Who am I?
I trained as a clinical psychologist nearly 20 years ago, and have worked in London and Oxford, with children and adults. I have worked in the NHS, and privately in my own practice and with other agencies. I have a therapy room in my home in Oxford, close to the A40.
Issues I can help with
I work with children and their families on a wide range of issues including:
- emotional distress (anxiety, sadness/depression)
- behavioural problems (e.g.temper tantrums, defiance, aggression, impulsivity)
- learning disabilities
- fears and phobias
- sleep, eating, & toiletting
My work with adults includes therapy for depression, anxiety, relationship issues, workplace difficulties, loss and trauma, as well as for difficulties which don't fall neatly into a category. Often the work involves making sense of unhappiness, understanding causes and developing solutions.
Types of therapy
I draw on a wide range of therapeutic approaches and techniques, and always adapt what I do to match the particular issues each client brings. I think it's really important to find an approach that makes sense for you, and that you feel comfortable working with. I don't use jargon, or impose my view if it doesn't make sense to you. I do have a preference for understanding difficulties in their contexts, of the whole person, in their different settings and relationships. Alongside that, I think it's really important to focus on achievable goals, and in order to maintain that I will ensure the work keeps on track through regular feedback and review.
My preferred types of therapy are
- systemic: understanding difficulties not just as belonging to individuals, but in terms of patterns of interaction in relationships. For example, a child who is being defiant may be reacting to underlying family tensions rather than simply being 'naughty'. In that case the work might involve bringing these issues into the picture, and working on reducing them in order to reduce the defiance.
- behavioural: behavioural approaches work really well for many childhood problems. Sometimes we inadvertently reinforce children's behaviour by giving them negative attention, which is actually preferable than no attention. Working behaviourally, we can change how we react to children, and thereby change what they do.
- cognitive analytic: this is a psychotherapy which combines a focus both on dealing with the 'here and now' difficulties, and on understanding how these had their roots in past experience and personality formation. It uses therapeutic letters and 'maps' to describe and track difficulties and how they can be changed. It is a very effective and collaborative way of working.
Ways of working
My major way of working is through talking, and I also bring in other methods at different points, such as keeping a diary of difficulties, or trying out different ways of accessing needs, thoughts and feelings. Methods are always tailored to your preferences and aptitudes.
- At the beginning and end of working together, I will often ask you to fill out a questionnaire describing your current state, so that we can track change, see how effective the work has been, what has changed.
- I very often will use pen and paper on the table between us to help us 'map' patterns of difficulty - you can see some examples in the 'Case Studies' section.
- It's usually good to put our heads together to devise 'homework' to do during the week. This could involve keeping a diary of the difficulties, or trying out different strategies which we would have discussed and agreed during the session
- I use toys to help children talk, including art materials, puppets, plasticine.
The first appointment
Initially we would usually arrange an introductory talk on the phone, in person, or by email, to clarify what you're looking for and whether I can help. Then if we agree to go ahead, I would send you a confirmation email, together with any forms that we've agreed would be useful. The first appointment is about establishing an accurate picture of what the difficulties are,