The first step ...
Firstly, I know that making contact and showing up to a first session can be difficult, so I always offer a friendly welcome and strive to make you feel safe and at ease. Whatever you're bringing, whoever you are, there's no judgement.
At our initial consultation, I'll invite you to tell me a bit about yourself what it is you're struggling with, but this first meeting is mainly for you to check me out and get a sense of whether I'm the right person for you. You're welcome to go away and think about it, check out other therapists, or make another appointment there and then - it's completely up to you.
What regular sessions are like ....
People sometimes think therapists 'just listen' and don't say much. I will certainly listen very carefully to you in our sessions, but I will also ask questions, guide you through structured explorations, reflect on what I'm hearing you say, and sometimes offer suggestions.
I might also offer some information about your brain and nervous system to help explain what's happening when you're triggered, anxious, depressed or just plain stressed - people sometimes find it helps to know this and to be reassured they're not going 'crazy'. There are also some breathing or mindfulness exercises we can do to help in times of overwhelm.
How I try to help you feel better ...
I firmly believe that human beings are fundamentally good and our whole systems - physical and emotional - are always striving to be well. It just might not always feel like that!
But my experience and my training have taught me that there are always valid reasons for our feelings, thoughts and behaviours, however unhelpful they might at first seem. Usually, they've come about through difficult experiences (often in our early life) and they have helped us survive those experiences. However, the survival strategies of our past can have us repeating patterns in our daily lives that keep us stuck, feeling terrible inner conflict, unhappy, unsatisfied, sometimes even physically ill.
So the job of therapy, as I see it, is firstly to bring our strategies - our ways of feeling, thinking and behaving - to light, and to really understand, with deep compassion, the experiences that have made those strategies necessary. And then, to 'unstick' ourselves from those old patterns and to discover what it's like to live as the person we truly are - and to thrive, not just survive.
The approaches I use ...
My training in psychodynamic therapy, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy and Internal Family Systems (IFS) all harmonise around the goal of recognising past experiences and how they impact us now. However, I am increasingly finding that Internal Family Systems (IFS) is the approach that offers the greatest potential for real change, so that is the one I use most often.
My areas of experience ....
I’ve worked with a wide variety of issues over the years - for example relationship difficulties, bereavement, anxiety, depression, work challenges, loss of life direction, chronic illness, gender and sexuality issues, eating disorders, personality disorders, sexual and domestic violence, childhood sexual abuse and PTSD.
I do not work with children under the age of 16 as I am not trained to do so, but I am happy to recommend colleagues who are experienced in working with young people.
What clients say.....
"Thank you for all your help and support over the past nine months. You have given me the tools to carry on in everyday life", F, 30
"I came to therapy at a point in my life where I felt lost and overwhelmed. Sarah almost immediately gave me the feeling that it was possible to work out what to do and that I wouldn't feel like that forever - and she was right. She has a warm and caring presence and listens intently and asks honest and insightful questions. My sessions have genuinely helped me understand myself better and get my life back on track." M, 34
"Thank you so much for all your patience and kindness, and for helping me to get my confidence back" F, 21
"I have had quite a few sessions with Sarah Clark and found her stimulating and thought provoking…. If you want to talk through your problems I would whole-heartedly recommend Sarah’s helpful and professional counselling." M, 84