Please note I am currently only taking on new clients for short term work (3-6 months).
Now more than ever we need to look after our emotional health and expand our inner resources.
You don't have to manage on your own.
I can see you in person in a setting that supports appropriate social distancing
or if you would prefer to stay online for now, we can do that too.
If you would like to know more about how I can support you, please get in touch and we can talk about what you need.
I am a fully qualified and registered therapist working in South East London with experience of working holistically with all sorts of issues.
I will offer you a warm, supportive and creative space in which to explore whatever it is you are feeling. There may be something specific that is causing you pain, tension or unhappiness, or perhaps you are just aware of wanting something to be different and having a sense of not living vibrantly or even contentedly.
At the moment, you are reaching out – a sign that a part of you knows you need some support. This spark in you, no matter how small, is your potential for growth. I can help you work through your difficulties and create the possibility for things to change.
My background is in Humanistic counselling, and I work mainly from the Gestalt perspective. This means I am interested in all that you bring of yourself – mind, body, soul, spirit – and will endeavour to find with you new ways of making sense of your experiences. In sessions I might invite you to use a range of creative ways to express or communicate your thoughts and feelings, as it’s not always possible to do this with words.
Please get in touch if you have any questions about what it might be like to work with me as your counsellor or would like to book an initial session to find out. You can email me or use the contact box on this website, or if you prefer you can text me on 07715 069356.
“Who are you?” said the Caterpillar.
“I - I hardly know, sir, just at present - at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.”
Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
I have experience working with people with a range of issues, many of which don’t always fit into a neat category. I will never seek to put a label on you, but here are some words and phrases which might express something of what you are experiencing:
exploding with rage at ‘small’ things; ‘losing control’ and feelings of regret; inability to express angry feelings or to feel anger
worrying a lot; circular, racing thought patterns; feelings of panic and fear
chronic health issues
you have recurring problems with your physical health that no longer respond to medication; you feel frustrated, tired and helpless from dealing with a long term health condition; you are curious about the link between your physical and emotional health; you live with or are close to someone suffering ongoing health issues and this is affecting your emotional wellbeing
you're struggling to get in touch with the creative vibrancy you once had; you've lost your sense of passion and wonder; you're curious about how your creative and emotional lives collide; you want to work on your issues in a spontaneous and creative way
feeling sad for ‘no reason’; low energy and tiredness; lack of motivation; feeling numb and dissociated; inability to see the meaning in what you are doing; lack of connection with friends and family; wanting to be alone; difficulty sleeping and getting up in the morning; feeling irritable; pleasure is unavailable
at work; at home; with life
feeling that life is pointless; feeling lost and confused about your purpose in life; feeling overwhelmed and helpless - carrying the weight of the world; difficulty finding meaning
how do you find your place in this world?
you feel lonely a lot of the time; you have friends but struggle to feel connected; you don’t have anyone you feel close to; you have close friends but are missing having a meaningful intimate relationship
lack of direction
you don’t know what you’re doing with your life; you feel bored; you haven’t found your passion
you have lost someone or something important to you; a sense of grief but with no apparent cause
you find yourself repeating relationship patterns that you don’t enjoy; you are struggling with your partner; you are struggling because you long for a meaningful relationship; your relationship history prevents you from making a loving connection with someone special; you find it hard to express yourself or ask for what you need in your relationships; you feel ‘maybe I’m just supposed to be alone’ but you don’t want to be
you want to understand yourself better; something, you don’t know what, is holding you back from fully living life; you have a lot of good things in your life, but you still feel something is missing
you feel exposed and self-conscious; certain situations lead you to withdraw and go silent and you’re not sure why; you don’t want to be looked at and find eye contact difficult; you feel small and find it hard to articulate what you are feeling; you feel disempowered
you find it hard to relax; your emotions feel uncontrollable e.g. you are prone to snapping or bursting into tears; you feel powerless to change your circumstances and are burning the candle at both ends
you might not feel you want to act on these feelings, but sometimes you think it would be better if you weren’t alive; you can’t share these kinds of thoughts with anyone
Hi, I'm Anna Nelson-Smith
I'm a qualified counsellor working with a Humanistic and Gestalt approach.
I would love to hear from you.
When I first began therapy I found it hard to know or identify my feelings accurately and I had little sense of connection to my body or sensations. I wasn’t actually aware that my body didn’t really feel a part of me, and my long-term somatic complaints only served to keep me further apart from my physical self.
This aspect of mind and body separation is important because it was getting in the way of my ability to feel happy. I was stuck in repeating relationship and work patterns, unsure of what I wanted in life.
Gradually, with the support of my therapist, I came to notice how much information my body had for me, and more specifically how my movement patterns said so much about my way of being in the world: as I came to inhabit my body more, and developed my self-awareness, I found a truer, more complete, version of myself.
These personal experiences and continued embodied enquiry inform how I practise as a counsellor and enable me to bring myself more fully and presently to the therapeutic process.
My Core Interests
The basis for my work as a counsellor comes from the belief that we are intricately connected to other humans, creatures, our local environment and the wider world. I think that it is sometimes our sense of disconnection from and hopelessness in relation to these things that can cause anxiety, stress and loneliness, even though we may not recognise this as part of our problem.
I am passionate about equality, and will always have time for discussions around identity and diversity. I approach our emotional world in a similar way: there is no issue too big or too small and all of our feelings are valid and deserve to be heard.
I am especially interested in Ruella Frank’s work on developmental movement patterns and how we develop in the first years of our lives – the non-verbal ways of communicating that we learn in tune with our caregivers and our environment that stay with us into our adult lives – and am currently undertaking professional training in this respect with the Developmental Somatic Psychotherapy program with the Center for Somatic Studies.
I believe that we are born from and into relationship: we are conceived from relationship and we rely on our mothers for survival in the womb and on our caregivers once we are born. We cannot survive alone. This is fundamental to understanding our needs as adults, even if we are not accustomed to thinking about our friendships, family ties, acquaintances or intimate encounters in these terms. Relationship is everywhere we are.
Therefore, I believe that effective healing also has to take place in relationship. This doesn’t have to be with another person, but it’s a good place to start.
Training Qualifications &
Continued Professional Development (CPD)
I am a fully qualified Humanistic counsellor and a Registered Member of BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy). I abide by the BACP ethical framework, and all our sessions will be confidential.
I regularly make use of CPD opportunities that support me to keep developing my skills and make sure that I am up to date with new research.
BSc (1st) in Reflective Therapeutic Practice (Middlesex University)
Diploma in Humanistic Counselling (Metanoia Institute)
Contemporary Trauma Practice (With Relational Change/Miriam Taylor)
Developmental Somatic Psychotherapy (Center for Somatic Studies/Ruella Frank)
Chronic Pain and Disrupted Early Attachments (Webinar)
The Hungry Ghost - A Biopsychosocial Perspective on Addiction (Webinar)
Working in an Existential Crisis (Online workshop)
Using Creative Arts Online (Online workshop)
Women on the Couch: understanding female desire (Seminar)
Animal Assisted Psychotherapy (Workshop)
Psychotherapy and the Natural World (Conference)
Suicide Awareness (Maytree workshop)
Understanding the Psychology of Abusers (Workshop)
Embodying Social Justice (Conference)
Therapy’s Embodied Styles (Gestalt Centre workshop)
British Gestalt Journal Seminar Day
The Loss of Innocence (Workshop)
Energetic Self-Care (London School of Biodynamic Psychotherapy workshop)
Attachment and Separation (Workshop)
Embodied Intersubjectivity (Chiron Association for Body Psychotherapists workshop)
What is Humanistic & Gestalt Counselling?
Humanistic counselling is a holistic approach to healing through relationship. At its core is the fundamental belief that deep down underneath your many layers, you are Okay. It believes, therefore, that you have the potential within yourself to grow and change and that you can facilitate your desire for growth through developing your self-awareness.
It rejects traditional models of diagnosis, preferring to place your experience at the centre of the work and allow your understanding of yourself to lead the therapy. This doesn’t mean it’s not challenging, as counselling can be at times, but rather it seeks to facilitate natural change processes in ways that are meaningful and sustainable for you.
Gestalt is a German word that has no direct translation to English but represents wholeness, with the idea of many parts coming together to make one shape or form. Gestalt therapy is more concerned with asking how rather than why something is as it is, and employs a range of creative ways of exploring and understanding your ‘self’, with the goal of becoming more aware of what you are feeling, thinking and doing in the present moment.
From a Gestalt perspective, your ‘self’ is understood as a process of contacting: what happens at the boundary between you and your environment? How do you make contact with your world and those around you? The way that you move about your world is a combination of many things – the different parts that contribute to the way you experience yourself as ‘whole’.
That means that all of you matters. You have many ways of knowing who and how you are, from your experiential in-the-moment perceiving to your cognitive thought processes and reflections: these are all relevant.
Please note I am currently only taking on new clients for short term work (3-6 months).
Sessions are 50 minutes and take place at the same time each week (although occasionally sessions can be moved).
Initial consultation – £50
Continuing sessions – £60
I hold a limited number of spaces at a concessionary rate. Please contact me for details.
I require one week's notice for cancellation of a session, otherwise the full session fee will be payable. This is because once your regular appointment time is booked, I reserve that slot for you and cannot see anyone else in this time.
Payment is due on the day the session is held, in cash, or by bank transfer prior to or during the session.
I have recently moved my practice from Sydenham to West Norwood, South East London:
443 Norwood Road
It's less than 5 minutes walk from Tulse Hill station and about 7 minutes walk from West Norwood station. It's within easy reach of Streatham, Dulwich, Crystal Palace, Brixton, Herne Hill, Peckham, Clapham, Norwood Junction and Norbury.
The entrance is off-road and discreet. Unfortunately there is no waiting room, so please do not ring the bell before your session time.
I regret that this room is not wheelchair accessible. If you would like to work with me and mobility is an issue, please get in touch as I might be able to make alternative arrangements.
Please note that I do not work with couples or under 18s.
Workshops & Events
Check here for upcoming workshops