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…

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?

Where to start Psychotherapy, counselling, psychology and other supportive services can be very confusing if you are unfamiliar with how it all works and have no experience of seeking such help and don’t know where to start.  Many people wait until they are in or near crisis point, when decision-making may be compromised.  The following…

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…

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…

Self-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…

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…

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

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 for the sake of ‘a quiet life’, even to the extent of compromising our…

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…

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…

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…

Mental distress: a sane response to an insane world

R.D. Laing Renowned Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing once said “madness is a sane response to an insane world”.  We live in a world that promotes ideas of normality and abnormality and many of us can spend years trying to figure out which category we fall into, adjusting our words, thoughts and behaviours in accordance with…

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

Updated December 5, 2019 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 outcome.  There is a detailed guide lower down the page, and a brief summary here for quick reference. Making the Most of your Sessions…