My backgroundI originally trained as a doctor, qualifying in 1973. I went on to become a specialist in palliative medicine and it was through this work that I developed experience in the skills of counselling. It also made me very aware of the psychological distress that people experience when they are facing a serious illness such as cancer, and the stressful treatments involved. In 2007 I gained a counselling diploma in integrative psychosynthesis. The founder of psychosynthesis, Robert Assagioli, while very aware of the ills of the psyche, wanted to draw attention to the reality of spiritual or peak experiences as well, light as well as dark. I have been working at the Cancer Counselling Trust and this has shown me how the shock waves of any serious illness are felt by all the family. I am also completing a three year trauma training, Somatic Experiencing, in which working with the body and its sensations helps to resolve psychological trauma gently and effectively.
- Diploma in Integrative Psychosynthesis Counselling
- Member of the Somatic Experiencing Association UK
- MBBS DObstRCOG DCH MRCGP TM FRCP DM
My approachI use an integrative approach as a counsellor. This means I have been trained in and so am able to draw on the skills of several different schools of psychotherapy and use them flexibly according to your individual needs.
Where appropriate, I use a somatic experiencing approach. This is useful if you have experienced emotional distress which you found difficult to manage or had times in your life where you might have felt overwhelmed or 'frozen.' It is especially helpful for those who have gone through traumatic events. It puts a high priority on you, the client, feeling safe and works by tuning into body sensations. Working in this way means a step by step approach so that we only address what feels manageable for you.
A loss of meaning, emptiness, dissatisfaction with life, a feeling that there must be more to life. These are common themes reported by those I work with. One useful way of working with this is through the form of stories, of developing a coherent narrative of a life that gives meaning to it.
The least of things with a meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of things without it. (Carl Jung)
Ethics and confidentialityI adhere to the Ethical Framework of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and to that of the General Medical Council (GMC)
I ensure that whatever you tell me during our sessions remains strictly confidential and is not revealed to anyone else. The trust which we build and which is essential in our therapeutic relationship is based on this.
There are certain exceptions:
- I am professionally required to have a supervisor (another therapist) overseeing my counselling work. I discuss my client work with her in order to ensure my work is satisfactory.
- If I think you may be at risk of seriously harming yourself or others, I may need to contact, for example, your doctor to provide further support.
- I may legally be required to give evidence in court.
Should it ever be necessary to break confidentiality, I would try to ensure that this is discussed with the client first.
WRITINGMy new book will be coming out at the end of October 2014. The details are as follows:
The Case of the Disappearing Cancer: and other stories of illness and healing, life and death.
London: Ayni, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-78279-614-5 (Paperback) £14.99
978-1-78279-613-8 (eBook) £6.99
It is a book of true stories, mainly about people I have met as a doctor, counsellor and Somatic Experiencing practitioner. It is about their search for healing whether this was at the physical, mental, emotional, relational, ecological or spiritual levels.
The following extract from the book is about the healing power of nature:
The Chiffon Scarf
It is night. I am standing in the snow in Northern Canada looking up at the shimmering stars. The temperature is about -200C. Across the sky far above the black tree-line sweeps wave after wave of ever-changing curtains of light—soft green with tones of violet. It is like a vast chiffon scarf swirling in the wind, sometimes larger, sometimes fading away only to grow again. Its scale is huge and yet it is also evanescent. It is like a piece of visual music, one with no beginning and no end. I stand and watch, cold but entranced. Perhaps it is my imagination, but I think I hear a sound, a very faint high-pitched hissing. Certainly it seems to fit with the spectacle. I feel very small, taken out of my little concerns at the sight of this extraordinary display, at once so delicate and yet so powerful. Eventually I am driven inside by the searching cold, but night after night I go out and watch the spectacle repeat itself, free for anyone to see. An overwhelming natural generosity.
There are myriad accounts of supernatural experiences, both within and without the major religious traditions around the world. Many of these are far outside our everyday human experience. Nevertheless, nature provides a wonderful resource whereby anyone may get in touch with a spiritual dimension within themselves. We need only attend. It doesn't take much. A flower, a leaf, a stone, a bowl of water; any of these will do. Go and look into a patient's room in a hospital or hospice and, almost without fail, there will be flowers there, or cards showing scenes from nature. If she is well enough to do some painting, she will most likely choose a pastoral scene or a still life of flowers. Or the patient may be outside in her wheelchair in a patch of garden enjoying the sun. Such simple things; but how rarely we give them our full attention, how rarely we truly value them.
Some of my other publications include:
Speaking of Dying: a practical guide to using counselling skills in palliative care. London: Jessica Kingsley, 2009
What’s in a word? Therapy Today 2008; 19(6): 34-35.
From palliative medicine to counselling. BMJ Career Focus 2008;337:20-21
Dying to talk. Therapy Today. 2007:18(5):11-14
Spirituality for our Time. Alternatives Magazine creative writing competition. 1st prize winner. Published on their website. May 2007.
On spiritual pain in the dying. Mortality 1996;1(3):297-315