Therapy. Triggering word for some. Meaningless expression that has been claimed by beauticians, masseuses and jacuzzis for others. Therapy. Do you need therapy? Do we all need therapy?
Let’s step back and assume that, at some point in our lives, we will probably need a bit of help. We will probably feel overwhelmed or confused or dangerously anxious or the kind of sad that doesn’t shift. Sometimes it begins and ends with feelings. But what about actions? Eating, drinking, drugging, shagging, spending… in a destructive and uncontrollable way. Then there are circumstances: death, divorce, assault, trauma. Yes, shit happens. Things and people break. Change batters us. Lack of change crushes us. And then what.
Asking for help can be extremely hard. But a therapist isn’t asking a friend for help when you worry they could not understand; that you might worry them; that they might judge you. Getting therapy isn’t asking for help. It is getting help. Accessing help. Allowing yourself to be helped with compassion, objectivity and wisdom.
In writing this we assume we are preaching to the converted. That you Midults are fully tooled up. But we cannot forget the shame we all feel when we are not ‘doing well’. Hear this: there is no shame. That is only the dysfunction beating us around the head and heart. Shame has no place here. We are not problems to be solved. We are people to be helped.
Welldoing.org is a website devoted to helping us get better, with a unique directory of therapists. We asked them to compile a list for The Midult to give us a real idea of what is out there. A few different approaches, a few different needs and a few different locations. Maybe the person you need is in the list below. But maybe it’s worth a read to start to know that help is at hand. Because, at some point, we all need – and deserve – the best possible help.
FOR PSYCHOANALYSIS – THE DEEP DIVE
Psychoanalysis digs deep to try to access the unconscious desires and feelings that might be driving you. Ajay Khandelwal, who works in Southwark, has had 25 years’ experience working with adults with a range of psychological difficulties. “Unlike a medical doctor, I don’t prescribe a cure for you, or medication. I don’t tell you how to live your life, or what to eat. What I do is tune into what is going on for you during the therapeutic encounter. Through listening to your words and body I am able to work with you to find out what is troubling you and stay with it long enough to help you find an answer. I don’t work from a text book or manual, like a self-help book, or a CBT therapist. If only it was that simple. I will respond to you in a unique way, based on what you bring.”
Yvonne Forward is another psychoanalytic psychotherapist; she sees clients in North London. She trained at the Bowlby Centre, where therapists focus on the work of John Bowlby, a British psychologist renowned for his work in child development and the formation of attachment theory. Yvonne says, “Bowlby highlighted the importance of loss, separation and traumatic events in shaping who we are and the struggles we may have in later life.” Yvonne works with a variety of issues as presented by men, women and couples from all sorts of backgrounds.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a relatively new type of therapy that has become popular and well-regarded very quickly. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends it for many mental health issues but there is some controversy over whether it is long-lasting. Some therapists find it very effective in helping clients with anxiety or mild to moderate depression. Louise Carroll says, “Emotional problems come in many different forms, but CBT might be able to help you if you feel blocked. You can’t snap out of it or ‘pull yourself together’. No matter how much you talk about it or bottle it up and try to ignore it, it’s constantly there and it seems to be getting worse.” She specialises in CBT and sees adult and teenage clients in her Putney consulting rooms.
Dr Jacqui Farrants is a practising psychologist with CBT specialism, but quite pragmatically she’s prepared to use other styles of therapy too. “I use a goal-orientated approach, to ensure that I stay on track with what clients want to achieve from therapy, whether this relates to short-term goals that lend themselves to briefer therapy, or a longer term, more in-depth exploration of long-standing issues.” She sees clients in Coggeshall in Essex.
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a therapeutic process used to treat psychological traumas, such as war experiences, natural disasters, road accidents and assault, though it is increasingly being used in other situations too. The key point is that therapy is not just talking, but some physical processes too, such as eye movements or tapping. Linda Newbold, who sees clients at two locations in Surrey, has been using EMDR for the past five years and believes it is “an effective and powerful technique for problems which have difficult and unpleasant experiences at their root.”
Gordon Urquhart has made a speciality of treating both those afflicted with life-changing illnesses, or nearing the end of their lives, and those left behind. Unlike most therapists, Urquhart does not specify the trainings he has studied. He calls his style contemporary psychotherapy. He says, “It focuses on the cause of the client’s challenges, their immediate needs and their future wellbeing. This includes the client’s management of their condition or situation, potential recovery and personal development, for now and in the manageable future.” As well as seeing clients in Southsea and Petersfield he works in palliative care in the NHS.
FOR FAMILY PROBLEMS
Felicity Oppe is a family therapist based in Cardiff who sees children and families in her suburban home. She deals with all sorts of family issues, but much of her time is taken up with helping people deal with the aftermath of separation and divorce. Before she trained as a therapist she worked in the film business and, unusually, she says watching certain films can be useful for clients: “The Sopranos has some fantastic conversations between the psychiatrist and Tony Soprano, and Inside Out, the Disney film, is great for introducing ideas about emotions to children.”
FOR EATING DISORDERS
Harriet Frew is an experienced therapist who specialises in treating people with eating disorders; she is herself a former bulimic so she knows that recovery is difficult, but possible. She works both with the situation at hand, and the deeper underlying reasons why disordered eating has developed. From her consulting rooms in Cambridge and London, she offers one-to-one, group and family work; she’s also happy to use Skype. And it’s not just teen girls she sees, but adults, both male and female. “The road to recovery will not always be smooth and there will be many inevitable bumps on the journey, but it’s worth reaching out and having counselling.”
FOR SUCCESS-ORIENTED HIGH-FLYERS
Jacky Francis Walker has been in practice since 1993 and professes a particular interest in working with high-achieving professionals and creative people. “My specialist areas include stress, burnout, quality of life and ‘finding the deeper me’,” says the psychotherapist, mindfulness consultant, executive coach and clinical supervisor. You can see her in Harley Street, The City, Norwich – or anywhere via Skype – and she makes bookings and payments online.
Sessions £70 (Norwich), £120 (London) / https://welldoing.org/counsellors/jacky-francis-walker-integrative-psychotherapist-ec2r
A therapist who sees her fair share of high-profile individuals is in the less likely area of Derbyshire. Frances Weston who has done training in Emotional Freedom Technique and Solution-Based Brief Therapy as well as the more usual Cognitive Behaviourial Therapy, offers a specialised approach for people who are pressed for time but committed to their own self-development. She holds three-day intensive therapy retreats for “VIP” clients, in addition to the usual hour-long appointments. Her consulting room is in Ashbourne, near the Staffordshire/Derbyshire border, and she’s also highly regarded for her work with children.
FOR WORRIES ABOUT SEXUALITY AND COMING OUT
Debbie Clements is a relational counsellor based in Leeds who offers phone and online support alongside face-to-face sessions. While she sees people for all sorts of reasons, she is LGBT and specialises in support around gender and sexuality, including coming out and transitioning. As she states in a post on welldoing.org, “Challenging negative images of LGBT people and promoting diversity around gender and sexuality is so vital.” But she also knows that it is not always quite so simple. Empathy and understanding are also needed in supporting a client to accept and express who they are, in what can sometimes feel like overwhelming circumstances.
FOR YOUNG CHILDREN
Tammy Fioravanti sees children for one-to-one counselling in her therapy rooms in Chiswick. They might talk, play, draw or paint, they might sit quietly, but not for long. Whatever allows them to express their thoughts and feelings in a way that is comfortable and natural for them is all right with Tammy. “I don’t have a single approach for all because I believe that every child is unique and I value them as individuals with their own mind, views and way of seeing the world,” she explains. Her theory is multidisciplinary, including psychodynamic, attachment theory and person-centred. She has a reputation for establishing warm, effective relationships with the children (up to 11 years of age) she sees.
With so many teenagers struggling with anxiety and depression, and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) provision limited, many parents are prepared to pay for professional help. These two therapists, both in London, offer different options for how to approach the problem.
Julianne Wren uses her CBT training to help adolescents and young adults cope with the stresses of modern life. “I will actively listen to your concerns, and teach you skills that will help you cope with your stress, meet your goal and improve your outlook.” Julianne has worked with families and children for 20 years, and has experience seeing clients with eating disorders. She sees clients in Muswell Hill and Hackney.
Jackie van Roosmalen is a psychodynamic psychotherapist. As she explains it, “We focus on feelings and thoughts and getting to know one’s inner world. The focus is on the here and now and this includes the past in as much as it affects how one feels in the present. Sometimes things happen to us in the past that we would prefer to forget and it is by giving those things attention that we can ultimately let go of the feelings associated with them and feel more free.” Jackie also uses mindfulness meditation and see clients in East Dulwich.
Susan Tyler works with clients encountering all sorts of problems, but she has a special interest in addiction and its impact on families. It can, she believes, leave trauma that needs processing. Her training is in Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy and she often uses mindfulness techniques. She’s part of the well-respected Courtyard Garden practice, which she co-founded, in London’s Belgravia, and also sees clients in Brighton.
Cambridge resident Jackie Schickler specialises in addictive behaviours and couple relationships, so often deals with co-dependency and healthy boundaries in her work. Her expertise with addiction ranges through substances, such as legal and illegal drugs, alcohol, food and sex. “In a climate of understanding and safety, we are able to address underlying issues that support addictions, as well as challenge beliefs that may cause a return to self-destructive behaviours,” she says. She sees individuals and couples for long or short-term therapy
Sessions £80-£90 / https://welldoing.org/counsellors/jackieschickler-integrative-therapist-cb5
In Shoreditch, Joshua Miles is a more-recently graduated therapist but with no less ability to connect with clients. Not everyone can mourn loss in an uncomplicated manner, and Joshua can help to explore your past experiences and relationships and offer you the opportunity to “unravel, experience and understand your feelings, memories and experiences more fully in order to resolve them, and live a life that is more connected, real and meaningful.” He also specialises in seeing creative people who are blocked and teens or adults with relationship issues.
FOR PROBLEMS WITH SEX
People looking for help with their sex life may have a variety of reasons for doing so. In general, sex therapists see people who have sexual problems within a relationship, or no relationship. There are also therapists who see people whose sex life has become uncontrollable, for example people with porn addiction or sex addiction. Rima Hawkins is a British-Indian psychosexual therapist, specialising in sex and relationship therapy who sees clients in Chelsea, Fulham and Central London. With individuals she helps them make sense of their issues; with couples she often works with a co-therapist, and may also see the clients individually. She knows it can be very difficult to be open and honest about sex and relationships, so there is quite a lot of setting out parameters at the start. As she says, “It is imperative that both sides feel comfortable before progressing further.”
Sessions £80-£150 / https://welldoing.org/counsellors/rima-hawkins-integrative-therapist-sw6
Gary McFarlane is a Relate-trained relationship counsellor, sex therapist and sex addiction expert; he is also a member of the recently formed Association for the Treatment of Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity (ATSAC). Many of his clients, accessed by video from all over the UK, have come to him for help with sex or porn addiction. “It takes a minimum of 6 months just to begin the change process. Residential rehab might be all right for a short time, but the real work doesn’t start in earnest until you are back in the community when the client needs to deal with their objectification of women and handling their emotions.”