HOW I WORK
Love has an immense ability to help heal the devastating wounds that life sometimes deals us. Love also enhances our sense of connection to the larger world. Loving responsiveness is the foundation of a truly compassionate, civilized society.
Sue Johnson, Hold Me Tight
I have been working as a clinical psychologist for over a decade. Throughout my career and in my personal life, I have been struck by how important relationships are in how we navigate the demands and challenges of life.
We often find ourselves repeating familiar patterns in relationships that may not serve our needs and in ways that seem confusing to us and the people around us.
People seek my help with a wide range of issues that impact them and their relationships. These include tendencies to be critical of themselves or of others, to sacrifice their own needs, to make excessive demands, to belittle or otherwise act in ways that undermine the very relationships that they value most. My approach to therapy is to lift the lid on these patterns and understand what lies beneath the surface.
After qualifying as a clinical psychologist in 2009 from the University of East Anglia, I trained in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy at the Oxford Cognitive Therapy Centre and in Schema Therapy at the Dutch Institute for Schema Therapy. Both these approaches to therapy hold that the experiences we have (e.g. with our families, schools, communities and peers) create a set of memories, emotions, body sensations, expectation and beliefs. This forms the schema or the lens through which we experience our relationships and how we interact with others.
If we have strong schemas rooted in painful experiences and unmet childhood needs, we might find ourselves transported to a ‘once upon a time’ place, no longer in touch with our adult selves and in the present moment. We might find ourselves vulnerable, helpless and childlike in painful moments. As our adult self cracks open, like a Babushka doll, we may find that other dolls or modes appear to protect or soothe us at times of pain and distress.
Perhaps we become withdrawn and cut off to protect ourselves from painful emotions and excessive demands. Perhaps we become blustering, demanding and belittling in an attempt to establish control and protect ourselves from feeling powerless. Perhaps we become harsh and punitive with ourselves, demanding perfection for fear that we will otherwise be rejected. Perhaps we turn to rigid patterns of perfectionism in our appearance, our work or our exercise routine in an attempt to hide our vulnerability and present a veneer of perfection.
Underneath these coping modes, lies a vulnerable inner child that needs to be tended and nurtured.
The aim of schema therapy is to connect with our underlying vulnerable selves with compassion and care and to develop a compassionate healthy adult or inner parent who can take care of our more vulnerable selves and connect with others from a place of open-heartedness. This healthy adult can be a healthy advocate for our more vulnerable selves, helping us establish healthy boundaries and advocate for ourselves in relationships, building closeness, intimacy and autonomy.
I am currently mostly working online, something I have done since before the COVID-19 pandemic so I can work with people anywhere they might be.
SERVICES I OFFER
I primarily work with people who have long standing problems that they feel stuck with.
-Coping with the aftermath of an abusive relationships, rebuilding (or perhaps building for the first time) a foundation of self compassion, nurturance, healthy boundaries, autonomy and self-respect.
-Building healthy relationships (including with friends, family, colleagues and romantic partners) based on mutual trust, respect and commitment.
-Changing long-standing patterns of behaviours that undermine healthy relationships including withdrawal, criticism, high levels of conflict or angry outbursts
-Managing the impact of mental illness including depression, anxiety disorders, trauma reactions and severe mental illness on relationships
I work with couples (and sometimes with other couplings including parents and children, siblings or close relationshipsu).
This work involves understanding the schemas and underlying patterns of each individual and mapping out how they interact with each other to create relationship patterns.
This can point to ways that couples can better understand each other, take better care of each other’s vulnerability and build a stronger, healthier relationship that nurtures and strengthens each individual and the couple.
Sometimes this work might also help couples to re-evaluate their relationship, choosing to bring it to an end in a way that is respectful to each party and forms the foundation of better relationships in the future.
I can provide clinical supervision to other psychologists, therapists or other professionals. My supervision style is much like my therapy style - warm and interactive. As a supervisor I encourage self reflection and understanding of what the therapist brings to therapy, helping therapists build their compassion, strength and skills to manage challenging therapeutic relationships.
If you would like to set up an informal 15 minute telephone call to see whether I might be a good fit to work with you, please fill out the contact form and I will be in touch.
Fees vary depending on the nature of the work to be undertaken.