Tag Archives: Psychotherapist in East London

Un-fuck yourself

girl-956683_1920Bad things happen to good people.

To make it worse, when these bad things are happening, the good person can become convinced that it is actually their fault and that they deserved it because they are a bad person.

That’s fucked up.

And it fucks us up. Some people get more fucked up than others, but most of us are at least a little bit fucked up.  That’s normal.

So most of us grow up believing that, deep down inside, we are at least a little bit bad and probably don’t deserve to be happy, healthy, and wealthy.

Who wants to think of themselves like that? Who would want to hang out with us if they realised that we are bad? To avoid self-hatred and loneliness, we do our best to be good.

But that can be really hard work.

And, every now and again, when we are under pressure, we do something bad.  And it hurts someone else. And we either feel guilty for what we have done (painful).  Or we find a way of blaming the other person for the situation (less painful … for us).

And so the fucked up cycle continues.

Until you decide to change it.

Find a good psychotherapist.

Un-fuck yourself.

Hearing voices

It is common for people to talk to themselves or hear seemingly external voices to a certain extent.  Thankfully most of us do not have to go through what Eleanor Longden did.

I wonder if she still hears voices?  At the end of the talk she says “What lies within us can never be truly colonized …”  I’m not exactly sure what she means by this but I see the objective of personal development as colonizing our own bodies as fully as possible.

In order to assist people in more fully inhabiting their own bodies it is necessary to displace any other entities that may have taken up residence there.  To do this I have developed a way of facilitating re-connection (facing towards the source of the voice), de-fusing (taking back what is yours and giving back what is theirs), and separation.  I find that there is rarely (never?) any need for cutting.

Eleanor talks about her voices being companionable.  One of the consequences of separating from entities is that people often have to experience their own feelings of emptiness or loneliness.  This would be the next thing to work through in therapy.

When this process is successful I would expect clients to find that the voice has completely gone, that they feel more fulfilled, and they are more able to bring their full attention to the world around them.

Expressing anger responsibly

For years I experienced high levels of frustration that would manifest itself as body tension and violent fantasies.  In my dream world I would be an avenger inflicting violence on those who deserved it (usually thieves, disrespectful chavs, or litter louts).  In the real world though I was afraid of violence and not sure if it was the fear of being hurt or the fear of the consequences of hurting someone else.

After I trained as a therapist I was comfortable with all emotions except anger and would unconsciously pussy foot around the subject for fear of provoking my clients.  In my training I had been taught very little about the practicalities of working with angry or violent people.

It was not until 2010, on a somewhat esoteric shamanic training, that I learned how to engage with anger directly and work with it effectively.  It was a turning point for my practice and for me.

Now anger is one of the emotions I’m most interested in at the beginning of therapy.  I have a number of ‘anger meditations’.  They are crucial for people who’s anger is very much on the surface and being expressed in ways that are hurting other people or themselves.  They can also be very useful for clients who claim to have no anger in them as often these are the people who are experiencing most frustration.  Anger contains so much energy … and containing it also requires so much energy.  Relieving the pressure inside frees this energy up and transforms frustration into a powerful assertiveness that is especially useful for reconnecting and clearing out connections with others.  I see these relationship connections as the pipes in my plumbing analogy.

This video shows some of the anger meditations that I recommend to my clients for practice both within the therapy room and at home.  The idea is to practice ways of connecting with and moving the anger responsibly – so that you, the objects around you, and the people around you are safe.  The video includes:

  • Punching anger meditation
  • Cushion slamming anger meditation
  • Vocal anger meditation (with the Howl Towel)
  • Silent screaming
  • Throwing anger meditation
  • Tantruming anger meditation

I don’t claim that these meditations will completely resolve any anger issues you may have.  But they should take the pressure out of any frustration and provide a set of safer ways that you can channel your anger as and when it arises.

Conquering your fear of heights

Acrophobia is an extreme or unnatural fear of heights.  This is not to be confused with vertigo which is actually a sub-type of dizziness and describes a whirling movement.

Is it natural to have a fear of heights?

Most of us are energised when we are in a high place with little protection.  Perhaps this is, in some way, a natural fear?  Perhaps it is in our genes?  Scientists have done experiments with children in which they are invited to crawl across a sheet of glass called a ‘visual cliff’ with a drop below.  As one might expect the babies show a degree of caution when venturing across.  That said, it appears that one can become quite at home on a rock face, or other high place.

Do I have a phobia of heights?

A natural fear of heights could be considered a phobia when it begins to interfere with normal activities such as going to work in a high rise office, or climbing a ladder.  (Of course, some people have more challenging work conditions than others.)

I believe phobias are created by a significant emotional event in which you are frightened out of your skin.  The frightened you gets locked in time and the dominant you becomes frightened of the fear itself.  The sudden nature of the fear can make a phobia quite tricky to budge with will power alone.  Luckily they can usually be treated quite successfully using a variety of techniques by a therapist such as myself.

How can I improve my head for heights?

If you reckon you’ve got a reasonable head for heights then I challenge you to watch the following video and notice if any emotions arise for you.

If you do feel any sensations then rather than looking away or contracting around them I would suggest that you:

  • Continue to watch
  • Relax your body
  • Breathe deeply
  • Breathe into the part of your body that is tense (probably your stomach)
  • Make noises on your out-breath (sighs, groans, etc)

This exercise will trigger and move any trapped energy and allow you to become even more centred.  Good luck!

If you are looking for a psychotherapist in East London and found this post interesting or useful then please press one of the buttons below:

How to succeed as a therapist


On Wednesday 22 March I was interviewed by Nick Bolton of the Animas Institute on the practical side of starting and running a therapy business.  Listening in were 100 coaches and therapists in training.  I don’t claim to be any kind of marketing guru but this is my perspective:

Video (presentation + audio)

On the couch PDF transcript

Richard is a psychotherapist in East London.  If you have found this post interesting or useful please help others find it by pressing the G+1 button below

Ken Wilber on Spiral Dynamics

For more extracts and to order a copy click here >>

KW: In Integral Psychology I present charts that summarize over 100 developmental psychologists, East and West, ancient and modern and postmodern. Spiral Dynamics is only one of the 100, but I have recently been using it quite a bit because it is simple and fairly easy to learn, even for beginners. Based on extensive research begun by Clare Graves, Spiral Dynamics (developed by Don Beck and Christopher Cowan) sees human beings evolving or developing through eight major waves of consciousness. For convenience, I will reprint my brief summary of these from A Theory of Everything.


The first six levels are “subsistence levels” marked by “first-tier thinking.” Then there occurs a revolutionary shift in consciousness: the emergence of “being levels” and “second-tier thinking,” of which there are two major waves. Here is a brief description of all eight waves, the percentage of the world population at each wave, and the percentage of social power held by each.

1. Beige: Archaic-Instinctual. The level of basic survival; food, water, warmth, sex, and safety have priority. Uses habits and instincts just to survive. Distinct self is barely awakened or sustained. Forms into survival bands to perpetuate life.

Where seen: First human societies, newborn infants, senile elderly, late-stage Alzheimer’s victims, mentally ill street people, starving masses, shell shock. Approximately 0.1% of the adult population, 0% power.

2. Purple: Magical-Animistic. Thinking is animistic; magical spirits, good and bad, swarm the earth leaving blessings, curses, and spells which determine events. Forms into ethnic tribes . The spirits exist in ancestors and bond the tribe. Kinship and lineage establish political links. Sounds “holistic” but is actually atomistic: “there is a name for each bend in the river but no name for the river.”

Where seen: Belief in voodoo-like curses, blood oaths, ancient grudges, good luck charms, family rituals, magical ethnic beliefs and superstitions; strong in Third-World settings, gangs, athletic teams, and corporate “tribes.” 10% of the population, 1% of the power.

3. Red: Power Gods. First emergence of a self distinct from the tribe; powerful, impulsive, egocentric, heroic. Magical-mythic spirits, dragons, beasts, and powerful people. Archetypal gods and goddesses, powerful beings, forces to be reckoned with, both good and bad. Feudal lords protect underlings in exchange for obedience and labor. The basis of feudal empires –power and glory. The world is a jungle full of threats and predators. Conquers, out-foxes, and dominates; enjoys self to the fullest without regret or remorse; be here now.

Where seen: The “terrible twos,” rebellious youth, frontier mentalities, feudal kingdoms, epic heroes, James Bond villains, gang leaders, soldiers of fortune, New-Age narcissism, wild rock stars, Atilla the Hun, Lord of the Flies . 20% of the population, 5% of the power.

4. Blue: Mythic Order. Life has meaning, direction, and purpose, with outcomes determined by an all-powerful Other or Order. This righteous Order enforces a code of conduct based on absolutist and unvarying principles of “right” and “wrong.” Violating the code or rules has severe, perhaps everlasting repercussions. Following the code yields rewards for the faithful. Basis of ancient nations . Rigid social hierarchies; paternalistic; one right way and only one right way to think about everything. Law and order; impulsivity controlled through guilt; concrete-literal and fundamentalist belief; obedience to the rule of Order; strongly conventional and conformist. Often “religious” or “mythic” [in the mythic-membership sense; Graves and Beck refer to it as the “saintly/absolutistic” level], but can be secular or atheistic Order or Mission.

Where seen: Puritan America, Confucian China, Dickensian England, Singapore discipline, totalitarianism, codes of chivalry and honor, charitable good deeds, religious fundamentalism (e.g., Christian and Islamic), Boy and Girl Scouts, “moral majority,” patriotism. 40% of the population, 30% of the power.

5. Orange: Scientific Achievement. At this wave, the self “escapes” from the “herd mentality” of blue, and seeks truth and meaning in individualistic terms–hypothetico-deductive, experimental, objective, mechanistic, operational–“scientific” in the typical sense. The world is a rational and well-oiled machine with natural laws that can be learned, mastered, and manipulated for one’s own purposes. Highly achievement oriented, especially (in America) toward materialistic gains. The laws of science rule politics, the economy, and human events. The world is a chess-board on which games are played as winners gain pre-eminence and perks over losers. Marketplace alliances; manipulate earth’s resources for one’s strategic gains. Basis of corporate states .

Where seen: The Enlightenment, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged , Wall Street, emerging middle classes around the world, cosmetics industry, trophy hunting, colonialism, the Cold War, fashion industry, materialism, secular humanism, liberal self-interest. 30% of the population, 50% of the power.

6. Green: The Sensitive Self. Communitarian, human bonding, ecological sensitivity, networking. The human spirit must be freed from greed, dogma, and divisiveness; feelings and caring supersede cold rationality; cherishing of the earth, Gaia, life. Against hierarchy; establishes lateral bonding and linking. Permeable self, relational self, group intermeshing. Emphasis on dialogue, relationships. Basis of value communities (i.e., freely chosen affiliations based on shared sentiments). Reaches decisions through reconciliation and consensus (downside: interminable “processing” and incapacity to reach decisions). Refresh spirituality, bring harmony, enrich human potential. Strongly egalitarian, anti-hierarchy, pluralistic values, social construction of reality, diversity, multiculturalism, relativistic value systems; this worldview is often called pluralistic relativism . Subjective, nonlinear thinking; shows a greater degree of affective warmth, sensitivity, and caring, for earth and all its inhabitants.

Where seen: Deep ecology, postmodernism, Netherlands idealism, Rogerian counseling, Canadian health care, humanistic psychology, liberation theology, cooperative inquiry, World Council of Churches, Greenpeace, animal rights, ecofeminism, post-colonialism, Foucault/Derrida, politically correct, diversity movements, human rights issues, ecopsychology. 10% of the population, 15% of the power. [Note: this is 10% of the world population. Don Beck estimates that around 20-25% of the American population is green.]

With the completion of the green meme, human consciousness is poised for a quantum jump into “second-tier thinking.” Clare Graves referred to this as a “momentous leap,” where “a chasm of unbelievable depth of meaning is crossed.” In essence, with second-tier consciousness, one can think both vertically and horizontally, using both hierarchies and heterarchies (both ranking and linking). One can therefore, for the first time, vividly grasp the entire spectrum of interior development , and thus see that each level, each meme, each wave is crucially important for the health of the overall Spiral.

As I would word it, each wave is “transcend and include.” That is, each wave goes beyond (or transcends) its predecessor, and yet it includes or embraces it in its own makeup. For example, a cell transcends but includes molecules, which transcend but include atoms. To say that a molecule goes beyond an atom is not to say that molecules hate atoms, but that they love them: they embrace them in their own makeup; they include them, they don’t marginalize them. Just so, each wave of existence is a fundamental ingredient of all subsequent waves, and thus each is to be cherished and embraced.

Moreover, each wave can itself be activated or reactivated as life circumstances warrant. In emergency situations, we can activate red power drives; in response to chaos, we might need to activate blue order; in looking for a new job, we might need orange achievement drives; in marriage and with friends, close green bonding. All of these memes have something important to contribute.

But what none of the first-tier memes can do, on their own, is fully appreciate the existence of the other memes. Each of the first-tier memes thinks that its worldview is the correct or best perspective. It reacts negatively if challenged; it lashes out, using its own tools, whenever it is threatened. Blue order is very uncomfortable with both red impulsiveness and orange individualism. Orange individualism thinks blue order is for suckers and green egalitarianism is weak and woo-woo. Green egalitarianism cannot easily abide excellence and value rankings, big pictures, hierarchies, or anything that appears authoritarian, and thus green reacts strongly to blue, orange, and anything post-green.

All of that begins to change with second-tier thinking. Because second-tier consciousness is fully aware of the interior stages of development–even if it cannot articulate them in a technical fashion–it steps back and grasps the big picture, and thus second-tier thinking appreciates the necessary role that all of the various memes play . Second-tier awareness thinks in terms of the overall spiral of existence, and not merely in the terms of any one level.

Where the green meme begins to grasp the numerous different systems and pluralistic contexts that exist in different cultures (which is why it is indeed the sensitive self, i.e., sensitive to the marginalization of others), second-tier thinking goes one step further. It looks for the rich contexts that link and join these pluralistic systems, and thus it takes these separate systems and begins to embrace, include, and integrate them into holistic spirals and integral meshworks. Second-tier thinking, in other words, is instrumental in moving from relativism to holism, or from pluralism to integralism .

The extensive research of Graves, Beck, and Cowan indicates that there are at least two major waves to this second-tier integral consciousness:

7. Yellow: Integrative. Life is a kaleidoscope of natural hierarchies [holarchies], systems, and forms. Flexibility, spontaneity, and functionality have the highest priority. Differences and pluralities can be integrated into interdependent, natural flows. Egalitarianism is complemented with natural degrees of ranking and excellence. Knowledge and competency should supersede power, status, or group sensitivity. The prevailing world order is the result of the existence of different levels of reality (memes) and the inevitable patterns of movement up and down the dynamic spiral. Good governance facilitates the emergence of entities through the levels of increasing complexity (nested hierarchy). 1% of the population, 5% of the power.

8. Turquoise: Holistic. Universal holistic system, holons/waves of integrative energies; unites feeling with knowledge; multiple levels interwoven into one conscious system. Universal order, but in a living, conscious fashion, not based on external rules (blue) or group bonds (green). A “grand unification” [a “theory of everything” or T.O.E.] is possible, in theory and in actuality. Sometimes involves the emergence of a new spirituality as a meshwork of all existence. Turquoise thinking uses the entire Spiral; sees multiple levels of interaction; detects harmonics, the mystical forces, and the pervasive flow-states that permeate any organization. 0.1% of the population, 1% of the power.

With less than 2 percent of the population at second-tier thinking (and only 0.1 percent at turquoise), second-tier consciousness is relatively rare because it is now the “leading-edge” of collective human evolution. As examples, Beck and Cowan mention items that include Teilhard de Chardin’s noosphere, chaos and complexity theories, universal systems thinking, integral-holistic theories, Gandhi’s and Mandela’s pluralistic integration, with increases in frequency definitely on the way, and even higher memes still in the offing….

What is the difference between outcome oriented coaching and systemic psychotherapy?

More and more people seem to be offering different types of coaching these days: ‘life coaching’, ‘relationship coaching’, ‘wealth coaching’, and ‘executive coaching’ are all available. The websites are often slick with young, glamorous looking coaches promising the outstanding success, achievement, wealth and happiness you deserve. Compare this with many people’s image of the grey cardigan clad counselor listening earnestly as you talk to her about your problems or the pipe smoking psychoanalyst in his wing back chair talking about your ‘id’ and asking about your toilet training and it is no surprise that many people are attracted to this seemingly new approach. But what are the real differences between therapy and coaching? In this post I’ll look at some of the distinctions that are commonly made and offer you some of my opinions.

Coaching and therapy mean different things

Oxford-Tube_1705197cFirstly lets look at the roots of the words. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary the use of the word ‘coach’ to mean ‘instructor or trainer’ dates back to around 1830 when it was Oxford University slang for a tutor who carries (like a carriage) a student through an exam. The word ‘therapist’ goes back much further and comes from the Greek ‘therapeia’ meaning ‘curing, healing’.

Looking at these roots gives us a clue to a key difference between coaching and therapy: the coach acts as an external assistant to help the client move from A to B in life; the therapist supports the client’s natural healing processes in order to liberate energy that is currently being used to cope with illness and trauma.

Coaching tends to be more outward looking and outcome oriented, psychotherapy is more inward looking and process oriented

Coaches will generally ask you what your goals are and work with you to enable you to get them. These goals are generally in the real world and in the future. Most coaches will work with you to define goals that are SMART, that is to say that they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bounded (different people use different words for the letters but you get the idea). For a sports coach it could be to win a certain event or to set a new personal best; for a relationship coach it could be that you get a new partner; for an executive coach it could be to successfully complete a project or boost sales. Sometimes a coach will base their fees around some kind of guarantee that you will achieve the goals that you have set. Coaching aims to get you more of what you want.

Psychotherapists are often more interested in how it is to be you right now. Rather than focusing on specific external goals they will work with you to explore how you are creating the life that you have and where those patterns and motivations are coming from. Rather than aiming to change your life, therapy generally changes your relationship with life. On the outside not much may be changing but your experience of it could transform. In sports you may enjoy playing the game more; in relationships you may see more in your current partner or be more comfortable in your own company; in work you could find that the compulsive drive to succeed is replaced by a more balanced and relaxed attitude. Psychotherapy often results in you wanting different things.

Coaches are motivational, psychotherapists are exploratory

full+metal+jacketMany successful people are where they are today because they are good at kicking their own backsides and pulling themselves through life. While this strategy can work very well for a while, eventually the self that keeps getting kicked and pulled can get fed up and stops doing what she’s told. When this internal motivation strategy that worked so well starts to falter the person may be tempted to seek out a coach with a bigger boot or a stronger arm. The coach holds the coachee to account for his actions, checking that he has done what he said he would do, providing encouragement and chastisement accordingly (especially if the payment of the coaches fees are dependent on success). One way or another the coach helps the client to work hard and overcome or get around the blocks to success.

In comparison, the psychotherapist works with the client to explore those blocks to success, and to reveal how the client is blocking his own success. Why and how would a client block his own success? Psychotherapists look for hidden ‘secondary gains’ … the benefits of not getting what, on the surface, you want. Perhaps the client believes that the value of something is measured by how hard it was to get it? Perhaps struggling is familiar and comforting or supports a client’s belief around their own victimhood? Or perhaps success in this area of life would mean that another area would be neglected?

A psychotherapist may even get the client to explore the consequences of failing … a thought that may be a bit of a no go zone for many successful individuals.

Coaching works towards a desired future, psychotherapy discovers the influence of the past

homer-on-failureA compulsion is a motivation that is driven by fear. One of the biggest problems experienced by successful and high achieving people is that they become dependent on that success for their sense of self. They are so motivated to succeed because they are terrified of failing.

Many of us have experienced trauma following what we (or others) have deemed failure. Some people were punished physically for their mistakes, some were publically humiliated for getting things wrong, others were simply terrified that failing would lead to the withdrawal of approval from parents, partners, or friends. All of that hurts; and is the kind of thing we would prefer to forget. But we don’t forget it – we often just cover it up with what these other people would judge as success. We may even internalize their punishments and ‘beat ourselves up’ when we fail. A psychotherapist will often work with you to reveal the pain of failure and to resolve things with the memories of the people who caused it in the first place.

The healing of wounds from the past can involve intense emotions. For a client to allow themselves to experience and work through these emotions they need to feel safe. To create safety the facilitator needs to be confident in their ability to stay present when the client is experiencing intense feelings and not to be distracted by their own unresolved issues resonating into awareness. Psychotherapy training is long and rigorous and designed to train therapists to handle strong emotions.

While coaches may have a lot of experience in their given field their coaching training may amount to just a few weeks. At best a coach can hope to recognize trauma when it is there and refer the client on to a therapist who can handle it; at worst they will unwittingly take their client into emotional areas that the coach is not equipped to handle.

Consequently it is prudent for most coaches to avoid the dark stuff from the past and focus on the client’s desired future. Creating strongly motivational goals and working back from them to deduce the actions that must be taken to achieve them does not require any delving into the past. However, if this desired goal is a reaction to a feared alternative future (including the fear of the unknown) today’s achievement simply procrastinates the facing of that fear. A coach may be giving the client exactly what he thinks he wants, but not what he would really benefit from – including the experience of failing and handling that failure.

Coaches encourage positivity, psychotherapists encourage acceptance

I was on a course with a life coach a few weeks ago and something started to push her buttons … tears welled up in her eyes and she quickly shook them off and composed herself. When the facilitator asked her why she was doing that she explained that she didn’t like being negative and tried to stay happy.

This is a perfect illustration of one of the biggest misunderstandings within the field, the idea that emotions like anger, sadness, fear, guilt, and pain in general are negative. They are not. They are positive. They are positive expressions of what is there.

‘Not bad’, ‘uncomfortable’, ‘not sure’, ‘can’t’, ‘not good enough’, and ‘nothing’ are all negative. They literally refer to something that is not there. It is a way of us not acknowledging what is there or, put another way, avoidance (literally putting into a void). Psychotherapists are indeed very interested in these negative places as this is where we don’t allow ourselves to go and where the healing is usually most needed. When I ask a client ‘How are you’ and they say ‘Uncomfortable’, I’ll say ‘And when you’re not comfortable, how are you?’ This recovers the positive. Quite often clients will describe sensations as being like an emotional black hole. This is the perfect description of a usually terrifying nothingness. The obvious (but short term) solution to a black hole is to try to avoid it or fill it in from the outside. Rather than coaching them to do this a psychotherapist will direct the client towards the unknown, into it, and out the other side. The client faces the thing that they were unconsciously avoiding, healing takes place, and the hole fills in from the inside.


achievementThough coaches can often have a good degree of background in a particular field their training and experience of psychological change is often limited to a few weeks of training. This training often emphasizes the importance of orienting the client towards the future they want rather than dwelling on a past that didn’t work for them. If a coach is only comfortable or competent working with ‘positive’ goals in the future and avoids darker places within the client then this can cause their work to be superficial and short term. Their clients may well achieve that particular goal and get what they thought they wanted but they may not realize why they wanted it in the first place or why they are still not satisfied with the way things are.

Most psychotherapists have the training and experience to go into and transform the dark places they are less likely to take their client’s desires on face value. They know that desires often hide a fear (and vice versa). By working with clients to heal and transform from the inside out old compulsions fall away and clients realize what they really want out of life. Before long they are finding a new kind of inspired motivation that results in them doing and achieving because they are fulfilled rather than in order to become that way.

Psychotherapy for sexual issues

Do you want to be able to relax and let go in bed?  Do you want to experience more or better orgasms?  Want to learn to help your partner to experience more pleasure?

Sex is one of are most basic and natural instinctive acts – a joining at the physical, emotional and spiritual levels.  Many things can prevent us from sharing this connection: guilt, fear, self-image issues, inhibitions, childhood trauma, performance anxiety, lack of sex drive, sexual incompatibility and the like.  A sexual problem can often have it’s roots in other aspects of our life.

Working as a single or a couple you will learn to be open and honest about the way that you feel.  You will explore what you would like sex to be like and what needs to change in order to experience it.  Change work may include releasing energy blocks in the body, emotions and deciding to live by new values.  Practical assignments will help you to rediscover your sexual self and each other. All clients are encouraged to read my book ‘Sex in Mind’.

Working as a psychotherapist it is against my ethics to engage in any sexual contact with clients.  That means that sessions on sexual issues will involve no physical touch.  If you are interested in sex therapy in which touch is included I recommend you seek out a ‘Daka’ or ‘Dakini’.  These are therapists – often with a strong interest in tantra – who are trained to work more intimately than my ethics allow.

Blurb for search engine optimisation: if you are experiencing sexual issues then an nlp master practitioner in east london is a good place to consider finding help.  As these issues are largely unconscious sensitive use of hypnotherapy in east london can go to a depth that simply talking about the issue cannot.  If a psychotherapist in east london isn’t what you are looking for then a daka or dakini may be the answer.

Psychotherapy for relationships

Problems in the family or primary relationship?  Are you hurt by or hurting the people you love most?  Are the relationships worth saving?

When we are close to people we tend to hold back less and say things in the heat of the moment.  We often assume that we know what people are thinking and interpret their behaviour in one way when their actual intention may be completely different.  Eventually the very sight or thought of someone can trigger negative emotions from the past – creating new problems now.

The change process will help you to be honest with each other about the way things are now and develop a shared sense of what you would like your relationship to be like in the future.  You may have some individual ‘stuff’ to work on before you can regain your sense of connection, appreciate the best in each other and choose how you would like to continue.

I believe it is best but not essential for all parties involved to decide to work through things together.  I never see people who have been ‘sent’ to me.

Blurb for search engine optimisation: if you are looking for a relationship counsellor then a psychotherapist in east london may be a good solution.  Hypnotherapy in east london is just one of the approaches that a highly trained master practitioner of nlp in east london can bring into the room.

I keep attracting the wrong kind of relationships, can a psychotherapist help?

Do you feel unable to find that special someone?  Do you consistently seem to attract the ‘wrong’ type of person?  Do you find yourself putting on an act when you talk to a potential partner?

It is easy to blame external factors for a lack of suitable partner; the first step is to take responsibility for the situation.  Unresolved issues and the beliefs we hold lead us to unconsciously seek out relationships which support or fuel them.  In particular we are likely to continually attract relationships that play out aspects of our parents’ relationship.  If we do not genuinely love and respect ourselves we send out the message that we are not deserving of these feelings back.  When we try to cover up our insecurities we can come across as arrogant or superficial.

Gaining a real understanding of what is important to you will help you to let go of any fears and limiting beliefs and focus on what you really want in a relationship.  Realising what is attractive about yourself will help others to see this in you.  You can begin to enjoy going out there, meeting new people, being natural, friendly and flirtatious.


Search engine blurb: for help with relationships you could contact a psychotherapist in east london, an nlp practitioner in east london, or a hypnotherapist in east london.  NLP is just a label for a set of tools and techniques, many of which use hypnosis approaches to supporting your change.  Psychotherpy is the name given to the provision of this support by a qualified psychotherapist. 

What is the difference between counselling and psychotherapy?

According to the UKCP website:

‘There are many similarities between these disciplines, and it is very hard to explain the differences between them.  There is usually a general understanding that a psychotherapist has had longer training that a counsellor, and can work with a wider range of clients/patients.  Psychotherapy is often considered to take longer and go deeper.  But there are also exceptions to every rule and there is no set difference.  The UKCP now has a Psychotherapeutic Counselling section that ensures its registrants are up to the same training standard as other UKCP psychotherapists.’

Now I’ll stick my neck out and give my own opinion (with sweeping generalisations of which there will, of course, be countless exceptions):

Lets start by looking at the etymology of the words themselves.  Counsellor comes from the from old French word ‘conseiller’ meaning ‘to advise, counsel’.  Psychotherapist comes from the Greek ‘psykho’ meaning ‘mind, mental’ and ‘therapeia’ meaning ‘curing, healing’.  So, from the words themselves, it seems that a counsellor would be more inclined to offer their opinion on what to do about or, perhaps, how to cope with your problem whereas a psychotherapist would be more inclined to facilitate the mental healing of that problem.

A counsellor is a good listener with whom you can talk about your problems.  Many people recovering from their own experiences of addiction, abuse, bereavement etc, are attracted to helping others who are going through the same and take on counselling roles as part of this healing process.  This means many counsellors are able to command the respect of their peers, to hold them to account, and offer no-frills ‘from the coal face’ advice that they know worked for them.  However, this personal experience can have a downside: if a counsellor has little training, poor supervision and has not fully processed their own issues they risk becoming emotionally entwined with clients and falling into a rescuer role.

Psychotherapists are much less likely to give advice on how to cope with problems.  They are more likely to see real world problems as examples of a patterns being played out in the client’s life and be curious about exploring and changing these patterns.  Psychotherapists with a broad scope of practice may have little personal experience of the specific issues they are working with which could lead to the criticism ‘you haven’t been through it, therefore you don’t understand’.  A long training, requirement for personal therapy and robust supervision is designed to reduce (but may not eliminate) the amount of rescuing behaviour and lead to a greater sense of detached perspective.

Let’s also look at the idea of a ‘talking about’ your problem with a counsellor.  In spacial terms you are exploring your problem from the outside by adding a new layer of understanding around it.  This may or may not cause the problem itself to change – there are plenty of people who know lots of things about their problems and how they affect their lives but still don’t know how to change them.

A psychotherapist, in comparison, may well believe that too much ‘talking about’ your problems as a way of avoiding getting into their effects.  They may well interrupt you and direct your attention elsewhere – often to your body and your feelings.  Rather than adding new layers of understanding to problems psychotherapists seek to work with their clients to remove layers and to discover (literally take the covers off) the traumas at the heart of them.  By healing the causes of the problems it is possible to facilitate major changes in personality with far reaching consequences in many aspects of life.  This deep work used to take a long time but with new and direct psychotherapeutic approaches it is possible for it to be done in relatively short timescales.

That was all a bit serious!  How about a joke from 1001 jokes for kids to finish off?

‘What’s the difference between a buffalo and a bison?’

‘You can’t wash your hands in a buffalo.’

What is the difference between a psychologist, a psychiatrist, and a psychotherapist?

Sounds like the start of a joke, doesn’t it?  When I was at Oxford there was an engineering joke that went around: ‘What’s the difference between a mechanical engineer and a civil engineer?  A mechanical engineer makes weapons, a civil engineer makes targets.’  (Boom, boom!)  Can anyone suggest a suitable punch line for this one?

In the mean time I’ll do my best to answer the question.  The short (and somewhat flippant) answer is:

  • If you want a theory that explains the way you are then consult a psychologist,
  • If you want drugs to make you feel better about the way you are then consult a psychiatrist,
  • If you want to transform the way you are then consult a psychotherapist.

The following information is based on definitions from the UKCP website:

  • All 3 work with people who have emotional or mental difficulties
  • All 3 work both in the private sector and in the NHS
  • All 3 have had extensive training, and should be members of the relevant professional body


A Psychologist is a general term for someone who has studied psychology, usually to degree level or beyond.  Psychologists have observed and measured human behaviour scientifically and have produced models and therapies based on this knowledge.  There are a number of different branches of psychology including Occupational Psychology, Forensic (Criminal) Psychology, and Educational Psychology, amongst others.  A Clinical Psychologist or a Counselling Psychologist will have done further training (often to a doctorate level) to be able to administer psychological tests (personality tests, intelligence tests, etc.) and to be able to treat people with emotional or behavioural difficulties.  For further information, go to the British Psychological Society web site.


A Psychiatrist works within a medical framework and so will have trained as a medical doctor first and then specialised in psychiatry.  Psychiatrists diagnose and treat mental illnesses and disorders.  Only psychiatrists and medical doctors can prescribe medications. For further information, go to the Royal College of Psychiatrists web site.


A UKCP Psychotherapist (I am one of these) has had a four-year, post-graduate, in-depth and experiential training in how to work with a variety of people with a wide range of emotional and mental difficulties.  Psychotherapists are trained in one or more of the different modalities (ways of working).  For further information, please explore the UKCP web site.

What is psychotherapy?

Psychotherapist.  Psycho the rapist.  Unfortunate that.

To me a good psychotherapist is a modern day shaman, a spiritual leader, a parent, an explorer, and a scientist.  Much more than just a scientist.  Clever thinking gets you so far but rationality, and the white coat of science can be a shield to hide behind.  To me a good psychotherapist has much more in common with Indiana Jones than Dr Jones.

The following definition is taken from the UKCP website:

Psychotherapy is the provision, by a qualified practitioner, of a formal and professional relationship within which patients/clients can profitably explore difficult, and often painful, emotions and experiences.  These may include feelings of anxiety, depression, trauma, or perhaps the loss of meaning of one’s life.  It is a process that seeks to help the person gain an increased capacity for choice, through which the individual becomes more autonomous and self determined.  Psychotherapy may be provided for individuals or children, couples, families and in groups.

A psychotherapist thus works with people who have emotional, behavioural, psychological or mental difficulties.  The actual work is mainly to encourage the client to talk and explore their feelings, beliefs and thoughts, and, sometimes, relevant aspects of and events in their childhood and personal history.  Some psychotherapists work to help the patient/client understand more about their problems and then make appropriate changes in their thinking and behaviour.  As a result, the work can last over quite a long term. Brief psychotherapy is also possible, especially to help someone resolve a more immediate crisis.  There are a number of different psychotherapeutic approaches: Cognitive Behavioural, Psychodynamic, Psychoanalytic, Systemic (Family & Relationship), Humanistic, Integrative, Transpersonal, Experiential, Hypno-Psychotherapy, etc.

Sanford Meisner – The Yoda of the Acting World … as good a Cesar the dog whisperer!

There’s that famous, but likely apocryphal, story about Laurence Olivier and Dustin Hoffman when they were working together on Marathon Man. To prepare for a scene, Hoffman had gone for a few days without sleep and looked pretty rough. Olivier asked him why he was putting himself through such an ordeal and Hoffman replied that he was trying to be convincing in the role. Olivier replied, “Try acting dear boy”.

Olivier seems to be in the ‘outside-in’ school compared to Hoffman’s ‘inside-out’. Hoffman is one of the most famous actors to study ‘The Method’ at the Actors’ Studio. As I understand it The Method makes much use of emotional recall in order to fuel the authenticity of an actors’ work. The one course I did in The Method was somewhat disastrous … the man teaching it was one of the least emotionally developed people I’ve ever met. He seemed to use his role of teacher as an excuse to abuse his students while using the bind: I am the teacher and if you resist this it’s because you are afraid of your emotions and you will never be a successful actor. In this case, and in my opinion it was this man who was covering up his own lack of acting success with his teacher role. I’m not saying all Method teachers are like this. I am saying that this one was a bit of a cock.

Compare this with Sanford Meisner. I’ve never met this teacher and he is now dead but there is a fantastic video of him available on YouTube. He teaches students to find ‘the truthfulness of you in an imaginary circumstance’ that is to say that he defines acting as the ability to find truth NOT the ability to pretend.

There are lessons in this for all of us who are interested in finding our own truth … to stop playing roles and to be authentic. From what I can see this guy is the real deal: well worth an hour of viewing. A Meisner course is high up on my ‘to-do’ list.

Explore your sexual fantasies with me at the Erotic event at the Barbican Centre on Thursday 26th August

Lara from the Whoopee Club has invited me to contribute to this event as part of the Barbican’s “Surreal House” event. Her initial brief was for me to provide a psychoanalysis of people’s sexual fantasies.

Initially I was tempted to put on a German accent, tweed suit, bow tie, sexy secretary and always come to the conclusion that they are in love with their mum and jealous of their father, or that they think that they are gay but really they are hetro or something. But I had a problem with putting on this performance: I’d be pretending to be an actor pretending to be a psychoanalyst. And then playing with real people’s real sexual fantasies. Just didn’t quite sit right with me.

So I’ll probably be doing something a little bit different. I’ll keep the bow tie and the secretary … but instead of me providing an interpretation of the clients’ fantasies I’ll facilitate them to explore their own and come to their own conclusions. I’ve done quite a lot of work with dreams and metaphors this way and know how powerful it can be, but I’ve never before applied it to sexual fantasies. It’s really got me thinking about why we have these fantasies and what the objective of exploring them might be. I’ll probably have more to say on this as things come to mind.

In the mean time, if you are in London put Thursday in your diary … it’ll be fun!

Amplify’d from www.barbican.org.uk


26 August 2010
Conservatory Garden Room

Tickets: From £12 online and includes same day admission to the exhibition
subject to availability

Start the Bank Holiday early with a decadent night of performances from Ryan Styles , La John Joseph, Johnny BlueEyes, The Readers, Lucy Longlegs… and many others!

Johnny BlueEyes (House of Blue Eyes) and Lara Clifton (Whoopee/Republic of She), two luminaries of London’s avant-garde performance scene, have joined forces in order to curate ‘Erotic’, a one-off night of exotic surrealist adventures occurring amid the greenery of one of London’s hidden treasures… the Barbican conservatory – a “tropical garden in the sky”! Johnny and Lara will call upon the cream of London’s underground club and art scene for a night of performance, art, dance, poetry, installations, fashion, photo shoots, experimental sounds and pole dancing.

Read more at www.barbican.org.uk