People seek out counselling for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s a question of curiosity about ourselves: who we are, and how we live our lives. Perhaps more often, the prompt might be encountering difficulties in our health, our relationships, or our work. Either way, a supportive counselling relationship can help make more sense of our lives, and find our own ways to live them more fully.
I describe myself as a pluralistic, relational counsellor, and that means I believe that human relationships are at the heart of how we develop and adapt as people. Each person, and each of our relationships, is unique; and so no one approach to psychology and mental health is going to fit for every person. Accordingly, so far as I am able, I aim to offer a flexible, tailored approach to each client.
I believe that genuineness and transparency on the part of the
counsellor are essential. If you are going to talk about the
hardest, scariest parts of your experience, you need to
sense that this counsellor is a real person who puts your
welfare first. Knowing they are a professional is necessary,
I would say, but not enough. For this reason, I am always
keen for clients to really take time to weigh up whether they
think we are a good fit, and trust their own judgment on this.
I won't be offended if you decide we're not; and if you wish, I will
be happy to recommend colleagues who might suit you better.
Similarly, if I think I am not the best person to help you, I will open this up for discussion.
Although I am an experienced psychological professional, I don't see my role as an expert, to diagnose you and tell you what you must do. You are the expert on you. What I offer is a provocative sounding board, to help you tease out the strands of your dilemma, work out what's best for you, and work out how to do it. I will offer ideas and suggestions if you want them and I have some; and I will challenge you if I think there are other ways you could look at things. I will invite feedback, critique, and discussion about how things are going, and what you want.
Finally, I think it's really important that you have a say in contractual matters like how often and when counselling sessions take place, and I am open to exploring what works best for you. Some people find that meeting weekly over a period of time is really supportive when they're going through something difficult, and that is usually the "default" setting for counselling. But other people find the emotional intensity of counselling such that they need to meet more often; or they need longer between sessions to process their feelings. And other people again get what they need from a one-off consultation. All these options are possible and negotiable, including temporary changes to our "normal" arrangement.