THE HUMANISTIC APPROACH TO THERAPY
Humanistic therapy has support from research suggesting that it is at least as effective as other types of therapy for helping people create positive, long-lasting changes in their lives. It differs in important ways from other types of therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and psychoanalysis, and was developed as a reaction against their pessimistic view of people as fitting diagnostic boxes and being at the mercy of their thoughts or impulses. Humanistic therapy views each person as capable of choice and responsibility, and as having a unique identity, story and way of moving forwards. It prizes your authenticity, and your capacity to positively direct and create your own "self" and life. It aims to help you develop your potential and adaptivity, and to become more creatively and fully alive.
Humanistic therapy draws on existential philosophy. This means that it explores what it means to exist as a human being, and the freedom and responsibility we each have to shape and give meaning to our lives. Rather than pursuing an unattainable goal of pure happiness, it acknowledges and welcomes the difficult givens of life that we all face, including the therapist (e.g. anxiety, loneliness, death). This therapy is also phenomenological, meaning it does not impose someone's way of thinking on yours. And, compared to CBT's focus on thoughts and behaviours, it brings equal awareness to every part of you as a complex and changing "whole". This includes your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, gestures, memories, fantasies, and dreams.
Humanistic therapists are often described as real, authentic, down-to-earth, warm, human, honest, empathic and affirmative. The therapist is not the expert knower of the "truth" or of what you "should" think, feel or do. What you think, feel or do is your truth. The right way forward for you will naturally emerge as the therapist holds you within a space and a relationship where you can become better acquainted with how you uniquely experience things.
MY GESTALT APPROACH
Gestalt therapy is one of the humanistic therapies which I draw on heavily. Rather than trying to answer the question of "why" you are the way you are, the Gestalt approach views positive change as the result of being more aware and curious about how you experience things here-and-now (the only thing you can know for sure). It views each person as constantly influenced by and influencing the people around them, and so can help us understand our relationship patterns. It views you as always part of the world, physically and emotionally changing with your environment, and so it can help you realise the creative potential within you to be many things rather than a fixed "character". Gestalt therapy explores unfinished business, blocks to fully experiencing and accepting yourself, and how to develop more playful responses to life's events. In our sessions there will be honesty, safety, equality and collaboration, and, when you are ready, experimentation and play, with creative materials if that feels right. This therapy is relational and experiential, meaning that much of your growth will come about through experiencing yourself in new and different ways in your therapeutic relationship with me.