I have been working in the field of mental health for nearly 16 years. Before that I had spent over ten years in various office jobs eventually building up to becoming a network engineer for a major mobile phone company.
I was never happy or settled though and I started an evening Psychology course at The University of Birmingham in 2003. This was the catalyst for a complete career change as I found the whole course so amazingly interesting.
I began looking for jobs in the mental health field and was lucky enough to get a job as a support worker in a residential Therapeutic Community in Birmingham that worked with people diagnosed with a personality disorder.
My monthly wage more than halved and it was the scariest, yet the most amazing thing I ever experienced and though I was often uncertain and anxious – constantly feeling out of my depth – I found the work and the clients so inspirational I could not leave. In 2005 I began four years of training and I qualified as a psychotherapist in 2009.
I haven’t looked back since.
I have a unique mix of knowledge, experience and skills that I have constantly added to and built upon over the years. Having worked in many different therapeutic environments for so long and learning so much about how different behaviours, issues, traumas, experiences can influence a person’s thoughts and feelings through that work, my therapy practice recognises the need to provide a very calm, safe and boundaried space to talk about and explore anything that affects your quality of life or your ability to enjoy your experience of life and the people in it.
I am a humanistic practitioner working with people flexibly and always with their needs at the forefront of any work we do. Every person is different and has different needs and requirements in terms of support and therefore I believe my experience in working in different environments, using different techniques and theories means I am able to work successfully with a wide variety of people with lots of different issues successfully.
The space I offer people is safe and always confidential. Trust is such an important part of counselling it does not work effectively without it, therefore I never expect people to trust me blindly, rather I offer the chance to make for people to make their own minds up on whether I am the right counsellor for them.
I have thousands of hours of post qualification experience and I am an accredited member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). I abide by their Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions.
I have worked with clients experiencing issues such as self harm, suicidal ideation, eating disorders, addictions, abuse, depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, grief/loss and trauma. I have also worked in both private practice and residential settings with people who have been diagnosed with a personality disorder or have a dual diagnosis. Previously I have taught counselling skills to level 3 & 4 counselling students. I have worked in Birmingham, London, Lincoln, Liverpool, Chester Thailand and now Bromsgrove.
Being able to help people through difficult experiences or times of their lives is an amazing and rewarding experience. To see people move forward beyond their anxiety, depression or whatever they have come into counselling for, then begin to move forward with their life and start to live again is one of the joys of counselling for me.
The same is true of people who have experienced trauma or loss, or maybe just the person who doesn’t feel right and isn’t sure why. I have helped hundreds of people move forward and grow in the way they wished to and often didn’t believe was possible.
To me, being able to work the way I do with people means counselling is not just a job to me, it is my privilege to have helped and continue to help so many people to move forward in their lives.
I often say I have the best job in the world, and I genuinely believe that to be true.
Mark’s Philosophy/Clinical Approach
I wasnt sure about this section when I first wrote it. Putting philosophy and clinical approach together sounded a bit pretentious, but when I thought about this I realised it is important for a counsellor or therapist to be really grounded and clear about who they are and how they practice. Therefore, I left it in with the fact that I can always add and amend this section as I grow as a practitioner and person at the forefront of my mind. I hope it isnt too pretentious for you! If it is, let me know.
A truth of modern life is that most people at some point will find they are having difficulties in some way with the world of feelings, thoughts and relationships in which live. These struggles are often influenced and exacerbated by previous experiences or events in our past which can then influence the way we think and feel about ourselves, other people and the wider world.
One of the truisms I have accepted since becoming a therapist and spending many thousands of hours talking to people through my work and many hundreds of hours during my own personal therapy, is that no two people experience things in exactly the same way. Every human being is an individual and as such will experience things in life differently to everyone else. This can be really confusing when you are faced with a situation in which you are struggling, but when you look through the window of other people’s experience – either friends/family or the now permanently invasive digital world we all have to exist within – and see other people who have had similar experiences or at a similar point in their life, doing really well and not seemingly affected by life in the same way you are, well, this can be confusing to say the least.
This confusion can lead to anxiety or depression, it can exacerbate already flagging self-esteem and confidence and really make for difficult feelings and thoughts around self and also the world in which we live.
If we then consider the impact of childhood experience or any trauma or losses that have been experienced – as we all do as we go through life, loss/grief/trauma are unfortunately an integral part of the human experience and as much as we may wish to, we cannot avoid them – then the whole psychological cocktail can become chaotic, scary, angry, confused, anxious and overwhelming. So we begin to act as if we are faced with the prospect of being locked alone in a room with Donald Trump for an hour, we avoid things, feel anxious/depressed, struggle to make decisions/think clearly and start to sometimes feel that we do not want to be a part of any of it.
Research shows that one in six people in the UK will experience some form of mental health issue during their lifetime, I think the true figure if actually much higher than that, but currently NHS provision for mental health is in absolute chaos and lots of people are falling through the cracks and not actually accessing the services they need so desperately.
In my own small way I hope to plug some of those gaps and offer people who need it, the psychological, emotional and practical support they need to feel better in their lives and grow into the people they really wish to be.
It is common for people to feel that they are weak or useless or failing in some way if they reach out and seek support for what they are going through. The British ‘stiff upper lip’ still exists and often people hold a belief that talking to someone about their thoughts and feelings is wrong and they should be able to ‘just deal with it’.
The problem with this is that over time negative thoughts, feelings and experiences can build up to a point we cant push them down or away any more and we start to feel overwhelmed, stressed as well as emotionally, mentally and physically unwell.
Therefore, if you are reading this and it is the first time you have thought about or looked for a counsellor or therapist then you have already done one of the most difficult parts of therapy. Realising that you need some support and being able to own what is happening to you and not ignoring it is often the most difficult step to take in the road to a happier and contented life.
The road to understanding ourselves and why we think, feel and behave the way we do (even though it makes us feel bad) is often a very rocky and bumpy one. My experience tells me that those who are motivated and open to the prospect of change can get to a place where they are better able to make their way through this wonderfully strange, unpredictable, confusing and often scary world, with a better understanding of their place and the place of other people within it.
If you wish to find out more about counselling or psychotherapy please contact me and if you think it is for you, we can make an appointment that might help you change your life and lead you down a road of self-discovery and clarity which will enable you to make the most of yourself and the people around you.
I have used a lot of therapy rooms over the years, some have had hospital beds in them, some have have massage therapy tables in them, one had a full size plastic skeleton hanging in it! Most often they have kind of had a ‘Grandmother’s Parlour’ energy, lots of flowery things, gingham, pieces of wood hanging on the wall and trinkets lying around (often with positive affirmations on them, ‘I see the perfection in all my flaws and all my genius‘, that kind of thing).
I moved into my office in August last year and it is still a work in progress, but it is taking shape. I am trying to make it a warm and comfortable space to be in. I am a bit of a book nerd and having the therapy and other books I have aquired over the years next to me as I work makes me happier than it possibly should, and they often help me during a session.
I believe that what I do is important, if you are considering contacting me and enquiring about therapy, then at some point you may be putting a very high level of trust in me and you need to feel safe and comfortable in your surroundings to do so, which is the reason I am showing you what my room looks like on the website.
You can be expected to be offered a nice coffee and a biscotti on arrival (you will need to tell me if you take milk though as I rarely have it in the fridge), with the option of a herbal or mint tea, or just a bottle of water if you prefer. I can also guarantee that there are no positive affirmations in sight and there is nothing in there that will invite you to aim for the stars or similar. You will be offered a professional, objective, caring and supportive set of ears, and a space where you can work on yourself and your issues away from the distractions of everyday life.