My name is Tom Cowan and I have worked as a counsellor and psychotherapist for the past 14 years. I have helped people with difficulties including anxiety, depression, panic attacks, relationship issues, addictions, bereavement, or just feeling unhappy and lost and not sure what to do about it. I don't expect you to "sign up" at the first meeting, as I know how it can take time to think before making a decision, it can also be difficult to tell someone you have just met that you don't think they can help you!
You can call, text or email me when you are ready. I'm happy to answer questions on the phone or via email for a while at no charge. I am also able to offer home visits within reasonable travelling distance if this is easier for you. I have premises in Battle, near Hastings in East Sussex. I enjoy working with people diagnosed as on the autistic spectrum or with other long term health conditions. I also have extensive experience helping long term carers. I can offer telephone counselling though it is usually better to meet face to face first.
I often work with couples to try to help understand what is causing any difficulties in their relationship, again this is often connected to past experiences being replayed in some way. Sometimes people feel they are in a battle with their partner rather than being on the same side! It usually helps to try to look at what is happening when the "heat" is off, and this is often easier with a third, neutral person present, a bit like a referee! Humour can also be very useful to defuse volatile situations. We are often attracted to people who are different to us, e.g. a "planner" who has difficulty acting spontaneously has a partner who is impulsive and likes to wake up and go away for the weekend! If they can balance each other and see the value in the other way this can be great, if not there is likely to be conflict. It can help to avoid thinking of right or wrong, just different.
There is so much uncertainty and change around whether in the world of politics or economics, with distressing events happening with depressing frequency. The political situation does not provide much certainty or stability, whatever your political beliefs. In the US It seems Mr Trump the expert salesman has done a very good job of selling himself to the American people. These huge events, like our own Brexit, also have an effect on our personal relationships and interactions with each other.
Although counselling and therapy are complex subjects which can be explored in great depth, there are also some quite simple ideas which can help, for example experience is often seen as a purely useful thing which helps us make good decisions, but sometimes using our instinct or gut reactions can also be very helpful. So how do we get the best out of these seemingly contradicting abilities we all have? We need thinking and feeling to work together in balance to help us live and work in harmony with the world and those around us. Although we rightly see experience as something useful, sometimes what we "learn" can lead us to make assumptions about people or ourselves that are wrong. For example, "I always meet people that let me down" - these things can become a self-fulfilling prophecy and we are in danger of sabotaging ourselves.
Often it’s the conflicting emotions that we find the most difficult to cope with; it can seem more comfortable to decide we either love or hate something or someone rather than deal with the upsetting changes in our feelings about the world and the people that we care about.
Counselling can be seen as a way of holding up a mirror in front of you but instead of reflecting your physical appearance, you can see yourself as others see you behaving and reacting to them. In a way this is the most important thing we try to learn and do as counsellors, to try to feed this back in a helpful and sympathetic way. I often see people who don't love or even like themselves very much, though this is so painful that it's often very hidden, and usually comes from difficult experiences when young.
It seems that anxiety is becoming a problem for more and more people, not helped by being still a more "hidden" issue than say depression, making it harder to talk about. There is more about anxiety on the anxiety page of my website.
It can sometimes feel that moving to a new town or even different country will solve our problems - described recently by Dr John Cooper Clarke as "doing a geographical" - however he also said the problem is you have to take yourself with you! It may be better to look at ourselves first or as well as our surroundings, which of course may need to be also addressed.
I have helped people struggling with many different feelings and situations they find themselves in, especially when they lead to anxiety, depression, panic attacks, or problems with the various ways we try to distract ourselves from our problems which can then feel like the problem itself. This could be unhealthy use of alcohol, drugs, binging on food or shopping, gambling, sex etc. We often avoid thinking about painful events or feelings from the past, either consciously or without realising it, as we want to protect ourselves and avoid pain, but sometimes this can cause problems with our relationships which can be significantly helped by revisiting some of these past experiences in a safe supported way.
People usually find that however difficult and painful this might seem it is very useful, partly because talking about our fears and insecurities makes them real and what is real is always less frightening than what we can imagine might happen. However, dwelling too much on the past can be unhelpful, and is often why people are wary about counselling. It seems that putting these painful things into perspective is what helps, acknowledging the pain and experience, accepting it is in the past allows you to move forward in a more positive contented way.
Training, qualifications & experience
I have a Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling, and am a member of the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP), BSC in anthropology, and hold a current DBS (formally CRB) check. I am fully insured for working as a counsellor.
I have worked with hundreds of people, individuals and couples, to try to help them work out what is causing them difficulties and what they can do to change things for the better. Although there are often common themes and causes to our difficulties I have found it best to avoid making assumptions about this when I meet new people; sometimes similar personality traits develop for very different reasons.
Areas of counselling I deal with
- Affairs and betrayals
- Anger management
- Antisocial personality disorder
- Asperger's syndrome
- Attachment disorder
- Avoidant personality disorder
- Bipolar disorder/Manic depression
- Borderline personality disorder
- Carer support
- Chronic fatigue syndrome/ME
- Dependent personality disorder
- Domestic violence
- Drug abuse
- Eating disorders
- Emotional abuse
- Family issues
- Feeling sad
- Gender dysphoria
- Generalised anxiety disorder
- Histrionic personality disorder
- Internet addiction
- Learning difficulties
- Low self-confidence
- Low self-esteem
- Narcissistic personality disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder
- Panic disorder
- Passive aggressive behaviour
- Personality disorders
- Physical abuse
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Postnatal depression
- Relationship issues
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
- Separation and divorce
- Sex addiction
- Sexual abuse
- Suicidal thoughts
- Work-related stress
- Cognitive analytic therapy (CAT)
- Cognitive and behavioural therapies
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
- Couples counselling
Our first meeting costs £20 and will last 60-80 minutes. This should give both of us time to decide whether we would like to continue. The charge for subsequent one hour sessions is £40, whether for individuals or couples. I don't feel the need to charge more for couples as I don't see it as twice the work for me. I am happy to discuss longer appointments if you have a difficult journey, or if an hour feels too short.
Maps & Directions
Type of session
|Face to face counselling:||Yes|