Frequently asked questions

Are you the right therapist for me?

I hope so! But let’s think about it first, before we dive into something that might not be right for either of us . . . .

If your primary aim is to get quick results, to get a bottle of medicine to get rid of your symptoms, and if the idea of thinking deeply about yourself or considering making changes to your life doesn’t feel interesting or appealing, then I’m probably not the right therapist for you. And that’s okay.

However, if you’re open-minded and inquisitive about the underlying causes of your symptoms, are happy to consider change (despite it possibly feeling scary) and motivated to do some deeply rewarding work that could lead you in unexpected and exciting directions, then it’s highly likely that we’ll work well together and you’ll see very significant improvements to your health.

What makes you unique to other therapists and herbalists?

I’m unique to other therapists and herbalists in a number of ways.

Firstly, I specialise in helping people with some specific symptoms. These are:

• Psychoemotional challenges – such as stress, depression, and anxiety
• Digestive symptoms – such as reflux, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and IBS
• Fatigue – such as chronic fatigue syndrome (also known as ME)

If you have similar symptoms and are the kind of person with whom I work best (see my answer to the first question!), then our time spent together should be rewarding, nourishing and enjoyable for both of us, and at the end we’ll both probably be really pleased with the outcome.

A second difference is the deep groundwork that takes place in the 3-hour initial consultation process (for a detailed breakdown of what happens here, and why spending that much time in the early stages is so important, take a look at my What to Expect page).

A third difference is how much emphasis I place on the psychoemotional health of the people I work with, even for those whose symptoms are, at least at first glance, ‘just about the body’. Our psychoemotional health affects every cell in our body every second of the day, and yet it’s often neglected in both mainstream and alternative forms of medicine; it’s no exaggeration to say that it’s the root cause of illness for many people. Much of my work involves helping people become more aware of and compassionate towards the intricate connections between their minds and bodies, to observe how each influences the other, and to honour the emotional intelligence, awareness and wisdom of the body itself.

This is something that most of us have a felt-sense of, deep-down, but the orthodox, left-brain, intellectual approach to medicine has taught us to see the body and mind as separate entities needing separate types of therapy. However, I’m yet to work with anyone with an emotional symptom who didn’t also have interconnected physical symptoms, and see very few people who come to me with physical symptoms who don’t also have some interconnected psychoemotional concerns. This is as it should be. We are one organism – a feeling, thinking, experiencing bundle of physical material and energy – highly sensitive and with each system intricately connected to every other system in myriad ways. Despite being seemingly separate human entities, we are linked to and highly affected by the world in which we live, often in ways that are beneath the level of conscious awareness.

How long does treatment usually take?

FungiThis is a hard question to answer because everyone is different, with their own unique challenges, needs, desires and responses. The conditions I specialise in helping people with tend to be complex and therefore require an investment of time so that they can be fully explored, to introduce meaningful changes at a pace that is appropriate and not overwhelming. We need to give space for the unexpected, for the peaks and troughs of life that inevitably occur. If we’ve been ill or in pain for some time then understandably we want to feel better or to experience relief as quickly as possible. But sometimes being in a rush to get well isn’t the best approach – for most of us, our lives are already rushed enough. Sometimes we need to sit with our pain or illness for a while, to listen attentively to what our bodies and minds are trying to tell us, so that we can consider whether a different approach might suit us better right now and in the future.

A common pattern is for a person to come to me with a set of symptoms as a starting point. Over the course of the first few sessions we begin to see how these symptoms are connected to the wider framework of their life, and consequently the process of therapy begins to expand and take on a richer and more complex character. In turn, the work needing to be undertaken becomes more fundamental to their whole being - ostensibly a more challenging prospect but with the potential for far wider-reaching benefits than might initially have been hoped for.

True healing is partly a process of learning – about our qualities and unhelpful habits, what nourishes us or depletes our energy, what we can change and what we must accept. It’s also a process of connection – creating a therapeutic relationship of trust, deep care, empathy and safety, which we both continue to carry a felt-sense of beyond the consulting room. These processes foster resilience, and a sense of self-worth and support. But they don’t happen overnight.

Herbs have a reputation of working slowly, but in my experience – when prescribed by someone with knowledge and using the best herbal medicines available - they often lead to quite radical improvements in a short space of time. However, they are only one part of my work. Exploring and making changes to things like diet, exercise, rest, medication, and developing practices such as meditation and body awareness can take much longer, and for many people these are just as important as taking herbs.
Usually it’s the combination of many different changes that matters, a number of positive approaches working together - rather than one or two big things - that leads to results. The more of these that we can combine together, the more rapid improvement is likely to be, and the more significant. For example:

Taking herbs + making no other changes = typically quite slow or limited improvement.

However, herbs + dietary changes + meditation + more rest = typically quicker and more wide-ranging improvement.

And with a few more additions to that equation, such as play + creativity + journalling + gentle yoga + increased body awareness + more sleep = even more improvement, perhaps spectacularly so!

Make sense?

With all of that said, I never prolong treatment unduly. I’m usually the first to suggest that it might be time to see how it feels to move beyond regular meetings for a while (albeit with a supportive and reassuring email conversation with me, from time-to-time), or to perhaps consider a different kind of treatment. It’s possible to get somewhat attached to the ritual of taking herbs and meeting with a supportive person, but prolonging treatment beyond the point at which it’s genuinely therapeutic is not healthy for either of us. We’ll know when the time is right to put our work together on pause.

What does ‘person-centred’ mean?

Person-centred means that, although I’m not a counsellor or psychotherapist, I practice in accordance with the principles of person-centred counselling and psychotherapy. This is a way of working with people that can be applied to any type of therapy and many other kinds of relationships. The foundation of this approach is that each of us has an innate capacity for self-healing and growth, given the right conditions. Person-centred therapy rejects the traditional notion that the therapist is the expert and must be in charge of all aspects of the treatment; in person-centred therapy the client is regarded as the expert of themselves, while the therapist is there to provide support and to help the client rediscover their true self, free from the undue influence of social and societal expectations.

As a person-centred herbalist, I’ll treat you with what is known as ‘unconditional positive regard’. This means that I won’t judge you adversely no matter what you tell me, or what circumstances you find yourself in. I’ll work hard to understand what you’re going through, to empathise deeply with how you feel, and to view your experiences as unique to you, rather than trying to put you in box so that I can treat you in a way that is ‘typical’ for people with a certain diagnosis or set of symptoms.

I’ll bring my true, genuine self to all of our interactions, and will never adopt the persona of the ‘medical expert’ who knows best. I’ll be warm and friendly so that we’ll quickly develop a positive therapeutic relationship, one that encourages openness and frankness, and a sense of care and trust between us. The depth and sensitivity of my attention will give you the space to explore your feelings and thoughts, and I won’t set my own agenda for our conversations. I’ll meet you where you are. At times I may gently challenge your perceptions about certain things, but only when I think it’s in your best interest, and not because your opinions differ from my own. Person-centred therapy means that you are always the most important person in the room.

How often will we meet for a consultation?

Our first few consultations will probably be fortnightly, until a pattern of healing has been established and we both feel comfortable having a longer gap between sessions. This usually takes around two to three months. After that we’ll probably meet every three weeks or once a month, unless for some reason we want to continue to meet more regularly than that.

I don’t consume any alcohol at all, will that be a problem with regard to herbal tinctures?

I use very small doses of tinctures – liquid mixtures of herbs macerated in alcohol and water – in my practice. Each dose is about 1ml, and the alcohol content is typically around 20%; to put this into perspective, a medium-sized glass of orange juice would contain much more alcohol! For most people, even if they typically avoid alcohol recreationally, this is a safe and manageable amount. However, if avoiding alcohol altogether is a priority for you, please get in touch and we can discuss what alternatives might be available.

Are you an ethical and green business?

Working ethically and in an environmentally sustainable way are issues that are close to my heart. Part of my long-term plan is to continue reducing my environmental footprint and prioritising my local community when sourcing materials and services. It’s a work in progress, but I’m always trying to improve this aspect of my business.

Nearly all of the herbs I use are foraged from the beautiful landscape in and around Edinburgh, or grown by my friend and amazing herbalist Simone Clarke of Solar Ripe, at her biodynamic herb farm in Fife, about 20 miles from Edinburgh. Any pre-made medicines I use are sourced from either Rutland Biodynamics, a biodynamic herb farm in Oakham, England, or Avicenna Herbs, an organic and innovative producer in Cilcennin, Wales. My Bach flower remedies are made by Healing Herbs of Hereford, England, who produce them in accordance with the traditional methods developed by Dr Edward Bach.

I use really small doses of herbs in my practice, which significantly reduces my environmental impact and helps keep down the cost of my medicines. (Take a look at my Herbal Medicine page for more information on my ‘small dose’ approach to treatment.) I forage herbs only from places where they are thriving and abundant, taking no more than the tiny amount I require, and I never collect rare or endangered species. Herbs are my livelihood and it’s in my best interest to promote their health and prosperity.

Bottles, paper and all other consumables are either recycled or re-used, and herbs that have been pressed after making tinctures are composted.

I’m still not sure if seeing you is the right decision for me. Can I contact you to chat about what I’m going through to help me decide?

Of course! Finding the right therapist is incredibly important. Please call or email me so that we can discuss your symptoms or diagnosis, any questions and concerns you have and what you’re hoping to achieve from therapy. We can talk about how we might work together in a way that best meets your needs, and you’ll hopefully get a clearer sense of whether I feel like the right person to help you heal and grow (if I’m not, I may well be able to suggest someone else who could be).

If you’re ready to book a consultation with me or would like to talk about what you’re going through at the moment, please go to my Contact Me page and get in touch.