It can sometimes be very hard to make sense of why we feel, think and behave in ways that can be self-defeating. However, it is generally accepted that emotional problems have their roots in childhood, particularly our childhood relationships with our family and later our peers. From these relationships we develop a sense of who we are and how we view others and hence behave towards them. If our emotional needs, such as for safety and validation, are not sufficiently met in these relationships we may be prone to developing psychological problems. This is not to say that later difficulties in our adult life, such as trauma and bereavements cannot have a profound impact on our emotional wellbeing, but how we cope with these difficulties often is rooted in our experiences in early life. Because we do not understand our emotional problems we often engage in a process of self-blame, which adds a further layer of emotional pain. Understanding our emotional pain in the context of our life history can be a first step in coming to a compassionate understanding and acceptance of ourselves and easing the emotional distress that self-criticism evokes.
The above explanation is a simplified account of the basic orientation I take to understanding the development of psychological problems. I view the quality of the counselling relationship - the importance of trust, safety and acceptance- as vital to understanding and resolving the difficulties that you bring to counselling.
I work from an integrative perspective. I integrate a psychodynamic perspective, with elements of compassion focused therapy. A psychodynamic perspective emphasises the role of our early relationships, experiences and unconscious thoughts, feelings and motivation on present day problems. One of the main reasons that it can difficult to understand our emotional problems is because we are not aware of some of our thoughts and feelings- that is they are unconscious. Developing an awareness of our unconscious thoughts and feelings can be an important part of therapy as we can then learn how to respond to situations in a helpful way rather than just react.
One of the main features of compassion focused therapy (CFT) focuses on developing a compassionate orientation to ourselves rather than one of self-criticism, which can often be a strong feature in emotional problems. Learning to support yourself through self- compassion can be an important step to restoring emotional wellbeing.
Of course the specific approach that we will take to addressing your difficulties will be based on the problems that you present with, your goals and whether the therapy is of short or long term duration. These are issues that we can discuss at your first appointment.