by D H Lawrence
'I am not a mechanism, an assembly of various sections.
And it is not because the mechanism is working wrongly, that I am ill.
I am ill because of wounds to the soul, to the deep emotional self
And the wounds to the soul take a long, long time, only time can help...'
Difficult or traumatic experiences can be so overwhelming and painful that our mind responds by pushing them out of our awareness. The feelings and experiences may then remain unintegrated – or undigested – and, like an over-full drawer in a filing cabinet, can burst open and flood the nervous system in reaction to a trigger.
Someone said to me recently “I operate on ‘fight or flight’ a lot of the time”, and when this is the case one can feel exhaustion and stress as a result. However, it may still seem impossible to slow down and be still, because in those moments the feelings we have fought hard to push down will come nearer to the surface. ‘The good news is you start to feel your feelings, and the bad news is you start to feel your feelings’.
Some theories describe this process as being like a split in the personality and soul, or psyche. We have become so expert at hiding or burying painful feelings that we actually believe they are not there, and our survival strategies take up most of our attention and most of the space in our lives.
When people live from their survival strategies, (e.g. excessive work, caring about others, illness, depression, addictions, risky behaviour) the transmission between the generations is distorted, like interference on a radio. The clarity about who is responsible for what has become all messed up. Children can grow up feeling responsible for things that may have happened long before they were born.
It is impossible for a parent to avoid passing something of their own traumatic experiences on to their children - through the process of bonding. We are relational beings and our brains and bodies develop in resonance with other brains and bodies. This was shown in the work of John Bowlby, Mary Ainsworth and Mary Main, as they researched the attachment relationship.
Deep feelings, perceptions, thoughts and embodied ways of being, are experienced in the intimacy of the family – but there may be no words to explain what is being felt. There are no impermeable layers in families. Coherent explanations, which could help to make sense of these experiences, even though they are painful - are often missing. ‘Children do not need a pain free story, but they do need a story that makes sense’.
Each of us learns ways of surviving and enduring, and then later in life we find those exact same survival strategies holding us back from being the person we know we could be.
In my experience this is why people seek out counselling. We have a longing to fulfil our potential. It is almost impossible to do the work of disentangling and making sense by ourselves. Therapists are no different from anyone else; we have all had to work on our own entanglements and hopefully are still doing so. But in the counselling room, we can provide time and space to get in touch with what it is you want - what is your intention or your heart’s desire. We can then look at what is getting in the way, and step by step figure out what might help.
For example there may be some skills that would support you or some things you could learn that will make the outcome of therapy more satisfactory, perhaps some simple mindfulness practices, or relaxation exercises. When we understand in a basic way how our brain and nervous system works, in relation to stress, or the after effects of trauma, it is easier to see which steps need to be taken first.
Originally a Gestalt therapist, I now incorporate Family Constellations into my practice. Constellations expand our view of the person not just as an individual but as part of a larger family and community system. I facilitate Family Constellations Workshops in Edinburgh and offer personal and professional study groups using this approach.
My first career was as a musician and later I trained as a nursery school teacher. I got interested in working therapeutically with people when I trained as a massage therapist, 3 years before I began my psychotherapy course. I have always been interested in facilitating awareness of the body, and have done many years of movement work of various kinds. I love to learn new things and am currently going to classes to discover drawing and painting the figure. I believe there are many things in life which are 'therapeutic' and we can all progress or grow in different ways at different times in our lives.
Training, Qualifications & Experience
Diploma in Gestalt Psychotherapy from the Gestalt Centre London. Registered with UKCP. I have been practicing as a psychotherapist since 1992.
I completed an EMDR training in 2008.
I have been practicing Family Constellations for the past 13 years, having trained with Hunter Beaumont, Bert Hellinger and the International Systemic Constellations Association Faculty in Germany for the past 13 years. I am the President of the International Systemic Constellations Association (ISCA).
Diploma in Therapeutic Massage from the College of Holistic Medicine 1987.
Areas of counselling I deal with
- Affairs and Betrayals
- Anger Management
- Career Counselling
- Child Related Issues
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME
- Couples Counselling
- Debt Counselling
- Eating Disorders
- Family Issues
- Low Self-Confidence
- Low Self-Esteem
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Panic Disorder
- Personality Disorders
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Postnatal Depression
- Pre-nuptial Counselling
- Pregnancy and Birth
- Relationship Issues
- Separation and Divorce
- Sexual Issues
- Work Related Stress
£50 per hour
£55 per hour for couples
Some Low Cost sessions possible, please enquire.
Family Constellations Website
- Supervision available (view supervision profile)
- Online counselling available
- Telephone counselling available