Meet the Therapist: Alan Madin
What attracted you to become a therapist?
I had left a role in education and was looking for something to give a purpose as well as just a job. It felt right to actually ask and listen to people who said what they thought I was best at. Counselling seemed to just grow from that.
Teaching is about helping others learn and counselling is about helping people learn about themselves.
Where did you train?
My introduction to counselling was as an instructor in the RAF when I did a pastoral care and listening skills course. I enjoyed that so much I went back and did another listening skills course; combined they were effectively a Level 2 counselling course in an incredible setting.
Much later I did a Professional Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling as a two-year part-time course with a local CIC organisation that was also only a walk away from my home. I really enjoyed my training and became their training manager for a while after qualifying before focussing on my own counselling.
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?
I am at heart a person-centred counsellor. It works. But it can be hard work so I understand why some may choose more directive approaches.
That said, I have also trained in Single Session Therapy with Windy Dryden and brief therapy too. Both can be done with a person-centred approach; in fact, suggesting a client commit to several sessions when they don’t want to is not person-centred!
I have also become used to ‘time-limited’ therapy over eight sessions or so and can see that having a limit can help focus the client’s work. However, the sometimes slower approach of person-centred counselling does allow the client to understand themselves more – this is important if there are several factors impacting on the client.
During my training I was shown the Rewind Technique and was immediately convinced by seeing my own peers immediately helped with trauma they had lived with for years.
How does your therapy help with symptoms of trauma?
I remain person-centred at heart but I love the Rewind Technique. Seeing someone visibly lose years off their face as, sometimes in a single session, they are relieved of the impact that a trauma has placed on them, is amazing.
I find combining Rewind with the more holistic person-centred approach really works. I picture it as Rewind helps with the traumatic ‘event’ itself; person-centred then helps with all the stuff that got thrown around by it. One cannot be removed from the other, both need addressing.
What sort of people do you usually see?
I work with individuals over 18. I have several ‘counselling hats’. I see a lot of work-related stress and relationship problems.
As a counsellor with a hospice organisation I work with clients facing life-changing and life-limiting conditions. I work with their carers too, this includes pre- and post-bereavement work.
The most challenging – and rewarding – is single session end of life counselling within the hospice. Strangely the very thing I didn’t want to do when I started the placement as a trainee!
Have you noticed any recent mental health trends or wider changes in attitude?
I notice more GPs prescribing counselling and fresh air/exercise rather than (or alongside) just anti-depressants.
I also notice a lot more stress and anxiety caused by – or at least linked to – working remotely from home. Especially the inability to get a ‘buffer space’ between work and home pressures – maybe the hour-long commute wasn’t all that bad?
I notice it in myself so three times a week I try to ‘cycle to work’. A circular route back to my front door, a bit longer than the one to the train station.
What do you like about being a therapist?
I just love it when my clients don’t need me any more. Job done – in a bittersweet way!
What is less pleasant?
Not knowing why that one client who just stopped coming/communicating just stopped. Generally I am OK with endings – but those ones I don’t like.
How long have you been with Welldoing and what you think of us?
I am a Welldoing newbie. I was on a different platform but this one just seemed to be a better fit to me. I liked the idea clients could book direct.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
I absolutely love Kathryn Mannix With the End in Mind: How to Live and Die Well.
It’s not one I recommend very often – but I have done and the client loved it too, really connected for them.
I have also recommended Counselling For Toads by Robert de Board. It can be really useful in relationship work. It's an accessible way into transactional analysis and to help clients understand what’s going on in their communication with others.
What you do for your own mental health?
A real mix. Loud music balanced by quiet moments by the fish pond. And being safe in the knowledge that I only exist to serve the black cat who allows me to share his house that I pay for.
I also really value supervision. My different counselling ‘hats’ means I have different supervisors for each. I like it that way; they keep me focused and grounded.
You are a therapist in Lincoln. What can you share with us about seeing clients in this area?
Lincolnshire is a very rural landscape. The move to online/telephone work really enabled more clients to access counselling, especially those with serious health issues. Whilst being Lincoln, I have based my online work which means I now see clients from around the country.
I know there are areas of ‘counselling expertise’ that I try to avoid but I find the more I work in my client’s frame of reference the more areas I am able to help in.
I also have a role with the Safety in Beauty organisation focusing on the impacts of trauma through ‘complications’ or malpractice within the beauty and aesthetic industry. This has seen me give talks to the industry on the importance of mental health for the professionals involved too.
What’s your consultation room like?
My own is still in a rather protracted build cycle but is known as “the posh shed on the side of the house”. Mostly I am working online/telephone from a suitable room in the back of the house. I still get face-to-face work within one of my other roles in their centre.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
There is more than one type; find the therapist that works for you. (And to many ex-clients: I didn’t actually tell you to do that thing that you said has worked. I just helped you find it yourself!)
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
Through some person-centred creative inner child work I can now recognise that I never allowed myself to be all I could because others told a younger me I wouldn’t be good enough. I am actually better than I let myself be.