That’s quite a mouthful, isn’t it? It’s not snazzy or super concise but I am hoping it gives the impression of ‘it does what it says on the tin’. The only problem is you might not understand any of the words in this context.
I hold a bachelor's and master's of science in psychology. How I think and how I practice is deeply rooted in psychology – the study of the human mind – and research, data and science. Though I respect individuals’ belief systems and can hold on to their truths without letting my opinion influence a session, I am better suited to work for people who share my beliefs in research, data and science above religious and spiritual beliefs.
That also means that in the work I do with people, I introduce current scientific thinking as an educational element to sessions – so, that might mean that I explain how the brain works and why we can create certain mental barriers for ourselves. For example, I don’t view procrastination as a personal failing and flaw but see it as a natural, psychological coping mechanism. When the brain is overwhelmed it changes its focus to something more manageable as a stress response. So, when you’re procrastinating it’s not about overcoming a personal deficit in attention but about making the task at hand more manageable so the brain doesn’t get overwhelmed.
So, that’s the ‘psychology-informed’ bit of my practice and what it might look like when working with me.
I’m also a coach – to be precise, my diploma says I’m a ‘transformational life coach’, meaning I focus on ‘life’ issues rather than being a career coach or executive coach and I focus on creating transformation – deep, insightful change – so, not quick fixes and ‘band-aid’ solutions to big wounds.
A coach, put very simplistically, focuses on the future. It’s about setting goals (meaning, what you’re hoping to achieve, build, create or accomplish), so that we know we’re going in the same direction in our sessions, so we know what we’re working towards and to ensure there’s a proactive dynamic in our sessions and we’re not just going over old ground from the past, over and over, dwelling and getting stuck in old emotions and patterns of the past.
This might sound appealing but it’s important to note that this means that my approach is not for everyone. Those who want to do deep, intense past work and focus on complex childhood trauma or PTSD should seek a trauma expert (not a ‘trauma informed’ therapist but someone specialised in trauma work with the appropriate methods in place – you can read about methods here).
However, I also believe that life coaching can be too future-focused and though we might feel great after a coaching session – alive, energised, inspired and ready for action – there’s a risk we’ll fall back into our old patterns and habits and feel stuck once more while blaming ourselves for not maintaining the momentum our coaching gave us – because we didn’t look back to identify where the old patterns and habits stem from. Not to sit and dig around in it but to grow our self-awareness so that next time we’re feeling stuck, instead of blaming ourselves as incapable, we can recognise where the stuckness comes from and take action in a much more informed manner.
That’s the therapeutic part of what I’m offering. We will look back into the past – and that can be tricky and uncomfortable if you’re not ready to do that work, you should probably wait or seek a different practitioner.
Part of a successful outcome of seeing a talk therapist is that you’re ready, willing and able (I write about that here).
Finally, I’m a pluralist which, for me, above all else, is a philosophy – a way of thinking about the work I do and my approach to others. Technically, I’m trained in the Pluralistic Framework, created by Mick Cooper and John McLeod (if you Google this, you’ll get some helpful articles about this).
What being a pluralist means to me is that I will meet you where you’re at and not what I think you ought to be in life and in your process. I recognise that no one size fits all when it comes to therapy as we’re all wonderfully different and unique. So, it’s not about coming to me and I’ll apply one method or framework or approach (again, this is the article that explains what this means here) that works for me but about having a conversation about where you’re at and what works for you and with the knowledge and skills I have, I’ll do my best to tailor our sessions after your needs, wishes, experiences and desires.
Now, sometimes, especially if we’re new to the world of talk therapy, we might not know what we want or need or desire. That’s ok too. Then we’ll work from that starting point (as I said, it’s about meeting you where you’re at) and together we’ll try and figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. This includes me asking sometimes what has been helpful and what might you want less of and relying on your ability to be honest with your feedback above any kind of people-pleasing tendencies. You’re not here to soothe my ego or please me. We’re here to support you become the version of yourself that you want. Talk therapy is like a dress rehearsal – let’s set the table, let’s get all dressed up, let’s play it out and see what works and what doesn’t so you can show up much better prepared and satisfied when the real event occurs. That includes being allowed to get angry with me, cry, or express frustration with me or the sessions and not be criticised, scolded, or experience any other negative consequences for expressing your emotions.
So, there you have it – I’m a pluralist, meaning I’ll meet you where you’re at and don’t believe in ‘one size fits all’ approach to talk therapy. I’ll apply different methods at different times as suit you. And it’s always ok to change your mind or want different things on different days.
I use psychology to inform my practice and our conversations as a means to educate you about how the mind works (I also use research from sociology, anthropology and other sciences as well as philosophy). It’s about enhancing our knowledge and learning to become better thinkers and observers of ourselves, others and the world around us.
The therapeutic part means that we will do some deep, emotional work too. Look into your complicated inner self and talk a bit about past experiences and your mental health (strengths as well as perceived weaknesses).
And finally, the coaching means that we’ll look ahead, we’ll create a plan for what you hope to achieve by coming to me and talking to me. We’ll talk about the version of you that you want to be. If you don’t want to change anything, then you might be wasting your money. If you’re hoping to change other people by talking to me, you’ll also be wasting your money. But if you want to change your relationship with other people by changing yourself, we can absolutely do that.
I’ve also written an article you might find helpful about the difference between a counsellor, psychotherapist, psychologist, psychiatrist and coach that you can find here. I hold a BSc and MSc in psychology. In Denmark, that’s the requirement for calling yourself a psychologist but as my degrees are from Scotland I do not qualify for using the title ‘psychologist’ which is protected in Denmark. However, it’s not protected in the UK, for example, where I can call myself a psychologist. I’m also a university-trained and qualified counsellor and psychotherapist but these are not protected titles, at least not in Denmark and in the UK (but they are in certain other European countries, as well as in the US). I’m not and never will be a psychiatrist and can’t offer diagnoses nor medicine. And I’m also a life coach but again this is not a protected title anywhere in the world and you do not need to have completed any training to use this title.
Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed this article. If you did, or didn't, or want to add something or have a question, feel free to comment below (but try and be kind about it - I'm a terribly sensitive soul).
Don't forget that this is just my opinion. You don't have to agree. These pieces of writing are just here to make you think and take from it what you like and find helpful and ignore the rest. At the end of the day, it's your life and, therefore, what you consume, what you believe, and what you think and feel is your choice.
Also, this article has been brought to you by a perfectly imperfect, flawsome dyslexic. I hope any potential spelling or grammar mistakes didn't take away from your enjoyment.
Meandering thoughts about life and the meaning of everything, from a know-it-not-all!