Meet the Therapist: Afirah Azmi
What attracted you to become a therapist?
I spent many years working in music publishing as a royalties consultant before embarking on my career as a therapist. I am now a full accredited psychotherapist.
One of things that I found throughout my life was there were often people who felt completely alone, no matter how successful they were in their careers and authentic real relationships were missing. A lack of support, understanding from family members, associates, friends and others.
We all go through difficulties in life and get through somehow, however often the quality of our lives and relationships are diminished by unaddressed internal and external conflicts that can leave us stuck. I believe wholeheartedly that for a human being to thrive - not only survive - we all need only one witness who can understand and explore our story, our patterns, our beliefs and perhaps if needed reevaluate that in an authentic non-judgmental and safe space. I have seen this to be true in my work with clients and watched people transform in front of me and finding meaning where it may have been marred by challenges and difficulties. The most important relationship we have is with ourselves however, often that can be very difficult to resolve and look at alone, so it takes a back seat and can be incredibly debilitating despite the face one can put out and show to the rest of the world, whilst struggling internally.
Where did you train?
I trained at the University of Southampton and the University of Bath where I received a 1st class honours degree. Both were excellent universities to study in.
What type of therapy do you practice?
I practice integrative psychotherapy, which has many different tools, methods and models. This includes: psychodynamic, psychoanalytic, interpersonal and other approaches and theories. This gives me a wide scope of tools without having to be purist in one discipline only. I am able to offer what works best for the presenting client. I have found this to be extremely helpful for the clients I work with and have seen results and transformative changes with trauma patients, childhood abuse, relationships, stress, anxiety, low self-esteem and self-worth. It is also helpful to explore with self sufficient high functioning professionals about very complex ideas, beliefs and ingrained patterns that are no longer working and the client wishes to change.
As well as this I have specialised in addictions therapy which is more directive in approach in some aspects and use mindfulness based cognitive behavioural therapy MBCT motivational interviewing, relapse prevention methods to name a few. This is helpful for clients especially when struggling from active substance misuse as it is often difficult to reach the underlying problems when in active addiction.
I have also completed Level 1 training for Sensorimotor Psychotherapy which is useful for traumatised and dissociative clients which is based on the neurobiological model of trauma, linking implicit memory and difficult experiences to the brain in conjunction with the persons physical and psychological responses.
What sort of people do you usually see?
I see various clients around the world, mostly successful high functioning professionals and individuals male and female, who have either lost their way in some aspect of their lives and feel conflicted. This could be work related, family and intimate relationships, unprocessed trauma and various addictions to name a few.
What do you like about being a therapist?
I like being able to build trusting relationships with people and to walk through someone’s journey and see how resilient people have been, whilst helping them feel empowered by their choices and rebuild trust within themselves. To offer someone the space that they may need to share and explore some reoccurring, thoughts, emotions and often difficult and complex life situations or human processes and seeing transformation occur and hope return is a privilege to be a part of.
What is less pleasant?
Seeing the pain someone may have endured alone for years before arriving at therapy.
How long you’ve been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?
I have been with welldoing.org for more than three years, it’s a great space to see a community of therapists working in their own specialities. The contact system for patients to make enquires is very good. The team are very helpful with anything that you may need.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
Yes, I suggest many different books depending on the clients individual needs. I also think the Calm app is very useful especially for patients who suffer from anxiety and sleep problems.
What you do for your own mental health?
I have my own regular supervision, I meet with like-minded friends, I work on various projects, attend social events, read, write and exercise.
You see clients in Central London and online. What can you share with us about seeing clients in those areas?
My main practice was in Harley Street, London, but at the moment I am only online. I will get a new consulting room in the near future. The clients that I see are global: the Middle East, Europe, Canada, India and the UK. Some of them I firstly saw face-to-face in the UK and then continued with them over video link on a very regular basis.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
Therapy is much more than just talking, it is about changing the very core internal conflicts that reduce the quality of a persons human experience. It is possible to make sense of and overcome the most difficult life events by managing memories and emotions in a different way. As well as changing maladaptive coping mechanisms that are no longer working, to enhance all relationships.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
That we all have some thing that we can grow through and learn from and the realisation of how we may minimise something that has directed the entire course of our life and our relationships. This understanding can be incredibly freeing.