During my training and social research as a counsellor, I developed my own theoretical model. This theory is based on principles informed by my practice-based phenemonological research and supported by humanistic and psychodynamic wings of psychotherapy (especially transpersonal psychology), and scientific studies on health and well-being. The artistic side of my practice is the quality of compassionate, warm and attentive presence that I offer, and my interventions are informed by the following basic principles, which are constantly in a state of being tested and refined, like all good science.
You'll notice that I write these principles from the collective perspective of "we" as so far they've proven to be universally applicable for all human beings from all kinds of experiences, cultures and walks of life. I remain alongside you, and open to learning.
21 Principles of my Theoretical Model:
Human beings are living organisms, and we exist in mutual relationship with all of life, connected by our shared needs.
We each have an innate curiosity toward exploring the world in order to meet our needs for evolution, collective survival, belonging and connection, self-expression, personal growth, safety, shelter, warmth and nutrition.
The way that we relate with the world arises from our inner nature, which is creative and life-sustaining and seeks fulfilment of needs.
Places, people and events coalesce to form conditions whereby we learn to adapt, compromise, share and sacrifice in order to fulfil some of our personal needs and the needs of others in relationship to the human and more-than-human world (the eco-system)
Contact with people as infants, particularly our main caregivers, may fulfill the need for connection, and create a secure attachment as a relationship template for life, which gives us freedom to be our authentic selves with the expectation our needs will be fulfilled; this gives rise to a baseline of restorative emotions/pleasant feelings and psychological strength and fortitude.
Insufficient connection with our caregivers as young infants can be creates an insecure attachment pattern. This means our ability to be authentic, and trusting that our needs will be met may be compromised. This can create a baseline painful emotions/unpleasant feelings, or numbness and relationship difficulties, until we find healing later in life through other forms of secure attachment.
Our feelings are a map to reality, but they are not reality itself. Feelings can help us to understand our emotional needs. We can track the feelings in our bodies and look deeply into them to find ways to securely meet our needs.
Sometimes we may be used to responding to feelings in familiar ways, which may not meet our needs most effectively. Looking deeply within as well as learning from others can help us to find the best possible ways to care for our feelings and meet our needs; this is how personal growth happens.
We may suffer with emotional and mental wellbeing problems if our needs go unmet, this can have critical consequences for personality development and relationships, and create habit energies that keep us stuck in suffering, if we don't receive insight.
When the basic need for connection (human understanding, love and support) is not met, then on some level the need for safety is perceived to be seriously threatened, and we will experience traumatic stress, which is an energetic embodied survival response.
Our bodies can recover from traumatic stress if we rest and relax and reconnect safely with others after the event where we felt so unsafe. Usually we will have discovered something about ourselves and about life and our relationships. This is called resilience and post-traumatic growth. We can learn to adapt positively after the experience, and grow our connections and resources to prevent future harm, this is called anti-fragility.
If we repeatedly feel so disconnected and unsafe that we cannot easily relax, then our bodies may remain in the state of psychological and neuro-muscular tension known as post-traumatic stress. The main symptom of post-traumatic stress is hypervigilance - perceiving potential threat where there isn’t any (this can be in the form of images in our minds, strong feelings and/or distorted views of reality). Post-traumatic stress is a loss of resilience, where our minds make templates for understanding reality that are informed by a loss of safety and connection. It can cause severe anxiety and both physical and mental health problems.
The way to heal post-traumatic stress is to connect safely with another human being, and relax the muscles in the body, and safely process thoughts and feelings, enough to repair perceptions and restore trust. (Traumatic stress causes the nervous system to send distress signals to our muscles, and by relaxing our muscles we are telling our bodies that we are safe again. We then need to safely process memories of the prior traumatic event, and change our perceptions of reality by restoring feelings of safety and connection. This combined approach may change how we experience the world, and so we are less anxious and depressed and our overall health will improve.)
If the need for creative self-expression is unmet, then we may not find solutions to our problems. This may cause personal low mood, depression, boredom and social stagnation and destructive behaviour. Our minds thrive by staying open, relaxed and creative, but when they're closed and drained of energy, unpleasant feelings build up that require self-reflection, imagination and creative experimentation to be healed.
Anxiety is the natural human phenomenon of being in a creative process of moving towards one's needs. It’s also known as existential angst or divine discontent. It can be reduced when we feel safe to open up and connect with ourselves and others, and find ways to meet our needs.
Anxiety can be particularly intense when our needs have not been met often in the past, such as during childhood experiences, which we may experience as being traumatic, meaning that we expect it to be difficult to survive in the present and future. Treatment for post-traumatic stress may be required to help to restructure our thinking and expectations and increase our awareness of resources available.
If we are extremely stressed because our basic needs are not fulfilled (such as for safety, nutrition, social acceptance and cohesion, self-expression and collective evolution) then our personal mental structures, formed through habit and behaviour, may break-down as our minds expand and we try new ways to reach our needs. This is also called psychosis or spiritual emergency, which may happen due to a critical overload of stress. The mind may reset to create a new personality structure, integrating what has been learnt, in time and with good support.
In day-to-day life, we may experience a changing mixture of pleasant and unpleasant feelings; this is because some of our needs will be met and others will not be met at different times. Listening to our feelings and taking care of our needs can help us to suffer less, but it will never eradicate uncomfortable feelings altogether because we need them in order to learn how to adapt, survive and thrive.
If we experience unpleasant feelings and unmet needs for a long time, then we may feel overwhelmed and think that life is not worth living. Sometimes we may even wish to end our lives unless we can experience freedom from unpleasant feelings. At such times a safety plan is crucial. If we find out what our needs are and suitable ways to work towards them, then we can act in meaningful ways that preserve our lives and allow us to thrive.
There are many parts of our personalities with different needs. These parts are autonomous and complex personality structures. We can relate with these psychological parts to create intelligent behaviours that meet our needs.
Human beings share oral traditions of wisdom, all around the world. Understanding our personal life stories and how we relate with the land, people, culture and the universe helps us to live a meaningful life existence. An important purpose of our lives may be to create our own stories and find meaning as a part of the collective story of life; this may make our lives feel worthwhile, help us to transcend some suffering, enrich our life experiences and call us all to a greater way of being in the world.
If this resonates, or you have any questions, please get in touch. I'll be delighted to arrange an initial chat with you, to find out whether we may work well together.