Howard Widdicombe

Humanistic Psychotherapist and Counsellor in Woking, Surrey

Welcome to my Website

Hello, I'm Howard Widdicombe. Thank you for visiting my web site.

Why Psychotherapy?

Making the most of ourselves and our lives by doing the best we can, is a very basic motivational instinct that we all recognise within us. Each one of us has within ourselves the potential to take charge of and influence our own life. Most of the time we seem to do 'just fine' but occasionally we experience ourselves or our lives as 'out of sorts' for a wide variety of reasons. Our natural instinctive reaction is to try to understand 'why' things have gone wrong and 'what' we can do to rectify the situation / make things better again. Often the harder we try the worse things can seem to become.

Unfortunately, knowledge and insight, of themselves, are not sufficient to bring about the change in our internal personal experience of ourselves and our external perception of the 'world' in which we live. We need to lean (a) 'HOW' we have developed the unconscious, habituated patterns of sensation, thinking, feeling and behavioural responses that are not working for us and have contributed to our current level of dissatisfaction/'discomfort' and (b) 'HOW' to influence, regulate and differentiate these outdated neuro-biological response patterns to create a new self-awareness, attitudes, values, beliefs and behaviours necessary to lead more personally satisfying, rewarding and fulfilling lives.


I have 35 years experience of working professionally with people in a variety of roles including, Human Resources (Personnel) Manger, Company Training and Development Manager, Organisation Development and Change Management Consultant, Business Psychologist, Counsellor & Psychotherapist, Family Befriender and Classroom Assistant at a school for autistic children.

I am a Founder member of the Rowan Counselling and Psychotherapy Practice, the Surrey Counselling and Psychotherapy Initiative and the Counselling Directory

I have a B.Sc.(Hons) Degree in Behavioural Psychology and a Post Graduate Diploma in Psychotherapy.

I am a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, a Graduate Member of the British Psychological Society, a Registered Member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and an Associate Member of the Association of Humanistic Psychology Practitioners.

My training has focused on:

  1. Behavioural psychology
  2. Jungian, gestalt, humanistic and integrative psychotherapy
  3. Person centred counselling
  4. Formative Psychology


The foundation of my work is in humanistic and behavioural psychology. I have extensive experience of a variety of humanistic psycho-educational diagnostic models and experiential approaches from both traditional and modern psychotherapeutic disciplines. My background and training is therefore essentially integrative.However, for the last 10 years+ I have focussed on using Formative Psychology as the basis of my approach.

The impact of Formative Psychology as an approach to resolving anxiety, conflict and stress

Over the past 30 years or so rigorous scientific research and methodology has been making extraordinary discoveries about the neuro-biological basis of learning, emotional memory and behaviour – the fundamental natural biological processes that underpin our thinking, feelings and sensations, create our awareness and shape our responses to our own internal personal experiences and our perception and judgments about our external world - in summary 'how' we function as human beings.

These insights view the relationship between our body and mind as a complex inter relational dynamic that seeks to maximise the influence that muscular memory and effort has over cortical experience. We now understand much more clearly how the relationship between our body and our mind works - how they ‘dialogue’ with and influence each other to form the experiences we have of ourselves (our internal world) and the world in which we live (our external world). We know now that our body influences our brain more than our brain influences our body. Our brain is biologically designed to give meaning to our experiences which have been created and stored in our somatic (body's) cellular structure.

In response to this pioneering research and emerging understanding of what it is to be a human being, a new and highly creative approach called Formative Psychology has emerged which provides a theoretical framework and methodology to explain this relationship. It is changing the way we practice psychotherapy and guiding us in the direction of more effective work.

Formative Psychology’s theoretical framework is based on an evolutionary perspective which proposes that, as humans, we are in a continuous ongoing process, continually forming a somatic self in a personal way. We learn our way of being in the world as we become familiar with our somatic, emotional responses to ourselves and events in our lives.

Unmanaged excitation and muscular tension, which we experience as internal stress, can lead to the development of a variety of symptoms and diseases such as chronic pain, high blood pressure, eczema, anxiety disorders, depression and dissociation. The Formative Psychology approach enables us to experience the function and purpose of our stress patterns. It can bring enormous relief to recognise that a stress pattern has a function and is not just ‘bad’. Acknowledging our personal way of reacting to internal stress and stressful situations helps us to adjust and recalibrate our behaviour in a non-judgmental manner in order to be able to respond differently in similar situations in the future.

Critically (and this is the crucial difference), this formative, experiential approach produces more than knowledge and insight. Because patterns of experience and behaviour are formed from a complex interaction of cortical (thoughts), emotional (feelings) and physical posture/structure, the practical methodology of Formative Psychology focuses on explicitly exploring “how” we create the conscious experiences we have of our internal and external ‘world’. It helps make conscious the processes involved in influencing, regulating and differentiating these (stressful) experiences if they are unsatisfactory, unsatisfying or not working for us. It is a direct experiential approach to creating change and transition in ourselves and our experiences. It helps make the process of differentiating our internal and external experiences explicit and more accessible to us, which, in turn, enables us to take responsibility for ourselves if we wish to do so rather than having to hope that some unconscious process will effect the changes we seek.

In dealing with stress it is important to establish a good self-regulation. A fast down regulation (reducing our somatic (body excitation) leads to an action orientation which supports conflict resolution. It expands our capacity for self-soothing and gives us the ability to confront anxiety related experiences Otherwise we may stay ‘stuck’ in a non-adaptive behavioural pattern. Dysfunctional behaviour is often related to dissociations which have the function of making unbearable emotional experienced more tolerable/manageable.

This way of working also enables us to moderate the influence of our sympathetic nervous system which governs our 'fight' or 'flight' reactions (that we often find overwhelming, disorienting and unhelpful) and engage our parasympathetic and vegus nervous systems which are responsible for our sense of wellbeing and capacity to 'cope' with the challenges of being alive and life itself.

Formative psychology enables us to learn how to dialogue cooperatively with our body in order to influence and differentiate our thinking, feeling and personal behaviour. Through the creation of internal personal space we can discover ways to regulate ourselves under stress, to reduce symptoms and feelings of helplessness and to organise a more emotionally integrated way of acting and living a personal life. Engaging with our personal space enables small finely managed changes in our relationship to ourselves and our outer world to emerge, become stabilised and consistent. We can create an inner dialogue and a reflexive capacity that facilitates the adaptation and differentiation of our behaviour. This experience guides us to our own felt insights, and sense of a way forward from our dilemmas rather than imposing ‘habituated "I must/I've got to" solutions. When we create our own internal personal space we enter into a transformative state, an inner calm and a deep and very satisfying self-contact - a relational field that creates warmth and allows novel behaviours to appear that can be shaped into an individual response which enables us to experience increased flexibility, and a sense of structure and containment. As a result we perceive conflicts or stressful situations from a broader perspective and improved self-regulation. Using the Formative Psychology approach/methodology enables us to use unsettling and disturbing experiences, transitions and crises as an opportunity to form new personalised answers to life’s challenges and to grow a more accepting, warm and satisfying relationship to ourselves, other people and the world. This experience is often called connecting to our sense of ‘free will’ and our ability to lead a more self-determined life.

Stanley Keleman is the acknowledged founder, pioneer and expert in the development of Formative Psychology at the Centre for Energetic Studies in Berkeley, California. Gerhard Zimmermann is an experienced medical Doctor working in the field of behavioural medicine who has worked extensively with Stanley Keleman over 20 years combining his medical knowledge with this experiential psychotherapeutic approach. I have included some information and articles about their approach and work on this web site. (Please click here to access them).

My areas of experience/expertise

I use the Formative Psychology approach/methodology to work with a wide range of issues including:

  • Anger & conflict
  • Anxiety
  • Autistic spectrum disorders
  • Behavioural difficulties
  • Bereavement
  • Bullying
  • Career Coaching & Development
  • Change & transition
  • Communication skills
  • Dependency
  • Depression (feeling low)
  • Developmental delay
  • Dreams
  • Eating disorders
  • Envy & jealousy
  • Fear & phobias
  • Grief & loss
  • Guilt & shame
  • Learning difficulties
  • Loneliness & isolation
  • Obsessions
  • Panic
  • Parenting skills
  • Personal growth & development
  • Relationship issues
  • Self-awareness
  • Self confidence / esteem
  • Sexuality
  • Stress
  • Trauma
  • Valuing difference in others
  • Work related issues

I also provide Clinical Supervision for Counsellors and Psychotherapists and Coaching and Mentoring for all those with ongoing responsibility for people as part of their work.

In addition to my psychotherapy practice I continue to design and run numerous workshops and seminars on personal and professional development through my business consultancy practice The People Partnership. This is for people who work in private, public and not for profit organisations. I also provide Coaching and Mentoring for individuals.

You will notice that I sometimes refer to services or events from other counsellors or psychotherapists. There are also links to other web sites that you might find useful.

Geographical coverage

My practice is based in Woking, Surrey. I also see clients from a wide area that includes:-

  • Addlestone
  • Aldershot
  • Ascot
  • Bagshot
  • Basingstoke
  • Bisley
  • Byfleet
  • Camberley
  • Chertsey
  • Chobham
  • Clandon (East & West)
  • Farnborough
  • Farnham
  • Fleet
  • Frimley
  • Godalming
  • Guildford
  • Horsley (East & West)
  • Lightwater
  • Milford
  • Ottershaw
  • Sandhurst
  • Shalford
  • Sunningdale
  • Woking
  • Worpleston
  • Yateley

I hope that you enjoy my web site and find it interesting and useful .If you have not already discovered the subsections under the About me and The way I work links, you may want to visit the following links below for more information.

This site is regularly updated and I welcome any comments you may have. If you:-

Please contact me for details.