Kate Simpson Psychotheraputic Counsellor UKATA dip
Are you struggling with something you can’t seem to change alone?
Or are you feeling overwhelmed by something that’s going on for you?
Maybe you have the feeling there’s something preventing you from leading an enjoyable and meaningful life.
If so, therapy can give you the emotional resilience and compassionate support to help you explore what is going on for you.
Hello I’m Kate, I’m an experienced qualified counsellor.
I meet and talk to clients, people like you, who may be living with some sort of emotional distress. My ethos is that all emotional distress, no matter how complex or confusing it is, will make sense in the bigger picture of your life. My job as a therapist is to listen carefully to your story, to understand what it is like to be you and together we make sense of your experience.
Uma Therapy combines neuroscience,
TA psychotherapy and Counselling, with
mindfulness, visualisation and meditation.
I use these traditional techniques, to enhance my Western training in Transactional Analysis (TA).
Founded in 1960’s by the well known psychiatrist, Eric Berne, whose ethos was:
People are essentially born OK
Everyone has the capacity to think
People decide their own destiny and their decisions can be changed.
TA offers a model of communication, a study of repetitive behavioural patterns, and a theory of the personality. It can be used in the short term blended with counselling, or longer term with psychotherapy.
As a therapist I offer a warm holding environment to explore your emotional landscape.
Work related stress
Low self esteem
Lifestyle changes/ transitions
Training, qualifications & experience
Certificate in Counselling
Training at The Wealdon Institute, E Sussex
Foundation in Meditation and Buddhist thought at The Jamyang Buddhist center. Kennington London.
UK Association for Transactional Analysis
UKATA (formally the Institute of Transactional Analysis) is the national UK Transactional Analysis organisation representing all fields of TA theory and practice. TA can be used as an effective tool in a wide range of contexts such as: personal development, management, coaching, counselling, psychotherapy, teaching, education, parenting and more.
Areas of counselling I deal with
£45.00 per 50 minute Session
Using concepts from TA, other approaches and sources, I explain how we see the earliest relationships and childhood development, underpinning the adult personality.
At birth babies are unable to care for their own needs in any way, for the earliest years of their life human beings are unable to regulate their own feeling and emotions, and they rely completely on adult careers to do this for them.
In this article, I will use Maslow's hierarchy of needs, Pamela Levin's theory of Cycles of development, Stern's Layered self and Bowlby and Ainsworth's Attachment Theory to illustrate how early childhood relationships, influence our personality as adults. To conclude I will look at how Re-decision therapy can help clients to change these early decisions.
Babies become attuned to the adults that care for them, absorbing their positive and negative feelings, this then affects their brain development, as Sue Gerhardt writes in her book “Why Love matters” (Gerhardt 2015 p147) “Unfortunately without the appropriate one to one social experience with a caring adult the baby’s orbitofrontal cortex is unlikely to develop well. It has found to be smaller in volume when early relationships go badly wrong, particularly when children are emotionally or physically abused and or neglected. Stressful early relationships also make it more difficult to establish the important neural pathways between the amygdala and the pre-frontal cortex.” By developing a loving affectionate relationship with babies from birth, this enables their brains to develop and grow.
Abraham Maslow (1954) attempted to synthesise a large body of research related to human motivation. Before Maslow, researchers generally focused separately on such factors as biology, achievement, or power to explain what energises, directs, and sustains human behaviour. Maslow suggested a hierarchy of human needs based on two groupings: deficiency needs and growth needs. Within the deficiency needs, each lower need must be met before moving to the next higher level. Once each of these needs has been satisfied, if at some future time a deficiency is detected, the subject will act to remove the deficiency.
According to Maslow, an individual is ready to act upon the growth needs if and only if the deficiency needs are met. Maslow's first conceptualisation included only one growth need--self-actualisation. Self-Actualised people are characterised by: 1) being problem-focused; 2) incorporating an ongoing freshness of appreciation of life; 3) a concern about personal growth; and 4) the ability to have peak experiences.
5) Cognitive: to know, to understand, and explore;
6) Aesthetic: symmetry, order, and beauty;
7) Self-actualisation: to find self-fulfillment and realise one's potential.
8) Self-transcendence: to connect to something beyond the ego or to help others find self-fulfilment and realise their potential.
Maslow's basic position is that as one becomes more self-actualised and self-transcendent, develops wisdom and automatically knows what to do in a wide variety of situations. Daniels (2001) suggested that Maslow's ultimate conclusion that the highest levels of self-actualisation are transcendent in their nature may be one of his most significant contributions to the study of human behaviour and motivation.
According to Maslow's theory, any unmet needs in childhood, must be revisited by the adult, in order to complete each stage, and affect change in the adult personality.
As a therapist working with a client, we would do this through the therapeutic relationship, revisiting early relationships and looking at those influences in adulthood, helping the client identify critical or harsh parental internal dialog, and assessing its relevance in the here and now.
In Pamela Levin’s theory of Cycles of development she suggests that, contrary to Maslow, people develop cycles, rather than stages, in their early child development, which are returned to continuously.
Cycles of development Pamela Levin- Landheer (1982)
The cycle of development is a model of how we grow up. For each stage there is a set of jobs or tasks the youngster instinctively attends to – hence the baby calling for care, the toddler whose hands are into everything - and the 8year old who is falling in and out with friends. With the appropriate encouragement/affirmations, the youngster can get the tasks under their belt, laying the foundation for the next stage.
The model acknowledges that the extent to which development is completed at each stage the first time round may be limited. The supply of affirmations can fluctuate and ‘gaps’ might begin to appear in the youngster’s development. Behaviours at different ages could indicate that the youngster would benefit either from further support with the current developmental stage they are at, or from revisiting earlier stages/ tasks. Viewing the behaviours in this way helps to address the underlying developmental needs.
The cycle of development theory was developed by Pam Levin (1991)
The main assumptions of the Cycle of Development:
• Development is cyclical - as opposed to linear where the person moves through fixed stages of development and, if key elements are ‘missed’, she/he simply moves on to the next stage but from a deficit position.
• It takes a lifetime to grow up.
• It is the responsibility of the entire community to raise its children – not just the parents/carers, culture may influences later decisions.
Times of transition/change provide particularly potent times for the revisiting of developmental stages and tasks, such as adolescence when the brain changes significantly.
This theory suggests, as Maslow does, that if their is a deficiency at any stage or cycle then we must return to that point and complete the development stage in order for the Client to heal and develop autonomy. Levin suggests that we can return to the “missed” point at anytime in life, however any deficit in early childhood will affect the adult personality. It is at this ‘missed’ point that parental injunctions are formed which go on to influence childhood decisions. Injunctions are the parental messages we are give in very early childhood (before 3 months) which influence how we see ourselves.
Daniel Stern- (1985) saw childhood developing in layers, he called his theory “The Layered Self”.
In The Interpersonal World of the Infant, (1985) Stern hypothesised that an infant develops in a series of overlapping and interdependent stages or layers, which are increasingly interpersonally sophisticated.
He distinguished 4 (to become 6) main senses of self:
The Emergent self- (0-2 months) integration and organising experience, seven as “the basis for the child’s ability to learn and create” resulting in a sense of physical cohesion.
The Core self- (2-6 months) Development of social skills through imitation of the Mother. (Mirroring neutrons) The child develops sensory experience, expectations of the environment, and building and internalising relationships. The child learns if they can rely on their care giver, to meet his/her needs, and how their care giver will respond in certain situations.
The core self with another- Ideally the child will use this experiences with the primary attachment figure and be able to invoke these memories to regulate their emotions.
The subjective self- (7-15 months) at this stage the mother/other is regulating the infant through proper atunement. The next stage is for the child to develop a sense of self separate from the other through purposeful mis-atunement. This allows the child to become aware of their own thoughts and feelings. This ‘gap’ in subjective reality can be bridged through sharing focus on a toy or other external stimulus with the mother.
The verbal self- (15 months) The child develops language, which creates a ‘new domain of relatedness’, which shifts the relationship from shared feelings with the Other, to shared story’s.
The narrative self, or selves- Depending on the child’s atunement with the parent this can then lead to difficulty in expression, as the child learns to translate feelings and needs to coherent shared language.
At each stage the child develops their relationship with them selves in relationship to their environment, they become aware of themselves physically, their relationship to “other”. Stern was greatly influenced by the work of Bowlby and Ainsworth on attachment theory, a mis-atunement between the Mother and child was as a result of a poor attachment in the relationship.
Attachment theory is based on the joint work of John Bowlby (1907-1991) and Mary Salter Ainsworth (1913).
Its developmental history begins in the 1930s, with Bowlby's growing interest in the link between maternal loss or deprivation and later personality development and with Ainsworth's interest in security theory. Although Bowlby's and Ainsworth's collaboration began in 1950, it entered its most creative phase much later, after Bowlby had formulated his attachment theory, drawing on ethology, control systems theory, and psychoanalytic thinking, and after Ainsworth conducted the first empirical study of infant- mother attachment patterns.
It is not surprising that during infancy and early childhood these functions are either not working at all or are doing so most imperfectly. During this early stage of life, the child is then dependent on his mother performing them for him. She provides his immediate environment, meets the child's needs as she sees fit. As the child grows and learns, gradually he learns these skills himself, and as he does, the attentive parent transfers the roles to him. This is a slow, subtle and continuous process, beginning when he first learns to walk and feed himself, and not ending completely until adult independence is reached.
Mary Ainsworth devised an experimental procedure called “The Strange Situation Test” to measure secure and in-secure attachment between young children and their parents. (Ainsworth et al. 1978) It measured the child’s reaction when the parent leaves and then returns. This has proved to be so effective as a measure it has been used reliably ever since, to evaluate a child’s secure or insecure attachment to their parent.
Secure attachment in infancy is seen as the basis for the child and then later the adult’s, ability to have meaningful, securely attached relationships in the future. So again as therapists we re enforce the importance of revisiting the early childhood relationships a client had, and repairing the clients sense of self.
In Winnicott’s Theory of ‘Object relations’ (1971) he discusses ‘The good enough Mother and the ‘good enough’ holding environment, and how these both contribute to healthy development. These allow the infant to step into a relationship between itself and the outside world. These environmental factors can influence the child’s healthy mental well being, however if they are not ‘good enough’ during early infant development some form of psychopathology can occur.
(Winnicott 1971) Relates the mothers provision of care during pregnancy and once the infant is born. The holding provided combines primary Motherly concerns and these help the mother to facilitate essential ego support for the infant’s mental well-being. Psychological and physical ‘holding’ is need by the infant through out their development.
In my work with children under 5 years old, (Childminder 17 years) I have seen that children who have a secure parental bond at a year old, will grow in confidence through out childhood, happy to be left at pre-school etc. While children put in childcare at under 5 months can struggle to form attachments to carers which can continue through out childhood.
Stern and Levin believed injunctions are unconsciously given to the child by the parents as the child re-attunes to the parent missing their cues to have certain needs met.
This is illustrated by the Hagaden and Stills diagram below (Transactional Analysis a relational perspective 2008 p.25)
When you are not attuned or you have been “missed” your unmet needs are pushed into P1, injunctions are created in C1, and pushed into P1 in un-intergratable experiences. P1 contains unacceptable image of self which has been split off. P1+ contains the self constructed ideal ‘other’ which we “could” be.
A1 is the foundation of our personality and the future patterns of our personality. (A1 is built on C1)
“I am only OK if…” I follow the counter injunctions that my parents gave me. For example someone with a “Don't exist” injunction, may have a “try hard” counter injunction, so they make the compound decision as a child, in this family, that its ok to stay alive as long as they try hard.
The influence of injunctions seen within the family, a girl who has a "don't grow up" injunction may develop an eating disorder as she reaches adolescence, as she only loved by her parents if she keeps a childlike body, and remains dependant by making herself ill. She may be rewarded by her family with attention.
These injunctions are also seen within different cultures. Women who wear the a veil have a "Don't be seen" injunction, the influence of early cultural messages dictate how they behave in society, career choices, life decisions with very strict rules around how they can be accepted within their faith, keeping their face hidden shows respect. Not conforming means being cast out, and loving relationships being removed. These societal injunctions are built into the script of the culture, and are re enforced by the culture, so are automatically past on through each generation, it is not questioned, because it has always been this way. Religion is used to control. Script decisions are made on the basis of cultural identity, rather than conscious choice.
This is also true within the dynamic of the family, beliefs about the role of men and women, and views about sexuality are formed through parental messages.
Injunctions are given to the child in the first 6 months of life, Daniel Stern suggests these are as a result of a mis-attunement between the child and the Mother/ carer (The Core self 2-6 months ). As the Mother cannot meet all the Childs needs 24/7, the Childs needs will be missed, and this causes the child to attune himself/herself, to the mother. Depending on the regularity of the miss, the child will be given injunctions, the most severe injection being “Don’t exist”. How the child decides what to do with this injunction then affects later adult decision making. If the child later rejects the injunction from the parent, because the child discovers that the parent is mentally unstable (or a substance misuser, for example) this decision will influence how the child proceeds. The child could also decide to make the outcome of the injunction positive or negative. Ainsworth’s theory of attachment also suggests a poor attachment is a point at which I would suggest the mother child relationship is fractured, and the child is given injunctions by the mother which will go on to affect later decisions.
Counter -injunctions are parental messages which allow the child to exist within the family, so someone who has a “Don’t be close” injunction, could have a “work hard” counter-injunction, so I they can only “be close” if they “work hard”. Buy working hard they receive approval from that parent and then feel close and acceptable to them. So the counter-script and decisions the child makes are re-enforced by the approval of the parent, which in turn ingrains that behaviour.
To counteract the early injunctions and decisions we have, we can, in therapy re-decide or re-parent ourselves. By deeloping an awareness of how my parents functioned in relationships, I can look at the way I function in relationships and adapt my behaviour. Developing self awareness is key,
Goulding and Goulding (1976-1979) Re-Decision Therapy, is a model of how this is possible in a therapeutic relationship.
Goulding and Goulding (1979) believe that a child makes decisions in response to parental messages in his/her life (injunctions) they believe that script can be re-written with the assistance of a strong Parent he/she builds within themselves. Goulding stated that the person writes their own script, and can re-write it during their life. However it is indicated that the original decision making and development is strongly influenced by the powerful parent in the child s attempt to survive and just to parental treatment , messages and demands. Goulding and Goulding’s Redecision therapy, helps the Client change unhealthy childhood decisions to healthy decisions. as the client has the opportunity in therapy to re-decide from the child, using the healthy Adult and healthy Parent, and healthy Child to help the wounded Child in the redecisioning process. While re-experiencing a childhood event the client can reject an unhealthy parental injunction, as no longer acceptable, which contributes to the healthy re-decision of not only that individual event but collective events from the past.
In my adult life I have decided to reject early decisions about the role I have been given in my family. By training as a therapist I reject my "don't be intelligent" injunction, and decide to risk failure or success. By deciding not to drink alcohol I have decided to reject my alcoholic script, and made a new script decision.
Early childhood injunctions have a significant impact on the adult personalty, according to classic TA theory, still developing today.
Ainsworth M.D. (1982) Attachment: Retrospect and prospect in C.M. Parkes and J Stevenson-Hinde The place of attachment in human behaviour (pp. 3-30) New York: Basic Books
Bowlby.J (1980) Attachment and loss New York. Basic Books.
University of Wisconsin- Madison anthro.vancouver.wsu.edu 16.12.2015
Goulding and Goulding “Re-decision therapy” Grove press (1997)
Sue Gerhardt "Why Love Matters" By second edition 2015
Published by Routledge.
Hagaden and Stills "Transactional Analysis a relational perspective" Rutledge (2008)
Pamela Levin “Cycle of development” Health communications (1991)
Maslow, A.H. (1954) Motivation and personality New York: Pearson
Stern, D. (1985) The interpersonal world of the infant, London: Karnac Books
Winnicott, D , (1971) Playing and reality, New York: Basic Books