‘The very heart of psychotherapy is a caring, deeply human meeting between two people, one more troubled than the other. Therapists have a duel role: they must both observe and participate in the lives of their patient’. Yalom, I., Love’s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy. 1989.
Psychotherapy is a talking therapy which enables us, through being in a relationship with a confidential, professional and highly qualified psychotherapist, to make sense of our difficulties and move forward in a way that is positive and empowering.
The basic theoretical underpinnings of my work are based in humanistic and relational theories. I offer the skills of listening, empathy, curiosity and respect, and the purpose of my work is to facilitate change of a person’s psyche. Using my chosen knowledge of psychology, I better understand the client’s uniqueness while experiencing them in our relationship. The power of working at relational depth, with certain conditions maintained, allows the client to experience themselves. As the weeks pass we learn together how to deal with here and now issues as well as understanding the past.
I think all of us want to know what makes us tick, why we do certain things that we later question. Psychotherapy helps us to deconstruct ourselves and during that process we gain a much deeper understanding of self. I do not spend a lot of time analysing the past as I believe the answers lie within the here and now, however, much can be learned from the past. The aim of psychotherapy is to move forward, better able to make choices that are more authentically us, so we can achieve our own inner peace.
Psychotherapy is highly effective in helping clients with emotional, social or psychological problems. People have come to me with lots of issues over my near 20 years as a therapist and so I feel confident to say I am proficient in helping clients. The list below is not extensive, but it illustrates the more common presentations.
I believe that for psychotherapy to be effective we must engage in a collaborative process.
As well as my work with individuals I also work with couples (for which I have received specialist training) on an open-ended basis or for an agreed time. This can be on a private basis or arranged through an employer as part of their Employment Assistance Programme.
In addition I offer therapy to young people, generally aged between 13 and 18, for which I have again received specialist training. When considering therapy for a young person it is very important that the psychotherapist has had specific training in working with them. There are a specific set of skills required and additional knowledge and understanding of the psychological and biological changes that occur during adolescence. Let’s not forget this is the time which facilitates our transition between childhood and adulthood. Few of us manage to travel this path without loosing our way once or twice.
I work mid-way between Todmorden and Hebden Bridge and I am also within easy reach of Littleborough, Halifax and the surrounding areas. In a bid to reduce anxiety and be as open and transparent as possible I have posted a picture of my therapy room. My practice room has been comfortably furnished to offer a calm space in which to reflect, away from the pressures of daily life. I have filmed a short video, which can be found at the bottom of the home page, so you can have an idea of me as therapist and perhaps you can try and imagine yourself working with me.
Many people ask me about the difference between psychotherapy and counselling. It is sometimes difficult to put your head above the parapet as it is a contentious issue. Unfortunately, the talking therapies profession is as yet unregulated. There are three professional bodies therapists can join and they are: The British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists (BACP), The United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapists (UKCP) and The National Counselling Society (NCS). The BACP and UKCP have many different and opposing views as to what the basic requirements are to be able to call yourself a psychotherapist. The lack of clarity in identifying differences is further complicated due to the varying standards among the many psychotherapy and counselling training courses on offer.
Unfortunately, over the past ten years some training organisations have tagged on the word ‘psychotherapy’ to what is only counselling training. The qualified counsellor at the end of their training then believe themselves to be a psychotherapist. This is not the case.
Only a qualified psychotherapist can be a member of UKCP and call themselves so. UKCP will not allow counsellors who call themselves psychotherapists to register. UKCP do allow counsellors, who fit their criteria, call themselves ‘psychological counsellors’ and this requirement is degree level training or equivalent.
To gain UKCP status psychotherapists must have met the rigorous training standards, generally at post graduate master’s level over 4 years. These training courses have many additional theoretical and experiential requirements compared to counselling courses.
Having trained initially as a BACP accredited counsellor I then went on to train as a UKCP accredited psychotherapist, so I have a lived experience of both trainings.
Comparing the two training courses, there is a vast difference between both qualifications, and so with clarity I know and say that the difference affects what a client will experience and ultimately pay for.
The aim of both counselling and psychotherapy is to improve the quality of living and relating, and so help a person lead a more satisfying life. The terms are often used interchangeably, not only because the word ‘counselling’ can seem less intimidating and more socially acceptable than ‘psychotherapy’, but also because some organisations and professional bodies do not perceive any differences between the two.
To access my counselling course, I didn’t need to have any experience within the field of mental health. There was no requirement for personal counselling, although it was suggested I attend 6 sessions. (I attended weekly counselling for the whole 2 years). The course was conducted over an afternoon/evening a week over 2 years. I needed to complete 100 clinically supervised volunteer counselling hours. This was a BACP accredited counselling course.
To gain entry to the psychotherapy training I had first to be a qualified counsellor with a minimum of 450 post qualified clinically supervised paid client hours. I had to have work experience of working within a mental health provision. The course was conducted over 4 years, I had to commit to weekly personal therapy for the whole 4 years. These sessions and their content were analysed, written about, signed off by a qualified UKCP psychotherapist and marked.
During accredited psychotherapy training there are certain modules which separate it from less intense training. The completion of a substantial psychiatric training within a mental Health unit is one such example. Working for months alongside psychiatrists and psychologists within mental health wards and outpatient clinics, allows a therapist to work with secondary care patients. These are often multi diagnosed patients, heavily medicated and often they have long histories of mental illness. It is only after working with these patients and alongside professional and competent colleagues do I know that I am able to work confidently with many clients who present with fragile mental health.
Psychotherapy training also has a solid raft of psychology training that is taught throughout the 4-year duration. We studied many different modalities and learned to appreciate that while there are many theories, it is the therapeutic relationship between client and therapist that allows change to occur.
My professional master's training in psychotherapy demanded that I attend weekly therapy for the duration of four years. It is then expected that we continue with our therapy so we can be the best therapist that we can be. As a psychotherapist/counsellor the only tool we take into the therapy room is ourselves. If we do not know who we are and who the client is then boundaries are blurred and ultimately, they get crossed.
Therapeutic transference and counter transference occur all the time. The therapeutic relationship is undermined when therapists have not worked on themselves at great depth to recognise what is going on. We all have conscious and unconscious thoughts and responses. For me, the main reason why psychotherapists must invest in personal therapy is to keep the therapy space clean of our own material.
Psychotherapists are trained to recognise at speed what is unfolding for the client, identify the patterns occurring, understand the impact it is having on ourselves and why. Every therapist needs the ability to follow the client, where ever they need to go. There is a saying in therapy….”You cannot take the client where you have not travelled yourself”. If your therapist has not invested heavily in themselves, they can soon be behind their client, and often the client will become stuck.
Whether you are seeking some short-term work to explore a recent issue that has arisen in your life or you have finally decided to bite the bullet and start the work you have been avoiding for decades I will always advocate that you employ the most trained and experienced professional that you can afford.
If you need counselling then why not also have a psychotherapist in the room at no extra cost? The line between my internal counsellor and psychotherapist merged a long time ago, today you will always get both, with the additional qualifications.
While seeking a therapist always make enquiries about their level of training, clinical placements, personal therapy hours and accrued clinically supervised work and in what setting.
As a client you are undertaking this work at great cost, financially and emotionally, make sure that the other half of this alliance is as qualified and experienced as you need them to be.