Mary Smail Psychotherapist SW2

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What is Soul?


"It is impossible to define what soul is.  Definition is an intellectual enterprise. 

Anyway, soul prefers to imagine".

Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul.

Psychotherapy, psychoanalysis or psychosomatic are off-putting ideas to many people because in western culture attending therapy supposes something is unwell or inferior.  However, the psych(e) part of these terms literally means breath, or soul.  If we rewrite them as Soul-therapy, Soul-analysis, Soul-somatic perhaps a different perspective emerges.

The church is a place where the soul is recognised, but the emphasis within a Christian context suspects the soul, seeing it as sinful and in need of "being saved".  At SOULWORKS, soul is not understood as being guilty or disadvantaged, rather it is seen as being an invisible conveyor of what matters uniquely to each person. Rather than coming up with goals to fix things back to the old running order, a soulful take is about finding out how life problems may actually open a way to making fresh choices based on what matters most to the deeper you.

"Listen closely, for the soul often speaks in a whisper, easily drowned out in the business of daily life".  

Jill Mellick

Soul speaks through dreams, images, hunches and intuitions often breaking through into consciousness when we are at our lowest ebb.  The work in therapy is to learn to trust this voice and the new life options it brings.  Soul is counter cultural – what we hear will probably challenge anything which is rigid and which blocks our spontaneity and takes creativity away.

"There is a voice that doesn't use words. Listen!"   Rumi

As Rumi the poet says, soul does not use words but prefers imagination, and metaphors to theory, chapter and verse. A first meeting with our soul may well come through an image.  I asked some people how they would recognise their soul and they said:

A puddle,

an eagle,

a glowing coal,

a shape shifter,

a black hole,

a robin,

  a shadow, 

God in me,


a colour waft deep within, the countryside and nature, 

a sense of presence, a sense of depth, presence that needs no words,

Soul-mate friendship,

true contact, meaning,

lightness and fun,

deep profundity,

something guiding me.


The soul wants imaginative responses that move it, delight it, deepen it ... explanatory responses just put us back in to positivism and science – or worse into delusion... that makes us believe that we know.  

James Hillman Inter Views

Mary Smail

Dramatherapy, Psychotherapy, Internal Family Systems Approach, Assertion/Self Esteem training, Spiritual Be-friending.  

If  you feel ...

  • anxious
  • depressed or struggling with low self worth
  • up against a brick wall
  • held back by inner critic attacks
  • conflicted by different parts of yourself which seem opposed
  • concerned about relationships
  • resentful of someone and unsure how to forgive
  • wondering about sexual orientation
  • wanting to be more creative
  • concerned about dyslexia or dyspraxia issues
  • wanting to think through a professional/work situation
  • wishing to explore spirituality or consider God-questions
  • hurt through misunderstanding in a  church situation
  • without someone who really  matters
  • in a grief or bereavement process
  • wondering about what happens when a Soul dies
  • dealing with areas of dying (your own or someone who you care about)
  • meeting the aging process of your parents or of a loved elder
  • if you are asked to "cheer up" when you feel down

then I am ready to meet you to see if we can work together to tell your story as you would like it to be.


I will provide a safe room and confidential time for you to bring what ever issue you would like to explore. New opportunities usually come to us through what seems most difficult. The gift is to trust that there is more than we see - the Soul story may not yet have had any space to be heard and recognised.  In their book, The Book of Forgiving, Mpho and Desmond Tutu talk about people needing to tell their story over and over again until it can be understood sufficiently to articulate what has held inside, locked away.   If we can then forgive  people who have hurt us, we are freed to move out victim role and no longer be defined by what has hurt or frightened us. For more on this see    Or come to Soulworks and talk!

The work can be focused and short term or it may need a longer on-going timescale.  We will work with whatever you bring. The work of Carl Jung, James Hillman, Thomas Moore, Robert Romanyshyn, Marian Billy Lindkvist and Richard Schwartz are the greatest inspirers of the way I work.

I am trained both in Psychotherapy  (talk therapy) and as a Creative Arts Therapist, (Sesame Dramatherapy).   This means I can offer the option to talk,  or to use a more imaginative, symbolic approach. I also draw heavily from the Inter Family Systems approach and am completing  the on-line IFS Inner Circle training. 

IFS is a innovative up-to-date approach which enables the client to learn how to listen to and befriend differing inner parts and attitudes as if they are characters,  each with a valid perspective.   People come to understand their inner critic, the shamed or frightened child, the addict, the procrastinator, the melancholic, the ambitious each in a new way.  When these are understood in their own right they can be viewed with compassion and integrated so that there is unity inside and less of the pulling in different ways which all humans experience.  All parts are welcome in this way of working.    

 As I am  an Assertion Trainer it may be that we work to build up your self esteem and confidence, giving you everyday skills to cope with relationship, work and life in general.  We address questions like: 

Are you aware that how  you behave and who you are may be very different?

Do you know the difference between being assertive and being aggressive?

Do you know your personal human rights and responsibilities?

Can you ask for help and can you say "No"?

Is your anger turning people away from you or do you never express it?

Are you able to give and take compliments?

How do you do socially and at parties?

I am registered to practice with the United Kingdom Council of Psychotherapists and with the Health and Care Professions Councils and am answerable to both these bodies, regularly reviewing my practice to ensure good practice.

Therapy and Supervision in South London

What happens in a session?

When we first meet I will ask you to tell me about what issue it is that makes you look for therapy.  We may explore this through talking, or it may be that you would like to work though creative media. How we work will be your choice. I will ask you to tell me about your life so that we can explore what your story has been and what your are working towards. If we decided to work together we will set a contract which is an understanding between us around confidentiality, the session time, the session fee and other logistics.  We will also look at goals for the therapy and talk about how to review the work.   

 Sessions are 50 minutes long and are offered at the same time on a weekly basis.   I am not a therapist who keeps silent or takes on distant role, but will enter into the material you bring by listening, supporting and challenging you to listen to yourself and take what you hear seriously. The work is about us as a team listening to what is lost or hurt, frustrated or disempowered in your story and looking for the "soul-ution". Your Soul is the expert. My skills are about enabling you to trust yourself.

I am a member of the Health and Care Professions Council, the British Association for Dramatherapy, the Sesame Institute and the UKCP (United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy), and as such abide by their ethical frameworks. I will maintain confidentiality around any material a client brings.

What informs the therapy

"We do know that in a usual person who comes to therapy there is a torment of some kind, pathology of some kind.

And the first move is to affirm it – not fight it or even analyze it. Give the pathology shelter. Let it sit down in the chair".

James Hillman Inter Views page 24

My practice leans on:

  •  The Wounded Healer archetype as a means of understanding descent,depth as means of emerging soul story and soul-making.
  • Giving a place to shadow, pathology as described by James Hillman
  • The energy of field and what emerges when client and therapist can trust that there is more than the duo present
  • Lost ness, not knowing, slowing, vulnerablilty, meaning-making,
  • The reverie, image-laden language of Soul – supporting clients to discover and trust symbol and imagination.
  • The place of body in the therapy room as communicator of the unconscious, through the non-verbal.
  • The Inter Family Systems and Self Lead therapy and the meeting and attending to sub-personalities as aspects of the whole being which need a hearing.



My home in  London, SW2 2EE which is in an upstairs room of a private house. (There is no lift).


The fee for a session is on a sliding scale between £50.00 to £60.00.  I ask you to meet this self assess at what rate you pay.    I offer a small number of reduced rate fee for people who are on benefits or in very exceptional circumstances. This can be discussed at a first meeting.

Clients Write:

Mary's well-balanced professionalism and personality provides a safe, comfortable environment in which to work. The lightness and colour of the therapy room provide peaceful, easy surroundings and the range of tools we used both through talking and by using imagination helped me a lot to see things I had not known about before in my life.

Alice, Accountant, Psychotherapy client (Used with permission).


Mary Smail is an entirely unique woman. Being in her presence is to dwell with a being that is enlightened. IIn other words, she is wise, she understands, she knows. You will feel held, attended to and cared for if you are lucky enough to work with Mary. If you let her, she will help you discover your path to your own intuition. She is gentle and courageous. She is enchanting, but don't take my word for it, experience for yourself.

 Mary Franklin-Smith, HCPC registered Dramatherapist (Used with permission) 


As usual, words just don't seem to cut it! What I want to say is what a privilege it has been to have worked with you. You have shown me how to listen to myself and given me tools to put what I hear back into my life.

Ed, Personal Trainer, Dramatherapy client (Used with permission)


Over four years of supervision with Mary I have felt supported and enriched on both a personal and professional level. It is her flexibility in approach and unfaltering acceptance that makes her a unique supervisor. Having worked in some unconventional settings in the uk and abroad, it is this flexibility and her ability to be along-side but never to lead or prompt work that has been invaluable.

Being supervised by Mary is like having a co-facilitator in the room, her wisdom enthusiasm humour and care transcends the supervision space and is ever present in the clinical work.

Alex Ramsden, Dramatherapy Supervisee (Used with permission)