Dr Tony McSherry BSc MSc RMN MSc (Psychotherapy) PhD (Psychology) UKCP
Where and how do I work?
I work in the NHS as a psychotherapist, and privately from home on some evenings. My home is located in a quiet, countryside village outside Liverpool, with ample parking. My therapy room is quiet and private. I offer therapy short-term (from 1 up to 12 sessions) and longer-term (more than 12 sessions, up to 2 years or more), depending on a person's needs and wishes.
The 500 bus goes between Liverpool city centre and Runcorn, via Hale Village.
I work with a wide variety of problems with individuals, including those arising from current relationship issues (including work issues), depression and anxiety, jealousy, abuse (emotional, sexual, physical), anger issues, bereavement, mood swings, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, compulsions, compulsive behaviour, and trauma from the past.
Can't see your problem in the list?
Don't worry if your problem does not appear in the above list - Problems often do not fit into these categories as each person has his, or her, own individual history and way of being, and so difficulties emerge in a unique way to the individual. Life is not easy, but it doesn't have to be miserable. You can find meaning and happiness no matter what your circumstances.
Anxious about contacting a therapist?
If you are considering coming to therapy, I would encourage you not to be afraid to make contact. Feeling anxious is a normal aspect of therapy, especially initially.
Contact me by email to arrange a confidential, no obligations meeting.
Some thoughts on therapy and how it works
Therapy is about becoming more 'freed up' in oneself, or being able to 'breathe more easily' with oneself and others. It is a special kind of conversation through which you come to understand your difficulties and unravel these so they dissolve or you see them differently.
Because each person is different, therapy is an individual and unique process. It provides a safe, confidential and ethical space for you to come to understand what's going on in your life and within yourself as a person.
Coming to therapy is a courageous step as it can be anxiety-provoking to talk to a stranger at first. But most people manage to get through this initial anxiety and find therapy a very helpful experience.
It might seem a bit a strange too if I am interested in things you didn't expect, or if I appear unexpectedly thoughtful and silent at times. I am always actively working on what you bring and talk about. I believe that there are also unconscious aspects to ourselves, so that we might not at first understand why we do things, or get into certain situations. But with thoughtful exploration and in the relationship of therapy the reasons why a problem keeps repeating, or seems so strange, will become clear. Sometimes this can happen quite quickly, and other times it takes place over a longer period.
Becoming a therapist
I first came into contact with the world of counselling and psychotherapy in 1994 when working and studying in the area of Franciscan spirituality with others. During this period I spent lot of time practising what would now be called mindfulness, and also other ways of self-development. I found the experience of being in my own therapy (existential psychotherapy and psychoanalysis) very helpful and through this began to look at becoming a therapist myself. It is a long journey to become a mature therapist and I would say it has taken me about 18 years, although there is no end-point to learning. This also involves a lot of official supervision from other experienced supervisors and peers. I believe that having been in therapy myself for many years, both pre- and during training, has made me an ethical practitioner; with a sensitivity to the courage and desire it takes to take part in counselling or psychotherapy. As part of my main training I was part of a learning community and, in addition to my own personal therapy, I was in group therapy (with the same group of people) for four years. These types of experiences have shown me that therapy is a special kind of learning with others, and that each therapy experience is unique. I am still actively involved in therapeutic groups.
Does therapy work? Yes, it does. The most up to date research confirms that therapy helps a lot (75-80% of clients who enter therapy). The therapeutic relationship is a major factor that helps. Further details on this are outlined in the following link which details the most recent research from the American Psychological Association:
Training, qualifications & experience
I am fully accredited and registered with the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) as a Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapist, and Psychotherapeutic Counsellor. My accrediting organisation is the Universities Psychotherapy and Counselling Association (UPCA). I am also a fully accredited Existential-Analytical Psychotherapist with the Southern Assiciation for Psychotherapy and Counselling (SAFPAC - see http://www.safpac.co.uk/find-an-existential-analytic-psychotherapist.html), which is approved through the UPCA and UKCP. I am fully insured and work in line with the ethical and practice code of the UKCP. This can be found on the following website: www.upca.org.uk. I am also an experienced Mental Health Nurse registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council). My PhD research explored the nature of what is therapeutic.
PhD (Psychology) - my research explored what is therapeutic through the work of mental health nurses (2018). Roehampton University.
Advanced Existential Practise: London City University (2010).
MSc in Counselling and Psychotherapy - research distinction. My research explored the effects of supervision on client work : Roehampton University, Surrey (2007).
Higher Diploma in Nursing Studies -Mental Health: University of Surrey, Guildford (2003).
Studies in philosophy, spirituality and theology (1994-1998: Dublin, London, Rome - Gregorian University: 1996 - 1998)
I have regular supervision, peer support, and continuing professional development. I am a member of the Manchester Psychoanalytic Matrix, and belong to the Psychotherapy Club of the UKCP at Liverpool. I have a special interest in psychoanalysis and the unconscious. I am an occasional lecturer at Roehampton University.
I have worked as a therapist for 15 years, full-time for the last 10 years (within the NHS). I work with a wide variety of diagnoses, from depression and anxiety to obsessive and compulsive behaviour, and psychoses. But most people don't fit into these categories neatly, or their problems may be completely unique. I always bear this in mind in my work - it is the individual and his or her problems with living that I work with, not the diagnosis in itself. I have worked for two charities (Emmaus, Guildford; Feltham Open Door Project, London), GP services and mental health services.
I have also run a weekly Case-Based Discussion Group for psychiatrists in training as an introduction to working psychotherapeutically with others. I currently facilitate a case-based discussion group for mental health professionals.
Some background information
Prior to becoming a therapist I worked as a professional in the oil industry and travelled a lot around the world. Over time I decided I wanted to work to help others, and moved into the field of practical spirituality inspired by the life of St Francis of Assisi, and became interested in the meaning of being a person. This became a passion for helping another in understanding the dynamics that influence his, or her, way of being and the crucial (and inspiring) relational aspects of being human. In this capacity I also worked in a variety of roles in pastoral work and as a volunteer with the marginalised, including hospice work and those suffering from AIDS, with people with learning disabilities, the homeless, with refugees, and with Irish Travellers. I moved from this field into psychotherapy.
Theoretically my practice is informed by person-centred psychology (eg Carl Rogers), existential philosophy (eg Soren Kierkegaard, Martin Buber and Emmanuel Levinas), psychoanalytical theory (eg Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan) and feminism (eg Julia Kristeva). I have a special interest in the marginalised both in society and in oneself, what we cannot bear to think about, and what we therefore tend to exclude obsessively or express in other ways. Practically, in short-term therapy my work is about problem solving; in long-term therapy my work is about finding meaning and coming to terms with oneself and others - in often surprising and new ways. This new way of living is the gift of therapy.
Publications and study
Jacques Lacan's theory of the subject as Real, Symbolic and Imaginary: How can Lacanian theory be of help to mental health nursing practise? McSherry A. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 2013: 20 (776-781)
The implications of Kristeva's notion of the abject in understanding the significance of therapeutic knowledge and practice in mental health nursing. McSherry T, Loewenthal D, Cayne J. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 2015: (Feb)22 (1):82-8.
A Phenomenology of the Therapeutic after Husserl and Merleau-Ponty. McSherry, T., Loewenthal, D. and Cayne, J. Journal of The Society for Existential Analysis, 2018: (30.1) 30th Anniversary Pearl Edition (128-143).
Books I have reviewed for academic journals:
Confessions from the couch: psychoanalytical notions illustrated with extracts from sessions (by Valerie Blanco). European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling (2016) 18(2), 198-201.
The wisdom of lived experience: views from psychoanalysis, neuroscience, philosophy and metaphysics (by Maxine K. Anderson). European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling (2018) 20(3), 356-364.
Meaning and Melancholia: Life in the Age of Bewilderment (by Christopher Bollas). European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling (2019) 21 (1), 83-85.
2018 (December) Universities Psychotherapy and Counselling Association and UKCP Training College Conference, Venue: University of Roehampton
A Phenomenology of Love, thanks to Lacan, Miller and Jellybean
2015 (September) 'Limits and Margins' Research Student Conference, University of Roehampton
Therapeutic knowledge in mental health nursing, with particular reference to abjection
PhD interests: My research interest was on the nature of the therapeutic in the helping professions, through the lens of mental health nursing: What is it that makes talking to someone therapeutic? What factors are involved - and can they be spoken of or understood - that make a talking relationship therapeutic? See my profile on Roehampton University website http://www.roehampton.ac.uk/Templates/Pages/GeneralContent.aspx?id=2147492968
Accredited register membership
Areas of counselling I deal with
- Affairs and betrayals
- Anger management
- Anorexia nervosa
- Avoidant personality disorder
- Binge-eating disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Body dysmorphic disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
- Bulimia nervosa
- Career counselling
- Carer support
- Child related issues
- Chronic fatigue syndrome/ME
- Dependent personality disorder
- Domestic violence
- Eating disorders
- Emotional abuse
- Family issues
- Feeling sad
- Gender dysphoria
- Generalised anxiety disorder
- Hearing voices
- Histrionic personality disorder
- Internet addiction
- Low self-confidence
- Low self-esteem
- Narcissistic personality disorder
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder
- Panic disorder
- Passive aggressive behaviour
- Personality disorders
- Physical abuse
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Postnatal depression
- Relationship problems
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
- Separation and divorce
- Sex addiction
- Sex problems
- Sexual abuse
- Suicidal thoughts
- Work-related stress
Other areas of counselling I deal with
I also work with clients who have mood swings. In my experience these can be caused by a number of factors, from a simple problem with diet, to drug use, to deeper issues relating to childhood trauma or disappointments. The problem can also be related to unresolved ongoing issues that have not been approached adequately in someone's everyday life: For example, unhappiness at work or an unhappy relationship.
Psychotherapeutic research indicates that compulsions are rooted in unconscious processes and are ways of coping with unresolved unconscious conflict. Sometimes this conflict is not so far beneath the surface and it will emerge quite quickly. The way to resolve these conflicts is to work with your current situation and history, and how you relate to others. In my experience, the compulsive behaviour can then be resolved or understood in such a way that it is no longer an issue, or brings a new and creative understanding of yourself.
Initial meeting: £60 (lasting 50 minutes)
Subsequent sessions: £60 per session (lasting 50 minutes). There is a sliding fee scale depending on your circumstances from £45 to £60.
Group work - £100 per hour. This may be for professional development groups in your business or other settings. Group work facilitates an open dialogue and processing of difficulties in a number of settings. Please contact me for further details.
What happens in the first session?
In this meeting I will get to understand the reasons why you are thinking about coming to therapy and also how therapy can help. I may ask you about your family history, about when you first noticed there was a problem, and what changes you would like to see happen. We will be able to make a plan as to what to do next, which might not mean necessarily continuing into therapy. A typical plan would be to work for 6 to 12 sessions and then review our progress.
Feel free to contact me (email) to arrange a meeting.
What is my therapy like?
My therapy involves an exploration of your problem as it is right now in your life. This is the main focus. What you say about your difficulties is very important. I will encourage you to speak freely, but at your own pace and in your own time, although I will ask questions that I think are important to point you in a helpful direction. Therapy could be seen as a means to becoming more free in oneself, so that one's anxieties and fears about others and oneself are resolved. Depending on your individual situation therapy will take different paths.
We will also look at your personal history, family and other relationships, in order to bring to light what kind of influences are there for you. Coming to terms with how we respond to such influences is part of the work of therapy, and involves working with both conscious and unconscious processes and ways of being.
What is therapy about and why embark on it?
Counselling and psychotherapy take time to have a lasting effect (the exact amount of time is difficult to predict, but most GP services offer a minimum of 6 sessions, which research indicates is the minimum amount of sessions needed to make a difference). Also, in my experience, time in good therapy continues having an effect that does not wear off.
The effect may not be what was expected. This is because if therapy is working, our self-awareness, self-acceptance and self-understanding shift. The significance and meaning of our problems changes, becoming less important sometimes, or an avenue of insight into your wider situation and self, or dissolving altogether.
It is commonly accepted that some difficulties, such as trauma, abuse, emotional disturbances, or longstanding issues, require longer term work to promote meaningful change, or develop insight and understanding.
If you are considering therapy then this indicates that you want to change, and that you are unhappy about how you are living your life. 'Change' therapeutically in my experience, and according to a range of literature, involves increased self-awareness, self-understanding, understanding of one's conscious, sub-conscious and unconscious motivations. Most importantly, I believe, are self-acceptance along with understanding our anxieties and fears around others, and wishes or desires regarding others.
Regarding why it is important to speak to someone else, I am certain that it is impossible to resolve, or come to terms with, a personal question or difficulty alone. Another person, expert in listening and knowing what to do with what is heard, is necessary. I believe this is true every time, a view widely supported in the therapeutic literature, as well as other fields of human wisdom such as philosophy, literature and art.
Beginning counselling or psychotherapy: some important information*
Confidentiality and data protection
I will keep written notes regarding the content of our sessions and the process and progress of therapy. These are kept in a separate place to where I keep your contact details, and are identified only by initials. Nobody else besides myself will have access to your notes unless for legal reasons. I am obliged to keep your notes in a safe place for a reasonable length of time, which I choose as seven years in keeping with other organisations. The only details I store electronically are your email address, phone number(s), and any emails you may send. I do not give any third party access to your emails or telephone numbers. I am currently registering with the Information Commissioner's Office and follow the guidelines of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Confidentiality is extremely important in psychotherapy, as sometimes what is discussed is sensitive and difficult to speak about. Psychotherapy provides a private space, and I protect this as much as possible. However, I have a duty of care to disclose information if I believe someone may be at risk of harm (in accordance with UKCP guidelines).
All therapists are required to undertake supervision with another experienced therapist to discuss client work. Your name or address are not disclosed to the supervisor. Only details of the therapy process and content material will be discussed. I will make every effort to preserve confidentiality in supervision.
Cancelling sessions and non-attendance
I require 48 hours notice of cancelled sessions. Otherwise I charge for the whole session fee. I have to charge for the cancelled session as it is nearly impossible to re-book another session, and I have planned that time and space for your session. Planning in advance means that other clients may have needed to come in the pace allocated to you, and so if you do not attend, or cancel late, that other client has missed out. I also charge for sessions which you have booked but do not attend (having given no notice).
Length of sessions
Sessions last 50 minutes. This is from the agreed start time of the session. Timing in therapy is an important aspect of the work, and so as far as is reasonable we will stick to the time agreed.
*This information follows the guidelines of the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy www.psychotherapy.org and www.upca.co.uk. Follow this link for full details of the standards of conduct and ethics -http://www.upca.org.uk/files/8214/5510/5822/UPCAStandardsOfConductPerformanceAndEthicsv7.pdf
The information in this section is also the set of conditions that you agree to if you begin therapy with me.
Maps & Directions
Type of session
|Face to face counselling:||Yes|
Types of client
Supervision & training
I am a UKCP accredited Psychotherapist, and Psychotherapeutic Counsellor. I offer supervision for therapists (counsellors and psychotherapists) who are already accredited in Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy or Counselling/Psychotherapeutic Counselling, including Existential-Analytical Psychotherapy.View supervision profile