About Me

A Life devoted to the exploration of human psychology & personal development

I have been involved in psychotherapy and personal development most of my life. It all started when I was a teenager, possibly even before that. My friends, family members, my peers and sometimes complete strangers saw in me somebody who they could open to and from whom they would gain new insights and words of wisdom. I was very committed to my task. My obsession was to understand people better, their psychology, their relationship with life and the world we live in, what made them tick but also what troubled them and how I could help them feel and think differently.

At college, I formed a friendship with my philosophy teacher, who was also a part-time psychotherapist. I started reading Freud and other books on psychology at age 17, and have never stopped since. With an insatiable thirst for understanding and knowledge about human beings and human psychology, I embarked on a long journey of studies and research activities in a university context, first in Paris where I was born and used to live, then in Edinburgh (Scotland).

In Paris, I did my MPhil and four years of a PhD at the world renowned École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, in English the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, which only trains researchers and covers all human sciences. Rightfully convinced that specialism prevents one from forming a well-rounded understanding of human beings, I have studied various subjects while keeping my focus on psychology, social sciences, the history of ideas and philosophy.

 

In parallel, I have practiced counselling part-time, first as a volunteer then professionally from 2002. At the time, my technique was rather unusual, as I used to consult my clients from their home. This approach proved quite effective, as the insights that I would gain from seeing rather than hearing how people lived their lives provided me with valuable clues regarding what was going on and how best I could tailor my interventions in therapy.

Two BScs, three Masters and two PhDs later, I embarked on a 4 years’ post-doctoral project in 2006, working in medical education and publishing scientific papers about the socialisation process and human development. At the end of this project, I decided that it was time for me to move out of academia and engage in vocational training in psychotherapy. My aim was to complement my theoretical work at university and my years of experience in counselling with proper vocational training to fully engage into a career which had always been my true calling. I have trained with Life Force in Colchester, a school which I have chosen for the quality of its teaching and the thoroughness of its programme, which includes all the main psychotherapeutic traditions. It is also accredited by the BACP, our main professional body.

I have been working for two counselling organisations, namely Havering and Brentwood Bereavement Service (HBBS) and Renew Counselling between February 2013 and April 2016. I officially opened my practice situated in Chelmsford in 2015. I was warned by my colleagues that the market was saturated and that building a practice could be an adventurous project, full of uncertainty. However, what I have found is that I was meeting the needs of many individuals and couples who were searching for a type of therapist which is quite rare in spite of the great abundance of those who offer their services. I am talking about someone who, in addition to being able to relate to them and their feelings in a humane and caring manner, is also very highly skilled and qualified, with theoretical abilities which go well beyond the passive learning of theories in a school and extend as far as contributing to the improvement of existing theories and the production of new ones. Far from struggling, my practice has been thriving and I usually work at full capacity, or close.

My understanding of human psychology and my ability to help others through psychotherapy and counselling has hugely benefited from my long term involvement in the practice of counselling, my vocational training and my research activities. However, my life experiences and personal development have played a key role. In spite of my achievements, I have been on a rather eventful life journey involving years of existential and spiritual questioning, anxiety and depression which at some point led me to seriously consider committing suicide, severe illness (during my childhood), social isolation, cultural displacement, bullying, feelings of inadequacy, numerous losses of loved-ones (humans and animals), and so on. I have also been in therapy for a number of years and seen all sorts of therapists, including quite a few counsellors and psychotherapists. These experiences have transformed me and I have transformed in order to get through them and overcome. After many years of a difficult journey, I can genuinely say that I have finally found myself, that I have found meaning and identified the sources of my fulfilment as a human being. These findings and my journey have provided me with invaluable insights and prepared me well to empathically relate to and make sense of the individual journeys of my clients, and provide effective help.

Relevant qualifications

From Napier University in Edinburgh:
○  PhD in Psychology
○  MSc in Psychology

From Life Force in Colchester (BACP accredited course):
○  Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling
○  Certificate in Counselling Skills
○  Award in Counselling Concepts

From the University of Portsmouth:

○  PgDip in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education

From the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Sorbonne) in Paris:
○  PhD in Sociology and Philosophy
    Deferred after four years
○  MPhil in Sociology and Philosophy (with distinction)

From Nanterre University in Paris:
○  MA in Philosophy
○  BA in Philosophy
○  BA in Social Anthropology and History

BACP Accreditation
I am a BACP Accredited Counsellor/ Psychotherapist and adhere to the BACP Ethical Framework for Counselling and Psychotherapy. BACP accreditation is a quality standard for experienced practitioners who can demonstrate their capacity for independent, competent and ethical practice. It involves a detailed application and assessment process that takes several months to complete and is granted to successful applicants only. Therefore, BACP accreditation differs from simple registration. It is recognisable by the mention MBACP (Accred).

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© 2019 by Guy Van de Walle