Psychotherapy is a way of being with another person that helps them learn about their mind and change things about how they think and feel and behave to relieve unnecessary suffering.
My approach to psychotherapy is integrative. This means that I build the treatment around you—what is unique about you as a person and the problems you are facing. And I don’t just do this at the beginning of the therapy, I do this throughout the therapy. I regularly check in with you to learn about what is working and what isn’t working and together we focus on what helps and we do what works.
How psychotherapy works
Psychotherapy helps people in three main ways: through exploration processes, through insight processes and through action processes. How these processes are combined generally depends on the complexity of the problem you are facing.
Most psychotherapy treatments begin with some exploration of the problem you are facing in your life (though sometimes people can move quickly, even directly, to action). During exploration I listen carefully to you—to what you say but also how you say it—to learn more about how you experience things. At the same time, you learn more about your experience too because my curiosity is an invitation for you to become more curious about yourself. As the psychiatrist Jerome Frank once asked—‘How can I know what I think until I have heard what I have to say?’ Exploration is about giving you a chance to listen to what you have to say.
This work of exploration that we undertake together might be enough for you to solve the problem you have come to me with—sometimes, though, more is needed. In these cases, we extend the work of exploration: as exploration develops, it deepens, and becomes insight. Insight helps us develop awareness of problems that the earlier work of exploration was not able to uncover or make sense of. Developing insight can feel like seeing—and feeling!—a problem from a very different perspective, or of penetrating obscure parts of your experience and illuminating them.
Once we develop insight, we often need to take action to make enduring change in our lives. The fact is that merely developing insight into why we feel or think or behave the way we do is often not enough to change the way we feel or think or behave because the force of habit keeps us stuck in established patterns. Taking deliberate, manageable steps to change your life is what we work together to achieve in the action stage.
And therapy with me doesn’t end when our session ends because I support and encourage you to undertake activities outside of our sessions that will extend the work of exploration, insight-building and action-taking that we complete in session. I aim to foster your independence, not to trick you into spending unnecessary years of your life in therapy.
In addition to being a practitioner of psychotherapy in private practice, I have also worked as a lecturer in counselling and psychotherapy where I have taught and trained students to become psychotherapists and counsellors. Prior to studying and working in psychotherapy, my background was in literature, philosophy and theatre and I have worked as an academic at several universities in Australia. This experience gives me a broad view of how the mind works and influences how I understand the theory and practice of psychotherapy. Literature provides a window into other minds, and philosophy is a powerful way to organise one's own mind. Theatre has taught me how to connect with others and myself and how to make the body a vehicle for the mind's expression.