Meet the Therapist: Ben Rath
What attracted you to become a therapist?
At the time I decided to train to become a therapist I was working as a mental health support worker in a supported accommodation in Manchester. I had always been interested in mental health, including working through my own difficulties for many years, so I knew this was a field I wanted to work in. However I found that the limits of the support worker role didn’t allow me to provide the kind of help and support I really wanted to.
Becoming a therapist has given me a way to build the kind of deep, authentic, and supportive relationships with people built around the values of honesty, transparency, and unconditional acceptance.
Where did you train?
I trained with Elan Training and Development in Altrincham. They provide a four-year training course in transactional analysis counselling and integrative psychotherapy. They are very much focused on personal development and learning through application, practice, open discussion and group exercises.
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?
The main methodology I’m trained is transactional analysis (TA), though my practice is informed by many other ways of working. I offer open-ended work, which means I work with clients for as long as is necessary, and follow the clients lead in regard to what is most pressing for them. This may involve support through challenges that they’re currently facing in their day-to-day lives, or it may involve more in-depth exploration of their life story, childhood experiences, development of their personality or working through significant traumas.
How does transactional analysis help?
The type of therapy I practise often helps people to develop greater self-awareness and insight into their own internal processes, why they think, feel, and act in the ways that they do, and what they may be able to do in order to change.
This awareness can people develop more freedom and choice to live in the ways they would prefer rather then remain stuck in old patterns. It can also foster significant personality change and growth, whether in self-esteem, confidence, optimism, a sense of meaning, peacefulness etc.
What sort of people do you usually see?
I offer individual therapy to adults. My clients bring all kinds of different issues to therapy, though anxiety, depression, and feelings of isolation seem to be common problems many people face. I would like to one day work with couples though I need to wait until I can complete the necessary training.
What do you like about being a therapist?
I find working with clients extremely rewarding, meaningful and fulfilling. I feel honoured and grateful that people trust me with their inner thoughts and feelings, and I’m consistently amazed and heartened at the significant, often life-changing transformations people make in therapy.
What is less pleasant?
The business side of being self-employed comes with its own particular sources of stress. Working as a therapist tends to mean unsociable hours, the income is unpredictable and varies from week to week, and there’s the consistent anxiety around attracting enough clients.
How long you’ve been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?
I’ve been with welldoing.org for about six months. I like the way they’ve set their directory up to help potential clients find the right therapist for them. This is such an important part of the process that anything that can help match people up in the right way is great.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
I often suggest books to clients if I feel like they are particularly relevant to what they are working through. Two books that many clients have found particularly helpful are The Compassionate Mind by Paul Gilbert, and Pete Walker’s Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving.
What you do for your own mental health?
My main task for managing my own mental health is learning how to relax. I’ve always had an anxious mind, so learning to give myself permission to take time out and just ‘be’ has been a big personal development for me.
You are a therapist in Manchester. What can you share with us about seeing clients in this area?
My practice room is quite close to Manchester City Centre and areas of South Manchester where a lot of young professionals live and work, though being close to the centre means I also have clients from plenty of surrounding areas as well, so it makes for quite a diverse group.
What’s your consultation room like?
My consultation room is converted from a small office space on the top floor of a Victorian Terrace. It has plenty of natural light and feels tucked away which gives a sense of privacy and comfort.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
I would encourage anyone who was thinking about therapy to approach it not as a service from a professional who can ‘fix’ any of your problems, but as a commitment to building a relationship with someone which is honest, authentic, trusting and ultimately healing.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
The main thing I learned through my own therapy was how to accept myself fully, to not feel like I always had to do something to earn my worth and to trust that I was good enough.