Dr. Ajay Khandelwal Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy & Counselling
near Southwark and Waterloo, SE1

About me. Ajay NAPA image

Counsellor Waterloo; Psychoanalysis, Psychotherapy, Counselling next to Southwark Tube in Comfortable and Peaceful Surroundings in Borough High Street, Waterloo

My name is Ajay Khandelwal. I am a psychotherapist with 25 years experience of working with adults in difficulties who are experiencing some form of suffering.

My practice is running throughout August and I can usually see you within a week. The fee for the an initial assessment is £80.

Intensive Care in South London and W1.

What does a psychotherapist do?

We provide "intensive care." We don't work with organ failure or serious medical illness, but we have the tools to work with all sorts of psychological distress. We don't have specialist beds or monitoring technology; but we do have highly developed listening capacities and the ability to notice distress signals in your psychological functioning.

I can see you near London Bridge at no 42 Borough High Street SE1; alternatively I can see you in the West End (close to Baker Street, Marleybone, Oxford Circus, Warren Street, Great Portland Street tubes) in W1 (Boxtree Clinic, Devonnshire Street W1W 5DT). I provide a "talking/listening cure" for psychological difficulties.
My central london rooms are click here

My London Bridge rooms are click here

If you are looking for psychological help, psychotherapy, counselling, or innovative psychoanalysis in South London or Central London please do get in touch. I am a fully qualified and experienced counsellor and psychoanalyst and specialise in working with high achieving professionals in difficulties.

I can help with the following problems:

Cultural and Identity issues
Lack of Meaning
Sexual Issues
Self Development
Relationship Issues
Psychosomatic illnesses
Suidical and self-destructive thoughts
Career issues
Family difficulties
The Psychological Impact of health conditions

My approach:

I tend to work with people on a longer term basis, usually meeting for 50 minutes every week. I can tailor this based on what emerges from our initial consultation. I offer counselling, psychotherapy and psychoanalysis from excellent locations in both South and Central London. I am a counsellor/psychotherapist/psychoanalyst working from Waterloo, and central London.


I am psychoanalytical pscyhotherapist registered with the main professional bodies such as: BACP, UKCP, and College of Psychoanalysts UK.
I read Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford University, and hold a PhD with research based on understanding intergenerational family dynamics. I have 25 years experience of helping people with mental health difficulties. I am the founder and clinical director of a London Psychotherapy service.


All sessions are confidential.

Its August...it's playtime...

Donald Winnicott was a prolific psychoanalyst and paediatrician. He’s been brought back to life in the graphic novels of Alison Bechdel, in “Are you My Mother?” She brings him to life in her imaginative drawings and musings in order to think about her own relationship with her parents and her experience of therapy. I’m sure Donald would have approved. For him, psychotherapy was not supposed to supposed to be severe and austere. No. He would have been appalled by that. He believed that to truly be alive was to play. In playing we are truly being ourselves, truly living in the world; we expressing our deepest creative selves. Winnicott argued that too often we have to confirm to social norms. In his own case, he had to hide his true self, because, as a child, he had to somehow enliven his depressed mother. As a result, he believed, his “true self” went into hiding, and he ended up inhabiting a “false self.” This split often happens when a child has to hide some aspect of their authentic being due to a breakdown or difficulties in their family. However, Winnicott believed that through therapy, the patient and analyst could rekindle this “true self.”
Winnicott enjoyed being with his patients, and would sometime spend hours not saying very much, in comfortable silence. Like a mother and child, he would allow his patients to regress to an earlier time in their lives and minds. He would provide a “holding environment”, a “facilitating environment”, just like a mother would tend to their child. He would also encourage them to be creative and follow their imaginations. For him, playing revealed the deeper layers of the self. When he worked with children he often used games to work with their innate playfulness. In the Squiggle game he would ask them to draw a random line, and then he would respond by adding to it, and then they would squiggle some more. Then they would sit around and play, speculating at what the image represented. In another game, he would encourage the child to play with a spatula, again, using this as an opportunity to learn about their inner worlds.
For many people August is a break from the social norms of working life, where we may feel compelled, at least sometimes, to inhabit a “false self.” The holiday season allows a falling away of the concerns around productivity and work, and entry into “deep play.” 700 page books on obscure themes, sandcastles, siestas, and so on. All of these are forms of play for the mind. Winnicott used to make his own Christmas cards and was often found doodling. Even so, he was no slouch and managed to publish several books and 200 academic papers, alongside a busy clinical practice. But for him, this would be of no value, unless he was free to play. In fact, he had a very serious heart attack in New York, overwhelmed by a hostile reception for a paper he presented and unhappy marriage. He eventually decided that he was living from his “false self” and divorced his first wife. He went on to have a very happy second marriage, where he felt he was truly himself. But even in a happy relationship, he believed that a person needed to be “incommunicado” sometimes, just alone, being, playing. In such spontaneous moments a person was really alive.

Should I Depend on Others?

The Japanese psychoanalyst Takeo Doi wrote the non-fiction book The Anatomy of Dependence (甘えの構造 Amae no Kōzō) in the 1970s to explore the issue of dependency. He argued that the ideal relationship was that of parent / child, which obviously has heaps of dependency built-in; and that this type of relationship should serve as a prototype for all other relationships. Forget equality and being responsible for yourself! No, according to Doi, deep satisfaction comes from really depending on another, sometimes in what we might think of as childish ways.

Trying to get your partner to pick you up from the station when you could walk home, or a cup of tea in the morning, these are all extremely important things to aim for. Make them feel guilty, sulk, act helpless, do whatever it takes. Equally important is to indulge your partner’s desire to depend on you in this fashion. In this version of living we are creatures with our own unique desires and quirks; and we need someone to accommodate them, indulge them.

We don’t want to be using all our capacities all the time like some worker drone machine. Doi thought that “amae” was more prevalent in Japanese society; but perhaps it is just as prevalent in the West but is more hidden. Everyone is busy strutting about showing off their “independence” (until they get ill, or lose their job, their partner, or get struck down by some other blow). Perhaps people express their dependence in private, to their therapists? Exhausted by being resilient and independent, I wonder if therapists provide an arena where it is ok to bring this shadow material?

Let me give you some more examples. Your son is five years old, and he asks you to do up his laces. Fair enough, he needs your help. This is normal dependency, because the child lacks the capacity to do his own laces. Imagine that your son is eleven years old and she makes the same request. You can either respond by saying “do it yourself”, or you can indulge him and say, “of course, sit down, I’d love to help you with that.” This second approach embodies the spirit of “amae”: your son experiences the feeling of pleasurable dependence. He has the ability to tie his laces, but he would rather you did it.

Doi argues that children are always trying to get their parents to indulge them, through this type of dependency. Similarly, adults may seek to be indulged in this way, by their employer or spouse. Your partner comes home drunk and asks you to help them undress. You could say, “do it yourself. I am not responsible for your drunken state”; or you can carefully undress them and help them into their pyjamas.

For many people the second approach feels like a living hell. Remember all those books about co-dependency. Aren’t you simply enabling an alcoholic? Isn’t it pathological to try and get someone else to meet your needs in such a way? Isn’t it better to just look after your patch, your life and leave others to tend to theirs? Aren’t we supposed to be independent and resilient? Indulging your children/partner will lead to incapacitating them, stunting their growth and development. Well, yes, these are all valid points. Perhaps you need to give your partner a jolt, an ultimatum, and there is a better life without carrying their luggage.

But Doi convincingly argues that we all have a desire to depend on others and it’s better to notice it and give it some space. There are more or less painful ways to do this. The western myth of the self-made man / woman is just that, a fantasy. All of us are interdependent on others. Yet, perhaps we find our profound levels of dependency on others too much to bear, so we try and hide it. We act as if we can take care of ourselves, alone. We can diagnose ourselves over the Internet, and we can create our own treatment plans. Perhaps we can track things on an app? We can remove our need to depend on a living, breathing other.

Nowadays patients are sometimes called service users, or clients, or analysands. The term patient often evokes too much passivity and we like to think of ourselves as empowered active participants in our mental health. There is a great deal to be said for this, and of course, in therapy, you are doing most of the work. If you were passive, nothing would change. However, whether you see yourself as a patient or a client, you are depending on your therapist. Is that so bad? The experience of depending on another person can allow you to explore areas of your life that would be off-limits alone. Nowadays, dependency is devalued. If you go to your GP you have five minutes, and you don’t want to be a burden. You will have done some Internet research before your appointment. However, there used to be a tradition of psychotherapeutic doctors, such as Michael Balint, who would meet with his patients after the surgery closed. He would like to get know all about their families and lives. He believed that he could only understand their difficulties in the context of their entire lives. He would allow his patients to depend on him.

This is becoming more and more difficult in modern healthcare. We know that 1/3 of GP appointments are not for any specific biological problem, often termed as “medically unexplained symptoms”. But how can the doctor get to the heart of the matter if they only have six minutes to spend with the patient? It puts both the doctor and the patient in an very difficult position. Both parties have to stick to surface niceties, even if there are much deeper things going on.

Psychoanalyst Darian Leader and David Corfield (Why do People Get Ill?) did some research and found that people often go to the GP on the anniversary of a significant bereavement, such as the death of spouse or parent. It’s understandable the patient may not be feeling well, but it’s unlikely the doctor will have the space to find out the reason. Six minute consultations limit the ability of the patient to express their dependency on the doctor and really think about what it going on.

Our health and ill health are likely to evoke extremely powerful experience of dependency. Doctors, nurses, medical staff and psychotherapists seek to attend to such primitive anxieties and provide a container for them in the therapeutic relationship. In order to do this, they have to be “dependable”, and the patient / client has to be able to depend on them.

Perhaps those people who enter therapy are in fact more independent, through seeking help, than those people who think that they don’t depend on anyone else. Many people depend on substances and process to get through the day, but perhaps we are better off depending on other people? Some people depend on destructive relationships and need to find new relationships. People in recovery from addictions often demonstrate this when they attend 90 meetings in 90 days. Historically people in analysis might go 3,4 times a week to see their therapist. Addictions are often very lonely experiences, with a fantasy of not having to rely on another person. Therefore, when a person stops using, they may be faced with very high levels of dependency which are unbearable on their own. Therapy and groups provide a way to experience and vulnerability and support, to truly take the risky, yet enriching path of depending on others.

Is Bradley Wiggins Evil?

No of course not. He’s a mod, with a nice beard, and he’s won lots of bike races. He’s a family man. Despite the fact his father was a violent alcoholic who left him when he was two years old, he seems to have turned out alright. He’s trained hard and competed even harder. He has true grit, and that’s what helped him win the Tour de France. It’s a gruelling race that requires a monastic preparation. Still, something is not right. Jung wrote wonderfully about the human shadow. Despite our best intentions, we all have a “shadow”. The shadow is all the stuff we can’t see, that we would deny about ourselves. It’s annoying, it’s messy, it can be a bit evil. It contains our instincts, sexuality, envy, greed, aggression, hypocrisy and plenty more. The more “civilised” we are, the more stuff we load into the shadow. Given the nature of modern life, we invariably have a long shadow.

Bradley Wiggins belonged to Team Sky, a machine-like sports team that was intent on winning the Tour de France at all costs. Interestingly, they claimed to be “whiter than white”, and set out to put the chequered dope splattered history of professional cycling behind them. They were the team with no shadow. The cycling team was going to be made up of saintly spiritually enlightened cyclists who drank Evian and ate broccoli to get them over mountain ranges at supersonic speeds. Yet, as Jung noted, the more we try and claim our purity, the darker and inkier the shadow. Team Sky claimed to be drug free and “clean” team. Yet, the whole thing was a sham. Many commentators intuited something was wrong, and disliked their team bus, with its blacked out windows, which was nicknamed, “Dark Star.” We now know that Team Sky exploited the medication rules ruthlessly. Bradley Wiggins was administered a very strong medication, aimed at very sick people, in order to enhance his performance: specifically to lose weight whilst keeping strong. This is exactly what professional cyclists need to race in the high mountains with their leg sapping gradients. Professional cyclists, with their huge heart, lungs and thighs, are extremely fit; the last thing they need is medicine intended for ill people. He took the medication with perfect timing, just before his big races. He was given large doses by injection; yet in his autobiography he conveniently omits this fact. We blank the shadow out and deny all knowledge of it. Yet, like the psychologically astute story of Jekyll and Hyde, every time you drink the potion, it’s hold becomes stronger, until your very constitution is altered, and you can’t change back!

We are always quick to deny our shadow material. It’s usually buried deep in our unconscious and whilst we see wrong doing in others, we are unlikely to see it in ourselves. This was perfectly illustrated by Bradley Wiggin’s team mate, the taciturn Chris Froome. Chris was a vocal critic of Bradley Wiggins use of medicines to enhance his performance. Yet, in the most recent twist in the saga, he has recently failed a drugs test himself due to the use of an asthma medication. I imagine Chris Froome was unaware of his own behaviour (which is currently being investigated); yet he could pin point it with laser like accuracy in a team mate. This is the way of the shadow; we can’t see it in ourselves, but it is glaring obvious in others. We tend to project our own shadow material outwards and remain oblivious to it ourselves.

In the next few days Bradley Wiggins and team Sky will try and deny the accusations against them and defend their battered reputations. Still, the damage has been done. They felt they could exploit and manipulate the rules in order to gain an unfair advantage against their competitors. They have indulged in exactly the dubious and unethical practices that they have set out to denounce. Whilst their infractions might not be of the same magnitude of the king of cheats Lance Armstrong, they are surely in the same deceptive spirit.

This may be the toughest challenge of all. It is extremely distasteful for a person to face and accept their shadow; it is even harder to digest and learn from shadow material. Bradley Wiggins has the opportunity to accept what he has done, and use it as an opportunity to develop. Whilst this would be a blow to his ego it would help him develop as a person. The shadow can be a source of great energy and creativity. Yet, if he continues to deny any wrong doing, which seems likely, there will be no chance to develop. He will remain stuck seeing everything bad out there in the world, and viewing himself as a flawless victim. This form of projection can work for a while, but tends to break down. Despite what he says, his unconscious mind knows what he has done.

Bradley Wiggins is not evil. Like all of us he has struggled with ethical dilemmas. In his case, he has followed the rules, but that is not the same as thinking for himself about what is right. For him the “shadow” resides in the parliamentary committee that he sees as conducting a witch hunt against him; but like all of us, he would do better looking closer to home. This is maybe the most distasteful work in life. It is almost impossible to do oneself. You can explore it in therapy, but you may continue to delude yourself there too. However, if you really want to know about your shadow, ask your longstanding friends, or partner, and they will prove very useful. It may not be very pleasant to hear, but if you can stick with it, and acknowledge your fuller nature, warts and all, you may find it an enriching experience. The shadow holds a great deal of potential energy and if you are able to engage and create a dialogue with those murkier aspects, you may be able to find new life. Bradley Wiggins has tried to reinvent himself as skier (fractured his leg); and a indoor rower (slower than he hoped); but greater than any physical reinvention, he needs to reinvent his approach to life.

©2018 Ajay Khandelwal — powered by WebHealer
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