Peter De Santis
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This professional has no current availability for new clients. Please enquire with them directly to discuss availability.
This professional has no current availability for new clients. Please enquire with them directly to discuss availability.
Hello and welcome to my profile. I’m an experienced, accredited, and trauma-informed psychotherapist working face-to-face and online. I help people with:
- Anxiety, panic attacks, stress.
- Relationship and family issues.
- Depression, low mood, feeling sad, and lack of motivation.
- Anger and communication problems.
- Trauma, including PTSD and Complex-PTSD.
- Loss or bereavement.
- Low self-esteem/self-confidence.
- Social anxiety.
- Feeling lost and lacking general meaning or direction in life.
I aim to provide a secure, open, and trusting relationship so that through self-understanding you can discover effective ways of supporting yourself.
My client base is varied, and my clients often describe me as warm and attentive.
I incorporate a wide variety of therapeutic approaches to accommodate each client and the problems they need help with. Each approach has its strengths and limitations for every client and the types of problems they need help with, and I collaborate with my clients to ensure the relevant approaches are used.
My main therapeutic approaches incorporate:
- Attachment Theory, an evolutionary model that describes how early attachments can influence people’s styles of relating with others and with themselves. Within the secure therapeutic relationship I provide, I hope you feel safe and accepted enough for you to develop and grow.
- The Interpersonal Process. Within the secure therapeutic relationship, I will sensitively attune with you and reflect on what I observe about how you relate with yourself, others, and me. This can enable you to notice and free yourself from any unhelpful recurring patterns that keep you stuck.
- Psychodynamic Therapy. This approach is openly empathic, curious, and explorative about your past and how it informs your present difficulties, and it hopes to repair and heal your relational wounds by identifying and challenging unhelpful relational patterns, both within the therapeutic relationship and in the wider world.
- Systems Theory. This approach helps us to consider how wider systemic factors (family members, friends, political, religious/spiritual, social, and cultural factors, etc.) influence client’s problems and life narratives. I will hold a curious and explorative stance to help you to develop your curiosity about yourself and re-write your story from a more empowered and coherent perspective.
- Schema Therapy. The notion that unhelpful early life experiences shape how we mentally and physiologically organise the world in the form of knowledge-categories or “schemas”, is the basis of this approach. We can name your specific schemas that perpetuate unhelpful recurring patterns.
- Humanistic/Existential Therapy. At the heart of these approaches lies the idea that we all have within us the potential to flourish and grow into compassionate and empowered people. I will provide an empathic space and encourage your authentic self to emerge. This can help you to create purpose and take responsibility for your life choices while accepting the inevitable uncertainties and challenges that existence throws at us.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). An approach that is primarily short-term, pragmatic, and interested more in the present than the past. It incorporates theories about learning and conditioning, as well as the evaluations we make about ourselves and the world that reinforce unhelpful habits. The cognitive part emphasises that the way we think can affect the way we feel and behave, and so changing our thinking about a problem can, in theory, help to change our interaction with it. CBT tends to provide practical exercises and activities inside and outside of therapy. It can be especially useful for anxiety, phobias, panic attacks, depression, and other problems.
- EMDR Therapy. This is primarily a trauma-focused approach that is very effective with trauma victims or people with PTSD, but it can also be effective with other problems, such as anxiety, depression, grief, and others. In a nutshell, EMDR works by unblocking unprocessed traumatic or difficult memories so that the body's natural healing can resume. The "EM" part of "EMDR" stands for "Movement" because it tends to rely on helping people to move their line of sight from left to right multiple times, stimulating both sides of the brain and, in theory, accelerating the processing of unblocked memories. However, eye movements aren't the only way to stimulate the brain in this way, and some people prefer to tap their shoulders or laps with their hands from left to right instead. The "D" stands for "Desensitisation" which involves reducing the intensity and vividness of the traumatic memories, while the "R" stands for "Reprocessing", which means updating the memory so that it is not out of control but stored alongside other non-traumatic memories you have.
In practice, my role is to facilitate a space so that you can become more self-aware, understand the nature of your problems, and help you to process and heal from them.
I aim to be present and interactive with you, helping you discover the relationship you have with yourself and others, the role you play in your current situation, and the difficulties you want to understand or resolve. I will also be reflecting on what I have observed and heard so that you can gain valuable insights, enabling and empowering you to see things from different perspectives, and opening up opportunities to make more informed and authentic decisions.
Additionally, I believe that therapy is essentially a learning opportunity, and so, if necessary, I will introduce you to psychological and biological theories and concepts that may enhance or support you in working towards your therapeutic goals.
Other relevant information
Every individual learns things at different speeds, so our work will accommodate the pace at which you feel most comfortable. Moreover, while much of the work occurs in the therapy, most personal work can be done in between sessions. I offer short- and long-term limited work, and we will discuss how appropriate whatever option would be best for you.
A major aspect of psychotherapy or counselling tends to be about facing uncomfortable feelings. Understandably, this can be overwhelming and distressing. My role is to help you discover effective ways of approaching and coping with uncomfortable feelings, which is part of the therapeutic process.
The past can be a major source for understanding why you may feel the way you do, or why you’re currently experiencing a difficult situation, and this is an area that I am open to explore. It's important to understand and learn the patterns of thought, feeling, and behaviour that you have developed since childhood and that may maintain your current difficulties. However, as much as it is important to consider your past, it is also vitally important to consider working with how you are in the present, as it is only in the present that any change or clarity might occur.
I offer short- and long-term limited work, and we will discuss how appropriate whatever option would be best for you. Short-term work usually involves working between 1 to 15 sessions, and long-term work covers any period longer than 15 sessions. Longer-term work enables you to explore your difficulties in much greater depth. I recommend that we review our sessions periodically to ensure that our focus is maintained, and your needs are being met.
As a practitioner, I am offering to share my time, knowledge, and experience with you so that we can collaborate in ways that may be challenging but also life-changing.
Some background information
I have always been curious about the big questions in life and the complex nature of people's mental and social lives. This motivated me to try something different that involved a more intimate kind of engagement with people. Having now spent many years working in this profession, I feel grateful to be able to practice something I feel passionate about, not to mention that it is a great privilege to be invited into people's personal lives with the aim of supporting them.
Training, qualifications & experience
Training & Qualifications
- I have a Counselling Foundation qualification and a Masters in Existential Psychotherapy and Counselling.
- I am a Trauma Therapist/Specialist having qualified as an Eye-Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapist.
- British Psychological Society (BPS) approved certificates in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), including training in imposter syndrome, perfectionism, guilt, social anxiety, working with anger problems, poor impulse control, working with suicide, and depression.
- Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), including training in regulating emotions.
- Solution-Focused Therapy training.
- Motivational Interviewing training.
Other Areas of Continuing Professional Development
- Attachment Theory.
- Psychodynamic Theory.
- Systems Theory.
- Internal Family Systems.
- Schema Therapy.
For more than 14 years I have worked with hundreds of people dealing with a range of difficulties in a variety of contexts, including
- Working with people in the local low-cost counselling centre.
- Working with offenders in a prison.
- Working with people in a number of drug and alcohol recovery/rehabilitation centres, including facilitating group work.
- As a senior student counsellor at university.
- Working privately for nearly 10 years.
As such, apart from having worked with many adults and older adults, I have lots of experience working with young people and the challenges that they tend to face, as well as experience working with high-risk groups (e.g. suicide, self-harm, trauma, complex issues, etc.). This experience has encouraged me to develop my knowledge and skills in order to accommodate a wide range of issues, which I still continue to develop and refine. My further training in other therapeutic approaches means that I tend to integrate approaches that best suit each individual client.
Being registered/accredited with a professional body means an individual must have achieved a substantial level of training and experience approved by their member organisation.
BACP is one of the UK’s leading professional bodies for counselling and psychotherapy with around 60,000 members. The Association has several different categories of membership, including Student Member, Individual Member, Registered Member MBACP, Registered Accredited Member MBACP (Accred) and Senior Registered Accredited Member MBACP (Snr Acccred).
Registered and accredited members are listed on the BACP Register, which shows that they have demonstrated BACP’s recommended standards for training, proficiency and ethical practice. The BACP Register was the first register of psychological therapists to be accredited by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA).
Accredited and senior accredited membership are voluntary categories for members who choose to undertake a rigorous application and assessment process to demonstrate additional standards around practice, training and supervision.
Individual members will have completed an appropriate counselling or psychotherapy course and started to practise, but they won’t appear on the BACP Register until they've demonstrated that they meet the standards for registration. Student members are still in the process of completing their training.
All members are bound by the BACP Ethical Framework and a Professional Conduct Procedure.
Accredited register membership
This therapist has indicated that they belong to an Accredited Register.
Areas of counselling I deal with
Other areas of counselling I deal with
I am registered with AXA PPP Healthcare, Aviva, and WPA. Please contact me if you are insured with any of these companies.
£80.00 per session
My standard fee per 50 minute session is £80, and I also offer a sliding scale to enable me to offer sessions to those on a lower income. I'm happy to offer a free brief telephone chat about your issues or expectations (or if you have any questions) prior to starting therapy.
When I work
I see clients on Wednesdays for face-to-face and online sessions and Thursdays for online sessions.
Below is some information about the therapeutic approaches I may use. Please note that I integrate aspects of different methods and ideas flexibly and fluidly, rather than just employing one main approach to deal with whatever difficulties clients bring. My general approach is to work moment-by-moment, sessions-by-session with clients, so as to personalise the experience to their needs as much as is possible in order to be helpful and for therapy to be effective. However, in many cases, I may have a general or specific plan that I frame the work in, and I favour collaborating with you when implementing this plan.
Existential therapy is based upon existentialism, a philosophical movement that centres on the themes of individualism, self-awareness, and autonomy. The core principles of existential philosophy and existential therapy arise out of the idea that at times life can be difficult, confusing, overwhelming, and full of uncertainty, but that by discovering a clearer sense of who we are and how we relate with ourselves and others, we can more courageously face these challenges. Working closely with client’s present-experience empowers them to develop a stronger sense of themselves, and thus enabling them to take more ownership of their lives.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
This method generally relies on the idea that how we think about things influences how we feel and behave. In therapy, the aim of both client and therapist would therefore be to learn about one's thinking patterns, and to discover alternative ways of thinking to make effective and helpful changes to one's emotional and behavioural responses in their lives. I tend to adopt some CBT ideas and techniques, which may include homework tasks, drawing connections between thought and behavioural patterns, using diagrams, conducting experiments, and psycho-education.
This is primarily a trauma-focused approach that has been shown to be very effective with trauma victims or people with PTSD, but it can also be effective with other non-trauma related problems, such as anxiety, depression, grief, and others. In a nutshell, EMDR works by unblocking unprocessed traumatic or difficult memories so that the body's natural healing can resume. The "EM" part of "EMDR" stands for "Eye-Movement" because it tends to rely on helping people to move their line of sight from left to right multiple times, stimulating both sides of the brain and, in theory, accelerating the processing of unblocked memories. However, eye-movements aren't the only way to stimulate the brain in this way, and some people prefer to tap their shoulders or laps with their hands from left to right instead. The "D" stands for "Desensitisation" which involves reducing the intensity and vividness of the traumatic memories, while the "R" stands for "Reprocessing", which means updating the memory so that it is not out of control but stored alongside any other non-traumatic memory you have.
This is a very popular kind of therapy that is typically defined by three major principles: (1) empathy, in which the therapist attempts to understand a client’s perspectives from the client’s point of view; (2) unconditional positive regard, relating to a client in a consistent, non-judgemental way; and (3) congruence, in which the therapist is genuine and transparent in how they relate and react to whatever the client brings. A person-centred counsellor offers clients a path to discover their own sense of themselves, enabling them to develop capacities for further growth.
Schema Therapy is an offshoot of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT), and so it borrows many elements from the latter approach. However, Schema Therapy is broader in its combination and integration of other approaches unrelated to CBT (e.g. Gestalt Therapy, Psychodynamic Therapy, Emotion-Focused Therapy, etc.). As such, Schema Therapy's main focus is on understanding the psychological and emotional roots of a person's personality and the traits and habits that tend to maintain the continual difficulties they tend to re-experience. We would delve into the childhood/teenager-hood relationships you had with your parents, caregivers, and siblings, as well as later experiences with other members of society (e.g. friends, teachers, strangers, etc.) in order to understand whether your basic needs as a child/adolescent weren't met, and how you learnt to respond to this lack both emotionally and behaviourally, and in later and current relationships. Schema Therapy emphasises that in order to change traits it is important to work equally on cognitions (thoughts), emotions, and behaviours, rather than prioritising one over the others, like CBT might tend to do. For example, when working on emotions, I will encourage you to do "Imagery Work", which involves me guiding you revisit (via your memories) upsetting times in your life in which your needs weren't met, and helping you to rewrite how you experienced the event. Clients tend to find this powerful, cathartic, and healing. Indeed, in order to heal you must activate the feelings that are distressing in order for them to be changed.
Solution-focused therapy attempts to shift attention from focusing on problems to focusing on solutions. The more one spends thinking about problems (that either don’t change or become amplified) the more stuck in their problems people feel. By changing your focus in a positive way towards solutions you can begin to realise the hidden potential you have in approaching problems in general. In therapy, I will encourage you to spend time talking about solutions in an attempt to help you acquire new abilities in managing your difficulties. These new abilities can be used to channel your energy into more constructive, personalised, and practical ways of changing your situation.
I am interested in how your early attachments/relationships may have contributed to difficulties in your current or recent relationships and how they may have affected your relationship with yourself. Within the initial sessions, I tend to provide an assessment with specific questions to help me grasp the nature of these early attachments.
My approach is influenced by scientific research, and I believe that sometimes it is useful to educate clients about the psychology and biology of human development, behaviour, and social interactions. Research suggests that constructing explanations enable us to better understand ourselves, which may also promote confidence by grounding our experiences in a coherent and tangible way. For example, I may provide some information about the biology of panic attacks, which may help to normalise the symptoms one has; or I may discuss a model that describes that behaviour necessarily involves mistakes/failure/relapse as a way of building more robust and realistic expectations. I have many handouts that I sometimes show to clients or give them for personal reflection and use.
What's the difference between psychotherapy and counselling?
Traditionally, counselling offers shorter-term work and focuses upon present problems, whereas psychotherapy offers more open-ended work, which therefore allows for a “deeper” (i.e. more detailed) and broader exploration into any issues that may need more time and focus to work through. However, many features of both psychotherapy and counselling overlap, for example, many counsellors can also be longer-term and delve more deeply, and so I do not tend to make wide distinctions between them.