“Our lives are shaped by forces
we are totally unaware of”

Darian Leader

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Individual (One-to-One) Counselling and Therapy, Alsager, Cheshire

I offer one-to-one counselling and psychotherapy sessions for adults and young people, working through issues in a confidential, nurturing environment. Sessions last 50 minutes and I usually see clients once or twice a week for a given period. I am based in Cheshire, working from Alsager (East Cheshire, Junction 16 of the M6), although my client base geographically includes North Staffordshire, the Peak District and beyond.

To date I have helped individual clients in both short- and long-term therapy, dealing with issues ranging from anxiety and panic attacks through chronic eating disorders, phobias and relationship problems to bereavement, post-traumatic stress disorder and abuse.

My therapeutic approach is integrative, which means that I borrow freely from various schools of thought to use the techniques that will work best for each client. These include psychodynamic and transpersonal therapy and CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) as well as less mainstream creative techniques including bibliotherapy and eco-therapy in cases where they can be helpful for the client. I have also trained in animal-assisted therapy (AAT) which can be very effective in some instances.

For more information about individual therapy or to make an appointment, please contact me at jcsmith@therapy-cheshire.co.uk or call me on 07811 981645.



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Very good facilitation – encouraging and warm.

Extinction, Grief and What We Can Do with It

Sunday 30th November is the international Day of Remembrance for Lost Species, aimed at facilitating thinking around extinction.

Here in Alsager, I’ll be leading a short walk into open fields where we will lay stones in remembrance of species already lost to the world and in acknowledgment of the very many species that are currently endangered.

In therapy, an almost daily lesson is that grief needs to be both recognised and honoured. People grieve over lost loved ones, lost companion animals, lost buildings, lost childhoods and lost dreams, amongst other things. But what can we do with our grief when we’re faced with the loss of a species forever?

The loss of a species might at first seem fairly impersonal. Extinctions are, after all, measured scientifically and also reported on science pages or, even if they make the ‘general’ news, with a scientific bias (as opposed to a cultural or emotional bias). Some extinctions make the headlines – recent years have seen the widely-reported disappearance of the Yangtze River Dolphin, the Passenger Pigeon and the much-lamented Galapagos Turtle Lonesome George, for example. But every hour – yes, every hour – three species become extinct on Earth. How can we deal with the truth of that?

Thinking about extinction is interesting therapeutically for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, how we deal with the loss of species says a lot about how we as human beings connect with ‘the world’ and see our place in it. Some people prefer not to think about it, perhaps feigning disinterest or that old chestnut of a get-out, ‘there’s nothing I can do to change things’. Other people feel a profound sense of grief, perhaps even of guilt, shame or powerlessness – but how do they acknowledge that feeling?

Secondly, extinction is an unusual loss in that it affects all people, everywhere, in the sense of the world’s journey. It alters the fabric of our eco-systems and it changes our landscape – forever. With each loss of a species, the world becomes a poorer place than it was. So those taking the time to mourn extinctions may face a double problem in that they see the hugeness of the loss for all of us while others around them may appear not to care.

This Sunday morning, our local exploration of how we feel about extinction won’t be a loud affair and won’t take very long. It will be a very small group of us doing two very simple things – walking, and placing a stone as a marker. But those two very simple things are huge because they help us feel solidarity in our grief (through walking together) and they help us tangibly see the loss (through the laying of stones). On Sunday, we will know our personal grief is shared externally and we will see our grief physically acknowledged. For some, the experience will be purely contemplative. For others, it may become a trigger for activism, with the thought of extinctions helping us reconnect with other species and perhaps determining to do something about it.

But either way, on this symbolic day, extinction will not go unnoticed.

For more information about Sunday’s walk in Alsager e-mail Jane at jcsmith@therapy-cheshire.co.uk.


What We See In The Mirror

Every Saturday, The Guardian‘s Weekend magazine runs a column called ‘What I See In The Mirror’, and this weekend it was the author Ian Rankin‘s turn to tell us about his experiences of seeing himself. It’s always an interesting column, and the Rankin piece was no different; he tells us that he rarely looks in the mirror and usually tries to avoid eye contact with himself, even when he’s shaving or brushing his teeth.

Ian Rankin is a hugely successful author with an international following and a sterling literary reputation, and he’s been established for many years now. But still, he doesn’t like to catch sight of himself in the mirror, and indeed he actively avoids his own reflection.

In the therapy room, talking to clients about their self-image – whether abstractly or through talking about tangibles such as looking in the mirror – is always fascinating. Some people look at themselves many times during the course of a typical day; some see themselves in their own skin, while others see a parent, a child or even someone they’ve never met looking back at them. Others dislike seeing themselves and choose not to have many mirrors in their homes. This is taken further still when people make a point of not looking at themselves when they walk past shop windows and so on.

It’s worth taking a minute to reflect (excuse the pun) on how you feel about your own reflection. What, or who, do you see when you look in the mirror? Or if not in mirrors, where do you find reflections or other echoes of yourself?

Mirrors, and reflections more generally, are often found in fairy tales and myths – Snow White and Narcissus come to mind immediately, but there are plenty of others. They suggest that how we see ourselves, and where we see ourselves, have always been important on one level or another.

I think the column in the Guardian magazine is pleasing because it presents itself as something fairly frivolous – perhaps like mirrors themselves – but almost always reveals something more profound about the looker and the looking.

Click here to read Ian Rankin’s ‘What I See In The Mirror’ interview and previous columns.

What do you see in your mirror?

Shared Rituals of Remembrance: Inviting Profound Thinking from the Individual

It’s been interesting to see so many people from different walks of life tweeting in the past half hour about the two minutes of silence being observed, or not, in offices, on trains and so on.

We’re at a time in the life of the nation where war is simultaneously politicized and personal – we’re currently involved in fighting overseas, and there have been debates going on around that from the very start.

Whether Remembrance Day or the ’11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day’ silence are meaningful to you personally, they bring into focus the importance of ritual, and more particularly ritual that’s shared with strangers. So many of today’s communally shared experiences are around positive events – sports, or even royal weddings. But ritual around war memorial is one of the few shared experiences we have access to – ‘access’ meaning a choice whether to participate or not – where we’re directed towards a profound, perhaps political, perhaps existential line of thought.

I once experienced a very moving couple of minutes on a bus in Tel-Aviv where the bus pulled over (as did other traffic) and the driver and passengers actually stood in silence to remember their fallen. The national radio station that had been playing also went silent for the duration.

In the UK, war remembrance and our choices around it also offer us space and time for deeper thinking in the midst of our busy and generally peaceful lives.

Standing to observe the silence on Yom Ha’Zikaron (image courtesy Wikipedia)

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