Meet the Therapist: Anne L Ryan
What attracted you to become a therapist?
I have always been interested in body work and the voice. I have been a voice coach for some time. My curiosity is about how sound resonates in the body. I have explored the embodied voice for a long time. This works well in body psychotherapy when working with issues around verbal and non-verbal communication. Allowing the body and the voice to express freely can be releasing for some clients.
Where did you train?
Cambridge Body Psychotherapy Centre, Ditton Walk, Cambridge
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?
I am a body psychotherapist. This means that I work with the relationship between the body and the mind, and how our physical feelings and thought processes are reflected in our emotions.
By exploring the body-mind relationship, the physical habits and holding patterns, we gain insight into how our own behaviour, feelings and thoughts, are contributing to the difficulties that we are facing.
How does body psychotherapy help with symptoms of anxiety?
In body psychotherapy the symptoms we experience are explored with a curiosity about what it is our body is telling us. For example, if a client is experiencing anxiety they may present with continuous talking and at the same time have a lot of physical pain and headaches in their body. In a session we might look at exploring these symptoms by slowing down the conversation, and take time to feel into what is happening in our body. We might use movement to express the feeling, rather than talking.
Another method is to use psychological massage called biodynamic massage. This is for people who are comfortable with touch. The intention is to bring the client into a place of balance and containment so that they feel they are more connected to their body, than in their head. It's important to say that body psychotherapy sessions are different for everyone. How we, the client and the therapist, choose to work depends on what feels right at that time in that session.
What sort of people do you usually see?
I see adult individuals only. A lot of my work relates to trauma.
What do you like about being a therapist?
I am curious and fascinated about how and why people act and behave as they do. I like being with them on their journey supporting them on their healing path.
What is less pleasant?
Hearing how people suffer and cause suffering to themselves and others.
How long have you been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?
I've been with welldoing.org for about nine months now. I have found it to be helpful, supportive and appealing, particularly to those in the early stages of developing their psychotherapy practice.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
Not really. This is because it's not about the books, it's about how we relate to ourselves and each other. That requires a lot of honest self-exploration in a safe place, along with your therapist.
If a client brings up a book, or an app to my attention in the session, it may be appropriate to explore it; on the other hand, it may be a distraction from the topic under discussion. It all depends on the context and the situation.
What you do for your own mental health?
My self-care routine includes daily meditation, and Feldenkrais movement work. I am a cross country walker and I love to sing. I have many friends I enjoy being with. I have a great supervisor whose advice is so supportive and re-assuring.
You are a therapist in Oxfordshire. What can you share with us about seeing clients in that area?
There are only a few body psychotherapists in Oxford. I don't know why this is. We all work in different ways.
What’s your consultation room like?
It's pretty and calm. I have chosen it because I want my client to feel safe and free to make sound spontaneously without being concerned about causing a disturbance.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
Therapy is a restorative force. It is a private, confidential safe place to explore oneself, and creative space to explore your life. If the client is willing to commit to this process, they will feel fulfilled, and find it easier to be relationship with themselves and others in their life.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
I learned a lot about how it feels to be safe and what is not safe for me. I understand how it feels to be in balance in the body-mind relationship. It has been a fascinating journey and I am still enjoying it. My hope is that this sense of joy will extend to my clients even through difficult times.