Counselling Twickenham, Whitton I work with:
counselling for depression
counselling for anxiety
survivors of rape
Or email me first
For those of you who are interested, I'd like to inform you of backstory and how I came to counselling.
The start of my formal training began at Metanoia Institute in 2004 with a Post-graduate Certificate in Psychotherapy. In 2005 I began training for my Masters Degree in Psychotherapy. Before that I completed a Counselling Certificate and worked in Cyprus. During five years training I worked as a counsellor with MIND, Portsmouth Area Rape Crisis Service, Winchester University, Metanoia and a psychiatric ward in Fareham. After this I set up my private practice at Counselling Twickenham and Whitton, EnduringMind. I'm also a consultant psychotherapist & lecturer in Counselling at St. Mary's University and West Thames College. However, I'd say my journey as a therapist began long before that.
Much of my learning experience comes from my time as an anthropologist observing how people from different cultures learn to recover from ill-health and trauma in healing rituals performed by spirit mediums, medicine men and shaman. I began fieldwork in Papua New Guinea, living with tribal people in the Trobriand Islands who relied on spirit mediums to heal individuals who had fallen sick. I spent time on the mainland observing spirit possession in men's longhouses, where the ancestors returned to carry out healing rituals, often in communities blighted by conflict. I also observed Candomblé spirit cults in Brazil for three years. If I learned anything, it was about men and women who served their communities in the midst of crisis. And this has served me well as a therapist in Britain. Nowadays, besides setting up my practice at EnduringMind, Counselling in Twickenham and Whitton I offer counselling and mindfulness to clients and couples counselling.
My first experience in a counselling or mentoring role was as a youth worker in Moss Side, Manchester during a turbulent period in my early twenties. I was a volunteer in a deprived area of the city, working with bright young men and women at high risk of joining gangs, or becoming the victims of crime themselves. During that time, I came into contact with youngsters who were often in a state of crisis.
Looking back, I'd say many of them were traumatised. But most of those young people were also inspired by an irresistible spirit of hope. And much like the rest of the community they were determined not to be defined by the stigma of discrimination. Many of them had creative talents like music, drama, photography and film which they could escape into for solace. In such conditions, the spirit may thrive, or be extinguished.
I came to feel a close affinity with those young people and wanted to offer my skills as a mentor in the hope it would enrich both our lives. These youngsters were already beginning to harness their talents in a constructive way, so they could make better choices in life. Along with friends and volunteers, and inspired by the Moss Side community, we nurtured the conditions for young people to explore their own way forward. Sometimes we used informal groups as a forum for discussion, guidance and counselling. Other times we engaged them in skills such as film-making, editing and screen-writing. It was a time of personal satisfaction and reward for me. But also a time of sadness the people I worked with struggled against social injustice and protested against the racist murders of two men in our community.
At that time I spent two long periods in Manchester: once studying as an anthropologist and later as a teacher. I also lectured in anthropology and sociology at Manchester University. By my late twenties, I had lived in the rainforests of Papua New Guinea, as well as travelling around India, West Africa and Europe. I knew how to adapt in difficult conditions and embraced new challenges. This was a great levelling experience for me and one that taught me how to appreciate the wide diversity of human beings and not to fear or judge what is different about them. In many ways I was following in the footsteps of people like C. G. Jung who said 'everything that irritates us about others can lead us to a better understanding of ourselves' (1940). He also said that in counselling or psychotherapy that the meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any interaction, both are transformed.'
At the Manchester University I became involved as a tutor of mature students. They often needed special care and attention during tutorials, because they were balancing part-time jobs, family and studies. This included building a personal rapport with students who harboured anxieties about their future careers, as well as missing out on valuable time with family and children. Later I taught at a secondary school in Oldham. And despite my naivety as a newly qualified teacher, I found a place to belong. I tried to set firm boundaries but didn't always win the favour of my students. However, I learned a lot about myself, the difficulties of setting personal boundaries and my pastoral role as a teacher. Controversially, I mentored young adults who had personal struggles with racism, sexuality and identity - their lives blighted by crime and substance misuse, which still guides my practice today at Counselling Twickenham, TW1. And again it is Carl Jung that reminds me that 'one looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.' (1932)
After that, I became a senior manager and teacher in Brazil where my counselling skills were used in my role as a private tutor. I also worked in an inner city school in London as Head of Humanities. During those years I took an Introductory Course in Psychotherapy and a counselling Certificate. Later, as a teacher in Cyprus I was a member of a support group for mental health service users. This was an interesting time where I learned about the lives of people who suffered serious mental health problems. I overcame my limited experience and began to view my clients as ordinary people, who faced difficulties with mental health, but weren't defined by it. I worked with creative therapies, mindfulness and meditation. One elderly gentleman I became attached to could only speak Greek, but we learned to communicate with limited Greek and English, mainly through non-verbal gestures and a sense of humour.
On my return from Cyprus I began a five years of rigorous training in Psychotherapy and counselling at Metanioa Institute. The training was fascinating, awe-inspiring and challenging. I learned my craft through a mixture of academic research, group therapy, self-development and clinical counselling. As well as that I gained 1000s of hours of client work, 250 hours of supervision and around 250 hours of personal therapy as required by the course. I found this experience invaluable, throwing myself into the work as much as I could. I had found my calling, although I suspect it had been lying in wait all along. It was a time of great change. I now have well over 12 years counselling experience. During my studies I found my lifelong partner, lost my grandfather and became a father to twin boys. Becoming a father was a profound awakening for me. I realised that deep down there were old wounds that had not been healed, but that this was an opportunity for me to live up to the image of the man I wanted to become. As D. H. Lawrence once said 'the child is father to the man' (1929). And so I needed to work through old wounds before I could work with clients. But like the archetype of the 'wounded healer' this enabled me to make connections with others, who experienced pain in their lives and feel empathy (C. G. Jung). During my clinical interactions I came to understand that it was all part of the process - allowing myself to be moved by others, while maintaining objectivity.
I recall my first therapeutic encounter - an elderly woman who had spent her entire life in the film industry, longing to be discovered as a performer and producer. She was highly articulate and intelligent, and we shared many interesting and challenging interactions as we learned to establish a rapport. While working at a Rape Crisis Service, I fondly recall working with a client whom I admired greatly. Over a period of years we worked through the distressing impact of childhood trauma and healing the wounds through the difficult transition from victim to survivor. I learned so much from her about the need to generate a state of mindfulness and compassion. Enabling her to slowly rebuild her life and come to terms with her inner demons. To heal the wounds of betrayal and shame, as she moved towards loving relationships and self-acceptance.
I also remember my initial fears about clinical work with a client who suffered from Schizophrenia and was prone to violent outbursts. Rather than dismiss his delusions or 'inner voices' as an irrational, we learned to work with his voices and find a way to live with them. I learned to help him communicate with the voices that persecuted him, and to use other more compassionate voices that soothed him. It helped provide him with an inner dialogue when he came in contact with the outside world. And meant that he regained a sense of composure and dignity. He was able to shift the balance of light and shadow in his soul. There was a time, I had a long conversation with a woman in a state of psychosis, who needed to be sectioned, but couldn't trust anyone to accompany her to the psychiatric hospital. I gained her trust with empathy and kindness; attuning myself to her emotions, without the need to coerce her. In that moment I felt a deep sense of calm descend on me by creating a safe place so she could entrust herself to me. As well as allow me to help with the intrusive thoughts and delusions that threatened to engulf her.
Finally, I recall a brief clinical relationship with a male student at University, struggling with his faith, despite the conservative religious beliefs of his family. He experienced inner turmoil at his lack of belief in God and was terrified to admit this to his family, fearing they would reject him. I remember how I felt fatherly affection towards him as we struggled to overcome his existential despair. I sat in silence, while he sobbed like a child; imagining myself hugging him, but never conveying this in actions. Until one day he held himself as he cried; hugging for dear life until he let go and smiled. He said he was ready to leave and felt confident despite his fears that he could to care for himself.
Nowadays, I offer counselling in the Whitton and Twickenham area. Please feel free to make enquiries for both couples counselling where I offer support to couples who want to repair relationships and improve communication; as well as individual counselling to help clients develop self-awareness of their personal issues.