Sylvia Karathanos

Counselling and Psychotherapy

 I am an experienced counsellor and psychotherapist, offering a safe, confidential and non-judgemental space to enable you to address any issues that bring you to counselling. I consider respect, understanding and compassion as fundamental in our work together. My underlying orientation in our sessions is mindfulness: cultivating present moment awareness; thereby re-educating and soothing the nervous system to enhance well-being.

While we can’t change the fact that life can be challenging, painful and overwhelming at times, we can change how we relate to these difficult experiences and to ourselves. This is where counselling and psychotherapy can be helpful.

I work with an integrative approach, drawing from a range of therapies and tools. This enables us to address all aspects of our humanity in the work together: the emotional, mental, physical and spiritual. My intention is always to use the approaches and tools most appropriate and useful for you and your situation on your path towards wholeness and self-compassion.  

In sessions we might work creatively. This may include drawing, the use of sand-tray and figurines, as well as movement.  Working creatively can often allow surprising aspects, insights or solutions surface.

At times cognitive approaches (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, CBT) are helpful, for example when working with limiting thoughts, beliefs and assumptions that we may have learned – often unconsciously – along the way and that are now causing us unnecessary stress.

Often approaches exploring the emotional level can be valuable, not only to understand the historic origins of emotional patters but also to develop a greater ability to process, experience and release even strong emotions.

With gentle body awareness exercises we are able to explore our physical experience and access information that the body holds. This can deepen our understanding of ourselves, often beyond what are conscious of, helping us over time to feel a greater sense of freedom and safety.

At times I will offer mindfulness practices (see below: ‘The Work of Byron Katie’), which can be very effective to connect to the part in ourselves that is already whole, unharmed and well, beyond – or prior to - any sense of difficulties and limitations we might have.

Areas of my work include:

The after-effects of trauma (such as accidents, abuse, illness and loss). Relationship difficulties, bereavement, anxiety, depression, stress, panic, parenting difficulties, unhappiness, hopelessness, dissatisfaction, loss of meaning and more. 

I offer short term as well as longer term work.

I am a registered member of the BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) and aspire to follow their ethical framework.

I draw from training and experience in:

Gestalt Therapy

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  • Internal Family Systems Therapy
  • Compassion Focused Therapy
  • Sensorimotor Psychotherapy
  • Expressive Arts Therapy
  • Bereavement counselling

I continue to attend additional training and retreats.

The Work of Byron Katie – group and individual sessions

 I offer 'the Work of Byron Katie', in individual sessions and for couples, in person in Totnes as well as over the phone/internet and also in a fortnightly group that runs termly. I also offer regular daylong and weekend workshops in Totnes.

This simple yet profound mindfulness process of Self-Inquiry can be helpful and effective with relationship issues, and many situations of emotional difficulty.

It can also valuable to those who are 'just' curious, longing to know themselves more intimately and to develop more self-compassion. 

With ‘The Work of Byron Katie’™ we identify and question the stressful thoughts that prevent us from enjoying life and addressing its challenges with clarity.

‘The Work’ meets us wherever we are. When we immerse ourselves in the meditative practice of inquiry, we can discover the freedom, peace & creativity that lie beyond our conditioned stressful beliefs and assumptions about life, others and ourselves. Through ‘The Work’ as a meditation we begin to bring everything within ourselves into the ‘light’ of conscious awareness and finally begin to meet it all with love and understanding.

‘The Work’ is simply four questions and a ‘turnaround’, which is a way of experiencing the opposite of what you believe. It is so simple that anyone with an open mind can do it. It allows us to tap into our own innate stillness and wisdom, rather than relying on the knowledge, answers or experience of others. With this practice we find that all the answers we ever need are always available inside us if we are still, quiet and open to them. Through practicing ‘The Work’ we wake up to our own kind and loving nature.

In that way, it is immensely re-assuring as well as liberating.

'The Work of Byron Katie', is a kind of enhanced mindfulness practice. 'The Work has been called Self-help, but it is far more than that: it is self-realisation. As we question a stressful thought, we see for ourselves what is untrue; we get to look at cause and effect of it, to observe in sobering detail exactly what modes of pain and confusion result from believing it; then we get a glimpse into the empty mirror the world beyond our story of the world, and see what our life would be like without the thought; and finally we get to experience the opposite of what we have so firmly believed and to find specific examples of his these opposites are true. Once we deeply question a thought, it loses its power to make us suffer, and eventually it even ceases to arise. "I don't let go of my stressful thoughts", Katie says. "I meet them with understanding. Then they let go of me." (From Byron Katie's new book: ‘A mind at home with itself. Finding Freedom in a World of Suffering' 2017)

No one needs to have experienced depression or trauma to benefit from ‘The Work’, even though those issues can be explore with The Work also. Anyone who has an interest in peace and more clarity of mind can gain from this simple tool.

Trauma sensitive Yoga – Reclaiming your body

I have been a Yoga teacher for over 20 years and have experienced myself how profoundly the practice of Yoga can help overcome the aftereffects of trauma. This makes sense, as ‘one of the common denominators of all trauma is an alienation and disconnection from the body, and a reduced capacity to be present in the here and now’ (Peter Lavine, 2011). Through Yoga we look inwardly, and gradually befriend our physical sensations, relearn to inhabit our body and overcome the imprints of trauma. (Bessel van der Kolk 2011).

However, a general Yoga class can easily be overwhelming and triggering for students who are affected by the aftermaths of trauma.

Mindful, trauma-sensitive Yoga can provide a safe and healing context for the body to experience a calming of the nervous system, and for the practitioner to find safe ways to sooth themselves. This in turn helps to have increased present moment experience, and to regain a sense of safety and relaxation.  As we increase our capacity to stay present with our inner sensations, we can develop our self-compassion.

This Yoga class can be supportive of any Trauma- or Psychotherapy you might be undergoing.

Recommended reading:

David Emerson, Elizabeth Hopper: Overcoming Trauma through Yoga. Reclaiming your Body. (2011)

Deirdre Fay: Attachment-Based Yoga and Meditation for Trauma Recovery. (2017)

Contact: 

Tel: Sylvia Karathanos 01803 868 379