Depression & Anxiety

Depression and Anxiety (including Generalised Anxiety Disorder or GAD) can often be two sides of the same coin. To put this another way; each can be a way that some underlying unresolved issue or thought process manifests itself in your day to day life.
Depression can be indicated by feeling tearful or sad, socially withdrawal, by excessive negative thoughts including suicidal thoughts or by thinking that life is hopeless or not worth continuing or that you would rather not be alive. It can mean difficulty in sleeping (or too much sleeping), lack of energy, lack of motivation, loss of concentration and by a variety of other symptoms.
Pete Smith Alton counselling - I work extensively with Depression &anxiety
Depression (and anxiety which can occur alongside) can be caused by a variety of factors. These break down into "real world events" (such as bereavement, relationship breakdown, loss of job etc) and "internally caused" including negative thinking patterns, low self image/self esteem, unexpressed emotions etc. Often the causes of depression or anxiety are not within our conscious awareness or we may only be partially aware of what is going on. Counselling can help to bring things into the open where they can be examined and unexpressed feelings can be allowed to surface or harmful negative thoughts can be identified. It is often these unexpressed feelings and/or negative thoughts which contribute to depression.
My job is to work with you to determine what combination of factors might be contributing to the way that you feel. The way forward then depends on what we discover between us. Sometimes all that is required is for you to express the way you are really feeling inside. This can be made easier in the safe supportive environment of the counselling room. These feelings might be ones of sadness and/or of anger or other feelings might be involved. Other times we will work on modifying the way you see yourself or we might use mindfulness techniques such as CBT to help you cope with negative thoughts.
Whatever happens will be tailored specifically to you rather than using prescriptive interventions.
Anti-depressants are a common way for doctors to "treat" depression and anxiety. The most common types of anti-depressant are called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) which as the name suggests, prevent the absorption of serotonin which is a "feel good" chemical in our brains. Anti-depressants can indeed provide some alleviation of the symptoms of depression but generally they do not tackle the underlying cause. This is where counselling comes into play as described above. Sometimes a combination of anti-depressants and counselling together are the most effective way out of depression.

The Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)

I have HSP on the same page as anxiety and depression but this does NOT mean that HSP is in any way a disorder!

Did you know that 15 to 20 percent of the population are highly sensitive persons (HSPs)? What does this mean for you? To be highly sensitive means that we experience physical, sensory, emotional and intellectual stimuli more deeply and more intensely than those who are not HSPs. In practice this can be a mixed blessing with many HSPs (and parents of HSP children) believing that there is something wrong. When I personally discovered about the HSP trait it was as if a huge weight had been lifted and all of a sudden it was OK for me to be sensitive. What I have also experienced is that there is more societal judgement and/or expectations round being a man who is highly sensitive.

Finding a therapist is a difficult enough task for most people. Trying to find that sympathetic person who will accept me for who I am and can understand the difficulties and challenges that I encounter in day to day life no matter what they may be. Someone who I can trust and who I feel just "gets me ".

As a highly sensitive person we can face issues in day to day life that others might find difficult to understand. The most obvious might be issues surrounding sensory processing sensitivity. A non HSP therapist might not appreciate just exactly how sensitive an HSP might be to things like noise or bright light for example.

However, the highly sensitive nervous system is sensitive in more subtle ways too. HSPs appreciate subtle nuances in art and music and nature and can feel intense joyful emotions at times. On the flip side of this they can also experience intensely painful emotions too. The highs are higher and the lows are lower so to speak. Here again having a highly sensitive therapist can be helpful not only because they will have a greater ability to empathise with you (because of their sensitivity) but also because they can help to normalise what you are experiencing.

Often psychological suffering can be caused or made worse by excessive thinking or rumination about things in our lives. Thinking in depth about things is something that HSPs excel at but unfortunately this trait can sometimes backfire on us in that we can see bad outcomes potentially lurking behind every corner and behind every action. Additionally it’s easy to get mired in "analysis paralysis " because we are easily overwhelmed by all the many trains of thought which we can construct and interlink in our minds. Having a therapist who can follow your thought processes can be helpful as they may be better able to help you to escape from your self constructed mental torture chamber or the viscous treacle of "analysis paralysis ".

Research has shown that the way we relate to others as adults and how we deal with emotion is profoundly affected by the relationships we had as very young infants. I believe that as HSPs we are more susceptible to being adversely affected by disturbances in this early stage in our lives. Coupled with our propensity for more deeply felt emotions and depth thinking this can be a recipe for psychological suffering. As a highly sensitive therapist I can help to disentangle this complex web of factors and help you to relate in a kinder way to yourself.

You can find out more information at
I work with you to determine the root cause of your depression and/or anxiety.

Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol plays a complex role in our lives and in our society. It is used to oil the social wheels and for relaxation but sometimes its use may become a problem for some people. Often people who drink to excess are of a highly sensitive nature and use alcohol as a way of numbing painful thoughts and feelings.

Addiction can be seen as a harsh word. My aim is to find out what function alcohol is performing in your life and to work with you to find alternative ways of providing what might be missing. This might include different ways of relaxing or of relating to friends and loved ones or even to your self.
Addiction Counselling in Alton Hampshire (GU34)