I am a psychotherapist in private practice in Sydney. My passion as a clinician is working long term with clients, enabling the understanding of family of origin, attachment issues, early childhood ruptures and unconscious processes.
These points are the drivers for much heartache in the lives of many. Without repair they have the power to create a variety of poor mental health concerns – addictions, depression, both chronic and reactive, and anxiety. They drive people to self-harm, into phobias, low self-esteem, or ‘shyness’, and many common disorders, such as eating disorders. The list is in fact endless. Many of these daily dysfunctions people try to live with.
I work within the framework of Transactional Analysis and the relational model of psychotherapy. My client base centres on those who have long histories of various forms of mental health treatment.
As well as working as a psychotherapist I am also an advocate for the psychotherapy profession. I constantly work to improve ethical procedure, training and the professionalism of practitioners in Australia. As a result, for most of my career I have been involved at the association level. I have been president of the Australian Transactional Analysis Association (ATAA) and of the Counsellors and Psychotherapists Association of New South Wales (CAPA NSW Inc.). I was on the CAPA New South Wales Board for seven years, including three as president. I have served on the Council and the committee overseeing the National Register of the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA). I am committed to the ongoing professional development of practitioners and the training of potential practitioners. Apart from my clinical work, I am committed to the growth and development of the profession.
I am also involved in assisting people find the right path for improved mental health. I consult to guide people into the correct stream of mental health they require. I am also in the process of writing a book that I hope will demystify the professions working in mental health, with a focus on understanding psychotherapy and how it differs from other modalities.
How I became a psychotherapist
I entered this profession a little later than is usual. Having worked previously in the corporate world, I began re-educating as I wanted to work more deeply and closely with people. At that point I understood somewhat the machinations of counselling practitioners and their services. At this point many were using a framework in cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT).
I had wondered, during a segment of my training, if it was so easy to obtain change with short-term interventions such as CBT, why were statistics and research showing a still-constant increase in impoverished mental health around the world.
It was, and still is, escalating out of control.
During this journey I ‘bumped’ into psychotherapy proper, and Transactional Analysis. I knew relatively quickly this was the way forward.
And perhaps this is why you are reading this – to understand psychotherapy proper. After my initial degree I went on to spend over seven years gaining a qualification in psychotherapy. When someone tells me psychotherapy is an ‘intervention’ I chuckle. That description is far from the reality of the depth involved.
Although I gained a piece of paper that said ‘Certified Transactional Analyst (Clinical)’, it was in fact only that, a piece of paper. Those years of study gave me much more.
The first thing I gained was a solid foundation of theory with which to understand clients. The next, and probably most important, was the requirement that I too had to undertake my own psychotherapy. This part of the training is probably the most crucial. As a result, a properly trained psychotherapist does not struggle with their own demons while working across from their clients. This is all too common for many professionals in mental health. This is the single biggest factor in burnout.
The next gain was the understanding of proper clinical supervision. This is where I understand my own reactions to a client, in an attempt to understand what is happening for that client. This is the often-discounted practice and skill of working with the issues of transference and countertransference, and the unconscious.
This training was steeped in research and developmental psychology, with a particular leaning towards the humanistic and phenomenological branch of analysis. As a result, I became particularly interested in the aspects of family of origin and early childhood attachment. My training also encompassed the relational model of working with clients and, as a result, I now find myself working with clients in a collaborative and participative manner.
The crux of the work is to develop a collaborative and mutually respectful relationship. There is no hierarchy and no guru. As this develops, hopefully we build trust, which produces cooperation and safety. As opposed to giving clients a ‘to-do’ list for treatment.