Marie Fernandes is an integrative therapist based in London


What attracted you to become a therapist?

I have done a lot of people-facing voluntary work in the past, working with homelessness charities and bereavement support, for example. I initially started training simply to support these positions and then found I was really interested and motivated to take it further. I completed training, got a lot of experience across a range of different environments and now this is my full-time role.


Where did you train? 

I started through adult education and then a local college. Since then I have carried out a lot of training through different organisations including Young Minds, Place2Be, PODs, Futurelearn, etc. As a counsellor I never stop learning and I am endlessly interested in developments and ideas that are new to me.


What sort of people do you usually see?

For me, in private practice, there is no typical client; I work with men, women and, occasionally, adolescents: the youngest has been 13 and the oldest 88. People are unique and defy expectations. The issues they bring are myriad but the most common tend to include elements of trauma, anxiety and loss.


What do you like about being a therapist?

I feel privileged to accompany my clients on a journey of hope. Every person who comes to see me does so with the expectation that they can change and gain a better life in some way. So often clients are deeply critical and judgemental of themselves; therapy helps them to see themselves more positively and with greater compassion. I support clients in this process and towards the changes they feel they need to make. Of course there are difficulties but it is a rare day when I don’t feel that I have the best job in the world.


What is less pleasant?

Sometimes clients stop coming and I don’t know why. Of course they should take the lead in their process, but it is frustrating and difficult not to get to the end of our work together. 


How long you’ve been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?

I have been with welldoing.org for less than a year. I think it is an excellent platform for therapists with a higher profile and better support than most alternatives. The site feels like a community and really waves the flag for mental health and therapy which is great. 


Have you used the booking and payment system? And how do you find that?

Yes. I find it really convenient. I also believe that the ability to book their own appointments online and communicate through the site is welcomed by many potential clients who may be nervous about coming to therapy.


Have you joined the welldoing.org Therapist Community on Facebook? If so, how did you find it?

Yes. 


Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?

My most commonly recommended app is a mindfulness app called Buddhify, but I will be taking a look at Calm now that is it being offered through welldoing.org. I don’t really tend to recommend books but I have often spoken to clients about imagery used in films including Harry Potter and The Gruffalo’s Child. I think for many people, including myself, visual imagery can resonate more strongly than written words.  


What you do for your own mental health? 

I try to ensure I have some down time each week. I have two dogs which take me out of the house and to some beautiful places for walks. I sing with a choir which I think is very mindful as the focus is entirely on breath, timing, notes and songs. I love going to the cinema to lose myself in a good film. I have a wonderful family and a great group of friends. I love my WhatsApp groups which are always there for moments of personal crisis or grumbles. For professional support I have very good supervision, this is essential in a field such as therapy, where we must always be mindful of confidentiality and safeguarding. 


What’s your consultation room like?

I work in my conservatory, which offers a perfect environment. It is very simply and neutrally furnished and decorated, as I want the visual focus to be on the garden, which is green and restful.  


What do you wish people knew about therapy?

I wish people realised that therapy is all about acceptance and learning more about ourselves. Change is easier and more manageable if it is motivated by understanding rather than fear and your therapist is there to facilitate and support this process.


What did you learn about yourself in therapy?

I learned to understand myself, how my experiences and relationships shaped the person I became but also that I had the capacity to change. It also gave me more self-awareness and a greater consciousness of the impact I have on others.