Dr Alexander Fox (MBACP, PgDip Counselling, Masters in Counselling, PhD)
Suite 5, Bannerman House
27 South Tay Street
How counselling can help
If I were to sum up the essence of any kind of counselling, it would be this: counselling provides a rare opportunity to explore and resolve what concerns you.
More fully, skillful counsellors are expert in providing a safe, non-judgmental space for their clients so that they can explore their concerns free of criticism and personal agenda. A counselling session is indeed a special, rare place, as the sole focus is on the client and on resolving the issues they have come with. Since counselling is solution-focused, it can lead to powerful positive changes-sometimes it can even save lives.
Here is a testimonial from a male client where he emphasizes my skills in creating a safe and supportive environment, which has allowed him to know himself better and meet life's challenges with greater resolve:
From my first session with Alex, I felt completely at ease and able to communicate with him on a very personal level. I’ve been quite taken aback by the amount I’m learning about myself through the positive counselling I am receiving. I’m finding over time that I’m capable of expressing my feelings and who I really am and what I really thought without having any feeling of being judged.The experience for me is definitely enlightening and I really appreciate Alex's honesty when it is called for. It's hard making that first step into admitting you need help but Alex has and continues to help me.
How I can help you
My extensive know-how
Research studies have consistently shown that clients do better in counselling when their individuality and preferences are taken into account. This is a vital fact to note, as there are many different therapies, and most counsellors specialize in one main form of therapy.
I was trained in an approach called 'pluralism', which takes this fact into account in a way that other therapy approaches don't. As a pluralist, I will act in a way not dissimilar to a tailor, as I will ensure that the approach that we use to address your issues fits with your problems, your individuality and your preferences. I certainly won't stick pointlessly to an approach that doesn't fit with who you are or what you want.
Since pluralism means that the counsellor works with a number of different approaches (i.e. the number of possible approaches that can be used is 'plural' rather than single), I have been trained in a range of therapy methods and can use them flexibly and appropriately to suit what you need.Extensive knowledge is power in therapy too, because without it, you might be forced to work with an approach that doesn't ultimately suit you.
Here is a female client's perspective on me as a flexible, insightful and knowledgeable practitioner:
Alex is an exceptional counsellor. I was immediately put at ease when I first met with him and during our subsequent discussions he was patient, friendly, flexible and insightful. I think Alex’s vast knowledge of counselling theory makes him stand out as a practitioner; the discussion of this was incredibly helpful for me in establishing a perspective from which to view my personal emotional issues. The sessions with Alex had a significant and lasting impact on my life, and I would enthusiastically recommend him as a counsellor.
NB: For interested clients, please see some of the articles that I've written below. These illustrate my extensive knowledge of therapy theory.
Understanding and resolving the past
Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives, the power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change, truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts~ Salman Rushdie
I don't believe that there is one therapy approach that suits everyone, but for most clients, they have found it very helpful, even healing, to examine their issues in light of their past. Indeed, by retelling their life story, clients are able to understand how their problems emerged in their life, and how the past was shaping behind the scenes their lives in the present (Freud once said that if we didn't remember the origins of our problems we were condemned to repeat the same mistakes). Working with your life story can be healing, as I will help you understand how your problems came to be, and help you move on from the grip of the past. Quite simply, my view is that often when we can learn from the past, we are no longer dominated by it.
I have a fortunate and rare background as a counsellor, as I have both extensive training in counselling and in studying literature (my PhD ('Dr') is in English literature). I am therefore an expert in deeply understanding stories and helping people start a new chapter in their lives that is free from the harmful aspects of their past.
I am a sensitive, sympathetic listener
Who listens?~ Paula Fox from her novel 'Poor George'
In everyday life, finding a good listener can prove to be elusive-we might even despairingly ask, 'Who listens?' From the boss that isn't interested in our point of view to the partner that struggles to hear what we've got to say as they have their own agenda, we often feel that what we've got to say goes unheard. And the truth is that if we haven't felt heard, it is hard to understand ourselves. As master therapist, Carl Rogers, put it:
Being listened to by someone who understands makes it possible for persons to listen more accurately to themselves.
I am a sensitive and trained listener who will patiently and attentively consider what you say and help you to feel truly heard and understood. More fully, I practice what psychologist Theodor Reik termed 'listening with the third ear', as I will help you find out what is 'really going on' for you as I pay especial attention to the subtext of what you say. Indeed, I bring my extensive literary training to the task of helping you to understand the nuances and underlying patterns in what you say. This kind of listening can act like a 'mirror' showing you how you really feel and what you wish to change.
How to understand your relationships better
Relationships are often the source of our greatest pleasure-and our greatest pain. Sometimes it we ourselves that play a considerable part in our relationship difficulties, as we can be too dependent, too aloof or too confrontational with those closest to us. Sometimes it is our partner or family member, with their subtle and not-so-subtle negativity, that can bring us down, as George Weinberg highlights:
Negative people can break your spirit; they can demoralize you not just during the time you spend with them but even when you're alone. With such a person in your life, you can feel hopeless about new ventures. You will be less likely to take chances or attempt to improve your life.
Of course, therapy is not the place to simply blame oneself or others in a condemnatory fashion. Rather it is a space to reflect on how you relate to others and how others have affected you, for better or for worse. I can help you begin to understand better how your own needs have shaped your relationships, and perhaps distorted how you see your partner or other significant other. Gaining such insight allows you to work out how your partner or family member really makes you feel, and you can then make better decisions on how to tackle the relationship difficulties. (NB: I don't do couples counselling. I only work with individuals on their relationship problems)
Smart thinking: learning to ask empowering questions and to resolve problems
There cannot be a precise answer to a vague question. Scarcely any other principle is more important in relation to a consideration of the befuddlement and conflict that make for unhappiness~Wendell Johnson
Most people when troubled ask questions like, 'What is my problem?'or 'Why am I so unhappy?' These questions no doubt start a process of inquiry, and they can help uncover dimensions of the problem. Yet these questions are vague and they don't often lead to any specific understanding of the nature of your problem that can help solve it.
Common sense tells you that most of the time-perhaps not all of the time-it is helpful to be able to understand the nature of the problem in detail before trying to solve it (otherwise you don't know what you are trying to solve). Albert Einstein confirmed this when he famously said:
If I had an hour to solve a problem, I'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.
My training in philosophy and literature has made me expert in asking questions that help define the nature of your problems and to find empowering solutions. This is because philosophical thinking is not only deep thinking but also smart thinking, as it can help understand and resolve complex life challenges without unduly simplifying them. As Dr Peter Raabe describes it:
It is when problems become too complex-as, for example, when values seem to conflict, when facts appear contradictory, when reasoning about a problem becomes trapped within a circle, or when life seems unexpectedly meaningless-that a trained philosopher can be of greater help than the average friend or family member.
In summary, I use my philosophical training when I help my clients sharpen their sense of what their problem is and when I aid them in thinking about different ways to view/tackle their difficulties. This smart, nuanced thinking is a skill that can be learned and used by you post-therapy.
Help to rekindle meaning in your life
I was standing in the snow by my car, looking up at the sky, when I realized that meaning had fled my life~ Allen Wheelis from his novel, "The Seeker."
Sometimes our problem is not so much a specific issue but more a general sense of malaise. What we used to enjoy no longer moves us, we can feel disconnected and indifferent to others, and our days seem to stretch out like some infinite grey plain.
I can help you reconnect with your old vital self and find again meaning in your life. Most of the time, this will involve me assisting you in reconnecting with your painful feelings and helping you to work through them. This is because numbness usually arises as a means to cope with painful losses in our lives, but the costs are dear: a general inability to feel anything, which leads to the disappearance of meaning. What is needed is an opportunity for the person to slowly and safely get in touch with these feelings, mourn the losses and then be able to move on with their life.
What happens at a first session
The first session is an opportunity for us to get to know one another and for you to detail the broad outlines of your problem (NB: Your first session is half-price). Please don't feel that you have to understand the intricacies of your problems, as that will emerge in the time that we work together.
How long will your therapy last?
The time spent in counselling depends on a number of factors, most notably the problems that the client has brought to therapy: some problems are more complex than others and may need more time. However, there are no hard and fast rules here, as I've seen some clients only need a few sessions for complex issues, while more seemingly straightforward problems have taken longer to resolve.
In my view, there are two facts that are worth stressing, as clients tend to find them reassuring.
Firstly, I will seek to resolve your problems as quickly as possible.To do this we will focus on your goals (what you want from therapy) and I will use the most appropriate therapy methods for reaching that goal.
Secondly, as much as clients wish that their problems are dealt with efficiently, they don't want to feel that they are being rushed, and that their therapy has been brought to a premature conclusion. One of the virtues of private counselling (in contrast to free counselling) is that it doesn't begin with a stipulated number of sessions (e.g. the typical number is ten).
When deciding on how long to work together, I believe that asking for feedback at regular intervals is a way of checking in as to how things are going and finding out if we are nearing a resolution.
If you want to ask any questions prior to booking an appointment, please get in touch by sending me an email.
A summary of my services:
*I will always listen carefully to your problems and will provide a safe and supportive space for you to explore your difficulties.
*I am trained in many different therapeutic approaches, and we can work together to find a way of helping you that fits who you are and the specific nature of your problem. You will find me to be flexible and open to what you really need.
*Your life is a story, but you might feel recently that your life has spiralled out of control, and that you no longer recognize what your life has become. I will listen and honour your life story and help you to make sense of where things have gone wrong, and how you can move forward.
* Two of the most popular therapies CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and REBT (rational emotive behavioral therapy) are grounded in a number of philosophical traditions. I can use my training in philosophy to help you think more clearly about your problems and to find ways of resolving them.
*You have the choice of short-term or long-term counselling. For as long as it takes, we will work together to resolve as much as possible your problems.
* If you are a client of mine and you wish to ask me a question between sessions, then that is perfectly fine. I can't always, of course, write an extended reply, but I will give you some pointers by email that will hopefully help enough until we meet at the next session.
Training, qualifications & experience
MA Honours Philosophy, First class, University of Dundee
MSc Literature and Modernism, University of Edinburgh
Diploma in Counselling, Abertay University
Masters in Counselling, Abertay University
PhD English Literature, University of Dundee (NB: Please note that my 'Dr' title does not mean I'm a medical doctor. It is indicative of my PhD in English literature)
I have worked at a number of organizations providing short-term and long-term counselling, such as Insight Counselling service and Tayside Centre for Counselling at Abertay University.
I am a registered member of BACP.
Areas of counselling I deal with
- Domestic violence
- Low self-confidence
- Low self-esteem
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Passive aggressive behaviour
- Personality disorders
- Pregnancy and birth
Photos & videos
Your first session is a half-price session.
For 1 hour appointments:
£40 for adults
£30 for 18+ students (a valid matriculation card must be produced as evidence)
NB: I only counsel clients aged 18 and over
My availability times are as follows:
- Anxiety and your inner 'dictator'
- 'Tis the season to be quarrelling
- On damaging relationship styles - further considerations
- One way to work with your dreams
- The secret to achieving mental health
- Take a worry break
- Are you trying too hard to be happy?
- Are you reading too much self-help?
- On self-fulfilling prophecies
For clients who want to know a bit more about counselling, the counselling process or about the form of therapy I specifically practice, I've provided the following FAQ:
In what ways can counselling help?
Working with a trained counsellor can help in the following ways:
* Quite often, people find it a challenge to know what they are really feeling. Counselling can help clients explore their feelings and make sense of what they want from life. Indeed, the more you are in touch with your feelings, the better choices you can then make in your work and love life, and thus you can become more effective in those areas.
* As important as feelings are, they are not the complete picture. For you to live the best life that you can lead, you not only need to be in touch with your feelings, but you also need to be able to think effectively about problems and put things in the proper perspective. A good counsellor can help you understand more clearly and more rationally the nature of your problems and help you find the best solution to your difficulties.
*Good counselling can equip you with a multitude of different strategies and methods for tackling your problems. The methods that are right for you are ones that you can also use after your counselling.
* The best kind of counselling involves a great opportunity to learn more about the real you so that you can become more comfortable in your own skin. And when you feel more authentic and self-satisfied, you can then be more effective socially, romantically and career-wise. Also-and this is no small benefit-you will become more assertive and be able to stick up for what you really need
If you are feeling demotivated and stressed and confused, won't counselling be a hard going process?
This is a question that clients often ask, directly or indirectly. If this is one of your concerns, don't worry. It is only natural that when you are feeling down or anxious or angry that you are concerned about whether you have the motivation or the conviction to go through the process of exploring and coming to terms with your problems.
Let me dispel as much as I can these fears: you do not need to be super-motivated or knowledgeable and articulate about your problems to begin counselling. To come and see a professional counsellor and agree to work on your issues is more than enough commitment to begin with, so please don't worry.
The alternative to taking this small yet significant step of contacting me is to continue with having the problem. Now, counselling is not always the answer to people's problems and sometimes life itself conveniently provides a solution out of the blue. However, if you have had a problem for a long time and/or the problem is particularly distressing, then contacting me is one of the best ways of finally coming to grips with the issue rather than courting the possibility that the problem will get worse. Ultimately, contacting a trained professional is better than leaving a resolution to chance.
How frequent are your sessions?
This largely is up to you. Some clients, for example, want to come weekly, others twice weekly, some fortnightly and some once a month. Generally the majority of clients come once a week, but we can have a discussion at your first session about how often you wish to come for counselling, given the particular issues that you have.
What is also important to highlight is that the regularity that you come for counselling is perfectly open to change as you go through the process. Sometimes as clients feel their problems are getting resolved, they want to come less frequently; likewise, sometimes clients want to come more often when they feel their life has become more stressful.Nothing is set in stone as I intend at all times to be adaptable to your needs.
Where can you find this therapy practice and why 'CCounselling'?
CCounselling is a small private practice, consisting of myself and a colleague. The 'C' in CCounselling stands for the following: Caring; Collaborative; Compassionate; Client-led; Confidential. These represent the core values of this practice and of good counselling in general.
Our practice is in the West end of Dundee city centre on the same street as the Dundee Repertory Theatre. Parking is available on the street itself or in the small car park at one end of the street.
What kind of therapy do I practice?
For those that are particularly interested in the theoretical approaches I adopt as a counsellor, please consult the following books:
Pluralistic Counselling and Psychotherapy by Mick Cooper and John McLeod (Sage, 2011)
Narrative and Psychotherapy by John McLeod(Sage, 1997)
A succinct definition of the pluralistic approach is the idea that no one therapy approach (whether it be psychoanalysis, person centred, CBT, Transactional Analysis etc.) works for all clients, all of the time. In practice, this means that pluralists possess a toolkit that 'contains' many different therapy methods and they collaborate with the client about what approach might best suit them at that stage. In many ways, then, they are the most flexible therapists.
Maps & Directions
Type of session
|Face to face counselling:||Yes|
Please see 'Fees' section for office hours. Daytime, evening and weekend appointments are available.
Types of client
|Employee Assistance Programme|