My name is Stephen and I’m an Integrative 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. (Sessions can also be done from your home via SKYPE)
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.
I grew up in Glasgow, Scotland and have travelled extensively around the world. 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 lived through the kinds of experiences that can leave us feeling wrecked, overwhelmed or at the end of our rope: bereaved, unloved, shamed, abused, betrayed, exploited, humiliated, furious, depressed, hopeless and worthless. I’ve experienced times where I felt too anxious or uncertain to talk about my experiences, or where I encountered people and services that clearly did not truly understand me or meet me with genuine compassion when I made the effort to reach out, thus compounding my primary struggles with further insult and vulnerability.
Having someone genuine and kind 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 and who is willing to be real with us and shed any pretence or role-playing. 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 psychotherapy 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 the psychotherapy relationship work.
Existential Analysis and Integrative Psychotherapy
My therapeutic orientations are called Existential Analysis and Integrative Psychotherapy. These are experiential, holistic, hermeneutic, phenomenological and somatic approaches to working with personal experience. In simple words, when you fully commit to the therapy work these therapies can work at a deep and complex levels of experience that you are likely to have only a slight or partial awareness, helping you change more than just ‘negative thoughts’ or gain insight. By working with a person’s whole experience and these many different llevels and ways of making sense of the world, awareness, new connections and change can take place at deeper levels of experience that include the intrapsychic, affective, cognitive, physiological, behavioural, transpersonal etc.
The existential approaches in therapy, for example, have evolved over a hundred or so years from the time of Freud and a form of existential enquiry was adopted by pioneering Glasgow Psychiatrist R.D. Laing and others. They are fundamentally de-stigmatising of patients, and seek to relate to individuals primarily in human terms rather than via their problems, social norms or superficial references and diagnostic labels. As such, I practice by deliberately avoiding pathologising or labelling people in order to understand and connect with the person’s depth of character, personality and belief.
Existential Analysis as I have formulated and practiced it over the past twenty years isn’t a fixed system or set of techniques repeated from an instruction manual 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, emotional memories and awareness habits. Finding ways to release emotions held in the body, as tensions, impulses, urges and old needs for example, is a crucial part of recovery for many people.
Integrative Psychotherapy is the name given to work that uses many different therapeutic ideas and methods that are compatible with viewing the whole person as a multi-dimensional Being: emotional, cognitive, spiritual, relational and sitting within a socio-political context that necessarily influences each of us. Each person is 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, some of which can be overcome and others lived with as limitations to our freedom. Change happens by doing things differently, not just by talking, changing thoughts or gaining insight. When our actions, values, beliefs, emotions and words are in harmony then we act more authentically. Changing our thoughts alone often changes very little.
“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 being my patient’s best advocate: helping empower motivated people to know themselves better, to take better care of themselves, meet their needs more effectively, and overcome their internal and external obstacles to a well-lived life. In order to do that well I need to know what my patient truly thinks and feels. I relate to my patients as equals in a collaborative partnership and make my notes available to them at any time as a feature of trust and transparency in my practice. 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. I use a wide range of skills and methods to this end, making the process interesting, engaging, creative 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 the foundation 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, taking responsibility, whilst having the skills to protect yourself with effective boundaries, and meet your needs effectively.
Read the Guide page for an overview of starting your psychotherapy, counselling or personal development work.
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