I am at heart a person-centred counsellor, and this informs every aspect of how I work. I also bring a gentle awareness to the body, and incorporate Focusing-oriented therapy as well as some grounding and self-regulation approaches.
Person-centred counselling is a humanistic approach first developed by Carl Rogers. At its heart is the belief that life is growth, and that as such we all have the ability to grow and change. Counselling and therapy can help by providing the best conditions for growth – much as sunshine, water and nutrient-rich soil do for plants. In counselling these conditions are empathy (understanding and being in tune with how you are feeling), unconditional positive regard (compassion and acceptance), and congruence (being open to our own feelings, and authentic in our interactions). In life sometimes the idea of how things should be, or how we should behave, stops us from noticing what is really happening, or how we are truly feeling. Person-centred counselling aims to help us reconnect with our experiencing of ourselves and the world around us.
….we all have the ability to grow and change. Counselling can help by providing the best conditions for growth – much as sunshine, water and nutrient-rich soil do for plants.
The client is the expert (in themselves), and I strive to create a relationship based on equality rather than being ‘in charge’. Because of this deep trust in the client, counselling takes place at your pace. At times this can mean there are silences, and few questions, and at others more of a back and forth. The aim is that through a warm and understanding relationship, ultimately you, the client, will rediscover and hold this same trust in yourself.
Focusing-Oriented therapy is based on the work of Eugene Gendlin, and the practice and philosophy of Focusing he developed. It builds on the importance of experiencing – our moment-by-moment lived experience – and the edge of our awareness, the space where what we know meets what we do not yet know. The ‘felt sense‘ of the whole of something often involves noticing or connecting to a physical, felt sensation, which may be fuzzy and unclear yet also strangely specific. Have you ever been searching for just the right word to describe something? We feel inside when the word doesn’t fit, and then the rightness of when it does. That sense inside we check against, that is the felt sense.
Focusing-oriented therapy is about making the space to be in a kind of explorative awareness, noticing that felt sense within us, checking against it, noticing where it points.
…our moment-by-moment lived experience – and the edge of our awareness, the space where what we know meets what we do not yet know.
In focusing-oriented therapy you may be invited to notice what is happening for you, or it may be that it is your therapist who is staying with their own experiencing. I may pause as I take a moment to check internally before speaking. This noticing and checking can help us both stay with a deep experience of, and connection to, whatever you bring.
Another aspect that I draw on is Inner Relationship Focusing – our relationship to our inner selves. ‘Something in me feels’ resonates differently to ‘I feel’; we can learn to be curious, to offer compassion to what comes. This offers a way to be with difficult feelings without overwhelm, to find the right distance to them while still be in relationship to them. We can offer them the same acceptance and understanding that we experience in person-centred counselling.
Other approaches: Grounding and self-regulation
Drawing on approaches such as trauma theory, polyvagal theory, neuroscience, somatic experiencing, we can develop ways to understand what happens when we perceive ourselves to be under threat (e.g. fight or flight). Recognising how the body reacts can be helpful, and we can also learn how to soothe ourselves, find safety, and calm our responses.
Grounding and self-regulation techniques… can help us to return to the here-and-now, to our own bodies, and to knowing we are safe.
I incorporate grounding and self-regulation techniques where needed. These can help us to return to the here-and-now, to our own bodies, and to knowing we are safe. When we feel safe it is easier to see the bigger picture and to be aware of how others are feeling, and we can connect more easily with others.