Like many passion projects, I created Ever Forward five years ago to give people the type of counselling experience I would prefer to have myself. A comfortable space where you can feel free to express yourself with the confidence that somebody is listening to what you want to say – and not just trying to fit you into a preconceived model of what you should think and do.
I work from a home office, a comfortable space where you can sit, relax and shut out the outside world for a time.
The practice is integrative – so I don’t just work through a single methodology like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Instead I consider different modes of counselling to be like tools in a toolbox, so that when we meet I try to find the methods that will work the best for you. A handyman who only works with a hammer is much less useful than one who brings a bag with a variety of tools then selects the one that can best be applied to the needs at hand.
You should be aware that I do not have a strong focus on diagnosis. While some find it helpful to be able to put a name on their negative feelings or experiences, more often than not I find that the labels become an easy way to stop thinking about how you can function better or work towards your goals. I will always respect the way that you identify the problems you have if, for example, you have previously been told that you suffer from an particular problem – such as depression, anxiety or a personality disorder – but my focus will always be on recognising and working with your strengths to get you the kind of life that you want.
- Words matter. By talking more, we begin to build a shared understanding of where you want to be, what is holding you back from that and the ways in which you might get yourself back on track.
- Everyone has strengths. When we take the time to find, honour and improve on our strengths, we can begin to find ways to apply them to our problems. By using your unique strengths, solutions will feel more natural to you and less like hard work that is unsustainable or too difficult.
- Making choices is our responsibility. Every day we make choices – even if those choices are to just give in to whatever pressures surround you. When we begin to actively watch for opportunities to make a choice, we begin to gain control over the direction that our lives are taking, and with every choice we find that more opportunities open to us.
- Feelings aren’t bad, but our responses to them can be. In my experience, clients who learn to experience, or ‘sit with’ their feelings and then make clear choices which match their own values find life both more enjoyable and meaningful. When we avoid our emotions or, on the other extreme, take action based purely on how we feel in one moment, often we end up feeling less in control and with fewer choices.
- Life is a slow game. While sometimes we will have times of upheaval (I am thinking of the entirety of 2020 as I write this), most problems and hurt will ease, or at least change, over time. When we have a good sense of who we are – our own perceptions of the world, our personal value systems and what motivates us – our reactions over time can allow us to view hard times as lessons, rather than punishments, and eventually lead to growth.
- ‘Seriously Enjoying Doing Stuff’. A personal philosophy I will be practising over the next year. While I will write more on that this year, in essence I believe that by taking issues seriously, we often increase our sense of achievement and enjoyment. If you are not enjoying where you are at – then perhaps its time to take things seriously and find a way to move forward!
Perhaps one of the best ways for you to understand how I work is to understand some of the guiding principles that I work by:
I genuinely dislike writing about myself in a professional context, as it often feels like trying to create a business-like dating app profile – something I haven’t had to worry about for some years.
I like and enjoy speaking with almost every person I meet. I genuinely enjoy the process of coming to understand people who are different from me – in their backgrounds, identity, ideas and motives. This comes naturally to me, and so it was a great surprise when I realised that not everybody has that same viewpoint.
This joy in speaking with others, combined with a desire to help others achieve what they want, is probably what lead me to pursue work in counselling – a job which I think I will continue for the rest of my life.
I am a passionate and life-long learner. If it didn’t take up so much time and money, I think that I might have become a professional student. Wherever I have the time, I research and work through different interests. But the way I research is a bit like a magpie who collects shiny things to build a nest. I take knowledge gained and try to integrate it into my personal values and work – to constantly build on and improve what I do in life.
My current focusses are on nutrition and fitness, principles of permaculture, models for story telling and learning systems. Over the next year I will be working on ways to integrate these into programs to promote and improve mental health.
My parents have called me wise before and think that my work in counselling is the perfect fit for who I am, which helps me to believe I am on the right track.