Dr Alexander Fox MBACP Dip.Coun MSc PhD
Suite 5, Bannerman House
27 South Tay Street
How counselling can help
I understand that it can be a scary experience seeking counselling for the first time. Apart from the stress of having to choose a therapist from the many that are available, our greatest fear is revealed in a question, a question that we are sometimes frightened to articulate even to ourselves: ‘But can counselling help me?’
In most cases, the firm answer is ‘yes’. Good counselling can indeed help with many psychological difficulties-sometimes it is even life saving. The basic reason for this is that a good therapist helps to create a safe, trusting and supportive relationship, so that the client can confront their problems, and come to some form of life-enhancing resolution. Strange as this might sound, the best therapists help to turn problems into opportunities: through facing that seemingly insurmountable brick wall (the problem), a talented counsellor not only can assist you in finding a solution, but they also can help you to discover more about who you are and what you want from your life. Through pain, one can uncover passion and purpose.
Here is a testimonial from a male client who, at the time of writing, is still in counselling with me, where he emphasizes how a safe and supportive environment 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
I am a knowledgeable and flexible counsellor
I believe that a good counsellor should give you what you need while in therapy. This is because research has consistently shown that taking into account a client's preferences for therapy leads to better outcomes. So when you come for counselling, you understandably want relief from your problems, but you naturally don't want an approach to be imposed on you that might not be suited to you as an individual and to your particular problem.I imagine that you would want your therapist to be knowledgeable about therapy, but also flexible enough to adapt to who you are and what you need.
If you come to see me for counselling, you will find me to be knowledgeable about many different therapy approaches, and we will work together to discover the best ways to tackle your problems by tailoring the counselling to your needs. Ultimately, this flexible approach is one of the most time-saving and effective ways of conducting therapy. (NB: You can read below some articles that I wrote, which illustrate my diverse knowledge of different modalities and of different issues (e.g. anxiety, relationships, CBT)).
Here is a female client's perspective on me as a flexible 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.
I can help you know yourself better and to find ways of growing as a person
One of the reasons why I have helped many clients is that I am a counsellor, who is also a literary scholar, as I have a PhD in English literature. This might sound an odd claim to make, as you might wonder how literature and therapy could possibly be related. But the truth is that the therapeutic process is intimately connected to the literary. The eminent psychologist, Professor McAdams, described this well when he wrote the following:
We are drawn to stories for many reasons. Stories entertain us, making us laugh and cry, keeping us in suspense until we learn how it is all going to turn out. Stories instruct; we learn about different people, settings and ideas. Beyond entertaining and edifying us stories may also function to integrate aspects of our lives and to heal that which is sick and broken. Stories may bring our lives together when we feel shattered, mend us when we are broken, heal us when we are sick, help us cope in times of stress, and even move us toward psychological fulfillment and maturity.
In a certain sense, then, stories can be a form of psychological medicine. Indeed, the reality is that no matter what therapist you see, the telling of your problem is the telling of a story about how that issue came to be, and, at least implicitly, how you want your life to be instead. Therefore working with the story of your problem, and how it fits in with your wider life history, is one of the best ways to understand and heal your difficulties and to move forward in your life.Stories are without a doubt a crucial part of therapy, because if the answer to who you are is a story to be told, then when you are confronting problems in your life, it becomes a story that needs to be understood.
Since I am trained in literary analysis, as well as therapy, I can help you understand how your problems came to be by carefully considering your life history, and I can aid you in rewriting your life story in a way that heals and empowers you. Generally speaking, clients usually come to therapy with a relatively unclear sense of how their problem arose in their lives and so what helps tremendously is a therapist who can 'read' their story, honour its complexity, and yet still help them to move towards a deep understanding of why their life has veered off track and how to get it on track again. As my clients continually prove to me, this process can be healing and enlightening, as there is virtually no better feeling than now knowing that your life is heading in a better direction.
I can help you think more clearly about your life and put things into perspective
Some of the most prominent and evidence based therapies (CBT and REBT) are based on the idea that clear thinking is crucial to tackling emotional difficulties and for coping better with life. In many respects this is commonsense: when we are struggling in our lives, we are often unclear about how to tackle a problem or how to resolve a particular dilemma or even how to articulate what the problem actually is.Clear thinking helps to sort out the essential from the inessential, the true from the false, and the empowering from the oppressive. Above all else, clear thinking is about being able to adopt an open, flexible and questioning attitude to your life; this is in contrast to holding dogmatic and inflexible beliefs about your life that ultimately cause you a lot of unnecessary pain.
My first degree was in philosophy and I have continued to adopt the philosophical perspective in the work I do with my clients for the reasons that Dr Peter Raabe articulates below:
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.
I use my philosophical training when I help my clients sharpen their sense of what their problem is, when I aid them in thinking about different ways to view/tackle their difficulties and when I help those who are troubled by a sense of futility find some meaning and purpose.
Differences between short-term and long-term counselling
One of the virtues of seeing a counsellor in private practice is that the client ultimately has the choice over how long the therapy will last. Most agencies that offer free counselling-or counselling for a small donation-only provide a limited number of sessions to clients, and so the therapy must end when the client has had all of their allocated sessions. With this kind of counselling, the client is made to fit the agency’s procedure rather than the therapy process being made to fit the client.
I don’t believe intrinsically in either short-term or long-term therapy: both have their virtues and their limitations. Ultimately, the decision over short-term or long-term therapy rests with the client, and I always inform them of the various relevant factors that can aid them in making an informed decision.
In my view, one of the differences between short-term and long-term comes down to this: do you want help to resolve a specific problem or do you (also) want to gain greater insight into yourself and to grow as a person? Of course, sometimes working on a problem necessitates longer-term therapy, while a gain in self-knowledge can arrive suddenly and without much time and effort expended. Generally, though, a focus on a particular issue can be dealt with on a shorter-term basis, whereas a deeper understanding of oneself requires a dedication to explore over time the complexity of the individual self.
A useful example that illustrates the distinction between the two is that a client might want to learn how better to communicate with his partner, as he finds it difficult to say how he feels; this could be achieved in short-term work, where we could discuss different strategies that can help him to better express his feelings. However, the same client might wish to explore why he retreats from being too close to people, particularly those that he starts to feel dependent upon; with this kind of focus, I would help the client to explore how he relates to others and how he related to people in the past. This kind of exploratory work can result in insights that help him transform how he sees himself and how he sees others.
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. Your first session is a half-price session.
There are a few things I want to make clear. First of all, your first session is not a test on how well you can explain your problem (in fact none of your sessions are!). The reason I say that is that quite often clients are uneasy-maybe even embarrassed-about not having a handle on what their problem actually is and how it came about. But there is nothing to be embarrassed about: very often our pain is not articulate and it can be hard to see ourselves with enough clarity. That’s why another person can be helpful in gaining some perspective on the problem.
Secondly, you will not be signing up for anything at your first session (or at any later date). I believe that my clients have the right to terminate their counselling at any point, as it is important to honour the client’s right to choose.
In general, I like to do a review after six sessions, which involves checking in with the client about how they are doing and how they want to proceed.
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.
Training, qualifications & experience
MA Honours Philosophy, University of Dundee
MSc Literature and Modernism, University of Edinburgh
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)
Postgraduate Diploma Pluralistic Counselling, University of Abertay
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.
I am a pluralistic counsellor, which means that I am knowledgeable about a number of different ways to help clients (i.e. I am 'plural' in my approach) and I adapt what I do to the particular needs of my clients.
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 appointment is half-price (£20 for adults; £15 for students).
For 1 hour appointments:
£40 for adults
£30 for students (a valid matriculation card must be produced as evidence)
Please consult my availability times on this page. During the week, I am available in the evenings. I am also available weekends.
- 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
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.
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.
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.
Maps & Directions
Type of session
|Face to face counselling:||Yes|
Office Hours: Mon-Thurs 5pm-10pm/ Fridays 5pm-8pm/ Saturdays 10am-5pm. Sundays any time.
Types of client
|Employee Assistance Programme|