Chandrika Patel is an online therapist

What attracted you to become a therapist?

I enjoy being curious about people and I love connection.

After teaching English for over a decade, I realised it was the one-to-one interactions I was having that fulfilled me the most. 

As a therapist I’ve learned ways to build a safe space always centring my client and their preferences; this work is rewarding for me. I find relationships, both with ourselves and others, the most meaningful of all life’s work. 

Becoming a therapist has joined up my passion for people and their stories with my ability to tune in to other people. 

Leaning into my own vulnerabilities of becoming a parent who struggled to keep my head above the water led me to psychotherapy. It forced me to pay attention to childhood ghosts in a way that my teens and 20s were too distracting for; all this and a lot more led me to therapy.

Where did you train? 

I trained at the University of East London; it is the country’s oldest integrative psychotherapy course. The tutors are knowledgeable and passionate. The course itself is highly inclusive meaning I learnt alongside people with rich life experience and varied perspectives.

As many therapists and even clients will attest to though, it’s life experiences and a thirst to learn outside of the classroom and beyond the black and white diploma papers that gives you the edge. 

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

I practise integrative therapy which means I work with a ‘’toolbox’’ of modalities depending on my clients’ presenting issues.  

For example, sometimes I’ll draw from a psychodynamic background whereby subconscious mechanisms may be useful to reflect on or clients may show blind spots that a therapist can gently point out.  

Other times a client may ask for methods of Gestalt or existential therapy perhaps after death in the family. It’s exciting to work in this way because it’s creative and can be unlike any other type of work.

One of the biggest advantages for this type of therapy is it avoids a blanket approach and recognises the complexities of our inner worlds as well as personal life circumstances. Even if you’re not aware of which tool or modality to ask for, being able to call upon a range of methods as a therapist can happen organically and without any labels to be needed. For example, in the past where I’ve worked with client’s who’ve experienced childhood trauma, attachment theory informs the work without explicitly needing to be named. 

Most of the time I’ve found my clients want good therapy and that transcends any particular modality, training or theory. Taking on regular feedback and being informed by the clients is very important to me.

How does therapy help?

Clients are quickly surprised that they feel what is that very universal but still so personal phenomenon; to feel seen and heard. For the world and thought processes to slow down so we become disentangled and start to be in touch with our bodies. Symptoms of anxiety improve and changed perspectives bring relief. 

The goal of therapy isn’t to remove sticky, tricky emotions but to allow clients to see emotions as tunnels rather than traps. 

What sort of people do you usually see?

I usually work with clients who are between 25-55 and who are either going through big transitions in their lives or are in some way ‘’stuck’’. They may be experiencing long-term relationship struggles or are dealing with a health change.  

I’ve worked with clients who’ve had panic attacks, postpartum depression, identity struggles, body image challenges, eating disorders and grief.  

I’ve found it’s not always the challenge that is the commonality with my clients; clients who value a therapist with broad lived experience, who speaks plainly but reads widely, may be drawn to me.

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

Mental health is experiencing a huge wave of attention in the last eight years or so. We are seeing words like authenticity and self-care within the mainstream which is brilliant and much needed. There are also huge political and activist circles making necessary noise around gender or workplace toxicity. At the same time getting therapy is being seen as developmental and is more and more normalised. Therapy is a right not a ‘’nice to have’’.

This is both an exciting time but also a reminder that our mental health relies on basic needs being met too. It would be counterproductive to recognise the importance of emotional and psychological safety while neglecting the cost-of-living crisis and political turmoil. Therapy and social progress go hand in hand.


What do you like about being a therapist?

I find it a real privilege to have the opportunity to listen to my clients, to honour them and their stories. I enjoy how contained but also creative it can be to work with clients. I like to open my mind to my client’s way of being and looking at the world.

I think it’s important for people to be heard and to have the opportunity to see themselves mirrored back via an empathetic person. Not only because this is crucial for us to develop and exist in the world with dignity but also to make sense of ourselves in an unpredictable world. I also believe the whole of society benefits from each of us having safe spaces to express ourselves.

Most of all I like meaningful, less surface-level interactions and therapy makes that more likely to happen.

What is less pleasant?

The one aspect of the work I find most challenging though is short term client work: two to six sessions is enough to work on a specific area but long-term client work is where I thrive.

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

I really enjoyed the recent peer session I joined and I’m grateful Welldoing very quickly published a short piece of writing I produced on names and identity. They have been supportive and the platform has been very user-friendly.

Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?

Podcasts: iweigh, Mother Pukka, Girls That Invest, Unlocking Us, How to Fail, Feel Better Live More, News Agents and the School of Life on Youtube.

Books: Too many to recommend but any reading is good for your brain, body and soul. Read what you like and read often if you can.

What you do for your own mental health? 

I lift weights, run, read, go for walks, make sure I see people I like often, look after myself a little more a week before my period and during, hot baths, tea…

What’s your consultation room like?

I work virtually for now but I’m always open to a quick phone call; our work relies on both of us feeling it’s a good match.

What do you wish people knew about therapy?

It’s for everyone. Find a therapist you feel comfortable with.

What did you learn about yourself in therapy?

Many things but mainly that I’m a work in progress, like everyone else.

Contact Chandrika here

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