Meet The Therapist: Sarah Weaver
What attracted you to become a therapist?
I have always had an interest in what it means to be human and the human condition, but for many years this was at an academic level. I felt personally, that I was able to work things out for myself and that I was pretty much immune to all that life could throw at me. On one occasion, life felt particularly daunting and for the first time it became apparent that working through this was not something I do for myself. I felt the desire to reach out and I responded to this. It was at this point that I discovered the counselling world and I began my journey with a listening course, which inevitably led to deeper and more intense training.
Where did you train?
I trained at the Bath Centre for Psychotherapy and Counselling (BCPC).
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?
The type of therapy I practice is humanistic and integrative. My belief is that the client holds the potential to find their own way in life. It’s a bit like a bulb having the opportunity to open into a flower, but sometimes getting a little stuck along the way, needing a little water or food. Likewise, the client may need to be heard and to share what is going on for them with someone outside of their everyday life.
The integrative part of my training basically means I use a range of different frameworks to back up the work according to client needs and situation. It can, for example lead to psychodynamic elements, whereby we look back to the client’s early experiences to discover disruptive patterns of behaviour that have developed but are no longer useful. It can also be a powerful tool in working out why we behave in certain ways in relationship and how our attachment patterns have developed.
The clients that I see tend to get a lot from the fact that the process is theirs to own. It is basically down to them to decide how far they would like to unravel their situation. For some it is about working with the issue that they feel has been getting in the way, for others it is about delving deeper and uncovering aspects that they were not even aware of. This can be incredibly empowering.
The process is always as unique and varied as the relationship that develops between myself and my clients. For me, this is the most fundamental and rewarding part of the work.
How does your type of therapy help with symptoms of low self-esteem?
Humanistic and integrative therapy can help with low self-esteem because it has the potential for clients to verbalise how they see and feel about themselves and where this may have begun. There is the capacity to experience and experiment with the relationship we form together and to feel prized and valued. This can be a unique and welcome experience as it may, for instance, be the first time they have not felt judged. For some, the feelings of unconditional positive regard and empathy that they receive may help towards feelings of growth and movement, taking them away from previous critical voices from within themselves or from others.
Whatever the client wishes to bring will be acknowledged and heard. It may be, for example that they are struggling with a darker side of themselves, bringing about feelings of shame. The concept of verbalising their darkest thoughts and sharing them with another can be hugely liberating and may help encourage feelings of acceptance.
What sort of people do you usually see?
I am trained to work with people of all ages, from children and young people right to the other end of the scale. I find a lot of people who come to see me tend to be in their thirties, a point in life when I feel there are lots of decisions and life choices to be made. They are often feeling a bit stuck in which direction to take and sometimes finding life a bit overwhelming. This can often lead to anxiety and in my experience, when people are able to explore and venture into their situation and discover what may lie beneath it, it can become less of a threat.
What do you like about being a therapist?
It is such an amazing experience to be part of a client’s journey as they travel from finding life almost unbearable towards a greater understanding of themselves and their situation. I also get a great deal from the relationship that we form together in that it is different to any other type of relationship, and its great potential for healing. I feel it a great privilege to be in this work and sharing such a deep connection with others.
What is less pleasant?
For me the downside is about the business element of private practice, the administration side of things is not something that comes naturally to me!
How long have you been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?
I have been with welldoing.org for just over a year. It has been a good source for establishing clients and I have sometimes used the booking system and payment methods which my clients have appreciated too. I particularly enjoy the feeling of community that it brings.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
I may sometimes recommend books to clients if I feel there is something particularly relevant to what is going on for them at the time. It is often the case that clients refer books or apps to me, and I take great delight in listening to how they may resonate for them and what the significance may be. This can sometimes be great ‘grist for the mill’ in our work.
What you do for your own mental health?
I make sure I allow plenty of time for myself and my own self-care in order to be emotionally present to my clients. I walk my dog a few times a day and enjoy being in nature as part of this. I practise yoga and make sure I see friends and family for plenty of downtime.
You are a therapist in the Kingswood and Easton parts of Bristol. What can you share with us about seeing clients in those areas?
The clients that come to me in Bristol tend to be a diverse and wide group. I love the fact that I get to work with such a range of individuals. A theme can often be that they are new to the area and finding it difficult to find their place with those around them or in relation to their own identity. The work could take shape as an exploration of the past to discover patterns and what works for them and what may be counterproductive, or could be about staying in the moment and working with what comes up between us in the room
What’s your consultation room like?
I have two different bases for seeing clients. One of these is in a yoga studio and is a calm and relaxing environment. We take our shoes off and I usually light candles to give ambience to the space.
The rooms that I use at Sycamore House are beautifully decorated with comfy chairs, rugs and pictures, making my clients feel safe and at peace.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
That therapy can and should be open to all. It can eventually be freeing to reach out and ask for help and not something that needs to be hidden.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
That some of the labels that I felt were put on me, or that I put on myself, were not helpful. Through on-going sessions I came to the realisation that I, like any other human being have imperfections and flaws, but that is OK. I recognise that my process of self-growth and discovery is still on-going and hopefully will continue throughout the remainder of my life.