Mario's FAQs

Why would I go to a counsellor? What can I expect to get out of it?

This is an opportunity to be heard in a deeper way, without judgment or an agenda. It’s a time to tell your story to someone with the skills and experience to support you on your inner journey; a time to explore your emotional history and how it impacts your present situation. A counsellor can be a catalyst for a deeper understanding of yourself, for your self-acceptance and for making life-affirming choices.

Most clients come to me because of a crisis or a traumatic event which challenges their basic assumptions of stability, safety, support and well-being— divorce, loss of a job, children growing up and leaving home on their own journeys, an illness in the family, bereavement, violence or a serious accident— any of these events can trigger a deeply introspective and painful period.

Many of my clients come with feelings of depression, anxiety, stress, loneliness or grief, or because of challenging personal circumstances. At first we focus on accepting the present situation as it is and accessing freedom from the burdens of their emotional history. There can often be a feeling of renewed confidence and self-esteem within the first few sessions.

Some clients will continue their sessions beyond the initial period of crisis and come to view counselling as an integral part of their personal care and complimentary health plan. Further sessions can offer improved self-esteem, personal growth, heightened awareness, and self-actualisation.  back to top 

 

What is Reiki and how can it help me?

Reiki is a simple but powerful healing technique which enhances and balances the life force in the chakras allowing the recipient to return to a natural state of health. The benefits to physical, emotional and spiritual well-being can be profound. Reiki can also enhance the effectiveness of other therapies. During counselling sessions reiki energy can enhance sensitivity and awareness, assisting the client to go deeper.

Reiki was developed by Mikao Usui through his studies of ancient Buddhist healing practices. Hands-on or distant healing sessions are available by appointment. Mario also offers training and attunements Reiki for self-healing or working with others. Click here to find out more…     back to top

 

What are the sessions like?

Sessions are generally an hour long and entail a dialogue between my client and myself. We begin with an internal-survey, checking in with what is presently experienced.

Staying with this present-time experience gently deepens emotional awareness and can lead to a spontaneous release of often-painful memories. The client is supported and encouraged through this stage and, being provided with emotional nourishment, the client’s defences can slip gently away allowing a new awareness and renewed feelings of vitality to be experienced. 

The session usually ends with a return to normal consciousness and a summary conversation to anchor any new awareness, experiences or life decisions firmly into the client’s bodily-felt presence.  back to top 

 

What is Hakomi Therapy?

Though I draw from an eclectic array of therapeutic tools, Hakomi therapy, created by Ron Kurtz, remains the foundation of the counselling I do with my clients. It is a body-centred therapy – the bodily-felt experience of emotion and stored memories is its main reference point.

Kurtz’s unique contribution to humanistic psychology was in his use of supportive phrases and therapeutic touch which can bridge barriers specific to each person’s emotional character issues. Eliciting a light trance state called ‘Witnessing’, the Hakomi therapist provides a remarkable degree of emotional safety, allowing the client to go very quickly to deeply-defended memories and to make new life choices organically in response to a revised awareness of these old issues.  back to top 

  

How many sessions will it take to solve my problems?

The length and frequency of the therapy depends completely upon the needs and intentions of each client. After an initial series of weekly sessions usually focused around a pressing crisis, many clients choose to continue with monthly or fortnightly sessions as an element of their personal care and well-being.

For me, life is not a series of problems to be solved or fixed. But the increased awareness which this therapy offers will often produce feelings of improved well-being within the first few sessions. This experience can continue to deepen, offering new life choices and new opportunities for awareness for as long as the therapy continues.

My viewpoint, and the basis of the work I do with clients, is that human life is a continuum of experience providing opportunities for awareness and an ever-deepening consciousness— from painfully unconscious experiences, to an evolved awareness of human love and support, self-actualization, creative expression and on toward the sublime experience of the divine. Transformational counselling can provide a strong support system for your personal journey.  back to top 

 

I suffer from depression and take antidepressants. Can you help me?

Yes. Though I am not a psychiatrist, I have a great deal of experience in this area. Antidepressants will not interfere with access to awareness, though they can sometimes buffer the emotional experience of the process. For this reason, some clients may choose to wean themselves off antidepressants as part of their evolution toward greater well-being; I have worked together with clients and their psychiatrists for this purpose.

Other clients, especially those suffering with bipolar syndrome, find that pharmaceuticals are required for their mental balance and well-being and this need not be a deterrent to seeking the deepening awareness and sense of purpose which transformational counselling can offer.  back to top 

 

I’ve been suffering from depression and anxiety as a result of ‘the troubles’. Given you’re not from around here and have no direct experience of what we’ve been through here, do you think you can help me?

I have found that “not being from around here” doesn’t diminsh the effectiveness of this therapy and may in fact give my counselling objectivity, an outsider’s fresh point of view which can be helpful.

Because the sessions are client- and body-centred, focusing on your own present-time experience, my role as a supportive and emotionally nourishing ally in your process is unaffected by the political or emotional history of the conflict. From this starting point everything required for your awareness and emotional evolution can flow.  back to top 

 

I frequently feel suicidal and have once attempted to take my own life. Can help me?

Yes. The counselling I offer can form part of your safety net along with support groups and psychiatric or medical intervention. I can help you find the deep roots of your depression or compulsion and the reasons you sometimes feel self-destructive, and will support you in exploring new sources of hope and self-belief.

However, if you are right now feeling self-destructive, please contact the Suicide Prevention Helpline (www.samaritans.org) where someone can speak to you right away:

phone - UK:  08457 909090; NI: 02890 664422  ROI:  1850 609090  back to top 

 

Can you help me with addiction issues?

If you know and can say that you are an addict then you are already on your road to well-being. I work with clients with addiction issues as additional support to a structured intervention and treatment program, and remaining in such a program would be a condition of continuing our work together.  I can help you explore the underlying emotional causes of your addiction and to develop new ways of thinking, feeling and acting which can supplant the destructive behaviours leading to substance abuse.

If you are not already in treatment, please ring NICAS – Northern Ireland Community Addiction Service – Tel: 028 9066 4434 – which provides individually tailored treatment programmes.  back to top 

 

Since my husband’s death I have suffered terrible grief and my life feels empty. How would you work with me and what can I expect?

Grief is a process which has its own distinct stages and duration.

You may be familiar with the five stages of death and dying (grief) presented by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross: 1 denial, 2 anger, 3 bargaining, 4 depression, and 5 acceptance.

A further development of her pioneering work defines seven stages with slightly different emphasis: 1 shock & denial; 2 pain & guilt; 3 anger & bargaining; 4 depression, reflection & loneliness; 5 the upward turn; 6 reconstruction & working through; 7 acceptance & hope. These are more specific to the grief experienced by living survivors of loss. It is important to realise that this is not a mechanical model— the person moves fluidly in and out of the stages in no fixed order, sequence or number of times. It can often feel out of your control, overwhelming and disabling. It is helpful to remember that most adults will experience loss of a loved one and grief at some time in their lives, and that grief does eventually come to a resolution for most.

In working with grief, it is essential to allow all the feelings space within your awareness, to feel them deeply, yet not to become fixated or stuck in one stage of the process, on one set of feelings. So I would work with you in a very spacious, supportive way to aid your awareness of the stages as you move through them—where are you now? what does that feel like? what part of your body is affected?  And I would help you to feel and release these feelings so your progress through your grief continues unimpeded toward its natural resolution.  back to top 

 

Can you help me with my OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is usually treated with behavioural modification therapy which focuses on changing the ritualistic behaviours which present. My counselling is an awareness-based, transformational therapy. What I can help you to explore is the deep-seated, emotional and perceptual roots of the symptoms which can cause so much suffering. Once encountered as a bodily-felt experience this awareness will give you a foot-hold for making new life choices; improvements in the outer symptoms organically arise as an expression of inner transformation.  back to top 

 

My relationships never work out and I can’t seem to find the right person. Does what you do help with these kinds of issues?

Yes. But, for a moment, imagine reframing your question as “I can’t seem to be the right person and I never work out my relationships…” To attract the kind of relationships you want you must first thoroughly know yourself; the many parts of yourself will have to be put into right relationship, balancing and actualising all your inner resources.  This changes everything.

As you accept more responsibility for your present relationships and develop a deeper sense of personal integrity, the quality of relationships and people you attract into your life changes. The law of attraction determines that you always have what and whom you need to further your life’s purpose, your highest good. This is the approach I take in relationship counselling and it applies to all aspects of social interaction. back to top

 

I am very stressed and pressurised at my job. Would you be able to help me with this?

I can certainly help you with stress-reduction and relaxation techniques. Much can be achieved in simply changing your response to job pressures. There may also be other factors causing your stress, such as inefficient working practices, a disorganised mind, low self-esteem and lack of assertiveness, or wrong choice of work, with which transformational counselling can help. As well, your stress at work may be part of a larger life transition or crisis. In this instance, my counselling can certainly be of great value.

In exploring these internal factors of your job stress, other issues may present themselves, for example: poor or abusive treatment by supervisors; dangerous conditions; lack of advancement opportunities. These issues may require other avenues of intervention and advice.  back to top 

 

My teenage son has no sense of purpose or interest in anything. He’s angry and mixes with the wrong crowd. Can you help him?

Adolescence is a serious and difficult life transition which impacts the teenager him or herself and equally affects the family. It is a time of life when meaning, identity and life’s purpose seem to shift hourly; when the child is becoming an adult but has not yet fully developed rational decision-making or adult emotional boundaries. Hormones, peer pressure, learning stress, and fragile romantic relationships— any one of which can drive a fully-mature adult to distraction— assail our teenager continuously.

The strength or weakness of the family bond is sorely tested at this time, and any shortcomings in parenting abilities will become evident. This and the natural rebelliousness of the new adult can be threatening to parents and may severely hinder their ability to be the kind but firm support they would like to be.

I take great care in assessing whether I am the right person to counsel a certain adolescent. My assessment requires I meet with our young adult twice on his or her own and once together with the parents during a period of a month, after which the decision is made whether to proceed. It is a decision which will require a firm commitment by all concerned for the duration. Not every teenager is ready to begin this exploration. Not every parent is able to support it. It is a process that has its own time scale which can’t be rushed or interrupted.

As always, my primary focus is on awareness and transformation— rather than on behaviour or opinion. My counselling is based on the idea that everything a person requires can be found inside, within the spirit, if you will. The aim is to aid the young adult in discovering and developing his or her own nature, values, and character organically from within. By learning to be present in an open, curious manner, over time he or she learns to find answers to questions and to make clear, confident decisions.

There are many qualified therapists and agencies which specialise in this area. I usually ask parents to refresh their parenting skills during this period of work in a recognised parenting course. This will minimise the disruption to the family and other children and usually has the effect of re-establishing good communication within the family group.  back to top 

 

How is Yoga, Sufism or Zen relevant to the counselling work you do?

Previous to my training in Hakomi Therapy, I spent more than a decade exploring various spiritual paths. I studied hatha, shakti and jnana yoga before taking initiation in universal Sufism and embarking on 12 years’ intensive training— advancing to the station of khalif, counselling and training individuals and mentoring teachers in five Sufi centres in Pacific NW America. During this period I also received training in Rinzai Zen meditation and pursued a personal comparative study of the mystical aspects of the world’s major religions.

My spiritual focus has paralleled my studies in psychology, creativity and communication and has informed those studies and my counselling, developing my emphasis on awareness, transformation and self-actualisation.

While counselling clients initially to address a crisis or painful issue, exploring the person’s nature, emotional history and inner life, our sessions often approach a stage of developing character strengths and spiritual values. Some clients will choose to take training in concentration, contemplation and meditation which I can offer.  back to top 

 

I’m very disillusioned with my life and life in general. My religion doesn’t seem to provide me with the spiritual will I’m lacking. I’m fascinated with how different your experience is and wonder if your spiritual mentoring could help me find meaning?

The mentoring I can offer will help you to find the deep meaning and spiritual values which already reside within you. Religion often neglects this fact, imposing a historically accepted moral structure and rituals which may not suit every aspirant. My perspective is spiritual without being religious per se, allowing each student to fully explore every aspect of their nature and to develop strong character traits and a unique spiritual perspective.  back to top 

 

I’ve been meditating for a long time and feel a strong spiritual connection. However I’m not very fulfilled and feel I need to grow in other ways. How would you work with me?

My work is to assist you to experience, accept and transform your emotions into the highest, most refined feelings of gratitude, love, peace, joy and harmony, releasing your natural intelligence and actualising your abundant creative potential— in this way to discover your life’s purpose and to contribute to human evolution.

Always we begin with the bodily-felt sense of the present moment in open, curious exploration, seeking an alignment with a deeper sense of purpose and engaging your natural talents – whatever they reveal themselves to be – to discover your personal source of inspiration and self-expression. This is a long-term exploration requiring a strong commitment to your personal journey and offers deeply-satisfying results.       back to top 

 

How do you work with creativity issues?

As an artist and a poet, I have had a lifelong interest in the area of creativity. I have taught classes and workshops on discovering your creative wellspring and self-expression.

Creativity has many aspects and modes of expression. In the most general sense, creativity is the natural outpouring of a person who is self-aware and at ease with him or herself. Creativity has sensual, personal, emotional, intellectual and social facets which may be developed and expressed. Emotional exploration and deepening awareness will naturally find an expression in a person’s creativity; and creative activities such as journaling or sketching may enhance and deepen inner awareness. I encourage and help my clients to utilise and develop their creativity and communication skills to further their inner exploration and personal transformation.

A creative block can have many possible causes: lack of exploration or development in early life; issues of personal will or discipline; fear of rejection; performance anxiety. It may stem from self-judgment, clinging to old techniques or ideas or from rejection of new inspiration. Or the creative person may simply be in an unrecognised period of gestation and transition to new ideas. All these possibilities can be explored and helpful exercises suggested.

I have often found that creative expression per se, is best approached indirectly, almost unconsciously, while focussing on personal awareness, communication, relationship, and generally becoming more comfortable in one’s own skin. Techniques and suggested reading will be offered to develop a better relationship with the creative unconscious.  back to top