Mark Steel -
Hi, I am Mark
An Integrative Counsellor in Bromley
The integrative approach uses three of the mainstream theories of counselling and psychotherapy widely practised today. These are the cognitive, psychodynamic and person-centred approaches. They are integrated into a counselling therapy that enables different perspectives to be taken on each individual person and how best to help them achieve their goals in therapy.
(There is a more detailed description of different counselling approaches further down the page).
My Work Room
...is the conservatory at the rear of my house. It is comfortable, private and has it's own dedicated entrance accessible from the street
Why do people come for counselling?
All of us experience difficulty or distress and at times in our lives and we may feel the need to speak to someone to ask for help or even just to share our experience and how we are feeling. No matter how well intentioned, the response we receive from those who know us best will often come in the form of advice or opinion on what the other person thinks we “should” or “shouldn’t” do. They may tell us what they would do “if they were us” and we can feel judged or criticised and this may make things seem even worse.
Counselling can provide the confidentiality, sense of safety and non-judgement needed to talk about things that we cannot necessarily get from our family, friends or colleagues. The counsellor’s ability to hear and understand difficult or upsetting experience can allow a trusting relationship to form within which to express and explore your feelings at a pace that suits you.
Issues That I Have Counselling Experience In and May Be Able To Help You With...
Separation or Divorce
Loneliness or Isolation
Sudden unexpected change in living experience or circumstances.
A feeling of being “stuck” in some way. For instance in a career, family situation or a personal relationship.
A general feeling of unease or dissatisfaction that’s difficult to put your finger on.
Reaching a milestone or crossroads in life and feeling anxious or lost.
How Does Counselling Work?
We all develop our own unique working model of reality and how we think that the world works. We start forming this model from the moment we are born and it is influenced and reinforced by the other significant people in our lives. Most influential are our parents, then siblings and other family members but as we grow up our sphere of influence grows to include many other people including friends, people at school, work and so on. At times, all of us experience pain or distress in some form and within our working model we develop strategies or ways to cope with or alleviate our distress. Most of the time our coping mechanisms are sufficient for us to manage our difficult or negative experiences and maintain balance or equilibrium in our lives. However, for example at a time of loss or crisis we may find that our usual ways of coping become overwhelmed. We can feel anxious, depressed, panicked or perhaps angry. We may also feel isolated and that fear that others will not understand our feelings or think that we are inadequate and judge us negatively and this can add to our distress. Talking things through in counselling can enable us to take a fresh look at our model or "map" of reality. We can identify thoughts or beliefs that are perhaps no longer valid or helpful for us and also work on new ways of coping with challenges and perceiving our experiences in life.
I see the person seeking consultation as having the self-awareness, wisdom and strength to have come to an understanding that considering another perspective on their current situation or life experience could be helpful to them.
My Approach to Counselling
My core training is as an Integrative Counsellor, which has become an extremely popular approach to therapy in recent years. Although giving attention to your past history, your current way of thinking and being and however you may envision your future, my approach is not to attempt to change you, "fix you" or tell you what to do. Rather, it is to be available to explore and work with you on whatever it is that is bringing you to seek help.
I see you as the expert on you and your life. You are my guide to how you see things and experience the world, including the issues that may be causing you distress. I am there to hear your story. I am also there so that we can think together about what goals you may have or changes, if any, you wish to make and how you can achieve them. In this process we consider your available resources, both internal and external, including those that are currently unused or that may even be out of awareness, in developing opportunities and potential in order to make meaningful and lasting change possible.
My Qualifications and Experience
NCFE Certificate in Counselling Levels 1, 2 and 3
BACP accredited Diploma in Integrative Counselling
Mindfulness Practitioner Certificate Levels 1, 2, 3 and Master
Counselling patients at a GP surgery referred for issues including depression, anxiety, panic, phobias, grief and self-esteem.
Counselling patients one-to-one on the NHS pathway for bariatric surgery (Gastric band or bypass). Working with patient’s food addiction, emotional eating behaviours and associated mental health issues.
Facilitating psycho-educational groups for the NHS Bariatrics Service delivering a 12 week Cognitive Behavioural Therapy based programme to increase awareness of emotional eating patterns and relationships with food.
Completing a one academic year placement for Place2Be counselling children in school.
I am a registered member of the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists. This is the leading organization in the UK for the promotion and maintenance of appropriate and ethical standards of practise in the counselling and psychotherapy professions.
As a member I am required to practice in accordance with the BACP Ethical Framework, to undertake regular ongoing training (CPD) to stay up to date with current methods and research and to hold relevant insurance as a counselling private practitioner.
Continuous Personal Development (CPD) Training
Psycho-Educational Group Programme - The Bariatrics Consultancy
Undertaking Psychological Assessments and Facilitating Psycho-Educational Groups - The Bariatrics Consultancy
Bariatrics Surgery, Warts and All - The Bariatrics Consultancy
Safeguarding and Adult Protection Awareness - The Bariatrics Consultancy
Volunteer Counselling Induction and Safeguarding Training - Place2Be
Volunteer Introductory Workshop - Place2Be
Helping Children Tell Their Stories - Place2Be
Attachment Theory and Self-Awareness in the Counsellor - Place2Be
Working With Metaphor - Place2Be
Making Endings With Children - Place2Be
“Understanding Your Eating” presented by Professor Julia Buckroyd.
“A Pluralistic Framework for Counselling and Psychotherapy” presented by Professor Mick Cooper.
“Being Human” presented by Professor Ernesto Spinelli.
Mindfulness Based Emotional Resilience – Bromley Mindfulness.
Where Do I Start?
You can contact me by telephone initially where you can give me an outline of your situation and we can discuss what you hope to gain from counselling. This is an opportunity for you to ask any questions you may have about counselling and how we would be working together. If you feel comfortable to proceed we can then arrange our first session and go forward from there.
In our first session I welcome you into my working room and begin with answering any further questions you may have thought of since our telephone conversation. We can then spend a little time clarifying the arrangements of how we would be working together.
Attending a first session with a counsellor can feel quite daunting, especially if you have not been to counselling before. You may have something that you want to talk about but are not sure how or where to start or perhaps just not feel ready or able to. This is a perfectly natural response and I will not ask you to talk about anything you do not wish to. This is more a time for us to start to get to know each other and where you can get a sense of me and if you feel that I am the right counsellor for you or not. All being well and if we feel comfortable working together we can proceed and schedule our future, regular sessions together.
How Long Does Counselling Take?
How many sessions am I likely to need?
This varies as each person is a unique individual who brings their own personal situation and way of thinking about things into counselling. There are no hard and fast rules as to the number of sessions a person has. However, we would review this regularly together, usually every six weeks. This is for you to assess how you feel things are going, what changes and or benefits you are noticing and any new goals that may be emerging for you in the process.
How and When Does Counselling End?
Generally, at some point, people will feel a growing sense of readiness and a knowing of when to end their counselling. This would be something we would refer to throughout our sessions and work towards. For the counselling process to be most effective it is best for the ending to be discussed and planned in advance. This helps the relationship to end positively and productively and for that experience to be taken forward into the future.
What About Confidentiality?
Does Whatever I Say Stay Between Us?
One of the key features of counselling is that everything that we talk about remains confidential between us. This is a fundamental factor in you feeling able to express whatever you need to and in building the trust in our relationship.
However, there are some very rare instances where I may need to breach client confidentiality under my duty of care; for example, if you were to tell me you, or somebody else, were at risk of serious harm or if I were required to by a court of law. Should this need arise then I would always seek to discuss this with you first where possible.
I would keep notes during our work together. These would be brief, contain no personal identifying information and be stored securely.
What is Supervision?
All counsellors that are registered with the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists (BACP) are required to partake in regular supervision sessions. This is where a counsellor discusses the work they do with their clients with a senior practitioner, who has been trained and accredited in supervision, or in a registered group approved for supervision. This is to promote good practise and ensure that ethical guidelines are adhered to as required by the BACP Ethical Framework.
All cases that are discussed in supervision remain anonymous in order to maintain client confidentiality at all times.
What is Integrative Counselling?
Integrative counselling draws on several mainstream theories of human psychology and behaviour that are referred to and practised extensively in the mental health professions of today. These different theories are integrated into one over-arching approach to helping clients get in touch with their core issues, identify possibilities and opportunities for positive change and recognise the inner resources available to them.
The Cognitive Approach
This approach is concerned with working with the thoughts that go through our minds on a constant daily basis and the impact that they have on our emotions and behaviour. Our thoughts, especially the automatic ones that just “pop into our heads”, are explored and tested for their accuracy and usefulness in our lives as we live them today. The aim is to target any thoughts that are found to be inaccurate, self-limiting, unhelpful or that no longer serve the original purpose that we created them for and replace them with more accurate, useful, self-enabling and currently relevant ones. This is the basis of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which is the method of counselling therapy currently used by the NHS for patients referred to it’s IAPT service by their GP. It has been found to be particularly effective for people suffering with depression, phobias, OCD and addictive behaviours.
The Psychodynamic Approach
This approach is concerned with our past and the impact it has on our present living experience. Much of our early life experience is beyond our ability to remember from a certain age. We also have the human ability to forget or push away memories or thoughts that we find upsetting or that cause us distress. These thoughts are said to be made “unconscious” in order to avoid that distress. Psychodynamic theory says that, although thoughts can be unconscious, they can impact on our everyday conscious thought and behaviour from outside of our awareness. The aim of the psychodynamic approach is to explore our past in order to render the unconscious conscious, so that we can then work through it in the here and now.
The Person-Centred Approach
This approach focusses on human relationships and is experienced and explored in the relationship between the client and the counsellor. In this mode of working the counsellor listens to the client’s story as is without judgement, interpretation, labelling or formulating any agenda on what the client “should” do going forward. The belief is that a person does not need “fixing” but that each of us already has the resources we need within ourselves in order to manage and overcome difficulties and create for ourselves an enriched and rewarding life. These resources are awakened within the unfolding process of an empathic and equal relationship and can then be utilised to grow and fulfil our greatest potential.
Practicing from home allows me to offer an affordable and convenient service.
20 - 30 minute introductory meeting or phone call - Free
Fee for 50 minute one to one counselling session (18+) - £40
Fees are payable by cash or transfer at the beginning or end of each session.
Cancellations: If you can give me 24 hours notice for a cancellation I do not charge for the session, otherwise the full fee would still be payable. I may be able to you offer an alternative time but cannot guarantee that this will always be possible.
Working Hours: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings.
Session times: Sessions are 50 minutes long and are held weekly at the same time.
I have no waiting room so please arrive as close to the starting time as possible. If you arrive late the session will still need to end at the normal time.
If you would like more information or to enquire about counselling sessions you can contact me by telephone or email:
My Contact Details
Telephone: 07939 080907
If I am not available when you call you can leave a message and I will aim to call you back within 24 hours. I do not return any calls if no message is left.
Where Am I?
My counselling practice is at my home address in Bromley Common BR2. My work room is the conservatory at the rear of my house. It is comfortable, private and has it's own entrance directly accessible from the street.
My hours for private practice from home are currently on Monday to Wednesday evenings only. Please call to enquire about availablity.
Autobiography in Five Short Chapters.
I. I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk I fall in. I am lost... I am hopeless. It isn't my fault. It takes me forever to find a way out.
II. I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don't see it. I fall in again. I can't believe I'm in the same place. But it isn't my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.
III. I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I still fall in...it's a habit. My eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.
IV. I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.
V. I walk down another street.