Dr Alexander Fox-Choice Counselling at Harley Street
Welcome to Choice Counselling and I'm Dr. Fox. Below you will find information about the following:
1) Why pluralistic/integrative counselling allows for more effective, personalized therapy treatment. This is a therapy process geared to help specifically you.
2)As a fellow executive [I'm Director of Research & Director of Stress management for the company Meisterline], I understand how top professionals can be weighed down by the pressures of their responsibilities. I aim to help executives to overcome their obstacles to success.
3) How my philosophy and literature background can aid you in gaining more control over your life.
4) A detailed survey of some of the problems I can help you with.
NB: For those wishing to read more about why I become a therapist, please consult my website.
1. How I can personalize the therapy process for you: on the benefits of pluralistic counselling
Choosing a therapist often means making a choice about what kind of therapy you believe would suit you. This process isn't always an easy one, as there are many different kinds of mainstream therapies, and many therapists specialize in only one of them. Finding the right kind of therapy for you can be quite tricky.
I decided to call my counselling practice 'Choice Counselling' as it reflects how much I empower clients by helping them make the right choices for them at various stages of the therapy process. In the concrete, what this involves is this:
*At the beginning of therapy, I will help you articulate what your goal is for your counselling (e.g. overcoming social anxiety).
* I will then suggest various therapeutic approaches that may aid you in reaching your goal. We can discuss them, and then only use the approaches that you believe would suit you.
* After working with these approaches for a period of time, we can determine how effective they are working, and if necessary tweak them, so that you can reach your goal.
This approach to therapy is known technically as pluralistic/integrative counselling. While it uses all of the mainstream forms of therapy (person centred, psychodynamic, Gestalt, CBT, Solution Focus etc.), what distinguishes it from how many therapists work is its willingness to personalize the therapy process. What I mean by 'personalize' is that my approach is dedicated to drawing up a treatment plan that suits you as an individual. Indeed, you won't be made to fit one school of therapy; instead, the therapy will be made to fit you.
Here is a testimonial from a client attesting to me being a flexible, knowledgeable and insightful pluralistic practitioner, who is acquainted with many therapy methods:
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.
For those wishing to read about the academic background to pluralism, please read the following article by Professors John McLeod and Mick Cooper:
2) Helping Executives and other professionals reach their potential
I currently hold two posts with the company Meisterline (see my profile at www.meisterline.com), namely Director of Research and Director of Stress Management. Meisterline is the first science-based conceptualization of what constitutes legal expertise, and we are dedicated to helping lawyers reach their intended target of mastery within their specialism.
In my therapy practice in Harley street, I enjoy working with executives and other professionals from all quarters to help them reach their goals. Stress, depression and other issues can have a massive impact on your productivity and on your ability to maintain a competitive edge, so working with me is not only a big investment in your mental well-being, but also in your career.
3 The therapist as close reader and Socratic midwife
a) Stories we live by: on therapy as a storytelling activity
Stories are everywhere: in the bookshops, at the cinema, even in our home on Netflix. Stories are indeed the means by which we understand ourselves, as they define how we have changed and evolved over time. Without question, we don't only tell our stories, we also live them.
It's no surprise, then, that telling stories and exploring them is a key part of the therapeutic process. This is partly because clients nearly always begin therapy with a story to tell- a story that they are living, but want to change. In a sense, clients often feel when they come to therapy that they are no longer authors of their life story, but rather that their story has power over them.
The author Salman Rushdie wrote the following about the difficulties that arise when you don't have power over your life story:
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.
What Rushdie is describing is essentially a key part of the therapeutic process, as a good therapist will allow you to find a way of retelling your story so that you now feel that you are the author of that narrative, and therefore more in control of your life.
In essence, exploring and rewriting your life story allows you to be more in control of your life, to know more who you are and also who you want to be.
My English literature background (my PhD was a psychoanalytic examination of the works of the Nobel Laureate, Harold Pinter) means I can easily help you explore your life story in a sensitive and nuanced way so that your life story reflects a life that you want to lead.
b) The therapist as Socratic midwife: helping you answer your own life questions
The renowned linguist Wendell Johnson once remarked 'what we look at is not what we see'. He was referring to the easily overlooked fact that how we see the world is filtered through our belief system.
In a therapeutic context, it's often the case that clients have some negative core beliefs about themselves, about others and about the world in general. Consequently, they tend to view life in a way that creates difficulties for them.
What they need therefore is for someone to help them revise their conception of the world, by showing them that their perspective is not simply how life is; indeed that there are more realistic and healthier ways of seeing the world.
My first academic training was in (Continental) philosophy, and I use this training in various ways with my clients:
1) I have a dialogue with them to help them uncover their negative beliefs
2) I then aid them in gently subjecting those beliefs to critique, so that they can see why they are overly negative.
3) Finally, I help my clients substitute those beliefs with more realistic and optimistic viewpoints.
3) Common problem areas
I undertake work with clients who suffer from different emotional difficulties, the most common being stress, anxiety and depression. Below I have highlighted some of the common thematic concerns that are found in the therapy room and how I would tackle them with you when we work together. As you will notice, I offer different understandings of these complaints, which is keeping with my pluralistic background (i.e. there isn't only one way of understanding emotional difficulties and that it's better to consider a number of them to see what best fits with you).
a) Break free from your dysfunctional relationship patterns
When it comes to considering our mental health, relationships are often the source of our deepest joy-and our greatest pain. Dysfunctional relationships are indeed one of the most common reasons that people seek counselling, as such relationships leave people not only stressed, but also bewildered as to how a seeming loving partnership could go awry. Enlightening answers are needed, yet they are not always forthcoming, as dysfunctional relationships usually expose the significant gaps in our self-knowledge.
My attitude towards helping you address your relationship difficulties is this: I don’t believe that the therapeutic task is to pronounce judgement on your behaviour towards others, but rather to understand it. This is because understanding your relationship patterns and choices provides a means to break free from the harmful aspects of the past, as rendering these patterns conscious allows you to then make more discerning and loving choices-choices that ensure that you are as respectful towards yourself as towards others.
To help you in this endeavour, I will work in essentially three ways. Firstly, we can explore key aspects of the early part of your autobiography-in particular, how your childhood relationships with your parents might have shaped your expectations of how you relate to others in general. Secondly, we can examine in a safe and non-judgemental way how your relationship with me in the therapy room can provide clues about how you relate to others in general (in therapy speak, this is called examining the transference and counter-transference). Thirdly, we can explore in detail how you relate to your partner, and come to some answers about how to enhance the relationship or how to leave it, if that is your choice.
b) Overcome addictions/compulsions
There are many things that we can become addicted to e.g. drugs, having serial affairs, gambling and the internet (including pornography). Likewise, there are many different kinds of compulsions that we can fall prey to such as hoarding, continually washing your hands, and having obsessive disturbing thoughts.
There are a number of different strategies needed to tackle these problems. The following three are the most fundamental and effective. Firstly, and most obviously, addictions and compulsions can be viewed from the perspective of learning theory as bad habits that you are continually reinforcing. We can work together for you to learn how to break these pernicious habits. Secondly, another way of viewing addictions and compulsions is that they are-often unconsciously-a form of avoidance tactics: usually there is something that you are frightened of and the addiction/compulsion is a distraction from it and/or the addiction/compulsion acts as a means to fill a void in your life. Through our exploratory work together, we can uncover what your are frightened of and what aspects of your life need to be addressed so you can lead a more fulfilling life. Finally, an idea that is common to Gestalt therapy and psychodynamic therapy is that to tackle addictions and compulsions the inner conflict between two parts has to be resolved. More fully, according to this theory, part of you wishes to change and part of you is deeply invested in maintaining the compulsion/addiction. Both parts have to be addressed before actual change is possible.
c) Conquering fear
Fear and anxiety are two of the most common emotional complaints, as they can severely limit us until our lives become more defined by what we don't do. Although fear/anxiety could be almost called the common cold of mental health problems, this doesn't detract from the fact that they can be hard to tackle on your own. The main reason for this is that when we are swamped with fear, it can be so difficult to distinguish between realistic and unrealistic threats.
When we work together, we will be able to come to understand better the nature of your fears, and then I will provide you with all the encouragement you need to face that which you find threatening. The key to conquering your anxieties is to face, in a gradual way, that which you are tempted to flee from. Related to this is also doing some CBT work on your beliefs, because they are responsible for overestimating the threats in the world.
d) Lifting mood: defeating depression
Depression is a very common mental health complaint, which can vary from a mild apathy to difficulty in getting out of bed and taking any kind of action.
There are many different ways of understanding and therefore treating depression. Here are a few: 1) according to psychodynamic theory, depression could be caused by repressed anger towards others that is then redirected at oneself; it can also be related to a form of mourning, where we are feeling down because we have lost something that was integral to our lives. The therapeutic work therefore entails uncovering the underlying emotions and helping you process them; 2) CBT therapies contend that depression is symptomatic of possessing overly pessimistic beliefs about oneself and about the world. If this resonates with you as an explanation, we can work on replacing these beliefs with more energizing and realistic ones; 3) person-centred/humanistic therapy proposes that depression is a function of feeling that one has failed to live up to some form of social expectation, and is therefore a sign of low self-esteem. This form of therapy addresses the problem by creating an encouraging and affirmative atmosphere that helps treat your feelings of demoralization; 4)solution-focus therapy addresses depression by considering those times when you feel less down and helps to create more of these moments in your life so that your mood lifts overall.
e) Achieve greater self-acceptance
Although it might seem simplistic, bordering on the saccharine, it is nevertheless true: one of the most fundamental undertakings in life is to learn to develop greater self-acceptance. While I do not believe that we can ever accept ourselves completely (and this itself might require self-acceptance!), we can, over time, become more adept at accepting what has been deemed our physical, mental and spiritual flaws. And with such acceptance comes greater confidence and achievement for essentially two reasons: 1) when we accept our imperfections, the spectre of failure has less power over us, and we can therefore achieve more; 2) those perceived failings we have relegated to our shadow side might contain some hidden advantages e.g. we might have denied our angry side, which when actualized can help us set healthy boundaries. In short, with greater self-acceptance all of you is ‘online’ to be used for your own self-advancement through life.
I have many innovative ways of working with you to achieve this goal from using techniques culled from compassion focused therapy (e.g. fostering better self-talk) to shadow transpersonal work with things like your dreams that can decode unactualized parts of your psyche and render them more usable. Together we can tackle a variety of difficulties relating to self-acceptance, such as the following: body image issues; perfectionism; sexuality; ageing.
f) Remove negative beliefs
Beliefs define our map of the world, as they delimit what is true, what is possible and therefore what you can 'realistically' expect from life. If your beliefs are genuinely rational and realistic, then you can feel sufficiently motivated to tackle life's challenges, while also being capable of happiness. However, if they are overly negative, they become a dark filter on how you see things (e.g. anxious people might look out for non-existent threats, whereas depressed people might see efforts to change their circumstances as futile).
Fortunately, harmful beliefs can be changed. What often proves curative is for you to work with me in uncovering these negative beliefs and then we can undertake the fundamental task of challenging and discrediting these beliefs so that they much less power over you.
g) Consolidate your successes
Much of therapy is depicted from a problem-centric focus, as clients might come to counselling for help with anxiety or depression, for example, and the goal is to resolve, as much as possible, the problem. This is a perfectly acceptable model of the therapy process.
However, another form of counselling involves working with a client’s strengths and helping them to develop those strengths, so they can achieve more success. If you wish to hone your personal strengths, we can work in a solution focused way to aid you in creating your ideal future.
h) Loss: our greatest teacher
Viewed from one angle, life is a series of losses. Many are small (if not always trivial) and some are most significant: whether it be the loss of a partner, a child, our looks, or the heyday of our successes, we must learn to cope with the passing of time and the absence of what is still so precious to us.
To paraphrase psychologist Carl Jung, it is in our darkest moments where the gold is to be found, as life-changing losses may often be very painful, even debilitating; nevertheless, such bereavements teach us the need to re-evaluate our lives, to get better acquainted with our underlying inner resilience, and to find a means to still have a fulfilling life.
When we work together, we can find a way of understanding your grief that respects how important whatever you lost was to you, while also helping you to move forward in a constructive fashion. A key part of this process is being able to arrive at the point that you can give yourself permission to have a future, as grief can sometimes trick us into believing that moving on is a betrayal of what you have lost. Grief work will allow you to remember and honour the past, yet not be entirely defined by it.
i) Apathy and Suicidal thoughts/gestures: finding the 'why' again
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.
Even worse than apathy is when we are at our most despairing and our painful indifference morphs into a compulsive, negative call to action. Suicidal thoughts and perhaps even attempts become a mainstay of our lives, as we are tempted by the seductively simple solution of ending it all.
In response, i would say that, as counter intuitive as it may seem, you don't actually want to end the existence of you as a person, but rather to end the pain that you are feeling. Suicide is seductive as a solution when you have equated you and your pain and you feel that both are forever entwined.
However, that is simply not the case. Through the right kind of therapeutic work, you can a) manage to come to terms with your pain; b) we can work together on finding what can be termed life-based solutions to your problems, which includes reconnecting with your fundamental values and what drives you in a positive direction (this can be called finding your 'why') c) we can also work on self-forgiveness for actions that you have taken in the past that you feel guilty about. Your regrets can indeed be honored and learnt from without them becoming some stick to beat yourself with.
Training, qualifications & experience
- I am a member of BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy)
- MA Honours Philosophy, First class, University of Dundee
- MSc Literature and Modernism, University of Edinburgh
- Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling, Abertay University
- Masters in Pluralistic Counselling, Abertay University
- PhD English Literature, University of Dundee (NB: Please note that my 'Dr' title refers to my PhD in English literature)
- Director of Research and of Stress Management for the company Meisterline (www.meisterline.com)
Areas of counselling I deal with
- Affairs and betrayals
- Anger management
- Body dysmorphic disorder
- Career counselling
- Carer support
- Domestic violence
- Drug abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Family issues
- Feeling sad
- Generalised anxiety disorder
- Internet addiction
- Low self-confidence
- Low self-esteem
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder
- Panic disorder
- Passive aggressive behaviour
- Personality disorders
- Physical abuse
- Relationship problems
- Separation and divorce
- Sex addiction
- Sexual abuse
- Suicidal thoughts
- Work-related stress
Other areas of counselling I deal with
Utilizing creative media: I enjoy working with 'cultural resources' with my clients. In practice, what this means is that for interested clients, they can bring to their sessions writings, films, paintings etc. that they feel expresses their problems or a form of resolution to their problems. We can work together to maximize the therapeutic benefits that can be gained from using this kind of creative material. (Please note that this material can either be created by you or someone else. There's no pressure to come up with your own material unless you want to)
You can read the many articles I have written under the 'Published articles' heading here
These articles deal with common complaints such as anxiety, depression, compulsive thoughts.
- Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
- Cognitive and behavioural therapies
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
- Cognitive therapy
The fee for a regular 55 minute session in Harley st is £90.
- Anxiety and acceptance
- Letting go of the struggle: on anxiety and control
- A cognitive behavioral approach to panic disorder
- Anxiety about anxiety: on secondary anxiety
- 3 ways to work with your negative feelings
- On social anxiety
- Two methods for treating anxiety
- On success and the imposter syndrome
- On truth equaling pain
- On the meaning of life (warning: no definitive answers given!)
- Domestic rows: a deconstruction
These are a few more testimonials from clients about their experience of working with me:
"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 enlightening and I really appreciate Alex's honesty. It's hard making that first step into admitting you need help, but Alex has and continues to help me."
"Alex is an exceptionally insightful counselor. His empathetic approach combined with a highly rigorous intellectual foundation, helped me understand the personal issues I needed to address and the best ways for me to manage them. Without his guidance, I would not have been able to make important life decisions as sensitively nor as effectively for my own sake and for the well being of my family. His personalised approach was key to gaining my confidence and enabling me to move forward on issues with which I had struggled for years."
"After a particularly rough time in my life, I came to Alex seeking help in better understanding the basis of my negative feelings about myself. From the first session, Alex was both inviting and insightful. His incredible knowledge of subjects ranging from literature to philosophy and media made me feel not only at ease – he was relatable and understood what I was saying to him – but also helped me to look further inside myself and to connect the dots between life events and current mindsets.
With his help I feel I have come a long way these last few months; I have a better understanding of my own mental health and with his advice and suggestions, I am now taking proactive steps to rectify some deep-rooted cognitive biases. Alex has listened to me and carefully considered which avenues would be beneficial to explore, based on his insight and professional opinion. He has helped me to come to terms with myself, and while I may not be 100% there, I am much closer to my goal than I was before our sessions.
For anyone searching for a warm, friendly and empathetic therapist, I would highly recommend Alex. I have felt that all of our work together was purposeful and valuable, and I look forward to continuing to get know both myself – and Alex – better in the future."
"For years I knew I had issues and finally plucked up the courage to find a counsellor. I had anxiety, feelings of guilt, and an inferiority complex. Family issues dominated my thoughts and I felt a sense of guilt, shame and blamed myself. Alex helped me look at these issues differently and with his knowledge and experience helped me break free from the past and stop feeling guilty and I now know my own personality. I felt very at ease, was not scared to open up, he was approachable. I would definitely recommend him".
"Alex was able to work with me to identify many underlying issues that I have struggled with. I have found the process to be interesting and enjoyable. He provides a relaxed and comfortable environment in which I feel I can be open and talk frankly. Alex has helped me considerably in exploring my thoughts and introduced me to a number of techniques and exercises that I can use on a day to day basis to deal with anxiety as it arises."
"I’ve found Alex to be very attentive, approachable and knowledgeable. Alex has helped me work through issues in both my personal and professional life, helping me gain insights that I would not have been able to reach on my own. In addition, Alex has also equipped me with the tools that will help me deal with any future difficulties that I may encounter. I found that Alex also takes the time to get to know you so that he has a deeper understanding of you as a person; which, I think, helps him to discover what will be the best and most effective way to help you. Alex also a deep understanding of philosophy and I’ve been impressed with how he’s managed to sometimes integrate this into my sessions, where appropriate, and make it relevant to my situation. Alex has helped me a great deal and I’ve learnt a lot from him; I can’t recommend him highly enough.
"I've been having counselling with Alex for several months now. Initially, I wasn't sure how long I wanted to go; I had planned just to get me through my 'crisis' at the time. However, the more I went, the more relaxed I became and felt there was more I definitely wanted to work through. I find Alex very calming, honest..and most importantly for me..logical! I also didn't know how I would be with a male counsellor, but I can genuinely say I've worked through a lot of issues. My main concern is trust, or lack of, however I already feel a difference in my thought pattern. Slowly but steadily, I'm noticing little changes in the way I'm thinking. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Alex to anyone looking for counselling"
"Alex has helped me to create strategies to help with immediate anxiety problems as well as helping me to face long standing issues. Alex has helped me to explore many strategies in a safe, secure environment and encouraged me to seek out others in my own time. He has also helped me to vocalise my thoughts, feelings and ideas. Alex has a way of turning my thoughts back to me to help me make my own conclusions. Through these sessions I am learning how to manage on my own and in the sessions in a safe way. I feel I am being supported and guided through the wilderness of my own mind to some clarity. I am not constricted by a maximum (or minimum) number of sessions and am able to be supported in what I want to achieve, in whatever timescale that I need as an individual".
I provide for interested readers and clients a list of some of the eclectic sources that have influenced how I work with people:
Pluralistic Counselling and Psychotherapy by Mick Cooper and John McLeod
On Becoming a Person by Carl Rogers
Gestalt therapy verbatim by Fritz Perls
Reading to heal: how to use bibliotherapy to improve your life by Jacqueline Stanley
Listening with the third ear by Theodor Reik
The New Rational Therapy by Eliot Cohen
A Guide to Rational Living by Albert Ellis
Envy and Gratitude by Melanie Klein
Playing and Reality by D.W. Winnicott
Psychotherapy isn't what you think by James Bugental
Reason and Goodness by Brand Blanshard
Crazy talk/stupid talk: how we defeat ourselves by the way we talk and what to do about it by Neil Postman
Pathways to Madness by Jules Henry
Fundamentals of adaptive psychotherapy and counselling by Robert Langs
Solution Focused Therapy for the helping professions by Barry Winbolt
People in Quandaries by Wendell Johnson
- Also registered with Counselling Directory
Maps & Directions
Type of session
|Face to face counselling:||Yes|
Types of client
|Employee Assistance Programme|