Specific issues that counselling helps with
Anxiety or vulnerability, when experienced, can exert remarkable feelings of tension and internal confusion. Individuals can experience intense levels of emotional fragility, as well as a generalised sense of futility, despair, defeat, or distress. Deep anxiety can manifest in addiction, compulsion, depression, rage.
Such feelings may lead a person to seek therapy as they are feelings that can be addressed in therapy, fundamentally and yet confidentially. Therapy can lead to a process of change, and an increase in self-esteem. The focus of therapy is to help those seeking support to cope when often it can feel like living on the edge of the abyss.
It may be said that a person is always anxious about something, in or out of the individual’s own awareness. Indeed, being anxious is part of the deal that makes us human amidst life’s oft disquiet circumstances and sometimes absurdity. We are inherently anxious. And, ironically, the more possibility a person may have, the more potential anxiety is experienced at the same time. The purpose of therapy is becoming ‘the self that one truly is’ as an evolutionary process. Kierkegaard, philosopher, said that the experience of anxiety is integral to being human, but it is this experience which prompts us to move on a journey towards becoming all that we can be and doing what we may be drawn to do. Therapy can support that journey.
Client-centred therapy, which is the work I practice as a counsellor and psychotherapist, works at the point of discomfort with anxiety and vulnerability which the client wishes to address in a safe, secure, confidential environment. I provide a therapeutic environment in which raw painful thoughts and emotions can be safely explored and processed.
The appreciation of the importance of self-esteem has become common, and self-esteem is in common usage.
In person-centred psychotherapy, which is the form of therapy I practice, an individual’s sense of self comes into awareness, is expressed, and accepted, resulting in a rise in self-esteem and, thereby, more open to experiences in life. It means that the person discovers their realness in their experiences, with nothing being imposed. This results in the client experiencing a greater range of feelings and reactions. This leads to a sounder basis for making choices which feel right, more of an unconcern and a comfort with the outcome.
Clients often begin counselling reporting dependence on the evaluation of others. Success in therapy can illuminate the importance of self-evaluation, as opposed to dependence on others judgements. When therapy is successful, a clients attitude towards themselves becomes significantly more positive, they become more expressive and self-directed, more mature and deal better with stress.
Counselling is the appropriate tool for increasing self-esteem. Self-esteem is a condition underlying the state of autonomy that leads to productive or creative behaviour.
Therapy is an effort to provide in relatively pure form some health-giving and well-being conditions which are found to some degree in many parts of life – wherever good relations provide psychological safety, understanding, honesty and warmth.
As a person-centred counsellor and psychotherapist, I rely heavily on the growth capacity of the individual by helping to create conditions in which the natural regenerative powers can take place. A person’s concept of themselves can change in psychotherapy. Therapy encourages the development of a person’s own special and unique way of being. A natural tendency for the client to self-actualise is released in the relationship in the therapy room.
When the client perceives my genuineness and the acceptance and empathy I experience for them, then development in personality and change in behaviour are predicted. In successful therapy positive attitudes increase. Therapy plays an important part in releasing and facilitating the tendency of the whole person towards psychological development when this tendency has been blocked. As we grow the evaluations that come from the outside world can be so stultifying that we no longer know who we really are, experiencing the loss of self-esteem and the psychological and social problems inevitably resulting. Individual therapy can alter self-confidence and self-esteem. In optimal, intensive and extensive therapy clients can welcome their changing and developing self and increasing self-esteem.
Depression is scary. It can render you helpless. And, it can be fearful to seek help. Individuals can be profoundly ashamed and full of guilt. Approaching a counsellor or psychotherapist can be a step along the way to addressing and combatting the pain. Sometimes, indeed, depression may be diagnosed as an illness which can both free and yet ensnare a person in, often required, medicalisation. Those suffering from depression can see the labelling of their depression, as an illness, not wholly capturing the dire hopelessness they experience. For them, it may be a want of meaning; a deep dissatisfaction with life and its circumstances.
The process of therapy involves a retelling of the circumstances and stories that constitute a person’s identity until through a dialogue between the emotional structure and the underlying emotional patterns, life’s meanings shift. In therapy, new patterns can emerge and voids cease. Accompanied by my understanding and regard, the client – as an outcome of therapy – can envisage and engage with new meanings. This growth begins to evolve a uniqueness, which expresses a depth of the individual, newly appreciated.
With those who are chronically depressed the pattern is deeply embedded in the structure of the person’s sense of self that has evolved. Therapy is like patiently undying knots of string. In the reality of the individual’s movement, my approach is patient and determined, captured in trusting the therapeutic process to provide acceptance, prizing, and insight at the direction, pace, and way of the client.
The enabling therapeutic process comes to the point where the client experiences what is being expressed and perceives my understanding and regard so that change may take place. My intention is to see the optimal, going way beyond the burden of symptoms, facilitating the client’s growth, whereby the individual’s purpose and directionality of life is sought, deliberated upon, and defined.
Trauma significantly interferes with everyday spheres of life. Many suffer trauma during their life, often more than one life-time event, often complex and severe. Individuals can be exposed to a traumatic breakdown or disorganisation in the way they see themselves that challenge precariously their previous thoughts and attitudes and beliefs. The person’s perception of their trauma is that their very way of facing an extreme threat, physically or psychologically. Those experiencing trauma seek a resolution between their traumatic experience(s) and their often shattered, distressed and disturbed sense of self.
Many may have received attention in the Services available. This attention, whilst well-meaning and effective, can focus on the symptoms, crucial as they are, seeking generously to correct what is believed to be not working in them yet, unwittingly, missing the person and their experiencing and the meaning they attach to it.
My approach as a psychotherapist and counsellor is not to set goals for the client but to be geared to the client’s needs. Despite being extremely distraught at events in their life, clients can be resourceful, endeavouring to spring-back towards new ways of being. My own goal is to experience unconditional positive regard, whilst focusing on communicating through, genuine empathic reflection, their experiencing and intended communication. Through this therapeutic process, a client may develop a sense of agency and growth, their future to shape.
My purpose is the create the environment where growth may take place; following assiduously the client’s moment to moment experience. This approach is a radical response to trauma, trusting that the client will move in a socially constructive and personally growthful direction under the right social environmental conditions, where the client determines the direction pace and way of the therapeutic process. This approach of the client-centred therapy I practice is borne of a confidence that the client will intrinsically be motivated to resolve the debilitating tension between the prior and subsequent experiences of trauma in the appropriate social and environmental conditions I strive to provide.
The workplace can cause severe stress, tension, conflict, isolation, and trauma. Workplace issues can result in isolation, loss, grief, depression and anxiety. These matters can affect a person’s whole life, mentally, socially, and, economically.
I am ideally trained, experienced and educated to support therapeutically those who would wish to avail of and talk to a professionally qualified psychotherapist about their concerns arising out of workplace issues with which they struggle, often seemingly powerlessly.
My relevant experience demonstrates my learning, appreciation and understanding of workplace issues which can take their toll, psychologically, socially, and economically on workers at all levels of any type of organisation. My greatest learning from the outset of my career was that those in distress from the workplace often craved to be listened to, heard, understood and prized. My most profound realisation was that when such appreciation of an individual’s predicament and anxiety occurred it was, they often said, the first time that they had been listened to, understood and positively regarded. The acknowledgement of such emotional pain invariably led to a constructive movement in addressing the issue.
The experience I have accrued included 33 years working at a high level in the trade union movement providing support for workers in their workplaces. In addition to my direct experience of representing workers in addressing their workplace issues, I have gathered other experiences, training, and skills which are tailor-made for psychotherapeutic work in the field of workplace issues. I have a Diploma in Personnel Management (Human Resources) from the London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) providing me with a strong foundation in understanding the issues of workplace management and development. I have a BA in Sociology from Leeds University which gave me a theoretical understanding of the structures of society and work. I have an MA in Law & Discrimination from Brunel University which provides a distinct advantage in comprehending issues of discrimination that can occur in the workplace. I have attended an in-depth Management Training Course at Cranfield University School of Management, steeped in issues of business management. I am a qualified mediator at the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR). And, I am trained in depth and have also provided training related to the workplace in non-violent communication (www.cnvc.org). When all these experiences are combined together with my qualifications in therapy and counselling, I am perfectly placed to afford support in a therapeutic environment to those who suffer issues arising out of their workplace, whatever it or they may be.
As I fully appreciate the stressful issues that people experience arising out of their work situation, and because of the values that fed my trade union commitment to representing also low paid workers, I – in addition – offer low-cost counselling to those seeking and in need of support for their experience a low-wage work.
Studying in formal institutions can be a stressful business. Whilst it can be a life-changing experience, it can be – at the same time – a life-challenging time. Such academic studying can inject, at any stage of life, a sense of instability, transition, change, inconsistency and massive challenge into a person’s life. That experience may continue after formal study has ended.
As a person who has undertaken extensive academic study at various times of my life, I can appreciate the pressures that places upon individuals. Planning and going to College and University and thereafter can be, in many ways, an awesome challenge to any sense of one’s well-being. As a therapist and counsellor, I have counselled many individuals of all ages before, during, and after formal study for qualifications. I have also worked as a lecturer in a College and represented workers and students in Universities, Colleges and Schools in my 33-year career as a trade union representative. I also negotiated Workplace Learning opportunities for low-paid workers with such educational establishments.
Counselling offers those planning, studying, and after completion of courses, an opportunity to share their concerns and talk about the transitions of life they experience and experienced, and which studying entails, in new towns, new groups, and new environments.
Should you wish to avail yourself of a confidential service with a qualified person-centred therapist – who has worked with students of all ages from adolescents, with whom there may be tenuous contact, to young people, to those who are older and to those who are post-retirement – and talk about your concerns and how they can be addressed, I offer you warmth, understanding and regard so that we can work at your direction and pace and in your way.
I also provide low-cost counselling, an opportunity I value from my trade union work, which may be attractive to prospective and qualified students during an expensive period of life.
Status quo is not an option. Life is a process, a direction, not a destination. Transition and change are inherent and can be both painful and joyful; perplexing and traumatic; mysterious and clear; mystifying and transformative. The direction is selected when there is psychological freedom to move in any direction.
Person-centred psychotherapy and counselling is an ideal fit to help those who would like to understand, verify, challenge, confront, their own circumstances involving transition and change.
Transition and change circumstances can be as numerous as individuals are unique; too extensive to itemise. 21st-century experience lays claim to that sense of fast-moving incident and reportage. And, sometimes there may also be a veil over the extent of transition or change that is taking place, leading to individual confusion, anxiety, and bewilderment.
Person-centred therapy, as espoused by Carl Rogers, and as practised by me, reduces the range of motives in the life of the human organism to the inherent tendency towards fulfilment; to growth, enhancement, and maintenance. Counselling during specific transitions and major changes in life, and any sense of unease caused by societal change can be called upon to support the unfolding of the process, and maybe the problem of how to lead an authentic life in such circumstances and life-changing events.
The primary objective of person-centred psychotherapy is freedom, informed choice, responsible choice, and self-determination. It is a theory of dynamic change, in directions chosen by the client. This is evidenced in observations about clients in the safe, accepting, the opportunity of therapy. It is a creative response to inevitable conditions of change, due to inevitable factors of growth, development and new experiences.
Person-centred therapy when optimal, intensive, and extensive results in an intensely personal and subjective relationship between the therapist and client as person to person, where a climate is provided permitting the client the utmost freedom to become themselves. The selected direction has certain discernable qualities appearing to be the same in a wide variety of unique individuals: an increasing openness to experience; an increasing tendency to live fully in each moment; a maximum of adaptability; doing what feels right as a guide to satisfying behaviour; and, becoming a more fully functioning person. Person-centred theory suggests that where a person is able in therapy to process the uniqueness of their life situation, they are likely to bring experiential changes that ameliorate anxiety and depression, so enabling them to alter beliefs that are not serving them well, or to alter behaviours that are creating problems. Individuals who benefit from the favourable conditions of psychological growth afforded by therapy develop an approach to values that accord them with the facility to address, confront, and embrace transition or change by valuing an approach to directions such as sincerity, independence, self-direction, self-knowledge, social responsivity, social responsibility and loving interpersonal relationships.
The basis of the therapeutic approach is that contained within the individual is a tendency toward realisation, fulfilment and perfection of inherent capabilities and potentialities that are directional and constructive hence the capacity to respond to transition and change in a therapeutic environment.
Transition and change can be traumatic and result in adversity which person-centred theory addresses in terms of growth potential where people are intrinsically motivated towards post-traumatic growth; that the stress involved is a normal and natural process that triggers growth and whilst growth is not inevitable it is a process influenced by the social world and the support, including therapy, that can help or hinder affective-cognitive processing.
The client will begin to appreciate themselves, be more integrated, more able to function effectively, and become the person they would like to be, more individually and socially autonomous and self-confident, more self-expressive and unique, be more understanding and able to cope with the problems of life more adequately and more comfortably. This would be a significant measure of well-being. This life process would seem to be enriching, exciting rewarding, challenging and meaningful. These outcomes would evoke a sense of well-being in the stream of life.
When individuals are psychologically free to choose, ‘to be that self which one truly is’ (Kierkegaard), there emerge, in therapy, general patterns arising out of what clients appear to be striving for in attending therapy; including, doubtlessly, a search for a sense of well-being. They want to move away from being inauthentic to themselves; and away from responding to oughts in life; whilst moving away from meeting others expectations; and away from pleasing others merely as a measure of their humanity; towards an inner authority and autonomy in choosing their own goals; with a flexibility and fluidity; a comfortable manifestation of the inherently whole complexity of their life; a self actualisation and trust in themselves; and, an acceptance of others. These eventualities would constitute a contribution to a fulsome sense of well-being as a continuing way of life.
So, counselling and psychotherapy can facilitate an experience of a sense of well-being in life. As such, the client can also experience embracing a sense of health and positive self-regard.
Grief may come in many forms. Not just through the deaths of friends colleagues and maybe family in bereavement, but also in the feelings of loss that come with the inevitable life changes we all endure, bereavements in themselves. There is also anticipatory grief that we may imagine as we negotiate life’s processes. A deep sense of loss can come from many of life’s experiences eg loss of a relationship. It can be very lonely to experience grief, bereavement, and loss and sometimes one can experience shame in relation to the emotions that arise, maybe a sense, self-judgementally, that the experiences are not being dealt with appropriately. There may be scant support, culturally and socially, for those experiencing, often hidden, grief so accentuating often desperate fears of abandonment, despondency, and despair.
We need time to get through the pain of loss, often despite the urges of others to move on regardless. The process of healing requires not trying to move on or change how much it hurts. Grief is the opening up of the profound pain of absence and loss, often of what previously seemed certain. Grief is the healing process that ultimately can bring us comfort in our pain of loss. And, everybody is unique in the way they experience loss from the tumultuous events experienced in their life.
Friends may not know what to say or how to help. We often live in a grief dismissing world. We often wonder if we can survive. Feelings of anger, sadness and isolation assault us. The time after a significant loss is full of feelings that we have spent a lifetime trying not to feel. The intensity of feeling can be beyond our usual range of emotional feelings. And, yet, these foreign intense feelings can be part of the healing process.
Person-centred psychotherapy, which I ethically practice, offers therapeutic accommodation of these overwhelming feelings. It offers an understanding relationship in which the client is accepted and respected in their uniqueness on the one hand, whilst on the other hand, there is a continuous appeal to their capacity to grow. Central to the form of therapy I practice is a collaborative relationship with the client and a focus on developing potentialities, not just remedial efforts. It is the client’s perception of these conditions that foster their actualising process, around which person-centred therapy can thrive. As Carl Rogers said in researching, for the first time in its history, the effectiveness of therapy, “It is the client who knows what hurts, what directions to go, what problems are crucial, what experiences have been deeply buried”. The effectiveness of the approach is that, in the last analysis, what matters is the quality of the daily life of the client, a practical philosophy of living. As a person-centred therapist, I look for the release of growth and development in the individual through genuine empathic acceptance. Change comes about almost unnoticed when we thoroughly accept who we are, hence the power of acceptance in the therapeutic relationship. It is an acceptance that the client will move forward in a constructive direction. This is a revolutionary approach as it reverses the traditional locus of power and control in the therapeutic relationship from that of the therapist to that of the client.
Person-centred therapy has a steadfast belief both in the resourcefulness of the person, in the face of the ultimate and searing pain of deep loss, and in the power of the facilitative environment of the counselling room. This gives the client access, in the intensity of meeting in a therapeutic relationship, to the profound realisation of their strength of being in all their experiences, and in the face of all obstacle and possible outcome. This, in turn, can release healing energy that finds confirmation and accompaniment in the outside world.
Bullying, discrimination and abuse are virulent forms of inequitable behaviour from which many suffer in all strands of families, organisations, communities, society and societies.
The practice of psychotherapy, for me, is based on a set of values such as freedom. openness, equality, curiosity and decency in situations where social, economic, and political circumstances require consideration. Individuals react quite normally and reasonably to the accumulating insults of the world such as abuse, discrimination and bullying. Person-centred therapy is an active therapy as the objective is to develop a capacity to see, a capacity that may lead to courage and change, often from a previous residing sense of powerlessness in the circumstances.
My life time’s work in the trade union movement’s capacity to support individual, social, economic and political development has been geared, for individuals, to the elimination of abuse, bullying and discrimination. That experience enables me to be received in a therapeutic relationship by the client as authentic, safe, experienced, grounded, integrated and whole in relation to understanding individuals’ experiences of these soul-destroying attacks. For me, the distress brought to counselling can be as much about economic policy, employment law, housing and educational policies as about familial and interpersonal relationships. My BA in Sociology & MA in Law & Discrimination afford me the understanding of societal matters that can lead an individual to seek therapy in order to address and seek minimisation of deep internal and external distress. The Person-Centred Approach and person-centred psychotherapy is an approach that allows minorities, discriminated people, the ignored, laughed at, underprivileged, to express themselves.
The process of person-centred therapy is to begin to recover the depths and breadths of human potentialities from within, from personal experience, and in relationship. The essence of the person-centred approach is that understanding means changing, that change comes about by understanding. My effectiveness as a therapist rests in the task of accompanying the client with complete presence. My intention, with all my power and ability, is to contemplate the event of the encounter, to understand the fluid and changing character of the client’s self. The person-centred concept of empowerment is central to the personality development of each individual, an empowerment that brings spontaneity and creativity where, at best, life is a process where nothing is fixed. Intuition from that particular and unique therapeutic relationship in mutual involvement, without pretence, replaces preconceptions with the wisdom of the event of the encounter. That encounter has a diversity of intensities where there is a unity between the client and the therapist in the relationship. The client’s perception of my experiencing unconditional positive regard and empathic understanding allows the client to determine the issues brought to therapy.
The therapeutic process is an empathic unconditional process where I am unendingly attendant to the client’s elaboration and change, so freeing the client to deal with whatever issues they find relevant, These conditions, as perceived by the client, are necessary and sufficient for the client to have the capacity to resolve the issues. My job is the capacity to the embrace the client’s personal and complex experience in the context of their relational, economic, and political context in their story at the particular time of the therapy. The client’s perception of what is at issue trumps everything else, so that any preconception I may have from my experience and learnings, which learnings I find most important for my practice, whilst contributing to understanding, will not interfere with the client’s initiative. It is precisely the human condition as expressed by the client that is addressed by person-centred theory and therapeutic practice and that intuitive interaction can lead to the client’s growth.