Welcome to my psychotherapy practice in Forest Hill, SE23, London


How do we begin therapy...

If you are reading this page I imagine it’s because you are searching for some help with a mental, emotional or behavioural issue either for yourself or someone you care about. Probably it is something that you have already tried to resolve by yourself, unsuccessfully.

You may feel excited about therapy, even impatient to resolve your issue and get support from a therapist who gives you their undivided professional attention.

Or it may be difficult for you to accept that you need assistance with your issue. Perhaps that clashes with your idea of yourself as a strong and independent individual.

Either way, it is helpful to bear in mind the words of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross who says,

“There are no mistakes, no coincidences. All events are blessings given to us to learn from”.

Why do we come to therapy ?

We come to counselling or therapy for all sorts of reasons, amongst them can be:

 ·      to get support

·      to get stuff off our chest

·      to change a behaviour or state of being  

·      to  gain self- awareness and optimise self-development

·      because someone has suggested it might be helpful

Nevertheless you may be unsure of what exactly therapy is and does. It is a place that is reserved for you in which to discuss, examine and potentially make changes to the way you approach your life. It is a precious space carved out from an often hectic and stressful day-to-day where you can get distance in order to review your thought processes, assumptions and habitual behaviour. It’s an opportunity, accompanied by a caring and non-judgemental professional to make changes, consolidate, celebrate, grieve, feel, plan or whatever it is that you need in order to lead a more meaningful and enriching life.

You make want to make alterations to an emotional state such as depression or anxiety. You may want to overcome disorders such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or Post-Traumatic Stress (PTSD). You may want to change behaviour such as an addiction, phobia or eating disorder. You may want to change a belief that is unhelpful for example believing that you are not good enough. You may want to change the way you relate to others., for example being more assertive or changing a pattern of affairs and betrayals.

What do we do in therapy?

Over the sessions we establish your goals. I help you to gain awareness of beliefs, thinking patterns and emotions that you are not in touch with and which are influencing you. Awareness is seen as the first step towards making changes. According to the foundational text of Gestalt therapy theory ‘awareness is like the glow of a coal which comes from its own combustion’ (PHG, 1951:75). Seeing a therapist is like allowing someone else into a private viewing of your head, except that they are able to shed light on the nooks and crannies that you cannot see and reach. Once you are able to see them too then you are able to find solutions to your issues.

Therapy focuses not only on the issue but also on the actual process that occurs between you and I, the therapist during the session. For example the way that you discuss your issue or the way you relate to me as the therapist may also be revealing. Many people benefit hugely simply from having a non-judgemental, caring and impartial professional to share some of their burden with. Having this positive therapeutic relationship can alone be life changing.

Therapy is a serious undertaking although this does not mean it is always serious. Humour can also be a part of therapy.

How do we choose a psychotherapist or counsellor?  

So knowing a little more about why we go to therapy and what it’s about, how on earth do you choose a therapist?

It can be overwhelming trying to choose a therapist. So many options, so many types of therapy, so many credentials. My advice is first and foremost to make sure that the therapists you consider have the right credentials. They should have at least three (if they are a counsellor)  to six years (psychotherapy) of professional training at a registered and reputable training institution. They should also have undertaken personal therapy.  They should be accredited with UKCP, BACP or BABCP if they are a cognitive behavioural therapist. They should also be able to tell you about additional professional development training they have undertaken.  Regardless of how much expertise they have, a certain amount of chemistry is also necessary for the professional therapeutic relationship to be successful. You need to feel secure and understood by your therapist. 

What happens at our first psychotherapy session?

I reassure you that it is normal to feel nervous at a first session. You are in a room with a stranger potentially sharing some very private thoughts and feelings. You may never have done therapy before and not really know what to expect or what is expected of you.

The first session is an opportunity for me to find out more about you and for you to find out more about how I work. I will ask about your issue and the history of it. I will also be curious about your history, relationships, work situation, upbringing, health issues and traumas. My aim is to get a good sense of you and your life situation. If by the end of the session you decide to start therapy then in the next session we will look at what it is that you would like to get from therapy. It is important to have a therapeutic goal to check that we remain on track and in order to be able to evaluate how the therapy is going.

I hope that this has been helpful and I welcome hearing from you if you would like to know more.

 Warm wishes,

Alexandra Stevens


I am based in Forest Hill in South East London (SE23) within easy travelling distance from Dulwich, Catford, Sydenham, Crystal Palace and Brockley. I also offer sessions by Skype for those that live further afield.