Peter De Santis, M.A., Registered MBACP (Accred)
Hello and welcome, I am an experienced, accredited psychotherapist/counsellor working online. People come to see me for a variety of reasons, such as:
- anxiety and stress
- relationship issues and family issues
- depression, low mood, feeling sad, and lack of motivation
- panic attacks
- gender/sexual identity issues
- loss or bereavement
- low self-esteem or low self-confidence
- social anxiety
- feeling lost and lacking general meaning or direction in life
I aim to provide a secure, open, non-judgemental, and trusting environment so that through self-understanding you are able to discover effective ways of supporting yourself.
My client base is varied and my clients often describe me as warm and attentive.
My initial training was based on Existential Psychotherapy, but since qualifying I have learned a variety of approaches that have led me to integrate and use a number of techniques tailored to individual clients. This means that I have an eclectic-integrative therapeutic approach, but I also tend to lean towards empirical research with regards to psychology and behaviour. However, I am open to using any techniques that may be instrumental or helpful.
As an eclectic-integrative therapist I incorporate a variety of ideas and methods that are helpful or effective according to your own personal needs and circumstances. These include Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Mindfulness, Gestalt Therapy, Solution-Focused Therapy, Schema Therapy, Psychodynamic Therapy, and Compassion-Focused Therapy (please see below in "Further Information" about the different approaches I tend to use). Whilst there are many ideas and techniques that I draw upon, my views and approach are my own.
In practice, my role is to facilitate a space for you so that you can process and understand your uncomfortable thoughts and feelings, and gain awareness and autonomy in dealing with your difficulties. I aim to be present and interactive with you, helping you to 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 back 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 an opportunity for learning, and so, if necessary, I will introduce you to theories and concepts about psychology and behaviour that may enhance or support you in working towards your therapeutic goals. Furthermore, sometimes we may discuss the possibility of you working on specific tasks in between sessions. This is because for any significant or long-term change, it requires some repeated practice in alternative ways of thinking, feeling, and acting.
Other relevant information
Every individual processes things at different speeds, and so the work we do will accommodate the pace in which you feel most comfortable. Moreover, while much of the work occurs in the counselling room, the majority of personal work can be done in-between sessions. I offer both 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 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 both 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 at much greater depth.
As a practitioner I am offering to share my time, knowledge and experience with you so that we can work through things together in ways that may be challenging but also life-changing.
Some background information
After completing a Fine Art degree and working in a career as an artist/designer for many years, I became a little dissatisfied. 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
I have a Masters in Existential Psychotherapy and Counselling from the New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling. For the past 10 years I have worked with many people dealing with a range of difficulties in a variety of contexts, including a charitable counselling centre, a prison, drug and alcohol recovery/rehabilitation centres, a secondary school, and I currently work as a student counsellor in a higher-education setting. 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 such a wide range of issues, which I still continue to develop and refine. My further training in other therapeutic approaches includes Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Schema Therapy, Mindfulness, Solution-Focused Therapy, Person-Centered Therapy, and Motivational Interviewing, as well as having group facilitation training and experience.
Registered / Accredited
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.
British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy
BACP is one of the UK’s largest professional bodies for counselling and psychotherapy. Therapists registered with the Association fall into a number of different membership categories such as Individual Member, Registered Member MBACP and Registered Member MBACP (Accred), each standing for different levels of training and experience. MBACP (Accred) and MBACP (Snr Accred) members have achieved a substantial level of training and experience approved by the Association.
Registered members can be found on the BACP Register, which was the first register to achieve Accredited Voluntary Register status issued by the Professional Standards Authority. Individual Members will have completed an appropriate counselling and/or psychotherapy course and started to practise, but will not appear on the BACP Register until they've progressed to Registered Member MBACP status.
All members are bound by a Code of Ethics & Practice and a Complaints Procedure. Accredited by the Professional Standards Authority.
Accredited register membership
Accredited Register Scheme
The Accredited Register Scheme was set up in 2013 by the Department of Health (DoH) as a way to recognise organisations that hold voluntary registers which meet certain standards. These standards are set by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA).
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.
My standard fee per 50 minute session is £70.
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.
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 (CBT)
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 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.
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.
Mindfulness is a method that has been growing rapidly over the last few decades. Being mindful is about observing, noticing or being aware of your moment-to-moment experiences. For example, you might notice the sensation that your feet have against the floor as you read this, or the way in which you're drawing breath. Mindfulness allows you to just notice these sensations or observations without engaging them analytically or emotionally. The general idea is that by not engaging you can realise that experience and sensation are transitory processes, that is, things change all the time; and by not engaging with your experiences you can liberate yourself from the habitual thinking and feeling that occupies your life which may be contributing to your difficulties. This also opens up a wider world for you to experience and explore as you notice many things that you may usually take for granted, and find some added peace in your life. Furthermore, one practises mindfulness non-judgementally, so that one can develop a stronger sense of self-compassion and understanding of one-self and others.
What's the difference between psychotherapy and counselling?
Traditionally, counselling offers short-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 and so I do not tend to make wide distinctions between them.