Frequently Asked Questions:
£75.00 per fifty minute session.
Payment in advance secures your booking.
Sessions are currently on zoom. We may think about working in nature. I use the beautiful setting of Hampstead Heath for outdoor work.
We'll find a time that works for you. My hours are 8am - 5pm, Monday - Thursday.
If we decide to work together, we will meet regularly, at the same time every week. This time is reserved for you and not be offered to anyone else.
You and I have an equal commitment to attending these weekly sessions.
However- if you cannot attend a session and are able to give me one week’s notice, you need not pay for that session.
There is no charge for when I am away or cannot make a session. I give as much notice as I can for your convenience.
We talk. We sit down and talk. We walk and talk. If we are indoors, we are usually sitting. However we might move out of our chairs and move about if we want to. We may decide we want to work outside.
Your name and all details are confidential and will not be shared with anyone.
To give you the best ethical service I attend regular clinical supervision but I don't disclose identifying details.
If you or someone is at risk of harm then I have to let someone know but whenever I can I will discuss it with you first.
I understand that it is essential that you can trust that your information is safe with me.
I am a member of the National Counselling Society (NCS). I am guided by and bound to their code of ethics, regarding clinical boundaries.
I put counselling in the middle, between psychotherapy and coaching. The three disciplines do blend into one another. You may find the longer a mental health practitioner has worked, the more of all of these skills they have. Briefly, I suggest that there is nothing to prevent coaching from being long term, however it could be said to be focussed on the future. Counselling may be longer or shorter term, with a view to looking at how the past may be presenting in the present. Once this is brought into consciousness, it can be easier to make changes- if you want to. A psychotherapist will usually have trained for several years longe and more deeply than a counsellor. Having said that, there are many excellent counsellors, who have undertaken much training and for many years. Psychotherapy also looks into the past. Most importantly, psychotherapy trainees undertake mental health training and a placement (however, some counsellors may have this, too). Psychotherapist have also trained in theoretical frameworks to help understand issues that might be hard for a layperson to get.
Counselling, psychotherapy and coaching in Gospel Oak,
South-End Green, Belsize Park, Hampstead, Dartmouth Park, Primrose Hill, Kentish Town, Camden,
NW3, NW5, NW8, NW1, N1, N7
We come into this world, hard wired for attachment to our caregivers. We are born with a brain that still needs to develop. Helpless and vulnerable, we have no way of calming ourselves when we are distressed and are dependent on our primary caregivers, not just for nourishment and protection but for soothing when we are afraid or upset (infants cannot do that for themselves). Attuned caregivers can help us to feel safe and nourished, stimulated when we need it, soothed when we need rest and comfort. How our caregivers respond to our early needs for connection and reassurance, shapes the way we attach to them and forms our expectations of how our needs will be met. If we are lucky and our caregivers can respond well enough, we grow up feeling secure that all is well in our world, trust that we will be ok and that our basic needs for nourishment and security will be met.
Our brains grow in relationship with the adults who care for us. In our early days and months, we can feel hungry, hot, cold, scared, in pain, however as infants, we do not know what our sensations are; we simply know when we’re feeling discomfort or pain. As we develop, our caregivers, with their responses of comfort, nourishment, sounds and words will help us to understand what is the matter with us. We need someone to feed us when we are hungry and hold us when we are afraid, to show understanding when something is the matter and try and find out the problem.
Our difficulties can begin if, for whatever reason, our caregivers cannot attune to us. Sometimes a caregiver might be depressed or feel overwhelmed by the needs of a tiny infant. There may be mental health issues, drug or alcohol problems, stress from the external environment, violence, war, bereavement, loss, abandonment, relationship problems or other factors that make it hard or impossible for the caregiver to attune enough to us. It may be miss-attunement, or worse, we might suffer neglect and abuse at the hands of those on whom we depend.
Our ability to self soothe has to be learned by an attuned other. If for whatever reason this is limited, we can develop with a compromised ability to soothe, or regulate our own feelings. This means that we can grow into children and then into adults, with difficulties in dealing with our emotions and getting our needs met.
Deep in the original, inherited brains, come the feelings are anger, sadness, fear, curiosity, joy, love and lust (the last develops later, as our bodies mature). These are our primary emotional instincts. We inherited them in order to live well. If these feelings have not been recognised and attuned to adequately when we’re little, we can have real difficulties in recognising and managing them as we get older. If we have a shaky inner world, coming up against external difficult life events, our coping strategies can get compromised and we can become depressed, anxious, ashamed or explosive, find difficulty in maintaining relationships and managing our lives. Major life events, such as separations, bereavement or other stressors, even happy ones, like moving house, marriage or having children of our own can destabilise and disorient us, making it really difficult to manage our lives. We may have difficulty with other, lesser events that others seem to handle well and it can baffle us when we seem not to be able to manage.
When we cannot regulate our feelings, we can feel uncomfortable and out of control. We can sometimes find that eating, drinking, drugging, sex, spending, self-harming and other compulsive behaviours, can help change the way we feel and give us short-term relief. Some activities and behaviours can help us to lift a low mood or lower our stress and anxiety. When we are feeling low, sad or shameful, our breathing and heart rate may slow down. We might use sugary foods, stimulants or dangerous behaviours to give us the lift we need. Otherwise, if we are feeling stressed, angry or anxious and our breathing and heart rate are elevated, we may feel the need to bring ourselves down, with carbohydrates or substances that calm ourselves, both prescribed and non-prescribed. We may crave the numbing effects of alcohol. And to top it all, we may have no conscious idea that we engage in these behaviours, because we are trying to get comfortable, in our own bodies. We simply do not realise that we are in fact grappling with much earlier problems, including that we were not helped to regulate our feelings and self-soothe in a nurturing way. We may need to explore how we feel today and what our real needs might be with a sensitive and attuned therapist, so that we can learn the roots of our distress. As we begin to feel safer, our body-mind system will soothe and calm.
Many of us have gone through our lives, often puzzled, frustrated or ashamed at our own behaviours. We might say: "That's not really me", or think that 'underneath it, I am really a terrible / bad / useless person' and be afraid that others might 'find us out'. We need a very safe, confidential and non-judgmental space to talk about such deep, sensitive, possibly shameful feelings. Only then do we have the chance to look at what is driving them and find out what our unmet needs are.
Many of our self-limiting behaviours are a result of us desperately trying to regulate painful feelings. We don't really have much choice until we understand what is really going on. The good news is that our brains are plastic and changeable. Hurts from early lack of attunement can be addressed in psychotherapy. We can develop better connections in our mind, which in turn help us to be more in control of our emotions. We can also perhaps be both more understanding of others and- if needed- also learn to be firmer and clearer with those around us.
Why are our feelings important?
I use the work of neuroscientist Jack Panksepp, whose pioneering neuroscientific findings about feelings, leave us in no question of the importance of feelings.
Feelings are our instincts at work. Set off by neurochemical responses to our environment, they are our first, signals. These are sensations. They let us know how we are fairing in the world and what to do. If it feels good, we can do more of it, if it feels bad, then we may need to get away from it, eliminate it, or communicate for help. If we feel endangered, anxious or afraid, our heart will beat faster, as our physiological response prepares us to run away and hide. Or a sense of threat may bring up another response, more panicky anger, similar to our fear response as we prepare to fight. Sometimes we feel anger of frustration, where we feel blocked and need the energy to fight, or push our way through. This can often feel better and more empowering. If we lose someone or something important to us, our body system prepares us to cry, to cry out and alert the person we long for. We might also feel anger about being left. But after a while, we may give up, become low, sad and depressed.
The practice of psychotherapy is a relational process, which takes into account our feelings and helps us to make sense of them.
It is an equal relationship, in which trust, care and mutual respect can develop, to facilitate self-knowledge, inspiration and change. Just as we were once infants who developed in response and in relationship with our original caregivers, now we can have the chance of a relationship with a trusted other; I will take the time to attune and get to find and relate to the deeper, neglected parts of you. In this process, you can get insight and develop more self-understanding and compassion for yourself, which often gets extended to others.
Whatever difficulties you have and whatever complexities you have suffered, there are always alternatives.
I do not offer a ‘quick fix’ but you can often quickly realise that you have been hard on yourself. It can be a big relief to realise that you really are an okay person but things that happened earlier made you think that you weren't. I aim to help you to soon feel more kindly towards yourself and offer a robust, stable holding space and a therapeutic approach that fosters long term personal internal strengthening.
The most bothering things for you are the very things that an attuned psychotherapist can use to assist in your process of healing. I know it must be hard to imagine but those things you see as problematic are true pointers to your way home to your deep self.
This is not an overnight fix. It is a unique, special process. I don’t think there is anything quite like it. Your healing journey is like no one else’s but it is not one you do alone.
This one is a shared experience.
*Definitions of counseling and psychotherapy.
The practice, described as counseling, is from the French word, conseiller. It means, to advise.
The practice, described as psychotherapy, is taken from two Greek words; psykhe, and therapeia.
Psyche means, soul, mind or spirit.
Therapeuein means, attend, do service, take care of.
In practice, rather than advising, I try and remember that I am simply attending: I am listening out for the soul.
Counselling and psychotherapy in Gospel Oak and nearby South-End Green, Belsize Park, Hampstead, Kentish Town, Camden, NW3, NW5, NW1, N1.