Counselling & arts-based therapies for adults, children & young people

Evening appointments may be available on request

Arts-Based Psychotherapeutic Counselling

Art has been used since the prehistoric eras when our long-ago predecessors would express themselves and their relationship to the world in cave drawings and seek meaning to their existence through imagery. It was Jung and Freud who both emphasised the significance of symbolism whilst the use of art in modern day therapeutic practice began in the 1940’s with the pioneering work of Margaret Naumberg. It is well documented that the art expression of those suffering with significant mental illness is often incredibly profound, offering a unique insight in to their world when words cannot.

Arts-based psychotherapeutic counselling uses art materials in the creative process to explore emotions, reduce anxiety, increase self-esteem, and resolve other psychological conflicts. Using the arts in therapy brings a different feel to the work, particularly powerful when words are difficult to find or articulate. Through art we are able to express the inner workings of our psyche, known as ‘psychic expression.’ One of the joys of using art in therapy is that our efforts are not marked by teachers or critiqued by experts and so we are free to express whatever naturally occurs without having to plan a masterpiece! Whatever occurs is not judged but rather accepted with wonder and interest. You may want to talk about it or you may not. Sometimes creating something witnessed by another in a safe and calm environment is enough. At other times we may notice what feelings arise and think about what the expression, coming from you in your creation, is telling us.

Because my practice is not solely based on art-therapy, you might choose to use art materials, sand or clay in some sessions and not in others. We will just work at your pace and whatever feels ok in the moment. Sometimes if something feels stuck I may offer up the idea of using creative methods but it’s entirely your choice. Even the most sceptical of clients have found that using the arts has helped them, often finding the experience quite insightful, relaxing and freeing.

Counselling

‘Develop a unique therapy for each unique client’ – Carl Jung

If you are sensing something needs to change in your life but you’re not sure quite what or how then counselling could help. Typically shorter term, counselling is a talking therapy based on the principle of empowerment. In other words, as your counsellor I have confidence in your innate potential to understand and discover what you need. Due to stress or emotional upheaval this potential may have become blocked resulting in you feeling rather stuck or lost along the way. As a boundaried, confidential relationship counselling can help people with a range of issues such as work-related issues, depression, anxiety, grief, or any issue that is causing you dissatisfaction or discomfort in your life. To give counsel typically means to give advice, however I value your autonomy and support the development of your personal agency.  Therefore, rather than give direct advice I will listen very carefully to your concerns, help you clarify your thinking, sometimes offer you purposeful and respectful challenge while supporting you as you discover your own ways to move forward. An important part of counselling is to encourage you to identify your own resources which helps build self-esteem, resilience and confidence. 

An estimated 450 types of counselling are in existence and no-one can claim to know all of them in detail! Research has shown the most important factor for good outcomes in any type of therapy is the strength of the relationship developed between the therapist and client. I firmly believe that the best kind of counselling therefore respects not only the uniqueness of the individual but also the unique relationship between the client and counsellor.

Whilst my roots are based in Adlerian counselling I offer a bespoke style of counselling which draws on and integrates differing theories and approaches. Most importantly, I will also listen to and value your own ideas resulting in, what we might call, a ‘pluralistic’ way of working collaboratively together.

When storms threaten our calmer waters we may feel lost and fearful for the future. Whilst we cannot change the power of the wind we can choose to change the direction in which we sail.

Existentially Based Therapy

Existentially based therapy is, most importantly, a philosophical approach, a way of thinking rather than a particular therapeutic approach. It encourages people to contemplate and consider their unique position and life situation in the world whilst developing skills to think more clearly for themselves and develop the capacity for self-awareness.

Existential philosophy views human nature as flexible and expansive with people being in a constant process of changing and becoming. The past, present and future are all considered equally important in helping us find purpose and meaning in our life.

In therapy, you are invited to consider what it means to be human and explore themes which are often ignored or denied such as the nature of despair, death and non-being, grief, love, loneliness and what it means to suffer. The problems you experience as a human being are explored with an attitude of receptivity, curiosity and wonder. Existential therapy is grounded in the assumption that we are free, have free will and are, therefore, ultimately responsible for our actions and the choices we make. Therefore we learn to accept anxiety as a condition of living with the tension between this freedom and responsibility.

Clinical Supervision

As a diploma level qualified supervisor and a registered and accredited member of BACP I supervise those in a variety of ‘helping professions.’  Currently I am working within the charity sector, secondary schools, and The University of Cambridge student counselling and wellbeing services.  Previous experience includes supervising the face to face support workers at The Kite Trust, a charity supporting Cambridgeshire’s LGBT+ young people. I supervise those working with adults, children & young people, individuals, groups, both experienced and newly qualified therapists, or trainees. My supervisory practice is based on mutual respect, collaboration and a sense of a co-created safe space which facilitates not only the sharing of wisdom, knowledge and insight, but also as a place to bring the difficult and challenging ‘stuff’. The spoken word in supervision is pretty much a given but often bringing the creative arts into the space can provide us with valuable fresh insight as does allowing a quiet space for reflection. Fundamental to supervision is the desire to work ethically, intelligently and always in the best interests of those we are working with. I am a big fan of good quality supervision as discussed in my article which you may like to read here: supervision article.

‘This article was first published in Private Practice, June 2020 issue, published by BACP. ©’

Identity

People of all sexual orientations and those questioning their identity are very welcome in my practice.  I have a particular interest in sexuality and a wealth of experience helping people understand and work through the struggles they may be having with their sexual, gender, and broader identities including associated internalised phobias. 

Most of us, certainly historically, will have grown up with an assumption that being heterosexual or ‘straight’ is the norm. For some this fits well with how they intrinsically feel and view themselves in society. For others constructs around sexuality and gender identity bring confusion and for many dominant societal narratives are not applicable or recognisable within themselves. The fortunate few may grow up in a family where gender or sexuality expression is not shunned but rather accepted as part of life and they are accepted wholeheartedly for who they are not what they are. Unfortunately there are many young people who don’t experience this and there are many adults who have lived a life in secrecy as a result.

I firmly believe that each and every one of us has the right to live a life that feels meaningful, authentic and fulfilling. Therapy can help people find the confidence to accept and be proud of who they are.  

Children & Young People

In my practice I work with children from the age of 6 up to adolescents reaching their 18th birthday.  My work with children & young people always starts with a parent, foster parent or main carer consultation. During this meeting I will typically take a detailed history of the child/young person, their familial, social and school or college environment. Depending on the particular concern we can then discuss the types of therapy which will be most suitable. For younger children emotions and feelings are naturally expressed through metaphor, imagery, story, and play. Therefore sessions typical use creative methods such as play, art materials, puppets, sand tray, play dough, clay, story-telling along with lots of gentleness, warmth and encouragement. Using creative methods in therapy helps the child or young person externalise their feelings into an image. This helps them create a distance from the intensity of the feeling which in turn reduces the likelihood of them experiencing shame.

Older children & young people often choose to both talk and use creative methods. They are encouraged to find the way that helps them best communicate their feelings and understand their thought processes. As each child and young person is unique, so is the way we will decide to work together. I adhere to the tenets of the therapeutic parenting model and therefore consider that children & young people must be taken seriously and respected for who they are as they journey through childhood and adolescence towards adulthood. I suggest that children & young people should be allowed to necessarily express their developing selves with an attitude of kindness and acceptance so that they may learn to accept themselves for who they are with a growing appreciation for their individuality. 

Further details of therapy and process will be discussed at the initial consultation where you will have the opportunity to raise any particular concerns for your child or young person.

Online Therapy

For some people the option to work online is more practical and accessible. I offer therapy and clinical supervision via the online platform Zoom. Confidentiality is crucial so it is an important consideration before deciding to work this way. You will need a quiet space for the duration of the session and one where you will not be interrupted. Working online is different to face to face work but it can be very successful. We also have to make allowances for the occasional technical hitch or interruption to WIFI signals.

Academic Mentoring & Research

I offer an academic mentoring service to counselling and psychotherapy students up to and including master’s level. I support students with research design (conceptual framework, methodology, data analysis and ethics) alongside essay construction, and writing. 

I have recently (July 2023) successfully completed the following degree: Doctorate in Psychotherapy by Professional Studies. For my research I conducted an arts-based hermeneutic phenomenological study looking at the impact of adverse childhood experiences on the development of women’s personal agency and associated need to ‘save face’. I am currently working on product development resulting from my research. I welcome anyone who has a genuine interest in my work so please get in touch if you would like to discuss any aspect of my research.

Broadly, I am interested in the following areas: children & young people in the care system, reducing intergenerational trauma, developing agency and authenticity, and the links between developmental trauma and ADHD.

Walk & Talk in Nature Therapy

Sometimes it feels more comfortable to walk and talk side by side rather than face to face. I offer ‘walk and talk in nature’ therapy as an alternative way of working which can help us re-connect to our natural rhythm. There is also an opportunity to walk in an area bare footed which can be beneficial because the Earth provides us with an unlimited source of negatively charged free electrons. Every time we come into contact with the Earth’s surface we are able to absorb these free electrons which then spread throughout our tissues and neutralise any positively charged free radicals in the body. This effect is sufficient to maintain the body at zero volts, which is the same electrical potential as the Earth. I can provide a big umbrella should it be drizzling with rain.

The Journal of Environmental and Public Health reported in 2012 that “It is an established, though not widely appreciated fact that the Earth’s surface possesses a limitless and continuously renewed supply of free or mobile electrons. The Earth’s negative charge can create a stable internal bioelectrical environment for the normal functioning of all body systems which may be important for setting the biological clock, regulating circadian rhythms, and balancing cortisol levels.”

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