Annika Giles is a counsellor in York and online

What attracted you to become a therapist?

Counselling supported me when I was going through some life changing experiences. The positive changes I noticed in myself inspired me in learning more about different counselling approaches. I felt that as a therapist I could combine the skills and experience I had gained at business management where I had spent most of my career. And where I had enjoyed all the different interactions I have had with people.

As a career change, it has been huge, but I feel that I can now use more of my own personality and all the skills, experiences and learning I have gained over the years.

I have a keen interest in supporting others to find their potential and explore what is happening in them which can further lead them to enjoy their life more fully.

Where did you train?

I did my certificate in counselling skills at York St John’s university and then Diploma in therapeutic counselling at York college. I did my work placement GP surgery at York and with a disability charity. I have volunteered with Frontline19 and LOOK UK since I have qualified. I am working towards BACP accreditation.

Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?

I am integrative counsellor, mainly using a person-centred approach as my counselling basis. Person-centred counselling focuses on each client’s potential to become who they want to be rather what is expected or determined by others. It is about listening each client and supporting them to explore and find clarity to any issues they are having.

My role as a counsellor is to provide each client with a safe, non-judgemental and confidential space to explore their thoughts, feelings and emotions. It is important that each client feels heard and valued whatever they are sharing during sessions. I include creative work with my counselling. This supports clients to explore complex feelings which they may find difficult to talk about but also their unconscious thoughts and feelings.

I feel that that in order to change or start feeling differently about ourselves, we need to become aware what has happened to us in the past and what is happening now to us.

Person-centred counselling can be combined with CBT, ACT, creative works and other approaches, if I feel it is supporting the client in the process.

How does counselling help with symptoms of anxiety?

Anxiety is one of the issues which is often explored during counselling sessions. I have noticed that it is important to discuss and find ways of coping and normalising any bodily reactions which can feel really scary when you feel anxious. 

A person-centred approach then supports by exploring where anxiety is coming from, whether is something which has recently happened or whether it is linked to past experiences. I feel that any coping mechanisms or tools will work at more long term only when we are able to explore the root cause of anxiety as well.

What sort of people do you usually see? 

I have a mixture of clients, both men and women. My clients are 18 years or over and all individuals. 

The common issues are anxiety, bereavement, relationship issues, anger management, work related stress/burn out and chronic illness just to name a few.

Have you noticed any recent mental health trends or wider changes in attitude?

Anxiety tends to be more common issue now but also discussed more openly. There is still a way to go to remove all stigma related to mental health, but a lot of progress has been done last couple years. Our lives are busier and more demanding. Unfortunately, last two years during Covid pandemic have been hard mentally for many. Similarly adjusting back to life after pandemic can be challenging.

Further, especially for younger people, social media can create high expectation on how to behave or even look. These can then trigger anxiety.

What do you like about being a therapist?

I enjoy being able to provide a safe, non-judgmental space to anyone to discuss about things they have been hiding far too long. It is each time special to see even small positive change and lightness in a client.

What is less pleasant?

I would not say anything is less pleasant but there are times when a client is not quite ready to continue with counselling and I can only wish that they will do it one day.

How long have you been with and what you think of us?

I have been with only since January 2022 but have found the company very supportive and responsive to any questions that I have had. I am using the booking system and have joined the group also on Facebook. It was easy to sign up.

Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?

I tend to recommend articles to my client if they are struggling with a specific issue.

I found that Brene Brown books are quite popular, and Matt Haig has written easy reading books about depression etc. which I do mention to those clients who enjoy reading.

Steve Haines' book Anxiety is Really Strange is a good little book about anxiety as it illustrates clearly what is anxiety really is.

I have found the Headspace app very useful for mindfulness.

What you do for your own mental health?

As a therapist I attend not only regular supervision but also personal therapy. I have found that walking is good for me during breaks and when I need some grounding time. It is important that I look after my mental health actively too.

You are a therapist in York. What can you share with us about seeing clients in this area?

I am therapist working face-to-face in York and online with clients across the UK and Europe. My client base is quite mixed both face-to-face and online. 

My counselling room is outside the centre of York which makes it easy accessible both by car and by bus. There is a free parking outside.

I offer both daytime and evening sessions which suit both for students and those who are working.

What’s your consultation room like?

My counselling room is cosy and inviting. It is quite basic with couple armchairs and a small table for all the creative work.

What do you wish people knew about therapy?

We should feel it is as important to look after our mental health as our physical health. You do not need to wait until it gets really bad until you come to therapy. It is quite often a big step to make the first contact, but it is my role as a therapist to support you.

What did you learn about yourself in therapy?

The main thing I learned during my own therapy was that I am good enough as I am, and part of that is to accept both good and bad days.

I learned where my own introjected values and beliefs came from and I understand my own behaviour patterns better.  

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