Brad McLean is a counsellor and psychotherapist in Sydney. View his profile here.
Australia Counselling member Brad McLean is a counsellor and therapist that has come to the psychotherapy field from a background of communications.
He uses an effective theory and methodology with his clients called Relational Transactional Analysis.
Brad is passionate about working collaboratively and relationally with his clients, to help his clients feel more integrated and whole, leading to well being and good mental health.
Here’s what he had to say to us recently…
Tell us a bit about your practice – where it is, who you work with and the services you offer
I offer psychotherapy and counselling to individual and couples and my training is in an integrative approach called Relational Transactional Analysis. My practice is currently based at Therapy Space in East Redfern, Sydney. It’s a great practice space in a warehouse full of creative businesses and individuals making it an interesting place to work.
How did you become interested in counselling and working as a psychotherapist?
In my teens a teacher loaned me a copy of the book Man and His Symbols, the last book Carl Jung and colleagues wrote before his death in 1961. The same teacher invited me to attend a meeting at the Jung Society, which introduced me to a world I found fascinating.
I quickly read Freud’s Studies in Hysteria and The Interpretation of Dreams, which further whetted my appetite for all things psychotherapeutic but the book that really hooked me in was Games People Play by Eric Berne, the founder of Transactional Analysis. I was about 16 at the time and at that point I knew that I would one day pursue a career in this area but I also knew I needed a lot of life experience to do the sort of psychotherapy I wanted to do so I studied nursing and later journalism. It was 20 years before I did my four-year psychotherapy training at the Australian Centre for Integrative Studies in Sydney.
How do you believe people change and what supports long-lasting change?
It is interesting to think about whether change is the goal of the therapeutic endeavour. Sometimes I believe the idea of ‘change’ can set up an unrealistic idea that therapy will always be very tangibly transformative. While it’s true that many people approach therapy with a desire to change, for me I like to think about the process as one of integration.
Many elements contribute to long-lasting change including an effective therapeutic relationship, the development of a coherent and flexible sense of self and a capacity to access internal resources that serve us well. From my perspective, a sense of spontaneity, autonomy, awareness and a capacity to feel OK about intimacy are some of the indicators that some significant integration or long-lasting change has occurred.
Tell us about your approach and why you believe the way you work is effective in helping people change.
My training is in relational transactional analysis, an approach that integrates cognitive, humanistic and psychodynamic thinking about the psychotherapy process.
With such an approach I can work in different ways with different clients. We often talk about how much evidence there is for the effectiveness of psychotherapy and while this is the case, what’s really emerging strongly now is that therapists who coherently integrate different approaches, and importantly, tailor these to the client’s requirements, are the most likely to be effective.
Relational Transactional Analysis offers the therapist a host of options from working very cognitively to very deeply with clients and I think this flexibility is the key to helping people change – if that is the goal of the work. Of course it can never be reiterated enough that a coherent therapeutic frame, clearly delineated boundaries, a strong ethical framework, regular quality supervision and ongoing education are fundamental to quality practice and I believe attending to these factors contributes enormously to the effectiveness of the practitioner.
Tell us what a client can expect to experience in an initial counselling session with you
I think the best way to answer this question is to think about what I would like someone to take away from his or her first session with me.
Firstly, that a sense of mutual collaboration is conveyed, secondly, that the client gets a sense of the nature of the therapeutic work and third, that the client feels they have been able to seek as much information about both myself, and the work that they need at that time.
My approach is always conversational and I like to encourage as much self-exploration as the client is comfortable with.
Finally, I hope that the very embryonic stages of a therapeutic alliance might begin to take shape. Of course I always cover the aspects of what transactional analysts call the ‘business contract’ in the first session such as session time, costs, confidentiality etc.
On a personal note, tell us something that you’re passionate about or love to do in your spare time
Having recently pulled back from a busy career in communications to focus on my practice I am really passionate about using my communications skills to promote psychotherapy to the general public.
The profession needs a publicity campaign, the expertise of marketers and the skills of social media experts to help the public engage with just how clinically effective psychotherapy is.
I’m passionate about a number of things but the key one would communications. I have been a magazine editor, a corporate relations manager and a journalist in the past – so I love to write and will be focusing on writing about psychotherapy over the coming year as my contribution to this important push and I will be championing the work of therapists through this work.