Psychotherapy has no universal definition so I can only attempt to describe what it is for me:
It’s a relationship where I take a genuine interest in your life and how you experience it. I am present, non-judgemental and empathic. I seek to create safety and to meet you where you are, whether sad, excited, angry, anxious, worried or even bored.
Every way of being has meaning and interest for me. I might sometimes focus on the content of your story or history (recent or past) but will often focus on the process of your being – that is, how you think or act or make sense of and meaning in the world, how you are physically, what matters to you most, who matters to you, what is missing from your life. How do you stop yourself from being true to yourself? What are your unfulfilled hopes and wishes? These questions arise naturally as part of an ongoing discussion – an enquiry into a person’s life. You will slowly develop an understanding of who you are and how you are in the world in a way which facilitates change. Occasionally we might use creative means such as visualisation, dreams, writing or drawing. Above all, this is led by you, at your own pace, albeit supported and intervened by me along the way.
In terms of training, I am influenced by gestalt and existential theory and themes. This means that I work with my client in the here and now, challenging fixed (unhelpful) beliefs, assisting the client to know how they are as distinct from how they could be and to understand their choices in maintaining particular patterns. I believe that as humans we are constrained to certain similar traits – we care about others (or what they think of us), we seek meaningful existence in an often meaningless and chaotic world, we want our lives’ to matter in the light of our mortality or temporality. Above all, we are anxious not because we have some kind of mental illness – but because we are all the above, free to choose our own path and hold ultimate responsibility for this yet have no road map and no knowing exactly what to do for the best and when the journey might end.
What Is Psychotherapy?
Dr. James Bugental, Existential-Humanistic psychologist (Author of The Search for Authenticity, 1965).
“Psychotherapy is not what you think. It isn’t the healing of an illness. It isn’t guidance from a wise counselor. It isn’t the mutual sharing of a good friend. It isn’t learning about esoteric knowledge. It isn’t being shown the error of one’s ways. It isn’t finding a new religion. Psychotherapy isn’t what you think.
Psychotherapy is not what you think. It surprises people because it is not primarily about your childhood… or about what has hurt or traumatized you… or about the germs in your body… or about destructive habits you’ve acquired… or about negative attitudes you carry… Psychotherapy is not WHAT you think. It is HOW you think. It calls attention to unrecognized assumptions in how you think. It makes a distinction between what you think and how you do that thinking. It is less concerned with looking for causes to explain what you do and more concerned with discovering patterns in the meanings you make by what you’re doing.
Psychotherapy is about how you think. It is about how you live with your emotions. It is about the perspectives you bring to relating with the people who matter. It is about what you aspire to in your life and how you may unwittingly make it harder for yourself to reach those goals. It is about being helped to see that the change you seek is already within you. It is coming to recognize and appreciate the spark of something eternal that is your core.
Psychotherapy is not about what you think; it is about how you live with yourself right now.”
Excerpt from the Prologue to “Psychotherapy Isn’t What You Think” (1999, pg. 15) by Dr. James Bugental.
Therapy takes place in High Wycombe on Mondays and Tuesdays and in Reading on Thursdays and Fridays.