Contemporary life poses particular challenges to us all; over the course of our lives we are subject to upheaval, loss and chaos. We might feel lost in anxiety and depression; powerless rage hardens us and makes us cynical, dissociation and denial diminish our connections with the world and our own aliveness. The effects of a pandemic, the intensifying climate crisis, the threat of nuclear war, systemic racism, and ongoing economic instability continue to impact and disrupt the way we live. This raises questions that we cannot afford to turn away from, questions that cut to the heart of our lives: How safe is it to be close to another person? How do we take accountability when faced with the consequences of our destructive actions? What happens when those who are supposed to keep us safe let us down? Psychoanalysis can be a space, a relationship, in which these questions are opened up. This means beginning to look closely at the stories we tell about who we are and the places we get stuck. In the context of an analysis, our words take on new and sometimes strange dimensions - what we find ourselves saying surprises us as hidden thoughts unravel. Through staying with painful emotional states we can start to unbind ourselves from identities, expectations and patterns that cause profound suffering.
Entering into psychoanalysis marks an intention to change your life. Whatever your history, whatever wounds you carry, starting an analysis is an act of radical hope that life could be different. You might find yourself entering analysis for a variety of reasons, some more obvious and others that might reveal themselves over time. Often this might involve the onset or re-emergence of a particular symptom, such as a period of depression, a phobia, a series of obsessions and compulsions, a difficulty with eating, panic attacks, suicidal thoughts - the list goes on. Alternatively, we may experience inhibitions, which hold us back creatively, socially or sexually. These symptoms or inhibitions may start to become problematic for us in different ways, shutting down possibilities and eventually leading a person to seek help.
Another route that might cause a person to enter analysis is the arising of a question of identity. At certain points in our lives, the images that we hold of ourselves (or that we hold of others) break down and we are left to confront the unravelling of our sense of self. These questions often relate to the position we occupied within our families of origin, and to factors such as gender identity, sexuality, race and class. It might be that a change in life such as a bereavement, pregnancy or new role at work precipitates such questions.
Others might come to analysis because of the sense that something in their lives keeps repeating, despite their best efforts to do things differently. This could be a repetition of the same kind of romantic relationship, or trouble with work colleagues, addictions and compulsive behaviours, or memories of historical traumas: in effect those moments that we return to despite - or perhaps because of - their capacity to interrupt or undermine our lives.
I offer psychoanalysis in central Exeter for people who are looking for a space to speak. I have been in practice for over a decade, and am a member of UKCP and The Society for Social and Critical Psychoanalysis. My original training was a Professional Doctorate in Counselling Psychology and I subsequently completed a full clinical training with The Society for Social and Critical Psychoanalysis. I have worked as a psychotherapist and psychologist in the NHS, and now I work in private practice. I also offer clinical supervision to clinicians of various professional backgrounds.
Like all UKCP registered psychotherapists and psychotherapeutic counsellors I can work with a wide range of issues, but here are some areas in which I have a special interest or additional experience.