Meet the Therapist: Beibei Mu
What attracted you to become a therapist?
After I graduated with a mathematics degree and received an offer from a top investment bank, I felt increasingly unfulfilled and realised something was missing in my life. I took the decision to travel for a year and this solo backpacking trip in Oceania and South America transformed me profoundly, including my view that life is not a race, but an adventure to be lived. It is also through this trip I experienced how deep and authentic human connections can heal us.
With an interest in psychology, personal growth and my desire to facilitate healing in myself and others, I later decided to train as a therapist in my late twenties.
Where did you train?
I trained as an integrative transpersonal therapist at Re-Vision in London, with an emphasis on counselling and psychotherapy with a soulful perspective. I liked the ‘inside-out’ experiential learning model they used in the training, where we learned by having an embodied experience first through various explorations of my own life journey, then followed by theoretical inputs.
The approach is influenced by the schools of psychodynamic, gestalt, relational, transpersonal and Jungian. The model has also been reimagined over the years to include important research findings from neuroscience, eco psychology and so on.
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?
The integrative counselling model I practise in provides flexibility to allow me to adapt my style of working to meet different clients’ needs. I trust human beings have the innate wisdom and the ability to heal and to grow if we are provided with enough support from our environment. However, due to historic issues and lack of support from the environment, people often feel blocked from being the best version of themselves and develop unhealthy patterns in life.
I facilitate an open and supportive space for my clients to feel heard and witnessed in a deep and meaningful way, from which we can safely explore these issues, and for healing to start taking place. During the therapeutic journey, I give central focus to their feelings and witnessing their experiences. In the process, I may attend to their childhood experiences, explore how that might affect them now in their relationship with themselves and others, and experimenting new ways of relating to the world. I also integrate soulful approaches such as imagery, visualisations, embodiment, fairy tales and dream exploration in the work too, as ways of engaging with the unconscious and the intuitive mind.
I believe that many psychological issues are not only individual, but also a result of the collective cultural environment we live in, and I like to give place to how one’s cultural context and experience can shape one’s life. The question of ‘who am I?’ is often dependent on ‘who am I culturally?’. In therapy, I will facilitate and explore together with my clients how the wider context of the outside word is affecting their inner world.
The mind and body, the human and the non-human worlds are very often seen as separate entities in the western culture, and this view contributes to the collective suffering of disconnection and isolation we often face in modern society. I am interested in bringing in other perspectives from eastern philosophy, and to encourage and nurture the connection between the mind and the body. This helps my clients recognise the interconnectedness and the interdependence of all beings. For example, I might sometimes draw their attention to notice how they are feeling or experiencing a certain sensation in their body in a particular moment, with the aim to facilitate self- awareness and acceptance, knowing that these feelings and sensations are temporary and shall eventually pass.
How does therapy help with perfectionism?
The culture we live and breathe in teaches us to hide our flaws, wounds, broken parts, and to strive to be strong, positive and perfect. We often push these painful emotions away, or pretend the pain is not there and go on living. But sometime later, these pains re-emerge to surface unexpectedly in a different form. The old ways of being in the world and relating to others are no longer working. Without diminishing the painful effects of the suffering, I also see these symptoms as life’s calling to make some changes.
It requires a lot of courage to reach out to someone and to take an inward journey to explore these innermost thoughts and feelings. It is when we courageously accept how we truly feel and embrace who we truly are, our old wound can slowly heal and then to be transformed into something new and precious. Therapy can be a space to understand your feelings, your past experiences, untangle some threads and integrate various parts of your life. It can also be a place to experiment and explore new ways of being and relating to yourself and to the world.
What sort of people do you usually see?
My clients are mostly made up of Millennials and Gen Z who are working or studying and come from very diverse cultural backgrounds.
I work particularly with depression, work and relationship challenges, life changes and transition, cultural and racial identity issues, and self-esteem issues. People often come to me wanting to make sense of their experiences and to find ways to live a more meaningful and fulfilled life.
What do you like about being a therapist?
I feel privileged to be invited to be part of someone’s life journey, and I often feel moved by my clients’ courage to share some deeply painful stories and experiences. It’s also really rewarding to witness them grow and transform in the therapeutic process.
What is less pleasant?
How long you’ve been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?
It’s been around six months and so far it’s been great. The various initiatives around supporting NHS staff and low cost students counselling during the pandemic seem really needed at this moment.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
I sometimes recommend resources to those who would like something to think about between sessions.
For those who likes facts and research findings, Why Love Matters by Sue Gerhardt, shares some of the latest neuroscience research and psychological theories on how our early lives impact our immune system, brain development and how we relate to others as adults, and it goes on to share ways of how we can learn to 're-parent' (i.e. re-wire ourselves again in adulthood).
For those who prefer something more visual, The School of Life, has a selection of bitesize videos on various mental health and philosophical topics on their YouTube channel, inspiring people to live a more fulfilled life.
Another one of my favourite is relationship therapist Esther Perel’s YouTube channel and her podcast series ‘Where Should We Begin’, where we get a glimpse of the inner world of different couples under lockdown around the world, and get to reflect on our own relationship with others.
What you do for your own mental health?
I love walking in nature, journaling, meditating and taking care of my plants. Spending quality time with friends and loved ones always help too.
You are a therapist in London and online. What can you share with us about seeing clients?
I am aware that a third of Londoners were born abroad and over 200 languages are spoken in the capital. I am really lucky to be a therapist in London and also having an online practice.
My clients come from very diverse backgrounds, a true reflection of the diversity in London. Being someone who belongs to this third of Londoners, I am acutely aware of how racism affects people and how important it is to offer a culturally sensitive and safe space to my clients for their voices to be heard. At the same time, I found that the yearning for connection, belonging, meaning and fulfilment is universal, regardless of your background.
What’s your consultation room like?
At the moment I see all clients online via Zoom due to the pandemic. When I return to see clients in person in London, my consulting room is bright, spacious and beautifully decorated with art work and green plants. It gives a calming and welcoming feeling, an environment that can support the healing process.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
You don’t need to be in the middle of a deep crisis or feeling really unwell to seek therapy. Therapy is for anyone who is interested in being a better version of themselves, and it is the greatest gift you can give yourself.
There isn’t a prescribed plan for therapy, and the process can often be very different for each individual. Healing is a long term process and it doesn’t just happen overnight. It needs some patience, and some courage and willingness to look within, and it is usually helpful to have a therapist walking alongside you.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
Therapy has helped me recognise it is ok to not strive to be perfect, and it’s enough to be good enough. It was the start of my life-long process of practising self-compassion.