The theoretical / practical way I work

My training emphasised the client-counsellor relationship through the integrative approach; my experience supports this. Prior to retraining, I worked in management roles, developing individuals and groups and improving systems. This separately, influenced my approach. I am comfortable working in a directive role, in gently challenging clients, helping them to clarify, make connections for themselves; exploring physical and emotional responses.

The foundation of my practice is the therapeutic relationship building trust ensuring the client is comfortable. I encourage clients to reflect on expectations and feelings about counselling and what they want to achieve from counselling. Clients are better able to recognise therapeutic shift if they understand what they want from sessions and have opportunity to try out new approaches in the session and between sessions. I believe a person’s experience, prior to meeting, influences ability to connect. So I try to understand client expectations of and previous experience of therapy as well as what brings them to therapy. I approach each client with an open mind, knowing that I make judgements and it is important I recognise this so I can minimise the impact they have on the relationship. Creating shared language is important and I feel visual metaphors can be very helpful in building understanding of a situation.

I believe a large proportion of my clients feel loss of control and are fighting to regain a sense of control. Providing space to explore need for control, offering an alternative of becoming more comfortable with not having control is essential. I draw upon the linkages between thoughts, beliefs and behaviours, but for me traditional CBT emphasising self-control, offers an initial fix but may be difficult to sustain. My experience supports exploring learned behaviours and core beliefs. At the heart of how I work is helping clients to develop acceptance, exploring how their reactions to the situation may be influenced by beliefs, experiences and existing strategies. I encourage clients to understand and question their strategies and depending on the client’s willingness and ability to change.

My approach to integration is that different clients are helped by different processes at different points in their lives. This approach emphasises client-led goals and tasks which fits with brief counselling. An advantage of my integrative training is feeling comfortable using different approaches with one client e.g. exploring a client’s core belief of being unlovable in the context of their relationship with their absent father but also teaching Mindfulness techniques for managing anxiety.