A wide variety of issues might bring people to therapy, including depression, anxiety, stuckness, feeling overwhelmed, wanting to work more deeply with recurring embodied sensations, thoughts or feelings, difficulty with relationships, or other life themes and existential issues.
To give you an idea of how I work, here are some of the core themes we might explore in our work together, and ways we might explore them.
In some ways therapy is about becoming aware, or more conscious, in our lives. It can lead to a deeper awareness of who we are and what we're doing here. In a session we might bring a gentle attention to what is happening, and what thoughts, feelings and perceptions are present right now.
Our past experiences, particulary during key moments of our early life, can influence us in the present. This may be more or less conscious, and may take time to come to the surface. These experiences or formative periods may emerge can be in the form of memories but also of feelings and sensations that underly and still influence our everyday consciousness. Recognising and integrating these aspects of ourselves - that might be crying out for our attention - in a safe and compassionate way can lead to a new sense of freedom and wholeness.
We do not exist separately from the societies in which we are situated. Aspects of gender, sexuality, race, class, religion and politics may have impacted and continue to impact our lives in many ways. Similarly therapy can take into account the wider context of our lives, and the lives of our parents or significant others.
We may have different feelings about being in a body. Some of us might yearn to 'ascend' to the light, or be comfortable in the world of thought and find feelings uncomfortable or disruptive. Others may find their bodies too present, too demanding, or something that needs to be honed or corrected.
This work is about giving expression to our unique embodiment - not teaching a 'correct' way to breath or to be but rather finding ways to hear, express and perhaps reconcile the different parts of ourselves contained within our bodymind that emerge in our relationship with ourselves and with others.
It can be helpful to trust that whatever needs to happen in a session, is happening. It may need a little help to emerge. But paying attention to ‘process’ - what is happening in the now, over different sessions, what feels alive and what feels more difficult or hidden - is a key part of the work.
What does it feel like to be with others? What does it feel like to be with yourself? What needs get met, what go unnoticed or are held back? As well as embodied awareness, exploring relationship is a key part of this work. This includes our relationship to different aspects of ourselves, and how they relate to each other, as well as our relationships with other people and the wider world around us.
I feel one of the most important things in therapy is to stay with the client and what is happening now. To be open to the light and the shadow, the known and unknown aspects of experience. And to show up in the relationship as a real human being, not a blank slate or all-knowing guru.
Popular books like Peter Levine's Waking the Tiger and Bessel van der Kolk's The Body Keeps the Score have shown how mindful, body-centred therapeutic approaches can be key to the processing and resolution of traumatic experiences. Trauma can be characterised as either one-off incidents, 'developmental trauma' - difficult experiences when growing up - or periods of repeated difficult experience in later life causing a numbing and separating in the body-mind.
A lot of the work in this area has been backed-up by the findings of contemporary neuroscience, which reinforces some of the basic tenets of body-oriented therapeutic approaches.