Psychotherapy and counselling in Hackney, East London and online
I am a psychotherapist working in Hackney, East London. Sessions can be online or on the telephone when necessary.
When you are experiencing difficulties in relationships or at work, suffering from anxiety or depression or feeling frustrated and stuck, friends and colleagues will often advise you to open up.
'Opening up' often isn't that easy, however. If we don’t know why we want to talk or to whom, if we worry that the very person we could speak to might misunderstand, if we fear that they could be hurt by what we say or could hurt us, if we think we are not entitled to a fair hearing anyway, if we don’t know what it is we want to say – or can’t bear to say it - then it’s not so simple.
In fact, the feeling of not being able to say exactly what troubles us is far more common than advice to 'open up' suggests. Our minds very early learn to scramble and forget what unsettles us. You might call this censorship, by analogy with the suppression of newspapers, websites or books that received opinion considers offensive or disruptive, and it works best when we do not know we are doing it. Normative behaviour patterns and attitudes, whether they help or harm us, can be hard-wired into our emotions.
In psychotherapy this is acknowledged; the therapist listens, and over time the patient finds ways to speak about what is wrong. The relationship we have with ourselves and with others is the most complex part of our lives. In the consulting room we work together to explore how you feel about that complexity and how it has led you to feel and behave as you do; the process of analysing it can allow both an appreciation of what is positive and enjoyable and a change in what is unhelpful.
Take, for example, the enormous range of possible reactions to the Covid19 pandemic. Some people might be anxious, others angry, or disgusted, bored, lonely, even delighted to be spared social or family obligations, or all of those in succession or at once. It often seems that there is a 'right' way to be in the crisis and that others somehow know what it is, but in reality no two people will be having the same experience. Depending on our past history, this disconnect can give rise to a range of feelings, such as depression, guilt or anxiety that are so unfamiliar that we don't even recognise them for what they are, much less know how to deal with by ourselves. In fact, trying to think it out alone can often feel as though it only deepens the mystery.
The reasons for those many differences can come from a history that might involve many things. There could have been remembered trauma including abuse, the prejudices of others, abandonment or bereavement, extreme stress or difficult early relationships or issues with sexuality. Often, however, the factors that contribute have been forgotten entirely, or leave only hazy traces in the memory. And of course what causes no problem to one person can distress another, and vice versa.
In psychoanalytic psychotherapy sessions we can take the time to unravel what you are feeling, why that is, and what you want to do with that knowledge. I can work with you carefully, constructively, imaginatively and without judging; it's important for you to feel you can trust your psychotherapist.
It's worth saying that therapy is about you and what you make of yourself. As Donald Winnicott said, 'What patient wants to be someone else's poem or picture?'
If you are thinking of psychotherapy and counselling in Hackney, East London contact me using the link opposite to discuss an exploratory session. I will be happy to talk to you about your hopes - and, if you have them, hesitations - about psychotherapy and what it might be like to work with a psychotherapist.
My consulting room is in Clapton, within easy reach of Homerton, Hackney Central and Hackney Downs stations and walkable from Dalston Kingsland, Hackney Wick and Stoke Newington