How I Work as a Therapist
I work holistically, which means the whole person, because often issues we face in life can affect how we feel about ourselves , our relationships and our lives. I support people to understand more about their issues and to explore alternatives to how they think, feel and act. I often say: '... once the door of awareness is open it is difficult to close it.' Just deciding to do something is the start of any change. Keeping faith with that possibility we can do it is part of creating the lives we want.
Psychotherapy is a higher level of training than counselling and is comprehensive in covering many aspects of development, relationships, trauma, mental health etc. Personal therapy is compulsory throughout all psychotherapy training. Not only did this support me with my issues, but it helps me understand the experience of being a client.
The research shows that Counselling and Psychotherapy work best through building our relationship together. If there are easy answers and quick solutions you will have found them yourself, but if things feel more complex you and I would work together to explore what is happening. We often refer to psychotherapy and counselling as like looking at layers of an onion. How far you go and how much work you want to do is up to you- my role is to support you to find your own answers at your pace. Nothing is imposed but sometimes we need to consider questions and conundrums in the work that may feel challenging.
I draw on my long career in the helping professions and my private practice because of the breadth and depth of experience it has given me. I have supported adults with various issues for over 35 years first as a social worker, then as a counsellor and now as a psychotherapist.
I first gained experience, as a social worker, working with offenders, learning about offending behaviour, contributory factors, and victim impact. My experience included working with substance abuse, mental health, the impact of childhood traumas, and many other issues. Working with people to understand more about their lives and their choices supported people to consider different ways of living.
Working next in Mental Health, I gained good experience of the pressures faced by people trying to improve their emotional wellbeing. I facilitated a community women’s support group for several years, I provided counselling at a GP practice and I worked with a multi-professional Family Therapy Team. Understanding about how people experience stress and strive to improve their mental wellbeing motivated me to start training in psychotherapy.
I became interested in the growing move towards a person centred and rights focus taking place in the learning disabilities field. I liked the concept of “challenging behaviours” that was developing to see people ‘acting out’ as communication issues and not pathologising them. This supported me to understand how people may struggle to find ways of communicating what they really think and feel.
I was also a Senior Practitioner in social work for nine years managing people and trained in management. I enjoyed supporting others to build their knowledge and skills. In particular I used my longevity as a social worker to support people to manage their stresses in the work and develop their careers.
Training in psychotherapy, my first placement gave me experience of working with alcohol issues and my next with primarily young adults working out a variety of issues in their lives.
I set up in private practice ten years ago and later gave up social work. People who come to see me bring a range of issues such as: managing anxiety or stress, relationship and family issues, experience of childhood abuse, loss, trauma, sadness or depression. My background experience supports me in this work and I am always open to my learning and development.
My Training and Qualifications
Accredited as a Gestalt Psychotherapist (under the name of Maria Siepe) with UKCP.
Accredited as a Counsellor with the National Counselling Society.
Registered Member of BACP (under name of Maria Siepe).
More than three years of Advanced Gestalt Psychotherapy training with Gestalt South West- Gestalt Southwest.
Completed training with an Advanced Diploma in Gestalt Psychotherapy with Welsh Psychotherapy Partnership.
I am also one of the organisers for an annual Psychotherapy lecture in Bristol- Marianne Fry Lectures
Qualified as a Social Worker in 1986 and registered with the Health and Care Professions Council until 2017.
Previously Supervisor and Practice Educator in Social Work.
Certificate in management (UWE)
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