Meet The Therapist: Dan Skili
What attracted you to become a therapist?
When I was training as an an actor, I realised I especially enjoyed working on character. I realised that using myself as a vehicle and including my own life experiences and emotions in portraying the character I was working on, honestly and the best I could, not only gave me great relief and satisfaction but also evoked in me an interest in psychology. This transformative experience confirmed my belief that there was an obvious connection between acting and psychology. I was overly excited when realising that there was such a thing as dramatherapy, and an accredited course available at two different universities in London.
This was the at least my conscious reason for becoming a therapist. I later realised in therapy, working on unconscious material, that being frequently neglected in childhood and as a teenager, where shyness added to my loneliness, was possibly another very varied reason for wanting to help others later in life.
Where did you train?
I graduated as a Sesame Drama and Movement Therapist from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in 2000.
What sort of people do you usually see?
I see a lot of different types of people. Quite a few ‘professionals’ with addictions, confidence issues or relationship problems.
What do you like about being a therapist?
I love seeing people being able to make positive changes to their lives, all by themselves, as a direct result of the therapy they have accessed with me.
What is less pleasant?
I feel regretful when a client drops out of therapy in the middle of a course of therapy, showing great progress and growth and then stopping too soon. It feels like a great shame when a client manages to extensively explore their own inner material, and then decides not to complete their journey until the end, not allowing themselves a more extensive personal discovery.
How long you’ve been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?
I think it's been approximately six months. I get new clients through welldoing.org. I like the friendly service and warm tone on the website.
I think the booking system is a great idea and probably really useful, in order to acquire new clients quicker, but it works best for me to speak to clients first or at least correspond via email. I'm sure that the system works very well with some therapists.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
Yes, I have suggested books and apps on Imago (couples) therapy. I have also suggested books to read on abusive relationships and theories by Carl Gustav Young such as Memories, Dreams, Reflections and Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious - and Marie-Louise Von Franz such as Shadow and Evil in Fairytales. The Velvet Rage by Alan Downs is also a book I often recommend.
I think it can very useful at times to give clients ‘home work’, which also comes naturally to me as a teacher of dramatherapy at the City Lit College in Covent Garden.
What you do for your own mental health?
It's important for me to be in touch with my whole being, my body as well as my brain and my creativity as well as clinical work - and having ‘time off’ as well as working. I enjoy running regularly outdoors, swimming and frequently visiting the gym. I write and direct plays from time to time and love visiting the theatre and the cinema as well as art exhibitions for inspiration and for feeding my curiosity and appetite for life. Travelling and exploring the world is also very important to me. Finally I also explore different kinds of therapies for myself, at different times in my life.
You are a therapist in Wapping, London. What can you share with us about seeing clients in this area?
It is my experience my clients are happy to travel if they feel they have found the therapy and the therapist who is right for them, so I don't think I only see locals. I am however very close to the financial districts in the City of London and Canary wharf, so I also tend to clients who are employed there.
What’s your consultation room like?
As a creative arts therapist I use a large studio as this is the most useful for the work I do. We are trained to enable clients to find the most suitable medium for them to address and resolve, or make troubling issues more bearable. Creative Arts Therapy gives equal validity to body and mind within the dramatic context; stories, myths, playtexts, puppetry, mask work, improvisation, dance and movement, playing of instruments and drawing are examples of the range of artistic interventions a Creative Arts Therapists may employ as well as talking; and in this way enable the client to explore difficult and painful life experiences through an indirect - as well as more direct approach.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
Unfortunately there is still stigma attached to ‘being in therapy’ among the wider population although I think this is changing. More people are realising that seeing a therapist can simply support good mental health in a world which is becoming increasingly busier and more demanding and complicated.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
I found out the unconscious and real reason why I became a therapist.