Relationship Skills in Black and White

Relationship skills are foundational to clearly defined, strong bonds between people and essential survival tools to help minimise stress and the effects of toxic behaviours in others.

Personal Authenticity Part 6: Responsibility

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” ― Henry David Thoreau A core feature of personal authenticity is…

Depression Part 6: The Narrow Way

The Narrowing Focus Depression can and does narrow and compromise our ability to think clearly, think effectively and maintain perspective on our lives.  This narrowing down of our worldview can be a gradual, imperceptible process; so gradual that we can still believe we are seeing through our normal perspective, when in fact, we are not. …

Ambivalence in Psychotherapy

ambivalence 1. simultaneous and contradictory attitudes or feelings (such as attraction and repulsion) toward an object, person, or action 2. a. continual fluctuation (as between one thing and its opposite) b.uncertainty as to which approach to follow Merriam-Webster   Ambivalence – the urge to go in two directions at once; to stay and to go;…

Personal Authenticity Part 7: living an authentic lifestyle

“Our responsibility is much greater than we might have supposed, because it involves all mankind.” Jean-Paul Sartre This series on personal authenticity has focussed predominantly on the relevance of the individual’s alignment with his or her own truth and truth’s impact upon relationships with others. Part 6 looks at the wider social and global implications…

Personal Authenticity Part 5: genuine relationship

“A human being becomes whole not in virtue of a relation [only] to himself but rather in virtue of an authentic relation to another human being” Martin Buber One of the significant benefits of making a commitment to living more authentically, is the opportunity we give ourselves and others we encounter to engage in genuine…

Personal Authenticity Part 4: being and becoming

“The most common form of despair is not being who you are” Søren Kierkegaard The quest of developing personal authenticity is one that really implies a litany of questions that are both difficult to ask and difficult to answer: ‘who am I?’ ‘what is my context?’ ‘how long do I have to live?’ ‘what truly…

Splitting: the world and others in black and white

Splitting is a defence mechanism first posited by Freud and later developed by various proponents of psychoanalysis and psychodynamic theory including Ronald Fairbairn and Melanie Klein within Object Relations Theory.  Each development has different perspectives on the splitting phenomenon but all broadly agree that splitting describes an individual’s way of forming conclusions about the world…

When the Past is Present

“Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today.” ~Cherokee Indian Proverb As children we absorb experiences and information around us without necessarily having the ability or maturity to defend ourselves and our best interests against it, or to make complete rational sense of it at the time.  This is particularly true of behaviours and…

The Traumatised Psyche

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars” ~Khalil Gibran Trauma in Simple Terms Psychological trauma describes the experience of difficult and distressing events or extended circumstances that we have suffered in life with which we have been unable to cope, give a clear rationale, recover or…

Psychiatric Diagnosis Part 1: a guide and caution for the weary

This post seeks to give an overview of how upsetting or distressing human experiences can be viewed and categorised as illness, disease, defect, disorder or dysfunction requiring the special expertise of specific treatments, therapies, interventions and pharmaceuticals for effective ‘cure’.  It is not my intention to devalue the choices exercised by patients who elect this…

Existential Crisis

“When you hit a wall – of your own imagined limitations – just kick it in.” ― Sam Shepard There is a point that some of us reach in life where the everyday normality to which everyone appears to be well adjusted just isn’t enough to keep us content, stable or secure.  It can come…

Keeping a Therapy Journal or Notebook

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh Our psyche tends to focus on the familiar and to obscure the unfamiliar.  Like forgetting a dream a few minutes after you wake, we can forget key insights in…

Mental Distress and Suicide

Statistically, suicide is the highest cause of death in men between age 20 and 49.  This is not to diminish the female suicide rate, merely to present statistics.  And the suicide statistics are shocking, with greater numbers of men taking their own lives than are killed in road accidents, or by cancer and coronary heart…

Anger, Aggression and Passive-Aggression

Anger We all know what it is to feel angry and why.  But anger can often mask underlying feelings that we have either allowed to accumulate in an unexpressed form, or of which we have lost awareness through habit, time or dissociation, for example. Anger, when expressed openly, is our show of refusal, protestation or…

Considering Starting Psychotherapy or Counselling?

“Everything depends on inner change; when this has taken place, then, and only then does the world change.” Martin Buber Facts Here are some brief facts about Psychotherapy and Counselling: You don’t need to have anything ‘wrong’ with you to benefit from psychotherapy A psychiatric diagnosis is not required to overcome psychological, relationship, emotional or…

Mental Health Feedback: help me help you

In a continual effort to expand my understanding of the needs of people who need help, I wanted to invite people to tell me something about their experiences of seeking help or being helped and what could be of greater helpf to them during times of need.  Your comments are valuable in developing my own…

Depression Part 5: Listening to Elvis

“I believe the key to happiness is: someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to.” – Elvis Presley 3 key changes to remember: find someone to love in our life do something we love to do every day have something we love to look forward to Someone or some thing to…

Dissociative Identity Disorder

Still Like A House Fractured?  No, curiously I feel fractured but I see myself in the mirror and I’m whole, standing still like a house.  The mirror may be fractured, but my eyes still swivel like windows in this head, guided by a nose that acts as a weather vane.  I open and close my…

Personal Development Courses

Courses – coming soon I’m currently designing a series of what I anticipate will be twelve week courses focussing on specific topics to help improve the quality of your life through awareness development, psycho-education and focussed therapeutic work where appropriate.  Courses will comprise weekly sessions, experiential learning, workbooks, therapeutic tasks and between-session support to help…

Spirituality II: Developing an Existential Practice

“The historical religions have the tendency to become ends in themselves, and, as it were, to put themselves in God’s place, and, in fact, there is nothing that is so apt to obscure God’s face as a religion.” Martin Buber In an earlier post I outlined an existential perspective on spirituality as a means of…

Ways of passing the time

Indifference Here I am and there you are.  And there’s the clock on the wall.  I pretend I don’t want anything from you.  You pretend you don’t want anything from me.  Our pretending binds us like a form of artificial intimacy.  And keeps us hungry, a million miles apart. Conversation I pretend I’m listening to…

Recovering your self in 7 days

Hollowday There’s a hollow in me; an absence.  Like a piece of furniture missing from a room I haven’t been in for years.  I enter knowing something’s changed and I can’t say what.  There’s just the feeling.  Hollow. Dumbday I feel dirty on the inside.  I scrub the outside; wet hair, towel and soap, and…

Spirituality I: An Existential Perspective

“The most spiritual human beings, assuming they are the most courageous, […] experience by far the most painful tragedies: but it is precisely for this reason they honor life, because it brings against them its most formidable weapons.” Nietzsche A feature of the work that I do with people who request it, is helping them…

PTSD, cPTSD, and Dissociative Experiences

I wanted to write something about the relationship some of us have to traumatic experiences from our past.  It seems important that I write this from an intuitive, non-technical place.  For me, this is because intution – as opposed to fear – is what we need to develop regarding our power to manage our way…

On choosing a psychotherapist

When choosing the right psychotherapist it’s important to remember some basic facts about psychotherapy if you want it to work for you: Psychotherapy is founded upon a trustworthy, secure relationship.  The best evidence from the longest-term study supporting psychotherapy’s effectiveness in helping people make changes in their lives says that the quality of the therapeutic…

Depression Part 4: downhill or uphill?

“Sometimes, carrying on, just carrying on, is the superhuman achievement” Albert Camus There are simple reasons we end up depressed, getting deeper and deeper into a state of numbness or hopelessness or meaninglessness or apathy.  All of the characteristics of a depressed state are the result of going away from something.  That something could be…

Depression Part 3: ‘bad’ feelings, alcohol and substance misuse

Depression as a Response to the World The world loves to divide feelings and thoughts into ‘good’ and ‘bad’.  But feelings and emotions really aren’t good or bad in the moral sense.  When we call them ‘good’ or ‘bad’ we tend to mean pleasant or unpleasant, comfortable or uncomfortable.  Most importantly, feelings and emotions are…

Depression Part 2: a well-worn path

“It is better to try something and fail than to try nothing and succeed. The result may be the same, but you won’t be. We always grow more through defeats than victories” Søren Kierkegaard Depression is one of the most common afflictions of human beings and one of the main reasons why people seek some…

The Outsider Part 2: living off-label

“Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.” ~Albert Camus Whilst most of us long for kinship with others who will accept us, approve of us, validate our ideas and beliefs, some of us don’t. Many of us will adjust ourselves in order to fit in and secure such approval, or…

CBT: a low-cost ‘cure’ for psychiatric ‘Illness’?

As a psychotherapist I continue to come across the ad nauseam promotion of CBT – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – and its derivatives, both within the NHS and outside of it for what seems to be any and every ailment known to man, woman and child. This is partly due to the lasting momentum of a…

Personal Authenticity Part 3: the healing power of truth

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32 When it comes to healing ourselves from significant troubles, distresses, wounds, afflictions and traumas that we may have suffered, the one thing that I have found to be of primary importance is clearing any and all impediments to our seeing…

The Outsider Part 1: clarifying our place in society

If there’s one area of my work that I have a special interest in it’s working with people who feel like they don’t fit in or who find themselves rejected by the group. I wanted to start writing a series of posts on this subject because of the confusion and assumptions that we typically make…

Healing Minds: what works for you?

Often we are so socialised into looking to ‘professionals’ for their expertise that we forget that, prior to the boom in professions, we did a pretty good job of taking care of ourselves and one another.  Family, neighbours, community, aunts and uncles, grandparents: all of these community bonds have been eroded by massive shifts in…

Change Your World: Self-healing and Loving Kindness

Inspired by an article I read speaking about the benefits of pets to depressed people, I wanted to write a little bit about the therapeutic value of caring for other living things – not only pets – both as an aid to preventing and treating mental disturbance, particularly but not exclusively depression. “What wisdom can…

Existential Analysis: how I work with you

I first read Jean-Paul Sartre’s “Nausea” – a classic existential novel – when I was nineteen.  From a place of teenage angst it struck a chord with me as I recognised the overwhelming sensitivities I felt at the time and typically kept to myself.  Sartre speaks of experiencing the world in a felt way; a…

Narcissistic Abuse Part 2: from darkness to light

Cast a Giant Shadow Recovering from narcissistic abuse and other forms of exploitation that have gone on for months or years can be a painful experience as we re-emerge from breakdown.  Malignant and predatory narcissists are inherently parasitic upon others, alternately taking what they want from victims to supply their own needs at the other’s…

Narcissistic Abuse Part 1: heart of darkness

This post is not intended as a guide for diagnosing or labelling individuals, but instead highlights the detrimental effects narcissistic individuals (including sociopathic, psychopathic and other exploitative personalities) can have upon us.  Being able to recognise some of these effects can help us protect ourselves and seek effective help in recovering from the toxic relationships…

Personal Authenticity Part 2: a good or bad idea?

“The shortest and surest way to live with honour in the world is to be in reality what we would appear to be…” Socrates 469-399 B.C. Personal authenticity has some diverse definitions, especially within philosophy.  I define it within my work as a psychotherapist as involving “a commitment to being aware of and honest with…

Life Coaching

I offer a Life Coaching service which supports people in achieving their personal development aims.  Life Coaching differs from psychotherapy, but shares some areas of crossover.  Essentially Life Coaching is about addressing three main support needs: Guidance, Empowerment and Improvement. The first step in the Life Coaching process is our Introductory meeting, followed by an…

Personal Authenticity Part 1: the courage to stick your neck out

“The most common form of despair is not being who you are.” -Søren Kierkegaard I read Nietzche, Kierkegaard, Sartre, Marcel, Unamuno, Heidegger and a bunch of other guys whilst searching for ‘meaning’ during and after my studies as a psychotherapist.  And whilst they all helped the intellectual journey of finding words to grapple with the…

Self-healing: a shift from pain to compassion in five minutes

Periods of mental distress are often characterised by a hyper-focus on our own struggles to the exclusion of everything else.  In the midst of pain and suffering, loneliness and desperation we can end up so concentrated on the distressing aspects of our lives and on what is missing that we literally forget ourselves and what’s…

Existential Analysis and the differences between a psychotherapist, counsellor, psychologist, CBT therapist, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst!

This is a somewhat contentious area for many practitioners because, as with most fields of endeavour, everyone has their own territorial imperatives and personal definitions.  So with that disclaimer, here is my simple outline of the differences between each of these helping activities, the length of their training and training requirements. Counsellor Counselling as a…

Fees and Payment Alternatives

The normal means of paying for therapy sessions has traditionally been payment in cash at the end of each session.  This is my standard payment method as it is straighforward and time-efficient.  For this reason I don’t accept cheques or credit cards. However, times are changing, and as more people recognise that the central banking…

A Guide to Making the Most of your Sessions

“Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.” ― Eckhart Tolle If you only read one page of information on this website then make it this one.  It could be the difference between wasted time and a successful…