My name is Elisabeth Auer and I am a UKCP accredited psychotherapist and counsellor in Twickenham, London Borough of Richmond. I speak English and German and enjoy working with people from diverse background, ethnicity and culture.
My main approach is psychoanalytic - a psychotherapy form in which we explore unconscious processes and try to make them conscious.
However, whether counselling is successful or not is often not explained by the theories which inform a counsellor's or psychotherapist's practice, but by the therapeutic relationship:
"Effective psychotherapy indicates implicit relational learning by requiring close attention to the particulars. ... We must notice what is unique about this person, involved in this conversation, during this moment. But it is not just psychotherapy patients who are unique; so is each practitioner. This lends an individualized "chemistry" to each therapeutic dyad. Indeed, the chemistry itself, that is, the quality of the relationship between any given patient and the therapist, appears to be more important to the outcome of the therapy than either the orientation or training of the therapist." (Geller & Greenberg, 2002; Messer, 2002)
In my work, I implement findings from developmental psychology, neuroscience, cognitive behavioural research, attachment theory and mentalization-based treatment. I see people either face-to-face in the Maple Leaf Clinic in Twickenham or for online sessions.
Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy and Counselling
Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy is an orientation, in which we attempt to bring unconscious processes into awareness. These unconscious processes are internalised and deeply engrained models and patterns how to relate, behave, feel and think. In attachment theory they are called IWM or "internal working models".
The way we behave, think and feel is shaped by our earliest relationships and the social and political environment in which we grew up. We internalize these ways and they become our models for future situations. The activation of these models is out of conscious awareness and triggered when we are frightened and seek proximity to an attachment figure. However, internalised models which were meaningful and useful in the past, may not be relevant and useful in present situations anymore. In therapy, we try to analyse and explore these models. By making them conscious, we also make them susceptible to change.
Psychoanalytic psychotherapy needs your commitment and your curiosity. It does not promise a "quick fix", as the process of exploration and change takes time and we will come across a range of defence mechanisms. These are strategies which protect a person from anxiety arising from unacceptable thoughts and feelings.
Psychotherapy and Neuroscience
Neuroscience findings show that our brain retains plasticity throughout life, being shaped and sculpted by experience in the environment. Novel relational challenges and demands generate new neural connections in our brains. Therefore, an emotionally meaningful therapeutic relationship can gradually facilitate relational and neurological changes in our brain structure.
Find more information in this article:
Dan Siegel on the Craft of Rewiring the Brain
NICABM has produced a useful graphic which explains how and by which means the brain structure changes - in positive and negative ways:
Psychotherapy & Counselling and Language
As a German speaking psychotherapist and counsellor I often work with German speaking people or people who grew up with another first language than English.
In psychotherapy and counselling, the language is the primary means by which we transmit information about cultural traditions and beliefs and how to articulate emotions. It can also be a source of identity.
Our conceptual knowledge of the world derives from our experience. It is usually stored in the part of the brain along with our first language. While a bilingual person masters the second language, direct conceptual links are formed from the second language to the conceptual memory.
Little is known regarding the encoding and storage of emotion words (like "love" or "fear") in bilingual memory. However, researchers have identified "differential patterns of usage as a function of language proficiency.":
Some studies for example have found that talking about embarrassing topics in counselling is easier in one’s second language. The language, then, has a distancing function.
It has also been suggested that learned emotion words in the first language are stored at a deeper level of representation than their second language synonyms. The reasons for that is, that emotion words in the first language are normally experienced in more contexts and have been applied in various ways. Therefore, encountering an emotion word in the second language is likely to activate less different associations.
In therapy with my bilingual clients of English and German or other second languages, we pay attention to the patterns of language. Words can have different meanings depending on context, the topic of the discourse and the conceptual and emotional relevance.
(Santiago-Rivera, A. L., & Altarriba, J. (2002). The role of language in therapy with the Spanish–English bilingual client. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 33(1), 30-38.)
Face-to-Face and Online Psychotherapy Sessions
My counselling room is located in the Maple Leaf Clinic on Twickenham Green.
Twickenham, located in the London Borough of Richmond, has good public transport links from London Waterloo.
While you may experience a longer journey to your psychotherapy sessions as tedious, some people make good use of this time by exploring their thoughts, reflecting on their week or emptying their mind before arriving at their session.
However, if you struggle to travel to the Richmond Borough from London and have difficulties finding a suitable counsellor or psychotherapist in your area, working online via Zoom or Skype can be a good alternative.
Please contact me to explore options.