"Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, was once asked ‘What is the purpose of psychoanalysis?” He half-jokingly replied, “To replace neurotic  suffering with ordinary human misery‘. In other words, Freud was saying that some  suffering is self-induced and some  suffering is just part of the life process."  Source: Psychological-Symptoms


People come to therapy or counselling with a variety of issues and complaints, and often with a sense, sometimes specific, often not, that "thing's aren't working". They may have lost sight of their goals and aspirations as matters became more pressurised and muddled. They may have forgotten, or minimised their own history of successfully dealing with issues, as well as the resources available to them from others.

While it is necessary to listen to the client's accounts of the difficulties he or she is facing, paying attention exclusively to "problem-talk" can become a form of negative hypnosis, for client and therapist alike. Therefore, setting the stage for a process of exploration and change is essential. This becomes a collaborative process, exchanging and developing thoughts and ideas and giving feedback on what works, or doesn't. The change process is necessarily an ethical one, so I will be interested in your principles or values about life. So for example, as you move in one direction, how might this impact on your other roles (e.g. as a parent) or on other people in your life?

Throughout the process of our meetings I will be interested in the following (and more besides):

    • Do you feel free to share your thoughts and feelings?
    • Do you think you are well understood by your therapist?
    • Do you have confidence in the methods and suggestions made by your therapist?
    • Is your therapist flexible and creative – if one thing isn’t working is there an alternative proposed?
    • Do you feel there is a working alliance between yourself and your therapist – even if you do not always agree?
    • Do you have a sense of the work going somewhere? Do you have some goals you are working towards?


    I prefer to acknowledge openly the fact that people do drop out of therapy and also that the process can get "stuck". First of all, can I help everybody? Probably not. There may be someone better for that person and that set of concerns. There may not be a good "fit" in terms of beliefs and personal styles, however hard we try. You may prefer to work with a female therapist, someone who is (or isn't) from your cultural background, someone younger, or someone older! That said such differences often fade as the work gets moving and concern and professionalism is absorbed.

    Even so, if nothing seems to be changing for the better 4 to 6 sessions in, it is important to try to understand why. It may be that the issues you face are more severe than we first recognized; or that we need to think about who attends the sessions; or that other stresses are affecting you that you have yet to reveal.

    During our process I will check such things out with you and may also ask you to complete short forms to do with satisfaction and outcomes. I also like to receive some feedback on how things are going for you some months after our sessions end. This feedback is positive learning for me too!

    What does "better" mean?

    Some ideas - but what do you think?

    • More and better connections.
    • More interested in the world, able to appreciate beauty.
    • More inclined to help and support others (less self-absorbed).
    • Arresting a decline – things not noticeably better, but the graph has levelled out.
    • Symptom/presenting problem amelioration without symptom substitution.
    • Greater contentment self-report/peer report.
    • Behavioural or task competence improvement.
    • Desired outcomes – and how these impact on others in your life.