If you are new to my website, you may have noticed my page on retreats that I run for groups of practitioners who are looking to reconnect with their self-care.

You might be interested to know that I also run a range of programmes and retreats for private clients based on some of my specialist areas. This way of working is, somewhat, different from counselling and psychotherapy as it sometimes (not always) involves coaching but, certainly, is different to the weekly/fortnightly therapy session.

My offerings are as follows…

For couples:

I offer intensive therapy weekends for couples in crisis, who are having trouble identifying their problem(s) or agreeing on a way forward. Starting with a joint session, I then provide each person an individual session, before working as couple again. In this way, I help couples identify the key issues and support them in coming to an agreement about what direction to take their relationship. Sometimes, this leads to a commitment to work on their relationship in earnest and other times couples and are helped in their decisions to separate/divorce. Even if it is the latter, couples often benefit from counselling to keep things amicable - especially if there are children involved.

I also offer intensive therapy weekends to couples who have not had sex for some time and would like to re-instate some intimacy in their lives but - perhaps - find that they can’t seem to initiate this, and/or talk about the subject in a satisfactory way. Some couples find that the topic of sex grows into such a problematic area that they can’t even say the word anymore. It will be different for each couple and sometimes couples are looking for some variation in their sex lives or greater intimacy. Intensive therapy in this area involves both individual and couple sessions and can lead to initiating/engaging in some physical touch/intimacy - or not - this is up to each individual/couple to decide. If you would like to have therapy that leads to some physicality/body work, this is conducted in a safe, respectful environment and is based on gentle tantric practices to foster emotional connection, touch and intimacy. Related activities are conducted in the therapy session itself and also in private during the weekend - depending on the couple.

My intensive therapy weekends are bespoke services and are offered in a selection of venues depending on requirements. You may want to stay in London and come to my practice in Bloomsbury for each of the days (Saturday and Sunday), or you may want to retreat to a countryside/seaside destination that I can arrange for you.

For individuals:

I offer intensive therapy weekends to individuals who have experienced significant abuse and/or trauma and feel overwhelmed with what has happened to them, so that they don’t know where to start in therapy. In my experience, clients who are in these situations sometimes believe that they have such a huge story to tell that the weekly therapy session isn’t long enough. I also find that some individuals are sick and tired of telling their story to people who don’t seem to understand them or what they’ve been through and they may have spent years going from one professional to the next telling their story and getting nowhere. It can be really helpful in these types of situations to purge in one go and then to work out a plan for therapy once the story is told. I have significant experience in abuse and trauma and am very interested in post-traumatic growth and how to support individuals to flourish beyond trauma.

These weekends are truly transformative.

If this is what you are looking for, I would be very happy to support you in what you desire.

Please call me on 07882464133 if you would like to discuss any of the above.

Finally, in addition to practitioner self-care retreats, I also run programmes for practitioners who are a seeking a container of support over a period of months (3, 6, 9 or 12). These comprise 1-2-1 support both on a regular basis in virtual sessions and attendance at live group retreats in the UK and abroad.

The Wounded Healer

Some clients believe that therapists need to have experienced certain issues themselves in order to help them with those issues. I have mixed feelings on this subject. Although I can certainly see the value of the 'wounded healer' (and I count myself in this category) the therapist needs to have done a lot of work on themselves and be in a good place to help others. Clients who are seeking a therapist who has been through similar experiences to them won't have the awareness of how 'recovered' a therapist is though. 

Having worked on drug treatment programmes in prisons and in very exclusive addiction treatment centres, it is clear that the majority of therapists working in addiction are in recovery themselves. It is also apparent that the clients value their experience highly and believe that therapists in recovery make the best therapists for other addicts. In fact, I've been told, emphatically, that it is pointless for a counsellor with no experience of addiction to work in the field because 'they can't understand what's it like'.

Having worked in a wide variety of areas and organisations, I wonder why the field of addictions counselling is predominantly inhabited by those in recovery and why so many clients are adamant on having such therapists. This doesn't seem to be a phenomenon in other fields. I've also worked in specialised domestic abuse services and, although it is true that the majority of staff in these organisations are survivors of domestic abuse, the same cannot be said about the therapists. And I don't think that clients value survivors more highly than people who have not experienced domestic abuse because clients rarely ask about this.

We could also consider how LGBTQ counsellors might dominate this field when clients believe that a straight, cis-gender person may not be able to understand them. Also, I know plenty of religious groups that would only consider being counselled by someone in the same religion. 

But there are lots of other issues where clients do not expect or want their counsellors to have experienced the same problems. For example, I worked for years with survivors of childhood sexual abuse and rape. There was not one single occasion when anyone suggested that clients would benefit from having counselling by a therapist who was also a survivor. And when we consider mental health and personality disorder (not that I subscribe to the medical model), I've never heard anyone say that clients need therapists who have had experience of depression, anxiety or schizophrenia themselves. 

During my training, I came across Mearns and Cooper's concept of 'existential touchstones', which allow us to use the experiences that we have in common with a client as a bridge to getting closer to their experiencing. And, Mearns and Thorne warn that if therapists assume that they will understand a client's experience because, they too, have been through the 'same thing', then that can lead to false empathy where the counsellor relates back to their own experiences from their own perspective instead of the client's, rather than have an accurate empathic understanding of their client from their frame of reference. Just because the counsellor has had a similar experience to their client and may be able to relate to them on a personal level, they will never be the same experiences because they are two completely different people with their different experiences. So, it is important for the counsellor to be aware of what belongs to them and what belongs to their client, and to mindfully choose what to do with one's own experiences (e.g., bracket them or use them in a transparent, congruent way) whilst endeavouring to communicate to the client an empathic understanding of their world. 

In fact, the counsellor's personal experiences can sometimes get in the way of fully meeting their client when they: relate to their client's from their own perspective, when strong emotions or intrusive thoughts arise without the counsellor being able to bracket them, or when a counsellor's anxiety takes over when talking about certain subjects that they have not fully recovered from. Sometimes it is the case, then, that a counsellor's experiences prevent them from being fully present with their client. So, sometimes it might be that the best counsellor for a client is not the one who has had similar experiences at all.

There is also the question of when and how it arises that the client learns of their counsellor's experiences, which is a self-disclosure. This is a complex issue and research findings indicate therapist disclosure might or might not generate boundary issues, can either enhance or diminish perceived credibility and competence, and can enhance or compromise the client's view of both therapist and client roles (Audet 2008). The issue really does seem to depend on the individual counsellors and clients and the particular issues in question. 

This post was prompted by someone who contacted me with an enquiry about counselling for a relative of theirs. The only requirements were that the counsellor must be divorced and have life experience. As a twice-divorced fifty-something who has been around the block a few times, I feel fully qualified... but I do wonder if I will meet the client's expectations. 






Therapy by Skype

I offer counselling and psychotherapy to clients by Skype, which has the advantage of bringing therapy to people who might otherwise not be able to access a physical therapy space. This might be for a number of reasons, e.g., the person has a disability, is housebound, has problems with social skills, or lives abroad. It is also cheaper than most of my usual face-to-face rates in London and Nottingham: £50 for 50 minutes for individuals and £75 for couples for 80 minutes. 

Clients who have recently completed a course of therapy with me by Skype include an individual living in a remote part of the world and a couple who wanted therapy with out having to leave their home due to childcare reasons. I asked my clients if they would provide testimonials for me to let people know that therapy by Skype can be a rewarding experience for those not able to attend in person. Both the individual and the couple kindly wrote me their reviews, which remain anonymous, of course. Please read below.

Review from a client living in a remote part of the world who had medium-term therapy:

There are people who have touched my life at points of personal crisis and turmoil and to whom I will be ever grateful. Laura is one of those people.  With skill, knowledge, wisdom and humanity, she has enabled me to move from a place of despair to a place of optimism and hope.  My life has been transformed by her intervention and I now have a future which a few months ago I did not believe to be possible. 

When I first read Laura's online profile I immediately felt a sense of connection.  My feeling was confirmed by the initial email contacts and an introductory session via Skype. Laura's clarity around all  practical matters contributed to a feeling of security, enabling me to feel more confident about the whole process. This enabled trust to develop even prior to the start of therapy. Laura  also built in  opportunities for reflection and feedback at regular intervals which I found helpful and reassuring. 

During each therapy session I felt safe to express thoughts and feelings which I had never been able share with other people. At  no time did I feel judged, embarassed or awkward, even when making disclosures about which I had a sense of shame.  It is hard to capture the essence of how Laura kept the work flowing, and how gently she challenged me to consider new ways of looking at difficult issues which had endured  for many years. She completely understood my goal for therapy and kept me moving towards my desired outcome.  Each session left me with a sense  that I had got exactly what I needed in order to continue the process of change throughout the forthcoming week. I was fortunate to be at a moment in my life when I had time and space available, as I did, at times, feel destabilised and disorientated. However, even the toughest of moments seem like nothing in comparison to the happiness and freedom  I am now enjoying as a result of making the journey. 

Words seem so inadequate to express my appreciation to Laura for all that she offered to me during our therapy sessions, but as they are all I have right now, here they are 'THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!'

Review from a couple who had short-term therapy:

Myself and my husband had a few months Skype couple counselling with Laura as we wanted to improve our communication and intimacy. We both quickly felt really comfortable talking to Laura. Laura gave us some really useful questions to think about before we first met and they helped us to realise that we both wanted the same positive end goal from counselling, even though it didn't feel like we were on the same page. The sessions we had made a huge difference in our relationship and although our relationship is obviously not perfect :) we understand each others needs more, see the good intentions, are quicker to communicate in a helpful way, have a load of tools to help us going forward and are enjoying a lot more intimacy and affection. My husband is a counselling convert having never really experienced it before. Laura was really great at listening whilst keeping us on track and drawing out the subtle important bits and making sure they got talked through. Highly recommend. 

Do you think that therapy by Skype might work for you, or for you and your partner?

If so, please contact me and specify therapy by Skype.

The Ghosted and the Ghosters

Ghosting - ever heard of it? Ever experienced it? It can be extremely painful...

I've recently been introduced to the phenomenon of ghosting, which is the experience of a someone disappearing from a relationship, and is common to internet dating. Both men and women report that they may have built up a promising start to a relationship through messages and/or phone calls but that then the person disappears without trace. They appear to simply vanish whilst the other person is left confused and feeling less than good about themselves as they try to work out what went wrong. Ghosters might even disappear after actual dates and can occur after both successful and unsuccessful relationships. One can understand why someone might be a bit cowardly about admitting that they didn't have such a great date and want to silently retreat instead of having to admit that they didn't really enjoy their date. Alarmingly, however, some ghosters disappear after several successful dates. I personally know one ghoster who disappeared after dating a woman for 18 months (I have permission to report this). After meeting his children and spending two Christmases with his family, she was at a loss to understand how someone who became so close could simply disappear without a word. Needless to say, ghosting can be perceived as a form of rejection or abandonment, so might be especially difficult for a person with those particular issues to deal with.

But what about the ghoster? This can't be an easy thing to do to someone, especially when they have loved or had strong feelings for the person too. It can just as easily be born of rejection/abandonment issues for them too if they fear that someone is getting too close, and when that means that they fear being left. So, such a person may sabotage the relationship in order to avoid being left first. Often, people in these positions say things like, "I'm no good at relationships", or even refuse to acknowledge that they are in a relationship. For these people, being in a relationship is equated with pain through loss from rejection and abandonment. So, by denying the relationship exists, or leaving it when things become too close/serious, they can avoid all associated emotional pain. Usually this is achieved by getting into a brand new relationship in which they can anaesthetise themselves from the pain with a big dose of dopamine from the heady new romance. At the end of the day, though, they live with the ongoing emotional emptiness of not being able to be in a close, mutually loving relationship as they are too afraid to commit. Often associated with people with ambivalent/avoidant attachment issues, e.g., those who were neglected/abused as children or adopted persons, therapy can be a highly beneficial experience. Relational therapy, especially, can be a route to understanding how to trust that a serious long-term relationship might risk emotional pain if it ends, but without taking that risk, one might never know the incredible joy of mutual, long-term love and companionship.

Collaborative Therapy

My work often involves various family members, woking in a collaborative way, to explore an issue or a collection of problems that are best addressed by a couple or a family group together. I work with a variety of individuals in this way, e.g., children and young people with one or more of their parents or guardians; the children (including adult children) of one family without their parents; one adult and one of their parents, i.e., mother and son/daughter or father and son/daughter; an adult and their sibling (brother or sister). 

It might be that the couple or family are entering into the counselling together to focus on a joint problem such as with couples counselling or family therapy where each individual attends therapy seeing that they are one piece of the puzzle. Sometimes, one person is seen as having the main problem that affects the group dynamic. This may or may not be apparent at the start. The couple or group may start therapy without any clear idea of what the problem is before it emerges than one person's issue is affecting the other(s). Conversely, one or more family members are there from the start to support an individual with a problem and this is a common scenario when there is problematic behaviour around alcohol, drugs and food. 

There does not seem to be a pattern of who makes the initial enquiry for therapy in any of these situations, vis a vis whether it's the person perceived to have the problem or not. But, it is always the person who is actively seeking support for themselves or a loved one who gets in contact with me. For example, I have enquiries from: men who have a problem relationship with their father and would like a collaborative type of counselling; mothers who have become estranged from their children and are seeking support to deal with their grief and need their partner's involvement in order to understand what they're going through; fathers who are estranged from their adult child and are attempting to initiate a reunion through therapy; people who have a family member in crisis with substance abuse or an eating disorder and are looking for therapy where they can be involved and supportive; fathers concerned about their children's welfare post-divorce who, perhaps, have been split between mum and dad and are seeking a safe, confidential environment for their children to explore their thoughts and feelings and learn how to support each other. The permutations are endless, really, and are as varied as families are.

I try to be as flexible in my approach to working with couples and families as possible. Often the sheer logistics of gathering family members together is difficult and numbers of 3 or more usually find it easier to get together at the weekends. Families don't want to spend every weekend in therapy, though, and there is also the financial consideration. So, I will usually see families fortnightly or monthly. Couples usually want counselling every week and I will always see couples separately as well as together both to start with and sometimes later when individual issues are blocking the conjoint process. In the case of families where one person's problem is affecting everyone else, especially in the case of an alcohol problem, that individual will usually have the bulk of the 1-2-1 sessions but the therapy will involve family sessions too in order to do the work of ongoing support in recovery so that they have the best possible chance of success.

After an initial enquiry, I will meet everyone together for an appointment of 90 minutes where each person will have the opportunity to talk about how they see the problem and what they would like to gain from therapy. I facilitate these sessions so that everyone has a chance to speak and be heard. Once everyone has offered their perspective - and not each person may be able to do this for various reasons (fear, shyness, etc.) - then we can work out a way forward together and decide on how to proceed.  Helping to facilitate communication difficulties is my main role in couples and family therapy. This can be very challenging for those who are not used to having open and honest communication about their feelings and needs. However, the process of becoming more aware of each person's thoughts/feelings and needs/wants - and their ability to communicate these or not - always brings about some kind of change.

I offer weekend retreats for intensive therapy in the UK and in Brittany. Getting away from our normal environments can really help the therapeutic process, especially when this involves connecting with nature. As a walk and talk therapist, gentle or more challenging walking, and being out in the fresh air often aids psychotherapeutic growth and change. I also work in partnership with my daughter, Lola, who is a personal trainer and nutrition coach for couples who are interested in combining therapy with fitness and nutrition. Additionally, Lola offers couples fitness training conjointly with her partner, Danny, who is also a personal trainer. This offers another dimension that some couples really enjoy. Furthermore, Lola and I offer a unique approach to couples art therapy whereby life drawing tuition has the potential to promote connection and intimacy of a truly creative and profound nature. 

If you are reading this and are wondering how therapy might help you and your partner or other family member please get in touch now by completing this enquiry form.

Friday Night Group Therapy?

Today I was chatting to the lovely staff at The Helios Centre in London about who wants to come to therapy on a Friday and, especially on a Friday night. This topic arose in response to a poster I had taken in to the Centre to advertise a new therapy group that I am starting there. The conclusion about Fridays was that the majority of the population associate the last working day of the week as a day when people just want to go home or down the pub, or get away for the weekend. 

However, Friday night can also be a time of reflection and a time to evaluate the week just gone and consider the week ahead. Although it can be counterintuitive when all we want to do is leave the week in the past, we can help lessen this need or desire to escape by actively staying present in the here-and-now and embracing what is going on for us instead of running away from it. One of my clients that I see in London says that she likes coming to therapy on a Friday - early evening - as she likes to explore what she did well during her week, what she would like to have done differently, and what she might need to work on regarding self-care over the weekend so that she can be ready for the week ahead. How do you think that you might benefit from taking an hour's reflection on a Friday night rather than charging full steam ahead into the weekend?

The therapy group at the Helios Centre will run fortnightly 7-8.30pm every 2nd and 4th Friday of the month. If you're in this area (116 Judd St, Kings Cross, London WC1H 9NS) and wondering if you'd like to join, I would encourage you to think about this group as an opportunity to do your weekends differently. If, for example, you go down the pub every Friday night and usually drink to excess so that your weekends are ruined, why not come try out the group instead? It would be cheaper than a Friday night in London and you could, not only learn how to relate to others without the need for Dutch courage, but you'd also wake up without a hangover and be able to enjoy your weekend with renewed vigour. If you are single and don't want to be but are wondering why your relationships always go wrong, it could be of real benefit to you to explore your 'self' in relation to others and understand your impact on others. Relational forms of therapy can be usefully seen as a microcosm of clients' worlds as the dynamics in the therapeutic relationship are often repeated in other significant relationship. In group therapy, this also means that how you relate to others in the group will reflect how you relate to people more generally. Such a group can be an opportunity to ask for feedback about how people experience you. When do we ever get to receive open and honest feedback about how people experience us? Very rarely - it's so valuable. 

Group therapy at the Helios Centre costs only £45 per session and concessions are available.

Email me if you are interested in joining the therapy group starting at the Helios Centre after Easter and I look forward to meeting you very soon...   

Counselling for Relationship Problems

In my experience, almost all counselling involves some kind of work on relationship issues. No matter what a client's presenting issues are in the initial sessions - in some way the issues will be related to how they affect the person's relationships. 

A relational style of counselling helps because it constitutes the basic requirements of a healthy relationship. It recognises the need to make some psychological connection, for people to just be themselves, to accept others for who they are, and to dialogue in an open, honest and authentic way. 

Therapy can be seen to be a microcosm of a client's world outside of the therapy room and the counsellor can help a client to learn about themselves in the therapeutic relationship, which will be helpful for their relationships outside of counselling. Honest, deep and meaningful relationships are often established in the therapeutic space, which clients learn how to transfer to other, more significant relationships.  

A transformational process can occur in relational therapy whereby the client finds themselves more able to identify and feel their feelings, to accept themselves for who they really are, to take responsibility for themselves and let others take responsibility for themselves, to identify their own needs and wants and how to communicate these to others, and to locate their own valuing process within themselves instead of relying on others. 

Relational work is often difficult as clients try and work out who they are and what they really think and feel, especially when they have spent a lifetime of acting a certain way in order to please others or fit with others' agendas.

Sometimes things get worse before they get better as clients go through the pain of a realisation that they have been living a lie and they struggle to claim their own identity. Clients might even have to let go of relationships when they know they are unhealthy, harmful or toxic for them.

This kind of work on relational issues is worth the struggle so that we can learn how to be oneself in authentic relationships - where we are able to communicate openly and honestly about our thoughts and feelings and about what we need and want from another person. Only then can we have happy, healthy connections with other human beings - and that is priceless. 

Feeling Nervous Pre-Therapy

Sometimes clients send me a message just before they are due to start counselling saying that they have changed their mind due to one reason or another. For instance, they might say they are not prepared enough or the time isn’t right.


Although it’s always the client’s choice when they start therapy, and I am not in the business of manipulating or persuading clients to come to therapy when they don’t want to, I don’t usually just accept such a message at face value either when I suspect nervousness.


I usually recognise when a client is feeling nervous or anxious and will write back asking them if this is the case. It most often is rather than it being the wrong time or whatever the person first said.  Once nervousness is out in the open, we will most likely have a dialogue about these feelings and the person will find some courage to come along to their first appointment despite being anxious. 


A client might experience an array of difficult feelings about a first counselling session such as being nervous, frightened, anxious or sceptical, and may be so overwhelmed by such feelings that they begin to extricate themselves from the activity of counselling altogether. Other clients might have had negative counselling experiences as, unfortunately, there are some incompetent and/or inexperienced counsellors out there. Clients (and research participants) have told me all sorts of stories about being judge, criticised and blamed – and of counsellors being frightened or overwhelmed by their material too. Also, clients can be worried about confidentiality – and this is another valid concern. After all, if you are going to bare your soul to a counsellor and talk about incredibly private matters, you want to know that the person you are sharing your inner world with is going to be able to keep what you say to herself. Although confidentiality sometimes might need to be breached (e.g. safeguarding matters and being subpoenaed to court), this is very rare. Confidentiality is a really important aspect of counselling and, without it, clients would not feel safe to share their worlds with another.


In therapy, clients are also faced with the challenge of talking about these things to a relative stranger. Clients may feel embarrassed or ashamed about some things and it can sometimes be the first time that these are verbalised. Hopefully, this will take place in a safe environment where the counsellor is capable of containing the therapeutic work and holding the client. The first appointment is often the most difficult in this respect so it is hardly surprising that new clients feel nervous.


But it can then be a relief to talk to someone neutral who does not have any investment in what you do or say other than in a therapeutic context.  Talking to someone about our problems and feelings really can help.  Even if you are nervous, a competent therapist will listen to you in a non-judgmental way and try and understand what’s going on for you in order to foster your own understanding. It’s worth finding the courage to take those first steps.

Dry January

Dry January is Alcohol Concern's flagship behaviour change campaign to encourage people to ditch alcohol for January. This month, I've joined millions of other Britons (5 million in 2017) in giving up alcohol for a variety of reasons. Those of us doing Dry January have been told to expect to "Lose Weight, Save Money, Sleep Better & So Much More!". The more is of great interest to me. This aspect is about establishing control and re-evaluating one's relationship with alcohol. These are common issues for clients who discuss their alcohol use in therapy so I have enjoyed reflecting on these matters myself. 

Over the years, I have worked on several drug and alcohol treatment programmes that use the disease model to treat 'addicts'/'alcoholics' for their 'addiction'/'alcoholism'.   The prescribed 12 Step treatment, i.e. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, has helped millions worldwide to stay 'clean and sober', through an abstinence-based programme.  Although I don't personally subscribe to the disease model, I am happy to work with clients who are on 12 Step programmes, by using a non-directive approach alongside their 12 Step work.

Whether in a 12 Step programme or not, I usually find that clients might talk about their drug and alcohol use at the start of therapy but, then, they're more likely to spend their time exploring either the roots of their problem or more existential issues. 

My approach is to view substance misuse/abuse as a response to being in the world and dealing with life events and experiences.  Occurring at the interface between a person and their world, drug and alcohol issues will have a specific and unique meaning for each individual.  Most often, mind-altering substances become a way of numbing emotional pain and avoiding feeling one's feelings. This is also true of a range of food-related behaviours such as binge-eating, and seeking out casual or inappropriate sexual encounters. Therapy can be facilitative of re-connecting with one's feelings, thereby reducing the need to blot them out with harmful behaviours. In my experience, a humanistic counselling approach helps people to take responsibility for their choices and recognise how such self-harming behaviours can become barriers to being who they really are, to fulfilling their potential and to being the best version of themselves they can be.

I offer one-to-one counselling and psychotherapy in London and Nottingham and also work by Skype and through walk-and-talk therapy. I am currently establishing a therapy group in Leicester with another therapist who I worked with in an exclusive addiction treatment centre. Additionally, I run intensive therapy weekends, which are based on the structure of a treatment centre, where after a morning check-in and meditative session, you'll have therapy morning and afternoon, around lunch and walking together. 

Do get in contact if you would like to discuss therapy for any of the issues discussed in this article.

Who Needs Therapy?

I was interested to read the Saturday Interview in the Guardian this morning by Decca Aitkenhead who interviewed Alexis Jay, the chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA).

As a therapist, the headline caught my attention: 

Alexis Jay: ‘I’ve never needed therapy – I did get angry in Rotherham though’

I read on with keen interest. 

Towards the end of a very worthy read, Decca wondered....

...what it must do to Jay to expose herself to the horrors of child sexual abuse for so many years. “I know my own limitations,” she admits. “I know I would not wish to watch videos of children being abused or listen to the sound of them being abused. I know I couldn’t control that and it could inhabit your psyche and you’d be waking up in the middle of the night. As it happens, I have [had to do that], in my past life, in other roles, and I can still see photographs in my head and you would worry about that kind of thing haunting you. But I can absolutely manage well listening to the individual talking, or reading about it. I hope I’m never immune to the impact of the experience [abused] people have and I would never want to be. I’m deeply affected by what I hear.”

As I do, Decca writes that she assumed that anyone doing her job would need the support of a therapist, but no, instead...

...she hoots with laughter.

“Oh no no, no no no. No, no, I have never personally felt the need for any kind of therapy. 

This article begs the question: who needs therapy? And, why does Jay hoot with laughter at the suggestion?  

To me, a person who is deeply affected by such distressing issues would most likely benefit from some kind of talking therapeutic endeavour to deal with consequences that come with the territory such as vicarious trauma, empathy fatigue and burnout. Just a safe, confidential space to process one's thoughts and feelings - to talk through what we are deeply affected by in our work, which takes up such a large proportion of our lives. And, these kinds of jobs are difficult to confine to the usual working hours. Having volunteered on a child sexual abuse helpline and worked as a therapist in prisons, there are certain conversations, images and people who appear to be permanently etched on my mind. I need a space to process that type of work and talk about how it impacts me: to me, therapy and clinic supervision are a necessity.

Alexis Jay was a social worker for 31 years, and still considers it her profession. I wonder if she was averse to therapy then she might, instead, some type of consultative supervision to help her engage in reflective practice. Given that she is working with such distressing material, or even just making hugely important decisions about human beings, I would have thought that some outlet to reflect on the work would be helpful at least. Personally, I think reflective practice in any type of social work is crucial and in many other professions where we deal with human suffering too. The more reflexive that can be the better, in order to engage in critical thinking about one's decisions and processes. It is vital when working with people to consider our own attitudes, values and beliefs, to examine the theories that we use to understand issues, and to open our practise to scrutiny. 

I offer such consultative supervision, read more about this here.

There is also a slightly hysterical tone to Jay's protestation at the suggestion of therapy that is typical of our culture's aversion to 'needing' therapy - or come to that, any kind of need to talk about our feelings. Stiff upper lip and all that for the British...

If you are reading this and wondering if you need therapy, maybe the word 'need' gets in the way of making a good decision. Perhaps, if you replace need with 'could benefit from', it might help you to think how talking about what's going on for you right now might be a good thing. A neutral space apart from family and friends, where you can work through your thoughts and feelings with an empathic, non-judgmental and authentically down-to-earth counsellor might be just the thing that would benefit you at this time in your life.  If you recognise this to be true for you do get in touch.