Dr. Simon Draycott

Chartered Counselling Psychologist

Who I am

A big question, but I’ll try and keep it brief!

I’m 53 and have been practising as a Psychologist for over 25 years. As a Chartered Counselling Psychologist, I work with individuals, couples, groups and employers providing counselling, training and consultancy services. I use a wide range of approaches, models and techniques in my work because I feel this best serves the needs of my clients. I work face-to-face and via video.

Results matter a great deal to me and I’m a firm believer that real insight and change can only come about as a result of hard work and some risk-taking – this is as true for me as it is my clients.

Over the years, I have worked with a wide range of clients but I’ve consciously focused my energies on a relatively small number of issues, and these are where I have developed and narrowed my particular expertise and skillset.

Please select 'Areas where I can help' for examples.

Qualifications

PhD

Exeter University


Post-MA in Existential Counselling Psychology

City University, London


MA in Counselling Psychology

City University, London


Professional Certificate in Sex Addiction

ATSAC, London


MSc in Occupational Psychology

University of Hertfordshire


BA (Hons.) in Psychology and Philosophy IIi

University of Leeds

Affiliated bodies

As a member of the following professional and regulatory bodies, I am bound by their respective codes of conduct.


British Psychological Society (BPS)
www.bps.org.uk

Chartered Counselling Psychologist and Associate Fellow


Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
www.hcpc-uk.org

Registered Psychologist


British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
www.bacp.co.uk

Member


Association for the Treatment of Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity (ATSAC) www.atsac.co.uk

Member


Experience

I currently work or have worked in the past with the following organisations:

Business Health Services

Well-being Advisor, providing counselling, mental health well-being and business coaching services to corporate law firm employees, including design and delivery of psychoeducational group sessions.

The Laurel Centre

Clinical Associate, providing counselling and support to individuals and groups who engage in problematic compulsive sexual behaviours.

Innisfree Therapy

Practice Manager, managing clinical service delivery and provision of training, assessments, counselling and group facilitation at London-based treatment facility.

StopSO

Counselling Psychologist, reducing harm by working with sex offenders or those at risk of offending.

Terrence Higgins Trust (THT)

Counselling Psychologist, providing counselling and therapeutic support to individuals and couples, as well as provision of training to volunteer counsellors.

Mendas Ltd

Director and Business Psychologist, providing HR consultancy services to organisations across a range of industry sectors.

Relate

Counsellor, providing relationship counselling services to couples and individuals.

Sane

Volunteer, providing emotional, crisis support and information to people suffering from mental illness, their families and friends.

Addictions

Do you experience one or more of the following?

Feeling you drink too much
Worrying about how much porn you watch
Feeling sexually compulsive or out of control
Worrying about your recreational drugs use
Feeling at risk of engaging in illegal behaviours
Worrying about the type of porn you watch
Feel you have a problem with Chemsex
Worrying that your behaviours are escalating
Worrying you might be a sex addict
Feeling disconnected from people
Feeling guilty or ashamed about what you're doing
Feeling you use behaviours or substances to escape

How counselling can help:

Addictions and compulsive tendencies are often misunderstood. There is often an unhelpful focus upon the person’s behaviour e.g. watching porn or drinking excessively, and less on the nature of the addiction itself and why it’s there in the first place.

Counselling can help you abstain or change your behaviours but also to understand what the addiction is about. Only the latter will ensure there is long-term and sustainable change. Early counselling sessions typically focus upon relapse prevention tools and techniques. Later sessions help you better understand how you got here in the first place which may have its origins in trauma or past relationship difficulties.

Psychoeducation, including the latest developments in neuroscience to better understand the addictive process are often helpful. This paves the way for you to develop healthier ways of managing life’s inevitable difficulties.

There is a growing consensus amongst researchers and practitioners that addictive and compulsive behaviours are learned ways of being, dispelling the myth that ‘once an addict, always an addict’. This gives a huge amount of hope for clients wanting to change their lives for good.

Anger management

Do you experience one or more of the following?

Sudden bursts of anger or rage
Being easily irritated
Feeling your anger is out of control
Feeling guilt and shame about your angry outbursts
Promising yourself you won’t get so angry in future but finding it hard to deliver on that promise

How counselling can help:

Anger is a natural part of the human experience. At its worst, it can feel intense, overwhelming and beyond our control.

Counselling helps to better understand how you experience anger. This includes environmental and psychological triggers that led to the anger, as well as the aftermath.

By better understanding the experience of anger, counselling can help you slow things down and give you more choice in how you respond to people and situations. This, in turn, can helps you feel much more in control and not feeling like the dial will inevitably go from 0 – 10 in no time at all.

Counselling can also help to better understand your wider emotional world, how early life may have shaped this, and equip you to better regulate this world in a happy and healthier way.

Anxiety and stress

Do you experience one or more of the following?

Feeling worried about what people think about you
Feeling worried about your health
Feeling like an ‘imposter’ at work
Experiencing nausea or other aches and pains
Always finding for something to worry about
Feeling panicky
Feeling stressed out
Difficulty sleeping
Difficulty concentrating
Difficulty ‘switching off’
Feeling restless or on edge

How counselling can help:

Counselling can help you better understand the nature of anxiety and the important role it plays in our lives. It can help identify not just what makes you anxious, but why.

Whilst it may prove impossible or even undesirable to remove anxiety and stress completely, counselling can help better understand your thought patterns, recognise your particular triggers for anxiety, and to build coping mechanisms that work for you. This should help you avoid some of the ‘downward spirals’ you may have experienced in the past, and learn to live with stress and anxiety rather than experience them as frustrating at best, and overwhelming and debilitating at worst.

If you identify as ‘an anxious person’, counselling can also shed light on the origins of this and to help you relate to yourself differently if this is something you’re looking for.

Whilst often unwelcome, anxiety and stress are part of our everyday experience. Counselling acknowledges this and explores how to better manage it rather than trying to rid yourself of it. Counselling can serve as a useful alternative or as a complement to any anti-anxiety medication already prescribed by your GP.

Depression

Do you experience one or more of the following?

Difficulty getting up in the morning
Feeling tired and lethargic
Lack of appetite
Feeling ‘flat’
Wanting to withdraw from the world
Feeling little pleasure from anything you do
Feeling worthless or guilty
Having thoughts and feelings about ‘not wanting to be here’

How counselling can help:

Whether or not you have received a formal diagnosis of depression, you may be experiencing some or all of its symptoms. Counselling can help you better understand your experience of depression including how you’re thinking about yourself and life in generally. These insights pave the way for developing alternative ways of thinking and engaging with the world that in turn help you to feel less weighed down by life.

As with many other issues, counselling is not about finding a ‘cure’ but about understanding the nature of your depression, and using this understanding to help you find ways of living with it that allow you to function better without losing a sense of who you are. This work may involve looking back over past difficulties and how you navigated these.

Counselling can serve as a useful alternative or as a complement to any anti-depressant medication already prescribed by your GP, as well as a way of exploring what it’s like for you to be taking prescribed medication.

Life 'MOT'

Do you experience one or more of the following?

A feeling that something’s ‘not quite right’
Wondering where your life is going
Feeling a bit lost
Not feeling at ease with what’s going on around you
Asking yourself ‘what is it all about?’
Feeling like you need to ‘take stock’
Feeling paralysed by a big decision you need to make
Feeling like you use work to hide from what’s going on in the rest of your life

How counselling can help:

Counselling provides the opportunity to explore questions that may be niggling away in the background but which you’ve found difficult to face up to until now.

It’s an unfortunate truth that counselling can carry with it a stigma, with many assuming that ‘something must be wrong with you’ if you are choosing to see a counsellor. Nothing could be further from the truth in that counselling can be an incredibly useful mechanism for stepping out of the everyday, taking stock of your life, and deciding if and how you want to move forward in your life.

The ‘life MOT’ can take the form of a small number of initial weekly counselling sessions followed by monthly ‘check-ins’.

Relationships

Do you experience one or more of the following?

Struggling to make or hold on to friendships
Wanting to be in a relationship but struggling to find one or stay in one
Feeling socially awkward
Making the same mistakes in relationships over and over again
Finding it difficult to open up to others
Having problems communicating with your partner
A lack of intimacy in your relationship
Having feelings of jealousy, frustration or anger
Wanting to explore an open relationship
Feeling stuck or trapped in your relationship

How counselling can help:

Sessions can be conducted one-to-one or with a couple, either by video or in person.

One-to-one work can help you better understand how you relate to other people and what’s working and not working for you, whether this be friends, work colleagues, family or a partner. It can help identify what you want from an intimate relationship and why your current relationship, or past relationships haven’t worked so well for you. These insights can help you relate better to both yourself and the world of others, to really connect and avoid making the same mistakes you feel you’ve made in the past.

Couple counselling can help you manage conflict better and to reconnect with what you found attractive about one another when you first met. Having you both together can help you better understand why the relationship dynamics aren’t working like they used to or how you’d like them to.

Rather than trying to change one another, the counselling can help you better understand each other and better navigate differences. For some couples, it’s about managing the fall-out from discovering an affair or other sexual behaviour kept hidden from the other. Counselling can help provide a stable platform from which the couple can work to re-build trust if their intention is for the relationship to try and survive the rupture.

Self-esteem and self-worth

Do you experience one or more of the following?

Lacking in confidence
Feeling others are better than you
Bothered by an inner critical voice
Not being able to stand up for yourself
Feeling enraged or worthless when criticised
Easily influenced by other people
Giving yourself a hard time when you get something wrong
Going ‘with the flow’ when sometimes you don’t want to
Feeling ‘invisible’ around other people

How counselling can help:

Counselling can help you to understand yourself better, including what you value about yourself, how you relate to others and in what circumstances you don’t feel good about yourself or your abilities. Understanding the origin of these feelings often provides the key to changing them.

This understanding of yourself is likely to emerge from looking at past experiences and attempting to identify patterns in your thinking and behaviour, as well as the impact of significant others in your earlier life. This exploration will also help you better understand some of the choices you have made.

Knowing yourself better and creating some much-needed clarity can help you make different choices in the future. Work in the counselling room can also help you to forge new ways of thinking about yourself and situations which will translate into more positive feelings of self-worth.

Sexuality

Do you experience one or more of the following?

Feeling confused about your sexuality
Finding it difficult to ‘open up’ and let go in the bedroom
Feeling your sexual behaviour is ‘out-of-control’
Feeling anxious about ‘performing’ in the bedroom
Feeling at risk of engaging in illegal sexual behaviours
Involved in the Chemsex scene but not feeling comfortable with this
Feeling disappointed at the emptiness of your sexual encounters
Putting yourself at risk of HIV or other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?
Attracted to people of the same gender and not sure what to do about it
Having troubling sexual thoughts
Feeling lonely because you feel different to other people

How counselling can help:

Human beings are first-and-foremost, sexual beings. This can of course be a wonderful, life-affirming thing but also an aspect of our lives that can be very difficult to navigate. Our sexuality can present itself as confusing and we may feel the need to shut parts of ourselves away, or we may find it difficult to be intimate with another person.

Counselling can help you explore your sexual nature in a safe space. The process acknowledges how complex the issue is but unlike other problematic behaviours, the answer doesn’t lie in abstaining but in understanding and engaging with your desires to help you make more informed choices. This in turn should help you relate to yourself more authentically, and relate to others in a more satisfying way.

Work

Do you experience one or more of the following at work?

Feeling stressed
In a constant state of anxiety
Finding it hard to make decisions
Feeling unhappy and demotivated
Facing redundancy or recently made redundant
Wondering whether or not you are in the right job
Losing your temper
Feeling out of your depth and not able to cope
Feeling like you are stuck in a rut
Lacking confidence
Work taking on too much importance in your life
Difficulty 'switching off' from work

How counselling can help:

Counselling can help you feel less ‘stuck’ or ‘trapped’ at work by taking a step back to look at what’s going on for you and why.

By exploring the nature of your work and how you approach it, counselling can help you understand the nature of any stress and other difficulties that you may be experiencing. With this understanding, we can develop coping mechanisms or seek to change your circumstances to minimise the risk of stressful situations arising.

Counselling can help you re-connect with what you once found enjoyable about work and work out where your strengths really lie. It can help you take stock of your career. and help you decide if you want to make changes, and how you can bring these changes about.

The process of counselling can help put things in perspective by helping you to step away from your day-to-day reality and help you come to terms with where you currently are and where you may want to be.

First steps

The relationship between client and counsellor matters more than anything else. It’s one reason why I encourage the booking of an initial session, either face-to-face or via video or phone. Whilst you may get some feel for who I am and how I work by exploring this website, this initial session is your opportunity to assess whether the chemistry feels right for you, that you feel you can trust me, and satisfy yourself that we can work together productively.

Some people can feel vulnerable particularly when starting counselling and scared about what counselling might ‘bring up’ so it’s really important you feel safe and secure.

In this initial consultation we can discuss what you hope to get from counselling. I will also explain how the sessions work and answer any questions you might have.

If you are looking for couple counselling then both you and your partner would attend this session.

There is no charge for this initial consultation session and no obligation to decide there and then if you’d like to work with me. You may want some time to reflect on what you want to do next. Please be aware that I only work with people aged 18+.

You can request this initial 50-minute consultation session or ask any questions here.

Details about my on-going fees can be found here.

How sessions work

Different counsellors and therapists work in different ways but here are some of the basics. The initial consultation session offers the chance to find out more about how I work, and is covered in the First Steps section.

My aim is to help us both better understand your experiences, and to support you to come to terms with who you are and what is going on for you, or to help you make the changes you want to. The focus is on exploring your experiences rather than judging them.

My default approach is Existential-Phenomenological but I will draw from other models to best suit the sort of person you are and what you want to look achieve from counselling. These other therapeutic models include: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Mindfulness, Person-Centred Therapy, Attachment Theory, Internal Family Systems, Motivational Interviewing and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy.

Whilst the counselling models listed above play their part, of primary importance is the nature of the relationship we develop in the counselling room. This relationship should be defined by your being comfortable in working with me, and the relationship having boundaries that may be difficult to achieve elsewhere in your life. At times, the work may feel difficult or challenging but ultimately safe and productive. In fact, I believe there’s a case for saying the work is necessarily difficult to bring about meaningful change.

Counselling is different to what we experience in our everyday lives. It may feel strange at first but hopefully you will get used it.

During the course of the work, we will schedule in regular reviews to re-visit your initial aims, check how much progress is being made, and ensure you feel something useful and productive is taking place.

When starting, many clients ask the question ‘how many sessions do you think I need?’ Whilst I would love to give you a definitive answer, you are in fact the best person to judge this. With this in mind, you can book as few or as many sessions as you feel you need.

As a guide, 6-12 sessions would be considered as short-term work, with long-term work considered to be six months or more. How long we work together would be dictated to a large extent by the nature of the issues you want to address, and how useful you are finding the work. In the first instance, you may want to commit to a small number of sessions and then take stock to ensure that you are making the progress you are hoping for.

We may conclude that some work in between sessions would be helpful. The nature of this work would be agreed during the sessions. Examples might include keeping a regular diary, some recommended reading, doing things you don’t typically do, or trying out some communication exercises with your partner.

Counselling outcomes

Counselling shouldn’t be a series of cosy chats. If you are engaging in counselling it’s because you’ve identified a need and feel that counselling can help meet this need.

Regular reviews are built into the counselling process to ensure that we’re both working hard towards your stated aim.

How counselling can help should and will vary from individual to individual and couple to couple but if it helps, here are some examples of outcomes that my clients have experienced:

“I feel I know myself so much better”

“My partner and I have learned how to communicate with each other better”

“I understand why I keep making poor partner choices”

“I realise I shouldn’t be so hard on myself”

“We’ve actually realised we would be happier apart than together”

“I understand why I get stressed at work and have learned some useful coping mechanisms to deal with it”

“We’ve successfully negotiated an open relationship”

“I’m still angry with my parents for the way they brought me up but at least I feel I can live with that now”

“I just feel more positive about life and have more energy”

“I feel better able to stand up for myself”

“Now I can have sex without being on drugs”

“I know what my triggers are now and can better manage them”
Case study

This case study describes counselling work I conducted with a couple over the course of six months with names changed to maintain anonymity.

Background to clients

The clients are a couple that, at the start of counselling, had been together for 12 years, eight of which they have been married. The man, John was 36 and works as a financial consultant; the woman, Sara was 33 and worked as nurse. The couple had no children.

Sara’s presenting issue centred upon communication and the fact that she and her partner failed to communicate effectively with each other and make decisions. Also mentioned was the fact that Sara felt she had changed as a person, and John had failed to adjust to this change. For John, he reported being frustrated that Sara showed him little affection and was unclear how Sara felt towards him. John was also keen to start a family in the near future.

Theme 1 – Communication

Communication was a central theme that wove itself through the counselling process. There was a pervading sense in which Sara and John were somehow ‘missing’ each other.

Work was done to help provide a greater understanding of this process, focusing upon how each hears the other. This was done by making observations as to how the couple conducts a discussion or argument. On a number of occasions, for example, arguments would erupt around the issue of where they would live in the future. Instead of focusing upon the content of the argument, interventions were made so as to shine a light upon how the argument took place and how they experienced the argument.

This helped provide a greater understanding of what messages were being communicated and what assumptions were being made by each party. An on-going attempt was thus made to tune into each client’s respective world, by not just attending to what is being said, but the way in which it is said and the clients’ demeanour as a whole.

Theme 2 – Adapting to change

Sara saw herself as changing her outlook and the way she wanted to relate to the world. Specifically, she wanted more responsibility in the relationship and more involvement in the decisions that were made.

Linking to the exploration of ‘support’ described above, Sara felt increasingly uncomfortable being ‘looked after’ by John, of which financial support was just a small part. Sara wanted more respect to be shown towards her. It was important to Sara that she would become more assertive, not just with John, but in her life more generally. Conversely, John was resentful of the recent change that Sara had made to her job and career as it manifested itself in her working increasingly long hours, and drinking more than she used to in order to unwind.

Theme 3 – Finding meaning in the relationship

Although the concept of meaning-making was not raised by the clients explicitly, exploration of the material being presented made it clear that this constituted an important and pervasive issue throughout our time together. We were therefore dealing with one of life’s ‘givens’, that life is essentially meaningless, and that this constitutes one of its inherent qualities.

People have to decide how to live their lives. Focusing on this helped inform and focus the work with the couple in question. Specifically, there were anxieties expressed that could be made sense of in the context of re-establishing some meaning in their relationships together. What meaning there was, appeared to be ebbing away and there was a strong sense in which the two of them were ‘drifting along’, unable to make decisions and take some agency over how their present and future together might look. As John put it quite poignantly, they were doing no more than ‘marking time together’.

In our working to understand their lives together, there was a sense in which the clients were failing to value their lives in the present – they were valuing the past and, for John at least, seeking out value in the future in the form of a new family. This was valuable material with which to work as it resonated with the couple and was something they were both willing and able to explore more fully over the months we worked together.

Testimonials

'Working with Simon was one of the turning points of my life. I was having a very difficult time not only due to circumstances but also in low self-esteem, existential questioning and personal relationships. The weekly support from Simon was invaluable and changed my life. I could not recommend him more highly.'

  • -Stephen


“During my meetings with Simon, I was able to fully open up and was encouraged to express how I was coping and share my feelings. Simon would then help me to navigate through my issues, making them seem less big and more manageable. Simon was an absolute rock when I needed him most and I always felt safe and supported when talking to him.”

  • -Siobhan


“I started seeing Simon to help me come to terms and deal with a very difficult family situation. Simon supported me through a very difficult time and helped me understand my reactions and emotions. Our sessions have led to me making some courageous changes which have made me very happy. I've learnt how to put myself first and give myself permission to start living the life I want.”

  • -Alex


"I do feel it’s been a significant journey for me and I could not be more grateful for Simon’s patient, wise, skilful and compassionate help in this long and bumpy walk from and through this part of my life. I’ve not only survived but feel stronger and more self-aware than before and I credit much of that to Simon’s guidance."

  • -Ravi


Fees

An initial consultation session is offered free of charge. This can be done in person, via video or phone call. After that, fees are charged as follows:

Individuals

Time

Day

Fee per session

8am - 9pm

Mon - Fri

£85*


Couples

Time

Day

Fee per session

8am - 9pm

Mon - Fri

£85 - £95*


*Rates may vary if sessions are covered by your insurance provider (e.g. Aviva, AXA PPP, Cigna) or are offered via a referral service. For counselling students, a concessionary rate is available.


Cancellation terms: Sessions cancelled with at least 48 hours notice will not incur a charge.

Contact

Get in touch if you’ve got any questions or to arrange a free initial consultation by telephone, video or in-person (in Central Brighton)

Call me


Full details of my privacy policy can be found here.