“I would begin to have thoughts, and feelings,
and they are such sad things”

Marcel Proust

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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.

Lessons from Houdini: We’re All Escapologists, Every Day

I’ve just finished reading E.L. Doctorow‘s Ragtime (1975), widely discussed in terms of its many admirers’ claims that it is one of the “Great American Novels.” I’m not really sure on that front, but it’s certainly a wonderful read and an encyclopedic tour of turn-of-the-century American society.

One of the many historical characters portrayed in the novel is Sigmund Freud, who is seen visiting the sights of New York City and even experiencing Coney Island’s ‘Tunnel of Love’ with Jung. But even more interesting are the scenes devoted to the magician and escapologist Harry Houdini, who is nothing short of a gift to psychotherapists thanks to his unbridled enactment, during his shows and stunts, of his subconscious fantasies (in his famous escape from a milk canister, Houdini is chained up inside it in a foetal position and then has to contort himself to escape through the narrow neck of the canister … I rest my case).

Houdini has already been the subject of very good biographies, my favourite being Ruth Brandon‘s The Life and Many Deaths of Harry Houdini (2001). In Ragtime, Doctorow announces Houdini as “with Al Jolson, the last of the great shameless mother lovers”, and presents us with various public and private vignettes of the man. But the most moving scene comes when Houdini reads in the newspaper of a tragic accident involving workers constructing a tunnel under the East River. He is so gripped with the story that he visits the hospital bedside of one of the surviving victims, and during his vigil muses that “there was a kind of act that used the real world for its stage. He couldn’t touch it.”

Time and again in the consulting room, therapy patients unfavourably compare their own inner worlds to what’s going on around them, feeling that real drama is elsewhere and that their own lives are pale and insignificant. For the great Houdini too, as seen in the incident with the East River tunnellers, the incredible derring-do of his world-famous stunts just couldn’t match the drama of real-life events that were going on all around him every day, despite his feeding into his own work his deepest and most taboo desires. But just as Houdini spent his career dropping vital unspoken clues as to his emotional state, so do most of us. Houdini just did it in a more obvious way, and on stage.

If there’s a lesson from Houdini down the generations, it’s perhaps that we’re all escapologists in our own way, all of us repeatedly trapped and repeatedly breaking free – and all of us ‘acting out’ our most private feelings somehow or other. And as Houdini reflects in Ragtime, the real acting that goes on in our everyday lives just can’t be matched by anything on a stage.

‘Surviving Separation and Divorce’ group, Alsager, starting 24th October

In October and November I’ll be running a six-week ‘Surviving Separation and Divorce’ group at Alsager Therapy Centre on Thursday evenings.

Limited to six participants, this will be a very small group offering a confidential, supportive and non-judgmental environment. It is open to women and men who are either recently divorced or separated, currently going through the process or struggling to move from past significant relationships.

The aim of the group is to acknowledge residual feelings and fears from members’ past relationships, to explore learnings while enhancing self-awareness and to prepare to move on healthily and with self-care. There will of course be therapeutic input throughout.

Advance registration is essential; the full programme costs £190 including materials and refreshments.

For more information call or text me on 07811 981645 (office hours) or e-mail me at jcsmith@therapy-cheshire.co.uk.

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