Simon Stafford-Townsend

Verified Professional Verified Professional
Verified Professional

Every professional displayed on Counselling Directory has been independently verified by our team to ensure they have suitable credentials to practise.

Available for new clients
Available for new clients

This professional is available for new clients.

Bristol, BS1 5EH
Available for new clients
Available for new clients

This professional is available for new clients.

About me

Ok, here's the exercise I mentioned, plus a little commentary about why I offer it, and a bit of an overview of who I am. 

Life situation exercise:

Direct some attention towards the situation bringing you to therapy at this time. I would like you to find an object that represents this situation for you. It can be something you already have, something you make, or something you buy; whatever works for you.

If you have a clear sense of something in mind then you can always just use your imagination, but I suggest bookmarking my profile, physically obtaining an object, and then coming back to this exercise once you have it.

Do you have an object or are imagining one? Ok, I invite you to try 3 things from here and see how you respond:

1. Describe how this object represents the situation bringing you to therapy. You might want to imagine meeting me and telling me about it, or you could imagine I'm in the room somewhere and tell me out loud; or you could write down the explanation in your journal, on some paper, or digitally.   

2. Sit with the object for a bit, turning it over in your hands, and looking at it from different angles. Focus on what you feel about this object as a representation of your situation. Name or describe some of those feelings. Notice how those feelings arise in your body. Take some time to just let those feelings exist without needing to make them go away or do anything with them.

3. Give the object a voice. Imagine it wants to say something to you; what does it say? If you were to reply to that, what would you say back? And how might the object respond to that? See if you can get a bit of dialogue going with the object and notice what that feels like.

Remember, these are suggestions, not requirements, and it's okay if you can only connect with a little bit of the exercise. What I'm giving you here is a bit of a gestalt experimentation buffet, so only engage with what feels appealing to you. If you find something in these suggestions intriguing, then there's a good chance that we'll make a good fit.

A gestalt experimentation aims to gain new awareness about something familiar by putting it into a new context. I especially like creative approaches like representing things with images or objects because when we then play around with the object, we make new discoveries about the situation the object represents. Often this will also make a seemingly overwhelming situation suddenly feel more manageable, or will draw out the core elements of the issue at hand.

Now, we won't necessarily do these kinds of set piece exercises very often, the idea is for them to emerge naturally out of the therapy as we go along. But the example above pulls together lots of strands of how I work that will happen from session to session as we explore what's brought you to therapy. 

Things like: using images to represent things that are hard to put into words; looking at a familiar situation from a different perspective; noticing what feelings come up as we talk about something; noticing bodily sensations and allowing them space to develop into a tangible meaning; noticing how certain aspects of a situation seem to have their own needs and exploring how you respond to that; taking time to discover the meaning you are making out of what you are experiencing.

Ultimately, gestalt therapy aims to increase your awareness of the situation(s) in your life that feel under-supported for you so that you are better able to discover and do whatever you need to do. I often think gestalt is better described as an action therapy rather than a talking therapy because whilst we do talk, the main function of that conversation is to support the emergence and completion of some kind of action. Even when that action is being still and not doing anything! 

A bit about me:

I am a 43 year old white cis man (he/him pronouns) and have been practising therapy for 14 years. I aim to be an intersectional feminist ally and offer an LGBTIQA+ friendly space. I come from a working class migrant family, and have an awareness of my white privilege which I try to work on through my continuing professional development. I am also neurospicy like a nice chicken madras and welcome all brain flavours. 

My route into psychotherapy training was a crisis of meaning in my mid-twenties. I had drifted into a local government admin job after university and lacked any real sense of what I wanted to do with my life. Two influences for me are Zen Buddhism and Taoism and a particular Zen story pointed the way to psychotherapy training:

A young monk went to his master and asked, "How can I ease humanity's suffering when I am just one single person and there is so much suffering?". The master replied, "What can you do?".

What I can do is be completely engrossed in another person; want to find out all about them; listen to them in an attempt to understand where they're coming from without needing to judge or approve of what I'm hearing; and sometimes offer a different perspective that shines a light on new possibilities. (What happened when I read the Zen story is I thought "Well I can listen to people's problems and psychotherapy sounds cool" but I can totally still do all the other stuff too!).

And it turns out that's a powerful thing. So therapy is my way of easing human suffering at a scale that is possible for me.

What next?

You can find out more about me and my approach by visiting my website. If you have any specific questions or want to arrange an initial consultation, then use the button above to email me and we can go from there.

If you're in the thinking about therapy stage and not ready to get started yet, then you'll get a prompt on my website to join my mailing list so you could hang out there for a bit. I mail out to the list irregularly when I feel I have something to share. Or check out the social buttons in the right hand side bar for my facebook page and instagram.

Training, qualifications & experience

  • I qualified with the MA in Gestalt Psychotherapy from the Sherwood Psychotherapy Training Institute (accredited by Birmingham University) in 2012. 
  • I registered with UKCP in 2013 and have just completed my 2nd re-accreditation (UKCP requires members to re-accredit every 5 years).
  • I completed Babette Rothschild's somatic trauma therapy training alongside my gestalt training.

Member organisations

Registered / Accredited

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.

UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)

The UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) is a leading professional body for the education, training and regulation of psychotherapists and psychotherapeutic counsellors. Its register is accredited by the government's Professional Standards Authority.

As part of its commitment to protect the public, it works to improve access to psychotherapy, to support and disseminate research, to improve standards and to respond effectively to complaints against its members.

UKCP standards cover the range of different psychotherapies. Registration is obtained by training or accrediting with one of its member organisations, or by holding a European Certificate in Psychotherapy. Accredited by the Professional Standards Authority.

Accredited register membership

UK Council for Psychotherapy
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.

UK Council for Psychotherapy


£65.00 per session

28 Orchard Street, Bristol, BS1 5EH

Type of session

In person

Types of client

Young adults (18-24)
Adults (25-64)

Online platforms



Simon Stafford-Townsend
Simon Stafford-Townsend