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Two mad men on a bus: a case of mirroring

Two ‘mad’ men on the bus: a case of pre-verbal empathy and mirroring

Therapy can be done anywhere— not just in the consulting room—and, often, on holiday, I find myself doing some sort of therapy by the pool, at the beach or around town. I have been trained to be a good listener and, of course, I have empathy for others and this is immediately picked up by people in and outside my clinic. The work that I do is multi-modal: I am a psychotherapist, psychoanalyst, hypnotherapist and counsellor all rolled into one. On the way home the other day, I observed a rather dishevelled looking man attempting to get on the bus. In fact, there are a lot of people struggling to survive in my home town of Enfield, and this is true of many other areas of London. Wages have, for many, stayed the same and a lot of people are struggling to pay bills and their rent. One cannot pay for a bus fare using cash anymore. People run out of money and are unable to top up their Oyster cards. One can pay using a direct debit card; however, the same problem arises. People are out of cash and there is very often little money to spare. And, there are additional technical problems which include being cut off by TFL Transport for London and card clash. People are becoming more and more stressed and the need for counselling, compassion and empathy has never been greater.

It was obvious at the outset that this man had been having some problems – psychological or otherwise – in his life: his cards were not working and he spent a good two minutes attempting to get on the bus and pay his fare. Eventually, he managed to get one of his cards to work, but the bus driver was particularly insensitive to him and there were other disgruntled people behind him waiting to get onto the bus. When he sat down, I observed that he was distressed: he began to make some distressing grunting sounds and occasional screeches – ‘Ahhhhhh’. He also begun to mumble to himself and rummage around his bag, checking on its contents but without taking anything out. After a few minutes of this erratic behaviour, he began to hit himself in the side of his face, while, at the same time, making some other distressed vocalisations – ‘Wooahh’ and ‘Ahhhhhh’. I felt that I had to intervene and this is how I did so.

Every time that he made a loud vocalisation, I imitated it so that he could hear. When he noticed this, I gave him no contact whatsoever. I felt that someone needed to understand his anxiety without using words. This, I initiated a pre-verbal conversation using empathy in its purest form. Whenever, he rummaged into his bag, I mirrored his behaviour frantically, like a starving squirrel who has run out of nuts. And, when he hit himself in the side of the head – obviously I was distressed about this – I banged my feet in time with the beat. On the second round of distressed behaviour, which consisted of loud and distressed vocalisations, rummaging and self abuse, I, again, copied his behaviour; and, for a second time, he stopped and looked at me. Again, I gave him no eye contact, although in the corner of my eye I could see that he looked quite confused. Someone on this carriage seemed more disturbed than him, he might have thought.

At this point, he looked more calm, and there was a longer gap before the next wave of distressed behaviour. And, inevitably, he began to make his distressed sounds and I again copied him. He also started rummaging in his bag and I mirrored, as best I could, this frantic behaviour; but when he started hitting himself again, I turned to him and authoritatively, but not threateningly, said ‘No’, and lifted my finger. I, then, smiled at him and said, ‘I know’, in the way that a mother would empathise with a baby who was hot and tired on a long journey. He looked very confused. I say confused – he was not as confused as the rest of the people on the bus who were ready to commit us both to the local lunatic asylum, not that they, thankfully, exist any longer. There was a long pause and it seemed to have worked. He looked at me again, and I just smiled and said that it was ok. After about ten minutes he made a final utterance which seemed to be some sort of test that I was still there. Again, I said ‘No’, and smiled.

For the remainder of the journey, we sat in a silence while, occasionally, we glanced at each other. And when I got off the bus, again I smiled at him and, to my surprise, he smiled back. This story illustrates the power of non-verbal communication (silent counselling?), using empathy and mirroring in a relaxed and non-affected way. I have to say that I felt quite sad after the episode, although, at the same time, I realised that I had done some quite useful therapy with him on the bus. I hope that he gains some strength from the experience but I am not sure what his future holds. However, perhaps, this story will provide readers with some useful insights into how to deal with distressed people out and about.


David Kraft, Social Psychologist  

Counselling and Psychotherapy for Opera Singers


Being an opera singer can be a very stressful job. All your work relies on you being well and your voice working for you, and quite often singers have to rely on teaching to pay bills. For many, learning songs off by heart is a very difficult task, particularly when you have to prepare for a number of performances in the near future. And then there are the stresses and strains of every day life which can have an effect on overall well being. Performing arias and recitatives at top level is hard work for performers, and some opera singers develop performance anxiety or panic symptoms before specific rehearsals or events.


Before becoming a psychotherapist, David Kraft trained to be a singer at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He moved to Goldsmith’s College, University of London, part the way through his training and completed a BMus Honours degree in 1996. He completed his doctorate in 2000 and then became a music teacher after a year’s teacher training at Cambridge University. After a period in schools, David began to train as a psychotherapist and he realised that his specialist knowledge of music, and his understanding of being a musician, was invaluable for professional musicians needing psychological support. David has, over the years, worked with a number of professional musicians from all over the world. And, in addition, he has worked with students from the following colleges:

The Royal Academy of Music

The Royal College of Music

The Guildhall School of Music and Drama

Trinity School of Music

The London College of Music

The Royal Northern College of Music

The Yehudi Menuhin School

The Juilliard School


For appointments, please call his secretary on 0207 467 8564.

David Kraft: Therapist to the Celebrities

For a number of years now, David Kraft has been working alongside various celebrities in show business. In fact, he has worked with a number of film actors and actresses, singers, television personalities and presenters, musicians and people in sports. It is important to note that, in all cases, clients have complete anonymity, and under no circumstances, will David disclose any information about his work to a third party.



Working with celebrities in clinical practice is a skill. As a psychotherapist or counsellor, it is important to understand the minutiae of show business, and it often a particularly stressful lifestyle. Many celebrities are constantly in the public eye; the media are taking photos and following them wherever they go. And they are constantly be watched and judged. This is where psychotherapy comes in. David has a non-judgemental approach to therapy, and individuals are able to take their time to deal with the stresses and strains of everyday life. Some individuals require sessions for a short period of time in order to deal with a difficult situation or anxiety; whereas others prefer to have psychotherapy over a longer period of time. Short-term therapy tends to be between 4-8 sessions. Long-term therapy can last between 6 months and two years. There are other instances when clients come for a longer periods of time but this is rare.


David also has a flexible approach to psychotherapy. For example, he offers weekly sessions to most of his clients; however, with some busy celebrities this is simply impossible. With David, clients have the flexibility to have sessions whenever it is appropriate, and there is no strict week-by-week regime. And, indeed, some celebrities, particularly those who are frequently outside the country, book telephone sessions for their convenience. He also offers home visits.

For an appointment please ring David Kraft on 0207 467 8564.


10 Harley Street




#counsellingforcelebrities #mentalhealthshowbusiness #therapyforcelebrities #therapyforrichandfamous





What is Rogerian Psychotherapy?

Rogerian psychotherapy is a form of therapy which was developed by Carl Rogers between 1940s and 1980s. This style of therapy is a counselling approach, but it is also known as client-centred therapy, person-centred therapy and so forth. The basic premise of this style of therapy is that the therapist encourages the client to come up with his own answers and to build a future which is right for them – that is to say, all people have an in-built ability to facilitate one’s own personal emotional growth. This is facilitated by three core conditions of the therapist – acceptance (unconditional positive regard), congruence (genuineness) and empathy.

Rogers pointed out that some of the other therapies took a dispassionate position, whereas this approach focussed on compassion, understanding and acknowledging an individual’s freedom. This approach has been attacked by various psychoanalysts and behaviourists; however, it has been shown to have been effective. And in fact, if psychoanalysis is done with compassion it is likely to be more effective; indeed, the key ingredient to being any type of therapist is empathy and rapport. .

In order for this therapy to work, according to Rogers (1957), there have to be 6 conditions in order to facilitate therapeutic change. These are.


  1. The Therapist-client psychological contact: a relationship between client and therapist must exist, and it must be a relationship in which there is rapport.
  2. Client incongruence. Both therapist and client must be aware that incongruence exists between the client’s experience and awareness.
  3. The Therapist’s congruence, or genuineness. The psychotherapist or counsellor should be congruent (authentic) during each session. The therapist is deeply and authentically involved—he is not acting in any way. Psychotherapists may, if appropriate, draw on personal experience to shape the therapy sessions. This is known as self disclosure. One should do this carefully and appropriately.
  4. Therapist unconditional positive regard. The psychotherapist accepts the client unconditionally, without judgment. This helps to facilitate increased positive self-regard. Clients may begin to be able to develop their own self worth and re-evaluate negative and judgemental views of other in their past.
  5. Therapist empathic understanding. The therapist experiences an empathic understanding of the client’s internal frame of reference. This is an essential component for being a good counsellor.
  6. Client perception. The client should pick up on the therapist’s unconditional positive regard and empathy skills. This will enable the client to imitate this behaviour in every day life.

David’s approach is underpinned by person-centred counselling; however, even when a more analytic stance is adopted, it is important to note that he retains these conditions at all times. David sees clients in Enfield and in Harley Street. He also offers home visits.


Appointments: 0207 467 8564

#EnfieldPsychotherapy #enfieldcounselling #enfieldpsychologist #enfieldpsychotherapist #MINDinEnfield #mentalhealthenfield #anxietyenfield #psychologicalhelpinenfield



David Kraft PhD

Registered UKCP Psychotherapist


10 Harley Street





Flat 70, Cosmopolitan Court

67 Main Avenue





Contact Details:

0207 467 8564 (General Enquiries)

07946 579645 (Work Mobile)


Please note that home visits are £220 for north London and £240 for south London. Special arrangements can be made for outside London. Home visits in Enfield are at the cheaper rate of £140 (by arrangement only).