic, phenomenological and somatic approach to working with personal experience. In simple words, this means working with a person’s whole experience and ways of making sense of the world rather than imposing the therapist’s worldview or ideas of ‘normality’ on the patient. The existential approach has evolved over a hundred or so years from the time of Freud and adopted by pioneering Glasgow Psychiatrist R.D. Laing and others. It is fundamentally de-stigmatising of patients, and seeks to relate to individuals primarily in human terms rather than via their problems, social norms or diagnostic labels. As such, I practice by deliberately avoiding pathologising or labelling people.
Existential Analysis as I practice it isn’t a fixed system or formula repeated the same way by each practitioner, but an individual way of creatively exploring a person’s unique, embodied experience and worldview with an emphasis on truth, intuition and honesty in relationship. Often, for example, we hold our suffering not only in our minds, our illusions and delusions about ourselves, but in our bodies. Finding ways to release emotions held in the body, as tensions and old needs for example, can be a crucial part of recovery for many people.
My overall approach is an integration of many therapeutic ideas and methods that are compatible with viewing the whole person as a free, autonomous agent capable of creating new paths and directions in his or her life in a world full of internal and external challenges and obstacles to be overcome. Change happens by doing things differently, not just by changing thoughts or gaining insight. When our actions and words are in harmony then we act more authentically.
“If you take responsibility for what you are doing to yourself, how you produce your symptoms, how you produce your illness, how you produce your existence – the very moment you get in touch with yourself – growth begins, integration begins.”
I view my role as one of being my patient’s best advocate: helping empower motivated people to know themselves better, meet their needs effectively, and overcome their internal and external obstacles to a well-lived life. Healing results from coming to terms with our own truth: truth that emerges at different levels and in different ways beyond just the content of our thoughts, our ideas of self, our narrative or speech. This is achieved by our cultivating the most honest, transparent and truthful relationship possible, based on genuine equality. I use a wide range of skills and methods to this end, making the process interesting, engaging and challenging. To be open to being challenged in your existing views and ways of acting in the world is really an essential part of a motivated patient’s mindset for personal growth and recovery.
My personal philosophy in therapy is driven by the belief that developing personal authenticity is central to change, good mental health and strong relationships, with authenticity at the heart of the therapeutic relationship. Personal authenticity is a commitment to being aware of and completely honest with yourself at any given moment; living your values, and being as genuine and transparent as possible in relation to others, whilst having the skills to protect yourself and meet your needs effectively. The actual therapeutic part of the relationship between me and my patient is founded on a truthful, trusting alliance that we form with one another.
You can find out more about how I use Existential Analysis here:
If you are unsure about whether counselling, psychotherapy or personal development work are appropriate ways to address your needs, or whether I am the right therapist for you, I offer an initial meeting for a reduced fee where we can meet informally to discuss things with no obligation to continue. Confidentiality and privacy applies to any meetings we have. You can also read my blog post “Getting the most from your sessions: the learning mindset” to help you get a better understanding of what is involved in therapeutic work.
Please also go to the Appointments page if you would like to meet in person or online.
All artwork by the author
All written material and original artwork on this website is subject to copyright and cannot be used or reproduced without permission and clear attribution being made to the author. Please contact me if in doubt.