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 the politics of Palestinian rights.

I lived many lives before becoming a therapist; had a number of careers, including palaeontology, writing and science teaching. Following a post-graduate degree (human nutrition) I worked in public health in the NHS and as a training consultant, later joining the team that trained the metropolitan police in ‘diversity awareness’ following the McPherson Enquiry. I started psychotherapy training over 30 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 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 was active on the UKCP’s Diversity, Equalities and Social Responsibility Committee for the 20 years of its existence, attempting to foment a revolution in psychotherapy training and practice. Though I define myself as heterosexual I am LGBTQI+ affirmative 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. I am not offering long-term therapy because of my age, but am happy to work with people in an open-ended and quite proactive way. 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.

These days I work online via a variety of platforms and, given that I am shielding, think it unlikely I will go back to face-to-face work.