theory

There’s no need to read this page: you don’t have to know the theory behind what I do to get benefits from coming to see me.

But if you’d like to know, here are some of the major theoretical strands that inform my work:

EMDR

Eye Movement De-sensitisation and Reprocessing

This is a technique for dealing with traumatic episodes of any kind, but it’s main use has been in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

You may know that during the hours of sleep, there is a period known as Rapid Eye Movement (R.E.M.) which seems to function as a way of the brain processing the events of the past.

EMDR replicates this process in the consulting room. The client, who is conscious all the time (there is no hypnosis going on here), begins with a disturbing event in the past, and is then invited to do a whole series of eye movements, punctuated at intervals by free association. Free association is one of the classic techniques of the original psychoanalysis developed by Sigmund Freud: the client allows his mind to wander freely, and simply talks about whatever comes into his head.

EMDR adds a different dimension to Free Association, however – because it telescopes the process, and the client can explore parts of the unconscious mind quickly, powerfully and safely... the trauma is drawn out of the client!

With EMDR you may be able to access within minutes, feelings that have lain dormant, unconscious, inside you for years, and which might take months or years of therapy to get out of you.

Attachment

 
 

All human beings (indeed all animal species) have an 'attachment' system: it is the attachment system that makes, for example, a parent respond to the cry of his/her child; it is attachment that makes the child seek out the parent in a strange situation. It is part of our survival mechanism. But we all learn different things, unconsciously, from our early attachments - we may learn that the world is an anxious place, or a dangerous place; that parents respond unpredictably, perhaps violently. Perhaps they don’t react at all, and the world is a very silent place for us.

Each of us develops strategies for attaching to others: if we are lucky, we may feel that we are quite good at knowing when we are in some danger; have a good idea about who we feel safe with, and who we don't. If we are less fortunate, we may feel excessive levels of anxiety when confronted with new situations. This may affect the quality of our personal relationships, and our ability to function effectively at work. We may be experienced as very clinging.

Alternatively, we may be very dismissive or avoidant of relationships and feelings. We may be experienced by others as cold, rude, angry or thoughtless. We have other feelings somewhere, but we find it hard to access them, and harder, even, to talk about them.

So I use the exploration of your attachment patterns to help you understand why you are the way you are, and facilitate you moving away from those patterns which are unhelpful. Just because you acquired them at a very early age doesn’t mean to say that you have to stay that way!

Attachment theory was developed by John Bowlby, and since his time, the work has been developed by clinicians and academics in the field of psychoanalysis, child care, education and criminology to understand how human beings function (or not) together.

Psychoanalysis

 
 

Psychoanalysis is the psychology of the mind pioneered by Sigmund Freud, and developed by his successors: European clinicians such as Carl Jung and Alfred Adler, British-based pre- and post-war clinicians such as Anna Freud, Melanie Klein, Donald Winnicott, Ronald Fairbairn and John Bowlby; modern relational clinicians such as Susie Orbach and Joe Schwartz (in Britain); Stephen Mitchell and Lewis Aron (the U.S.) and trauma theorists and clinicians such as Phil Mollon, Valerie Sinason and Felicity de Zulueta(Britain); Judith Herman and Jody Messler-Davis (U.S)

Broadly, psychoanalysis is the understanding that we are governed by powerful forces within us which are buried in our unconscious. The psychoanalytic process is all about making these conscious. Classical psychoanalysis used (and still often uses) what came to be known as the 'blank screen' approach; that is, the therapist offers silence and interpretation to the client, and the client has a powerful confrontation with their deepest anxieties.

Modern relational psychoanalysis (of which attachment theory is a major strand), seeks to acknowledge that the fears and fantasies experienced by the client are grounded in the real history of their early relationships, and that an essential part of the therapeutic work is that the therapist is capable of engaging the client in something that is warm and deeply human as well as being rigorous.