What attracted you to become a therapist?
I guess curiosity of the human condition, and an interest in connecting with people and learning about who they are. Without necessarily intending on it becoming my career, I signed up for a short correspondence course in counselling skills about 10 years ago to learn more about what being a counsellor or therapist involved. I devoured the course and from there began my journey (and it really does feels like a journey!)
Where did you train?
I completed my foundation and professional training in the Tivoli Institute in Dublin, Ireland.
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?
Primarily, I work using an integrative approach combining different theories including person-centred and psychodynamic. I work from the point of view that our childhoods shape who we are as adults. I aim to help the client bring the unconscious mind into consciousness, understand their defences while demonstrating empathy and openness. I believe a good relationship with your therapist is absolutely integral to effective therapy.
How does integrative psychotherapy help with self-esteem issues?
A tendency towards low self-esteem is usually rooted in childhood experience, whether that is from overly critical parents, bullies at schools or more subtle factors such as a lack of positive reinforcement.
Integrative therapy can help the client to become more confident and feel self-compassion by providing a safe and trusting space to explore their feelings and understand the root-cause of the issue, including the critical voices that aren’t their own. Forming a close therapeutic alliance allows the client to build trust that may have been lacking in early relationships and help process past negative experiences.
What sort of people do you usually see?
I see adult individuals. I do notice a trend that most of my clients are around my age or younger. Roughly 60-70% of my clients are female and the rest male which I think is so encouraging as there has always been a sense that men are less likely to speak about their problems. Hopefully things are changing in that regard, and it feels like they are!
What do you like about being a therapist?
So much really! I love hearing people’s stories and learning time and time again that we are all so completely different but with so many shared feelings and experiences.
Training to be a therapist was an intense and humbling experience – I realised very quickly that the assumptions we make about people are usually so wide of the mark.
I love when clients become empowered and see real differences in their behaviour and changes in their lives – it’s pretty amazing really.
On a less serious note, I also quite enjoy when I’m at a party and someone asks me what I do and then jokes that they’re worried I’ll spend the night analysing them. A misconception about what we do but in a profession that can be so serious it’s nice to have a bit of fun, eh.
What is less pleasant?
The industry itself can be very problematic. There are so many excellent counsellors and therapists out there in search of clients, so many people in need of mental health services but who can’t afford or access private therapy and seemingly no cohesive way to bring these together. It’s incredibly frustrating.
It’s difficult as a new therapist to figure out your path (I’m definitely still learning) and lots of therapists will end up working for free long after qualification as outside of private practice there are very few employment opportunities.
How long you’ve been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?
About two or three months now. So far so good! I’ve had a few enquiries which is wonderful, and I’ve really enjoyed navigating the welldoing.org site as there is a lot of excellent content.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
Not generally, but if there is a particular book or app I feel could be of use to the client, I might. If a client asks for a suggestion specifically, I would be more inclined to recommend.
What you do for your own mental health?
I see my own therapist regularly.
I also spend as much time as I can walking outside in any sort of green space. You can’t be too fussy living in London, I just appreciate feeling connected to nature whenever I can here. I grew up in Dublin close to the mountains and the sea and have always felt being near either one really helps me feel more positive and energised.
Hanging out with my cats – they’re experts in living mindfully!
You are a therapist in East London. What can you share with us about seeing clients in this area?
Most clients I see are working professionals in the area, but some are local to East London. Where I’m based there are a lot of people who work flexibly and have the opportunity to see a therapist during their working week.
I also work online seeing clients who may not be able to access regularly therapy sessions in person for any number of reasons.
What’s your consultation room like?
I work from a few different ones, but they are all clean, tidy, comfortable and private. For clients who wish to work online they can do so from the comfort of their own home which can be a wonderful experience for them.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
That it takes commitment, time and can be hard work – but that it can be completely invaluable and a unique experience.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
Amongst many other things, self-compassion. I knew I was hard on myself all throughout my life, but I really didn’t know just how hard until I started personal and group therapy. It’s something I try to help all my clients connect with who struggle with this, too.