What attracted you to become a therapist?
Originally it was an interest in cultures, how they shape us as people and mould our perspectives in life. As I went on, I became more interested in how this serves our own purposes. Carl Jung's ideas are central to this idea of purpose in living so I began training as a Jungian therapist. These days I work in both areas.
Where did you train?
My initial training as a group therapist was at The Institute of Group Analysis which began to answer some the questions raised above. I gained my qualification and then took my Masters in Psychology at The Society of Psychology and Healing (SOPH), then allied to Middlesex University. As a Jungian therapist, I have developed many different models since then and now have my own way of working that integrates them all.
What sort of people do you usually see?
It’s a wide range really. I do see people who present with psychotic as well as more common neurotic problems, all ages from university students to retired people. One thing I have found in the work is a sense of admiration for the client's strength in facing sometimes appalling truths. It has made me see that we are so much stronger than we realise.
What do you like about being a therapist?
Everything. I cannot conceive of doing anything else with my life. For me it is both a profession and a calling. It is not uncommon for me to feel enlivened at the end of the day. I am fortunate indeed and I know this.
What is less pleasant?
I would like to spend more time with other therapists, exchanging ideas, getting more involved in the community and that is not always possible with my current work load. I can feel occassionally a bit isolated in that way.
How long you’ve been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?
Not too long. Six months maybe. I am glad to be part of this. There’s playfulness as well as wisdom in the articles I read. After all psychotherapy is about real people who live real lives and I like welldoing.org’s feel for this. It’s a good mix for me.
I haven’t yet joined the Facebook group, but am in the process of doing this now. One of the common bug bears of this work is that in private practice one works alone so exchanging ideas or just chatting with other practitioners is something I am looking forward to.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
Always a judgement call. In short, if I feel it does not stand in the way of the clients own agency then yes. Books only; it's less passive. I have a small library at home and if I feel something might be right I recommend it.
What you do for your own mental health?
Fitness is important but as I get older it’s more about flexibility. Yoga is good. My wife keeps me laughing, playful and reminds me not to take myself too seriously. It's good medicine. She’s an academic so we talk about everything and it’s fun. I love theatre, film, books - all narrative really. I love to cook and I write constantly, mainly in the mornings before I go to see my clients.
You are a therapist in Hampstead, NW3. What can you share with us about seeing clients in this area?
There is a defining culture anywhere we live and Hampstead is no exception. It has its likes and dislikes, its unspoken rules. I am trained to work with this and in the therapy this comes out, for us both, as it should. However one defines personal freedom, we are all of us embedded in our cultures. It’s always a mix for beyond that the extra-ordinary individual who is always different is gradually revealed.
What’s your consultation room like?
Warm and cosy, not too cluttered. A minimum of distractions is what I go for. People like it. It's unassuming.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
I hear a lot about about the stigma attached to therapy and mental health, what this implies. It's a defective message and within our culture I might even go so far as to say toxic. To know one’s self is after all to be free, and to be free is to be happy. Happiness is a by-product of freedom; at the end of the day let’s face it, we all want to be happy. What’s not to like about that?
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
Hmmm…how to encapsulate 20 years' learning in a sentence? Well one thing is that "we are not only the people whose names we bare, we are someone else." I like that one. I quite like this one too. “Let life be your teacher.” Last one in the form of a playful but serious question that I return to from time to time: “What is it about you that I don’t like about myself?” Food for thought eh?