Amanda Bouvier - MBACP (Accredited), MA, BA Hons, Dip. Counselling
MBACP (Accredited) Integrative Counsellor & Psychotherapist
Hello, and a very warm welcome to my profile page!
PLEASE BE AWARE THAT I WILL BE AWAY FROM 22ND SEPTEMBER UNTIL 2nd OCTOBER, 2016. DURING THIS TIME, I WILL BE ABLE TO RESPOND TO EMAILS, BUT NOT TO MESSAGES LEFT ON MY ANSWERING-MACHINE
About Me & why I became a Therapist
I have always appreciated the emotional benefit of verbalising our problems, and believe that our mental and physical health can suffer as a result of bottling up emotions. Having someone to talk to promotes better health and ultimately greater well-being. I decided to become a therapist partly because I enjoy being able to help people on their journey to better self-understanding, but also because I find working with people an interesting and rewarding experience. What I enjoy most about my job is seeing the positive changes in clients that often arise after having tackled the more painful elements of personal issues brought to the therapy room. Whilst counselling and psychotherapy may not provide the magic cures or quick fixes that us humans often yearn for, what it does provide is a safe place for feelings to be expressed, and difficult past events to be explored. What this leads to is a greater understanding of the self and why we feel or react to situations or others the way we do, enabling us to make changes and feel more content with life. Whilst the role of the therapist is not to simply hand out advice to the client, what is offered is a process that assists clients in reaching their own decisions, thus providing them with useful emotional tools to help them with future difficulties or dilemmas.
About my Therapy Practice
I am situated on a small, peaceful road in Ruislip, with on-drive parking. I offer one-to-one 50-minute therapy sessions in the comfort of a quiet, spacious and private therapy room, located on the ground-floor (photos attached). Water is provided, and clients also have access to a ground-floor WC. Public transport is easily accessible, with the E7 bus running from the bottom of my road, and Ruislip, Ruislip Manor and Ruislip Gardens Underground stations all within walking distance. There is also easy access in to Ruislip from the A40, M40 and M25.
What is the Difference between Counselling and Psychotherapy?
The titles 'therapist' and 'counsellor' are often used interchangeably, but in simple terms, whilst psychotherapy is geared towards working at depth on a long-term basis exploring, for example, issues relating to traumatic childhood events that are affecting relationships in the now, counselling is suited to clients who are perhaps seeking shorter-term support to help them process a more existential issue, such as divorce, bereavement, or work-related stress.
During your first consultation, we can discuss which whether short or long-term therapy is right for you, depending on your individual circumstances.
Training, qualifications & experience
I am a BACP accredited, fully qualified integrative counsellor and psychotherapist. I also hold a BACP Certificate of Proficiency, and am a member of the BACP Register for counsellors and Psychotherapists.
I work in accordance with the BACP Ethical Framework, and have a CPCAB Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling. I also hold a Masters of Arts Degree (MA) in Psychoanalysis & Contemporary Society, a BA Honours Degree in modern languages, and Certificates in Counselling Theory and Counselling Skills. I have also completed and passed exams/assessments for the following two Open University courses: 'Science of the Mind' (examining the roots of depression, anxiety and other mental health problems) and 'Challenging Ideas in Mental Health' (exploring mental health problems from the perspective of the client, and examining ways to challenge public stigma surrounding mental ill-health).
I trained to become a counsellor with The Therapeutic Alliance Counselling Training (Harrow, Middlesex), which is run by two highly experienced senior practitioners. The duration of my training was just over four years, and gave me a very thorough grounding in Integrative counselling. One of my tutors had been working as a private psychotherapist for over 2 decades, and was also a qualified neurologist. My other tutor was running her own counselling practice and also worked as a clinical supervisor. The reason I chose to train Integratively was because of the scope that it gives both the counsellor and the client. Each and every one of us is unique and no one suit can fit all; Integrative counsellor training introduces the trainee counsellor to various therapeutic theories, some of which are geared towards helping clients explore unresolved childhood or past issues, whilst others might focus on more current difficulties, such as a separation, job-loss or bereavement.
My Masters Degree in Psychoanalysis C/S helped further my knowledge and understanding of the impact of the past on present-day well-being, and how the unconscious mind and our inner-child drive us to feel or behave in ways that leave us feeling down or dissatisfied with life. This course enabled me to build on the experience I already had in working with clients on a long-term basis, furthering my knowledge of Freudian and Kleinian concepts, to assist me in helping clients explore more deep-rooted and often painful issues relating to childhood and relationships with parents.
My Theoretical Integration in more Detail
I place importance on helping clients to understand the impact of their unconscious mental processes, and how bringing them in to conscious thought can create the opportunity to explore painful, unprocessed material within the safety of the therapy room, whilst also helping the client to decide how they might go about making positive changes to their life. Our unconscious feelings and actions belong to our inner-child, and as humans we tend to create patterns of behaviour that we are sometimes not even aware we are doing, but are very aware that we feel unhappy none-the-less. Exploring our unconscious processes, patterns, childhood events and relationships with significant others when we are growing up are therapeutic concepts that fall under what we call the 'psychodynamic' model.
Although the psychodynamic model underpins much of my work, I also incorporate humanistic concepts derived from Transactional Analysis (TA) and Gestalt in to my clinical work. In simple terms TA, from a relational perspective, enables clients to explore how they may have come to assume the role of 'rescuer', for example, in relationships with others, and how this may be contributing to their sense of low mood or poor self-esteem as they struggle to constantly shoulder the problems of others. Or one might find themselves often feeling victimized, and exploring what lies behind this often proves useful in helping clients to cultivate healthier relationships with others. The way that I incorporate elements of Gestalt in to my work is by helping clients to tackle painful 'unfinished business'. That is, important things that they would have liked to have said to someone (often a loved-one) but were for whatever reason unable to at the time. Becoming familiar with how the body somatizes (physically feels) emotions is also a valuable aspect of the Gestalt model that I incorporate in to my clinical work, to help clients become aware of when they are about to, for example, start becoming anxious.
Q: Isn’t talking about the past a waste of time because we can’t change it?
A: Not at all! As humans we sometimes get stuck on past events that we seem unable to move on from. This can lead to low self-esteem or feeling down. We feel we can’t talk about our problems to others, or when we do we find little resolve. Unprocessed childhood or past events can negatively impact on present-day life without us even noticing; for example, we might find friendships or relationships in general difficult to handle but don’t understand why. Or we may feel plagued with unhelpful thoughts and are unaware that their roots lie in difficult past events that we have not yet processed, as mentioned earlier. During my counselling career I have supported clients in exploring difficulties that stem from relationships with parents during childhood, or issues occurring from the more recent past, and in doing so have received very positive feedback on the insight in to themselves that clients have gained. I truly believe that understanding how we tick as individuals opens up the pathway to self-acceptance, which in turn leads to a freer and more contented life. The unconscious provides us with a goldmine of clues as to why we feel the way we do, and how we could go about developing a healhier relationship with ourselves, other people and our pasts if we are willing to work through painful life experiences that have as yet remained unprocessed. It is my job as your therapist to help you recognize unconscious clues to what lies in the way of you gaining greater satisfaction in life, which have often become buried among the conscious rationalizations that lead us humans from one dead-end to another.
Q: Why do I leave some sessions feeling very positive and others feeling emotionally raw?
A: This is a very important question to raise. Feeling emotionally up and down is not uncommon for some clients, especially during the beginning and middle phases of their therapeutic process, but with my support this should feel manageable and worth the long-term gains. Upon starting work with new clients, I like to find out what they expect and hope to gain from their experience, explaining that the long-term benefits of therapy generally far outweight those times when one why they feel this way if therapy is supposed to be a helpful process rather than an upsetting one! Being human means managing the difficult aspects of life in order to appreciate all the good that life can also offer, and talking about painful life-experiences can often feel rather alien to those who have become accustomed to simply burying their feelings. Often, clients enter therapy feeling that ignoring feelings has worked well for them over the years, enabling them to function, until they suddenly find themselves in a state of depression, low mood or anxiety and are puzzled as to why this has happened. It is only upon beginning to air one's pain rather than pushing it away that we are able to understand how the unsaid must be verbalized in order to break down the barriers that stand in the way of true contentment.
My Clinical Experience
Prior to setting up my own private practice, I spent 3 years supporting clients at Link Counselling Service in Uxbridge. This was a wonderful experience, not only because I had the pleasure of helping many lovely people in need of therapeutic support, but also because the huge range of quite complex issues that were brought to the therapy-room enabled me to build up much valuable experience. At Link, I worked with young people between the ages of 14 and 25 years.
During my counsellor training, I worked as a voluntary counsellor for The Place 2 Be, where my clients were of primary-school age, and also volunteered for the mental health organisation MIND, providing one-to-one befriending support to adults with moderate to severe mental health problems. Doing so gave me greater understanding of the isolation felt by many experiencing mental health problems, and the importance of having someone to talk to.
Age-groups, Children & Special Needs
I have experience in providing short and long-term therapy to adults of all ages, including the elderly, teenagers, adolescents and primary school-aged children presenting with a wide range of issues, from bullying at school and friendship issues, to difficulties with their home-life. I have also worked with children and adults on the autism spectrum, including Asperger Syndrome, and children with ADHD. I am able to provide referral letters to GP's for times when parents wish to have their child referred for special needs assessments or psychiatric evaluations. Please refer to the photographs at the bottom of my profile page to give you an idea of how the therapy-room looks during sessions for children. In addition to talking-therapy, children are also given the opportunity to explore feelings through play-therapy, working with the sand-tray, hand- puppets, the dolls' house, Play-Doh and other creative work such as drawing and sticking. The latter can be useful for children who find it difficult to open up, and can encourage more verbal dialogue as the therapy progresses.
More on Bereavement: When People or Animals Die
I have supported people of all ages struggling to cope with a whole range of losses. This includes the death of a friend, relative, acquaintance or a beloved companion animal. Whatever the surrounding circumstances, loss is processed differently from person to person and depends on many factors. For those who have lost an animal through natural causes, accident or euthanasia, or are considering having their pet euthanised, emotions associated with this can be overwhelming and yet often not talked about in society in general. I worked for two years on the Blue Cross Pet Bereavement Support Service's helpline, supporting callers who had lost a companion animal or were considering euthanisation for their pet. Talking through their situation or loss helped them to feel less alone, validate their emotions, and supported them on their way to eventual acceptance of what they sadly could not change. If you are facing a similar situation and would prefer to talk face-to-face, making that call to arrange a counselling appointment with me could be the first step in working through your feelings.
Areas of counselling I deal with
- Affairs and betrayals
- Asperger's syndrome
- Attachment disorder
- Child related issues
- Emotional abuse
- Family issues
- Generalised anxiety disorder
- Learning difficulties
- Low self-confidence
- Low self-esteem
- Physical abuse
- Postnatal depression
- Pregnancy and birth
Other areas of counselling I deal with
Pet bereavement counselling
Counselling primary school-aged children, teenagers and adolescents
Counselling for people on the austism spectrum (including Asperger Syndrome)
Photos & videos
Initial telephone consultation: Free of charge
Individuals: £50 per session. Sliding scale for sessions 6.30 pm onwards. Sessions are 50 minutes in duration, and held weekly
Children up to 12 years: £35-£45 depending on duration of session. Length of session depends on individual child. Sessions are weekly to begin with, and may reduce in frequency over time, depending on the progress of the individual child
Couples: £70-£90 per session, depending on individual circumstances and time of day. Sessions are 75 minutes in duration and are held weekly to begin with, reducing in frequency as the process progresses
Family therapy: £85-£100 per session, depending on individual circumstances and time of day. Sessions are 90 minutes in duration and held weekly, fortnightly or monthly, depending on presenting issues, needs of family members, and rate of progress
Individual adults only: £50 per session. Sliding scale for sessions 6.30 pm onwards. Sessions are 50 minutes in duration, and held weekly
Fee negotiated depending on individual needs, client's suitability for this type of therapy, and availability
Reports, referral letters and all other documentation prepared on behalf of clients: £25 per 30 minutes spent preparing and typing up document
Below are some examples of what clients have said about their therapeutic experience:-
"Since coming to see you I feel I understand my problems and myself better."
"This has been a painful but hugely rewarding experience, and I actually like myself now."
"Counselling offers me the reassurance I need right now."
"I feel so much stronger and better about myself since coming here."
"I thought I would come to see you and you would tell me what to do, but if you had I wouldn't have learnt all that I've learnt about myself and why I feel the way I do."
"I look forward to coming here because I can't talk to anyone else about these things."
"Coming to see you has totally changed my life. I'm a changed person."
"Counselling hasn't taken all my problems away, but I seem to cope better with life in general."
"I feel like I can trust you and I feel supported."
Maps & Directions
Type of session
|Face to face counselling:||Yes|
Types of client