the free psychotherapy network

free psychotherapy for people on low incomes and benefits

People in the network

Rob Abbott

I have benefitted over the years from having my own psychotherapy that has allowed me to change and grow as a person. I have experienced my own depressions and know that it was both good therapists and the love of friends and family that enabled me to survive these experiences. And while I do not consider psychotherapy to be the answer to all the world’s ills, I do think it can help all of us both to understand our emotions and manage then sufficiently such that we might work, love and play.

I have always been a socialist, more Tony Benn than Tony Blair. I abhor the philosophy of “me first” individualism and believe that many of all generations reject such ideas. A society can be measured by how it treats those who are most disadvantaged. These with mental illness often fit this category: misunderstood, misrepresented and, by definition, lacking the personal resources make themselves better.   In Britain today there are simply not enough state funded resources available for those who are mentally ill but who do not have the money to pay for private psychotherapy/counselling. This is a political issue and I hope that politicians will one day have the courage and commitment to solve it. In the meantime, we can all do our bit to help: this is my contribution.

Paul Atkinson

I have been working in private practice in London, as a counsellor and a Jungian psychotherapist, for more than 30 years. I am a member of the UK Council for Psychotherapy.

I was a political activist during my 20s, involved in community and trade union action, the men’s movement and sexual politics, and ‘radical’ group psychotherapy. In my 30s, I worked with school refusers in north London.

I have always seen psychotherapy as a social and, in a subtle way, political profession. At the heart of the work, for me, is the encouragement of people, including myself, to live more fully – with less fear and more love. I see people’s internal and external worlds as always intertwined, reflecting and affecting each other. A psychotherapy that wants to separate people’s psychological lives from their past and current social worlds does not make sense to me. Nor does a psychotherapy that is interested in individual change without social change.

Like most psychotherapists, I have always operated a sliding scale of fees, reflecting people’s capacity to pay. More recently, as my children have grown up, as NHS provision of decent long-term psychotherapy has declined, and as the government’s attacks on social security, living wages and the most vulnerable members of society have escalated, I have felt more urgent about working with people with little access to emotional support and limited space for psychological insight.

For me, involvement with the Free Psychotherapy Network is one response to this need in me to be socially engaged as a therapist. I also do work for the Refugee Therapy Centre, see a growing number of clients for free, have started organising free psychotherapy on my local housing estate, and am working with political activists individually and as part of the London Occupy reflection group. I have recently become involved in a new wave men’s therapy groups.

Kris Black

Kris Black is a UKCP Registered Integrative Arts Psychotherapist, MBACP Counsellor and a Supervisor in Training.

Kris is currently completing a Masters (Conversion) in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy and is on the leadership group of the Black and Asian Therapists Network (BAATN). Kris set up Arc Therapy in 1991, and sees a range of clients in North and East London for counselling, psychotherapy and supervision.

Kris is the founder of Radical Dialogues ~ a group work and awareness programme combining art and psychotherapy to address and heal trauma caused by discrimination, violence and abuse.

Kris has worked within London for over 17 years as a therapist with children using an integrative and multi cultural framework, as many of her clients were seen as being at risk of school exclusion, or from economic or cultural backgrounds for whom therapy was not thought about as being accessible, her work has included family interventions and working with single parents.
Kris has also worked within the charity sector for over 30 years as a counsellor and a trainer on diverse issues such as hate crime, HIV, domestic violence, sexual abuse, sexuality, identity, fertility and health issues.
Kris believes the personal is political, and has contributed to many radical, black, women’s, and LGBTQ groups and campaigns at a grassroots level and upwards for most of her working life. Having studied law, she has worked within grassroots, national and international campaigns which have raised awareness about change, discriminatory legislation, attitudes and practices.
Kris believes psychotherapy and counselling can save lives as well as changing negative belief systems and therefore should be affordable and accessible to all ~ not just those with economic power. For this reason the majority of Kris’ work with clients has been within the education sector or the charity sector where clients who cannot afford services can access psychotherapy and counselling.
Kris was born into a working~class, mixed racial heritage family, living in north London’s council housing estates in the 60’s. She got involved with feminism and political activism when she was 18. Kris still describes herself as a feminist and does not think politics, activism, or campaigning to end inequality in society are counter~intuitive to being a professional psychotherapist or counsellor.
Kris has worked as a counsellor for over 30 years and as a psychotherapist since 1991 offering a service to a range of clients aged 3 to 93.
 
Kris is currently able to offer low cost psychotherapy and supervision in North London near Holloway Road / Finsbury Park, to people referring themselves through the Free Psychotherapy Network. 
 
For further details 0776 137 1088, 

Michael Caton

Growing up in an outlying south-east London housing estate, I witnessed the array of ways that friends, relatives and acquaintances coped with the challenges of poverty and social disenfranchisement. With few opportunities or the language to describe the emotional experience of such a place, casual violence, substance misuse, petty crime and imprisonment were common strategies for coping. A lived experience of physical and social poverty came with a poverty of emotions and mind. Without a language to describe very real impoverishment, ‘acting out’ rather than ‘talking out’ became the order of the day. Depression, anxiety and common mental health problems remained unnamed and hidden, and people struggled to thrive.

As a therapist, I believe that therapy could have helped many in my community. But it was not available. Therapy has remained essentially a privileged experience, afforded to those who have the ability to pay or who are able to advocate strongly enough for therapy rather than medication. I believe that therapy should not be a privilege but an essential right for those who are suffering – regardless their means.

I trained as a Group Analytic Therapist and believe that a person should be viewed within the context of their environment – and it has a strong political element and responsibility to it. Group Analysis often holds up a mirror, not only to the individual, but also to the social context that works on an individual from the start. I believe therapy should also illuminate the dynamics of class and power that influence the emotions, psyche and lives people live, perhaps challenging society to be a little better.

I have a long history of offering free at the point of contact therapy within the voluntary sector and the NHS. I currently offer low-fee therapeutic work with individuals and in groups in central and south-east London. I am a founder member of the East London Counselling Co-operative (a community interest company), which offers low-fee and free counselling and therapy throughout east London.

Yasmin Dewan

With my younger brother diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia 25 years ago, I have personal experience of the family sacrifices and struggles related to the pain and stigma of mental illness.

I am totally committed to my purpose and passion of enabling easy access to therapy for all, deploying a uniquely, holistic approach, dedicated to people’s development and growth the way nature would have intended. With support from organisations such as SANE and MIND, my own journey has allowed me to discover the true benefits of therapy first-hand.

With expertise in mental resilience and emotional fitness, I work in partnership with my clients, focusing on a treatment plan only when there is real commitment for personal change. This is agreed irrespective of income, concessional rates being negotiated for those who cannot afford to pay in full.

Personal therapy is proving invaluable for people to manage challenging situations in their lives, so they are able to transform problems into major opportunities for personal growth in areas such as:

  • handling crises in relationships
  • dealing with stress and other pressures
  • resolving fears, panics and anxieties
  • coping with continuing family problems
  • working through difficult decisions
  • breaking through physical pain, depression and sadness

………in order for them to………

  • develop more fulfilling relationships
  • bring out their creativity and self-expression
  • learn to assert their own needs
  • renew a sense of purpose in their lives
  • find new paths to self-discovery
  • feel well again, with no medication, and be happier in themselves

Therapy, for me, is as vital to one’s emotional wellbeing as fresh running water is to one’s survival – this physical instinct, and the need for our lives to have meaning and a connection with something spiritually greater, has led me to live my life by a very simple, yet powerfully effective mantra:

“Listen to your Body, Open your Heart, Make the Most of your Mind and Free your Spirit”

Check out www.inspirationalwinners.com or contact me direct at yasmin@inspirationalwinners.com

Fiona Goldman

I am a (relatively) recently qualified counsellor in Manchester, with lots of other relevant experience, having worked as a midwife and an alternative therapist. And having lived for a while. The theory is both interesting and important, but at the heart of counselling, lies the beating heart of a living relationship. I am fascinated by relationships and the way in which a good connection between people, can seem to create a life of its own.

I am deeply concerned that people’s mental health has been ignored for so long, that we are not able to afford what it will cost to catch up with the need for services. In many areas, charity providers of therapy have extensive waiting lists for short-term counselling, and CBT is all that is available on the NHS (and that too could be following a long wait). If CBT is what you need, that’s great, but many of us need a deeper exploration of our issues; the space to talk about things knowing that we are being properly listened to, properly heard. The space to be able to work out for ourselves how to proceed, in a way that suits our lives, not someone else’s schedule. And we need it now.

If that is the case for you, you may find that paying for private counselling is your only option. It appals me that so many of those in need of therapy will be excluded by their inability to pay for it. Again, the theory is both interesting and important, but it is the feeling; the deep knowledge that it is wrong, that I am left with. I am constantly looking for ways to earn enough to live myself, while providing accessible counselling to those who most need it. I volunteer at a men’s prison and would love to be able to offer free counselling to all, but that is impossible, so I do the next best thing; I offer a free initial session and a negotiable reduced rate for all on no or a low income.

If you would like to meet with me, please call 07482 062383 or email coudtent@outlook.com.

Paul Gordon

For many years I worked as a researcher/campaigner in civil liberties and anti-racism, but I was always interested in what made people who they were, do what they did, think what they thought, feel what they felt – what ‘made them tick’.

My first involvement with psychotherapy was with the Institute of Psychotherapy Social Studies, which tried to situate the individual within her or his social and political context, and it was there I came across people such as David Smail and Peter Lomas.

A long-standing interest in philosophy took me then to the Philadelphia Association, where I found the thinking of people like Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Emmanuel Levinas hugely rewarding.

To me, people’s problems are not ‘in’ them in any meaningful sense. The difficulties in living that we can find so debilitating, arise from our experience, whether as physical beings who suffer, or from our emotional experiences at the hands of others, particularly in our early years, and which are often repeated as we get older.

Therapy, to me, is a conversation, although it is a conversation about one person. Often it is only through talking to another person that we can come to know what it is that we really think or feel; where we might find what TS Eliot called ‘speech for that unspoken’. Nothing, however troubling or bewildering it may seem, cannot be made sense of, if given the right kind of time and attention.

Like many therapists, I’ve always seen some people for low fees. And I benefitted from this myself; I’ve always been grateful to my first therapist who saw me for very little money throughout my training. I’ve also found myself seeing people for nothing, when even the little is too much. This can be a almost a dirty secret among therapists, as though we are colluding with the person’s defences, so strong is the view that payment is somehow necessary.

I currently work privately with individuals and couples from my home in north west London and as a house therapist to one of the Philadelphia Association’s community houses.

 Daniela Hecht

Are you looking for someone to talk to but wonder what it will be like to tell someone you don’t know about things that worry you and possibly cause you anxiety? Are you wondering about your relationships, your life- trying to make sense of your past, anticipating the future and trying to live in the present? t

I promise that within the safe and confidential boundaries of a therapeutic encounter I offer the opportunity to discuss and explore your feelings and help raise awareness of what it means to be ‘you’, both within relationships and on your own.

Together we will explore what it means for you to exist in this world, look at and identify fears and anxieties and work together to overcome them. I am here to help you to investigate personal beliefs, values, hopes and dreams and assist you in coming to terms with a past that is carried into the present. On having gained a more thorough understanding I aim to help to build a future that is filled with personal meaning and more clarity when it comes to how you feel and who you are.

We will look at how you have come to find yourself where you are- right now- and to raise awareness to the idea that you are in a constant process of becoming, ever changing, but always in relation. Within the therapeutic encounter we will work together on discovering new ways of relating in the world and to raise awareness to the possibility of change, choice and taking responsibility and explore ways that allow and help you to identify and challenge the difficulties you have experienced.

As a psychological therapist I am here to help and accompany you on your journey and I believe that within the safe and confidential boundaries of a therapeutic encounter I am able to offer you the opportunity to help raise awareness of what it means to be ‘you’.

Having finished a doctorate in Counselling Psychology I have been privileged to work with people from many walks of life and have noticed that what we need, perhaps especially in those busy times, seemingly dominated by technology, is a bit of human connection, a little helping hand to make sense of life, be heard and be listened to- attentively, with an open ear and heart.

So, please if you feel you need a little helping hand in making sense, then do get in touch, it would be lovely to hear from you!

Sue Jackson

After professional nursing in a general hospital – I worked for the Peper Harow Foundation in a residential therapeutic community for emotionally disturbed children, run by an eclectic group of therapists. After my degree and tutoring for a couple of years, I signed on for a Post-grad course in psychodynamic therapy, with a placement at Campbell House Northampton/psychotherapy department. Unfortunately, the course went into crisis and consequently I left. Completing on a different course, with a higher diploma in psychodynamic and Humanistic counselling. I worked at Campbell House on an honorary contract basis and saw patients once a week staying for 15 years. After which I took a short course in CBT and integrated it into my private practice.

In the last years of practice, I have seen a cross section of single people of varying ages – with issues from PTSD to clients with mild learning difficulties having communication problems. Where I have used a variety of techniques. I have always used a sliding scale of payment accordingly and at times taken no fee. To date I am fully insured and registered with the BACP.

*NB

My voluntary work besides the Northampton FoodBank, includes being on the helpline for RoadPeace – Britain’s national charity that supports victims and their families of Road crashes.

Riva Joffe

My family came from South Africa to the UK as political exiles when I was a child. I have always been an anti-racist activist, been part of the women’s movement since the mid-1960s, and as a person of Jewish heritage, am involved in anti-Zionist politics. For many years I was married (unhappily), adopted my children and eventually divorced (happily). I am now in a 28-year relationship with someone from a completely different ethnic background, but a very similar foreground.

I lived many lives before becoming a therapist; had a number of careers, each one of which I enjoyed hugely. My work-life began with palaeontology; then I wrote a book on conservation and what are now ‘green’ issues, and spent some years as a science teacher. Following a post-graduate degree (human nutrition) I worked in public health in the NHS, mostly as a group-worker, became a training consultant, did research in epidemiology and taught in universities and medical schools. Shortly before beginning my psychotherapy training did a post-graduate certificate course in Mediation Studies and became a (volunteer) restorative justice mediator, working with young offenders. Later I joined the team that trained the metropolitan police in ‘diversity awareness’ following the McPherson Enquiry. I started psychotherapy training some 25 years ago and was fortunate to find a course that was both political and eclectic.

I do not follow any orthodoxy but work with you as an individual with your own stories and your own needs. Having therapy with me is something like a friendly a conversation in which you talk somewhat more than I do. I do not use the ‘blank screen’. I also work politically, taking account of the social environment that has shaped you. This means working together through life-problems, not only your own personal issues but those imposed from outside causing internalised oppression and shame, regret and loss. I think of therapy as liberation, overcoming constraints on hope and well-being so that you can live your life more fully and creatively.

I have been a member of Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility (PCSR) since its foundation and for some years been active on the UKCP’s Diversity, Equalities and Social Responsibility Committee, hoping to help foment a revolution in psychotherapy training and practice. Though I define myself as heterosexual I am also a registrant of Pink Therapy and work with gender and sexual minority people as well as with members of many cultures. I am not religious and though I have always worked with people of many faiths, I do not offer therapy with a spiritual component.

I joined the Free Psychotherapy Network because I believe that help should be available to people whatever their financial and life-situation. For the same reason I do not make contracts and am happy to see people for short-term focused therapy or on an ‘as-and-when’ basis. I also give informal life-coaching and help with decision-making.

Ewa Kremplewska

I value respect and collaboration in my work with clients. I believe that problems with living, relationships, painful experiences, disturbing thoughts and emotions are common to all of us, regardless of age, gender, ability and social background and can come from many sources. Certain conditions, such has having a long term illness, disability or learning and cognitive problems can make things even harder to cope with.

I share with my clients many of the life challenges and I hope that I can approach each situation not only with professional understanding, skills and knowledge but also with true human compassion, integrity and caring.

In Psychotherapy and Counselling I not only use the different therapeutic approaches but I also rely on my training and experience in Psychology. I believe that combining psychology with psychotherapy makes it possible for me to work with clients who traditionally, due to their functional or psychological departures from the ‘norm’, might not be considered suitable for psychotherapy. I personally prefer to see all human functions on a continuum of a variety of developments rather than these being ‘normal’ or ‘abnormal’. I also see these influenced by societal values and expectations. For far too long we have ‘scapegoated’ individuals for failures of economic and political systems which come and go but too frequently refuse to be accountable for human wellbeing on a global scale.

My combined training helps me to arrive at an idividual range of solutions for all my clients, which includes psychological interventions where necessary and allows me to adapt the psychotherapeutic approaches to your psychological needs.

I provide a flexible Psychology, Psychotherapy and Counselling Service for individuals, couples and families and I bring together a range of therapeutic approaches and techniques, depending on what is necessary in any given session. I believe that each problem presents a unique challenge and drawing on the different approaches will lead to best outcomes.

I also offer Professional Supervision and Consultation for qualified practitioners, students and care providers.

I am a Chartered member and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society (BPS) and BPS registered professional supervisor. I am also an accredited member of the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) having worked for 2Gether NHS Trust for many years before moving on to private practice.

My website address: ewapsychology.co.uk or just look me up by ‘googling’ Ewa Kremplewska

Felicia Lazaridou

Location: Berlin and on-line

I am a Nigerian psychologist born and raised in South London. I am offering free consultations via the Free Psychotherapy Network. I have attained a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology at the University of Kent and a Master of Science degree in Mental Health at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at Kings College London. On the basis of my academic credentials I am accredited by the British Psychological Association. For more than a decade I have been providing therapy for patients suffering with mental illness, for people who do not yet have a clinical diagnosis but may be suffering with mental illness, and for people who are suffering within the usual parameters of distress and are in need of psychological support too. I am based in Berlin so all consultations for UK clients of the Free Psychotherapy Network must take place on Skype. If you would like to make an appointment please send me an email at:

lazaridou.felicia@gmail.com

Kate Merrick

I am a psychotherapist currently working in private practice in Central London. Growing up on and around the estates of North London, I knew first hand the hardships of poverty, depression and what it meant to make ends meet. My family, for generations, were working class; they had been miners, servants, seamstresses, slaves and they were survivors – they instilled in me a solid work ethic and out of that came a fierce determination to succeed. Success to me meant, to quote Maya Angelou, “liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” Success was not about wealth, status or social standing, it was about learning to thrive, in whatever environment or context that I was a part of. My own therapy taught me how to do just that.

And it’s hard to thrive when you are facing daily struggles, particularly with the oppressive constraints of poverty, un-employment, racism, the rigmarole of the benefit system, depression and for some, violence, substance abuse and volatile living situations. Throw into the mix recent benefit cuts, cuts to support services as well as the demonization and shaming from the government and media – all together, the situation can feel unrelenting and hopeless. Surviving is often the priority of the day. Our current social structure supports and perpetuates this dynamic and in many ways, so does the field of psychotherapy (and psychotherapy training), certainly in its traditional form of being sought and practiced by the white middle classes.

As a therapist and human being, it is my responsibility to make sure I do not collude with the norm that support only be made readily available to those who can afford it. It is also my responsibility to create the kind of fair and equal world I want to live in; I do this by offering low cost therapy to those who cannot otherwise access it and by writing about what I believe in and challenging the societal status quo. You can email me at kate@katemerrickpsychotherapy.co.uk for more info on low cost therapy.

Andy Metcalf

I have been wondering why I feel strongly positive about joining the no-fee network, given that I already do a substantial amount of low-fee work. All sorts of explanations present themselves. But the one that sticks is that a more passionate political sensibility has got rekindled in me as our society has been facilitated to polarise into uber-winners or desperate losers.

I first got dragged into the political world by the events of 1968, while a student in Bristol. But my first political baptism was earlier – at boarding school – where insane purposeless rules were the order of the day. I tasted that authoritarian experience again while training at wpf to be a psychoanalytic psychotherapist. In my time there, wpf’s need to infantalise its trainees had become a cornerstone of its culture.

Professional life has led me to think that wpf is not alone in its embrace of an impenetrable, hierarchical and coercive culture. Many institutions in the therapy world participate in this. For me, part of the attraction of the no-fee network is that it offers a modest disruption to such defensively armoured cultures.

I have also been influenced by reading Lewis Hyde’s book, The Gift, recently. He persuasively shows the many benefits that flow from the free exchange of gifts, outside of the money nexus. The gift of diverse life experience and selves that the client brings to therapy. And also the gift of being there: the relating, listening and commenting the therapist can offer. I am curious as to how I will experience therapy outside the distorting context of an “overwhelmingly commercial world” (Margaret Atwood, introduction to The Gift.)

Beatrice Millar

I have been working as a Person-Centred Counsellor/Psychotherapist in private practice in Islington for 18 years.  Prior to that, I was working in statutory Mental Health Services in Camden and Hackney – psychiatric day-centres, and later a mental health hostel – where I was in contact with the extremes of distress and torment that can arise in people as a result of their life experiences.  It was very clear from that work that people from marginalised groups – marginalised from mainstream heirarchical, consumerist, competitive society by their poverty, their gender, their ethnicity, their sexuality, their ability/disability status – were so much more susceptible to becoming clients/patients in a system, that despite the many dedicated and caring people working within it, continues so often to perpetuate their disempowered status.

I have been conscious from an early age of the damaging impact of the misuse and abuse of power on an individual’s sense of wholeness and capacity to live a satisfying life. This led me to explore alternative views of mental health and well-being as described by R.D. Laing, Thomas Szasz,  and other explorers of the psyche and consciousness.  At the same time I was being exposed to Marxist theory and the power and necessity of rebellion and protest in all its various forms.

The accumulation of many different life experiences and learning led me, in my late  30’s, to train as a Person-Centred Counsellor.  I was attracted to this theory and way of working because of its attention to each individual as the expert on themselves, with the therapist’s presence, unconditional positive regard and empathy being the healing factors.

I worked for many years as a volunteer counsellor/psychotherapist at the Stress Project in Holloway, a holistic Mental Heath Project, where local people can access various therapies at low cost. Later in my career I worked as a paid supervisor, supervising groups of volunteer therapists at the same project.

I see therapy as having the potential to undermine and dissolve some of the damaging effects of  the accepted norms and the conditions of worth of mainstream society, and therefore an activity that has political implications. It feels really important to me that I am aware of what power I hold and how I use that power and I bring this awareness to each encounter with a client.   I mostly work long-term with individuals, though am also available for shorter term work.

I am delighted to be part of this free psychotherapy network through which I can be accessible to people who could not approach me in the usual way, through lack of money.

beatrice@bmillar.com   http://www.beatricemillartherapy.co.uk

Laura Muir

I’m qualified integrative counsellor with an Advanced Diploma in Humanistic Integrative Counselling.  My focus is on relationships, identity, and trauma.  I’ve worked with clients who are struggling with anxiety, trauma, depression, abuse, isolation, sexuality, gender, learning differences, loss and bereavement, eating disorders, dyslexia, and other issues.  I draw from several schools to inform my work, such as the humanistic core conditions, gestalt philosophy, psychodynamic theory, and cognitive behavioural strategies.  I’m a Registered member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and align to their ethical framework.

You can contact me at laura@lauramuir.net or find out more at www.lauramuir.net.  I can offer free counselling mainly in Surbiton.

Ian Parker

I am involved in the FPN group in Manchester, where I work as a psychoanalyst. One of the aspects of FPN that is important for me is that it connects with and brings alive again the radical history of psychoanalysis that tends be obscured in psychology degrees and even in many psychotherapy trainings. Psychoanalysis is represented as an elite private practice approach, whereas in fact Freud and many of the early psychoanalysts in Vienna, Berlin and Budapest were active in the 1920s setting up free psychotherapy clinics. The other aspect that is important within FPN is that we bring together different modalities of therapy, and by working together to provide free psychotherapy we can begin to break down the boundaries between psychoanalysis, psychotherapy and counselling.

Peter Ryan

I hail from the Emerald isle and immigrated to London in the early 1980’s. I re-entered the education system at Hackney community college in 2004 enrolling in a 10 week introduction course on counselling. I counted 27 students on day one. I emerged in 2008 along with 6 students with a well earned Level 5 Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling. My modality is Person-Centred. Having since practiced at an addiction agency, inner London secondary school, mix gender pupil referral unit and an all girl special needs school, it is evident the Person-Centred approach to therapeutic healing and me are up to the job. I have worked as a helpline operator at mental health and male rape charities. In 2010 I set up my private practice Empathy Zone, in which I continue to offer high value therapy low cost counselling to people on basic incomes. Empathy Zone is both the environment and portal through which greater discovery, understanding and acceptance of organismic self is encouraged to congruently emerge. Empathy Zone empowers. The economical squeeze, politics of pain, and other external blocks to change can be more readily overcome for individuals who are struggling with traumatic issues, when professionals are willing to support each other. To my mind the free psychotherapy network is one such platform that makes this possible.

Dr Bruce Scott

It is quite obvious that in the general economic sphere, the gap between the rich and the poor is growing. This “gap” is also reflected in the types of talking therapies that are on offer for people from a less “rich” background.

As it stands today, the NHS provides free psychological therapies from the limited perspectives of time (e.g., 6-12 sessions) and modality (e.g., therapy based on the cognitive behavioural model or the currently endangered species/models of humanistic, psychoanalytic, and counselling type talking therapies). More alarming is the fact that talking therapies are now being dominated by the evidence based scientific discourse; that therapy, patient, and therapist are objects like any other, can be measured and predicted. Further, from the evidence based perspective, psychotherapy is based upon arbitrary reductive concepts defining mental health, based on the demands of a scientific/capitalistic discourse. However, even the concept of mental health can be challenged as it is a highly dubious concept.

As a result, the talking therapies, despite lip service given to the ethical and humanitarian values of them by state institutional rhetoric, have been and are continually being turned into commodities.

In the private sphere, the very same kind of people who offer time-limited and limited modality therapy on the NHS (e.g., CBT 6-12 sessions) can also offer highly exclusive and expensive therapy and dubious claims of effective therapy (e.g. cosmetic psychotherapeutic efficacy; improved well-being and life style, less psychopathology, life coaching etc). This situation obviously amounts to a discourse which rests upon “if you have enough money you can get more well-being, more therapy, happiness, mental health, and sanity etc.”

It is my belief that psychotherapy is a subversive activity that needs to take a critical stance on the “inner” and “outer” world and even the idea of “mental health”. By pathologising individuals (e.g. NHS approved clinical disorders, depression, OCD, anxiety etc) one is straight away one step removed from the whole picture, and engaged in politically infantilising individuals. Further, due to the availability of talking therapies founded on economic power (e.g. if you can pay high fees you can get therapy privately and for as long as you want), this maintains the status quo of the discourse of well-being and “mental health” based upon being “richer”.

From my nearly twenty years working with people in mental distress (I do not use the term mental health) in my various roles (i.e., volunteer, support worker, psychologist, and psychoanalyst) I feel it is imperative to combat market forces (whether ideological or economic-they are both the same). From my own experience, I feel grateful for being offered therapy which was affordable and free from the politically motivated market and ideological forces which strive to culture out certain people and their experiences. I therefore feel passionate about being able to offer an endangered “space” that may be accessed by all kinds of people, whatever their economic capabilities.

I am a member of and on the board of Governors of The College of Psychoanalysts-UK, and a member of both the Philadelphia Association in London, and Human Development Scotland. I am a writer, author, independent researcher, and psychoanalytically orientated therapist. I work in Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders. I can be contacted on: brucescott@gmx.co.uk

Limor Tevet

For the last 10 years I have been working with adults and children who came to see me for counselling for a range of reasons – from depression, anxiety, trauma and abuse to bullying, low self esteem, work related problems, family and relationship issues, spirituality quests and more.

My therapeutic approach is integrative: combining psychodynamics and humanistic.

I offer one on one counselling sessions, where we will be dealing with difficulties and challenges in different areas of life. I view each client as the expert of his or her life. As a counsellor my role is to reflect and guide the client to discover their own patterns and beliefs and their origins.

The therapeutic relationship consist of contained, safe and consistent environment, which is free of labels and blame, where clients are empowered to change and grow.

*I suggest the sessions contain a few minutes guided meditation at the beginning or the end of each session. This is only a recommendation that can support you in the process if you feel ready for it.

Examples of session topics include:
Relationships and Intimacy

Dealing with stress

Anxiety and Depression

Children – dealing with bullying and issues around self-esteem.

Children – challenging behaviour at home and at school.

 

Isobel Urquhart

I began my working life as a teacher, most of which was with children with learning difficulties in mainstream comprehensive schools, and then I became a teacher-trainer, and then a teacher of Educational Psychology at a faculty of education at a university. Throughout that time, I lived for preference in the working class communities where I taught, and came to know well and to respect the economic and emotional struggles of the families and children I taught.

As I taught, I understood more and more acutely how what seemed to be ‘difficult’ parents and ‘problem’ children were the result of a more complex web of personal and social difficulties and that often people ended up in worse and worse situations as a result of the labelling and punitive systems that were put in operation. Many of the students I worked with were not so much young people with learning difficulties – although I wouldn’t deny those exist or that adults do have to take personal responsibilities for the harm they did their children sometimes – as young people who brought to their schooling the hurt, confusion and damage that impacted on them and their families through intergenerational effects of an unfair society. No wonder I thought that the mirroring oppressions of schooling had so little benevolent effect.

We started to ask the young people to tell us stories. We wrote these out and made them into books for them to read, as an educational practice. But we soon realised that these stories – whether fantasies or autobiographical – were what was really on our young students’ minds. And I very soon realised that I wanted to go on hearing and engaging with those stories and the real yearning desires and the terrible hurts and desperations they revealed.

So I became a psychotherapist with the specific determination that the psychotherapeutic process that had been profoundly healing for me should serve my radical politics and serve the people who are so often excluded from access to it. I found a training that was radical in that it was student led and which made decisions collectively. It was set up in direct defiance of the institutional and establishment traditions of psychoanalysis which excluded both potential clients (too poor) and potential therapists (too poor) and which rarely critically examined its own complacency and class assumptions. In addition, I hold that psychotherapy should not pathologise individuals further – to blame them for their own immiseration by society – but should have at its heart an emancipatory principle, as Freire and others had had for education.

My politics are revolutionary and impacted how and why I was a teacher; they impact now on how and why I am a psychotherapist. I have worked with student activists, and with individuals who have refugee or asylum seeker status. I have a special commitment to offering a therapeutic but politically aware process of healing for those who are suffering from the effects of their political activism or the effects of politics on their lives, as is the case with any asylum seeker. I spent what time I could at Occupy St Paul’s with other members of the Welfare team there, and was excited to find others who thought on similar lines and who offered a way to put my principles of accessing psychotherapy to everyone into practice.

I currently work for a college of higher education, at the refugee therapy centre and have a private practice.   I am trained as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist but my whole orientation has been against using theory to create yet another exclusivity to oppress clients further or to limit my own intuitive and empathic engagement with the people I meet. I am proud to be part of this network.