My approach
I feel deeply privileged when someone shares their concerns and describes their distress.  I respond by being an attentive, respectful listener and with empathy for your painful experiences.  Therapy does not start until you feel heard and understood.  I will check regularly with you to make sure I am addressing your concerns and that you are happy with your progress.  I will discuss the therapeutic options with you and, together, we will make a plan for dealing with your concerns.  The therapies I offer are gentle; you are not pushed to confront painful memories and experiences head-on.  My goal is to ensure you leave every session feeling better than when you arrived.

“I have come to the conclusion that human beings are born with an innate capacity to triumph over trauma. I believe not only that trauma is curable, but that the healing process can be a catalyst for profound awakening—a portal opening to emotional and genuine spiritual transformation.” 

― Peter A. LevineHealing Trauma: A Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of Your Body

Causes of chronic pain: Trauma
The human nervous system receives signals from, and sends signals to, virtually every part of the body, particularly our internal organs.  It has many different branches that do different jobs and there are different parts of the brain that also have different functions.  The part of the nervous system and brain responsible for detecting and protecting us from threat and helping us to survive is called the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS).   Many different events and experiences can be understood by the nervous system as serious threats.  Here are some examples:
  • Physical or sexual abuse as a child or adolescent,

  • Emotional or physical neglect,

  • Highly unpredictable parenting (“Am I going to be hugged or hit when I get home from school?”),

  • Living with domestic violence as a child or partner,

  • Serious illness or surgery as a child,

  • Sexual or physical assault,

  • Persistent bullying,

  • Motor vehicle, workplace or natural disaster accidents,

  • Witnessing the death or serious injury of another,

  • Combat experiences,

  • Working as a first-responder (Police, Paramedics, Fire Officers, Rescue Services).

 
What they all have in common is that they have the capacity to cause our death or serious physical or emotional harm.  Witnessing the death or catastrophic injury of another person can have the same effect.  When we detect such a threat, the Sympathetic Nervous System takes over completely, pouring all of the body's energy into fighting off the threat, running away from it or, if we can't do either, shutting the body down into what is known as the "freeze" state.  If we suffer harm from one of these threats or we get stuck in the freeze state, our Sympathetic Nervous System can stay switched on or can be vulnerable to being switched on at the slightest hint of a threat.  As a consequence, our nervous systems (and the rest of our body) spend a lot of time operating at a much higher level than they were ever meant to.  Over time, they become worn out and stop working properly.  When your nervous system stops working properly, incorrect signals are sent to your organs and tissues, damaging the tissues (which causes pain) and causing your organs to malfunction.
Causes of chronic pain: Stress
Traumatic experience and stress are not exactly the same.  Traumatic experience is a particularly severe kind of stress and is more likely to cause long-term harm.  We are all exposed to stressful experiences on a regular basis.  Here are some examples: 
  • Growing up in a home where anger and aggression are common,

  • Growing up with a chronically ill or addicted parent,

  • Growing up with persistent demands for high performance,

  • Feeling trapped in a demanding or very unsatisfying job,

  • Feeling trapped in an unhappy relationship,

  • Relentless financial pressure,

  • Unpredictable or under-employment,

  • Excessive work hours or demands on performance,

  • Overwhelming responsibilities in caring for others,

  • School and university examinations,

  • And many others.

For the most part, stressful experiences come and go and we get on with our lives.  However, when stressful experiences are severe or prolonged (or both) they can have the same effect as traumatic experiences.  Stressful experiences can also cause harm if a person is vulnerable for some reason.
Somatic Experiencing works with what its creator (Dr Peter Levine) calls the "felt sense".  Clients are encouraged to identify bodily sensations associated with the memory of past traumatic experiences and to hold the sensation in mind while re-visiting painful memories.  They also identify bodily sensations associated with peace and safety.  During the course of therapy, clients move back and forwards between the two states, allowing the painful memories to be processed in a relatively calm state of mind.  You can read more about Somatic Experiencing here: http://www.seaustralia.com.au/what-is-somatic-experiencing/
Despite the effectiveness of these new therapies, there is often an important place for more traditional talking therapies such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and I use these as appropriate.  
Decades of research and hundreds of scientific publications have shown that the single most important ingredient in good therapy is a caring personal connection between the therapist and client: a humanistic approach.  I do my utmost to make this the context within which I offer all forms of therapy. 
I also introduce my clients to simple and effective breathing exercises and relaxation recordings that calm and heal the nervous system.