Meet the Therapist: Craig Isherwood
What attracted you to become a therapist?
After over 20 years working in primary education I had become increasingly frustrated with a system that took me further and further away from what I went into it for in the first place: people. Especially as I was always really passionate about providing a secure and stable environment for children, particularly for those whose home life was the opposite as it was so clear how it impacted on them in so many ways.
Becoming a therapist was such a natural progression for me, being able to re-establish the central focus on the individual, meeting them where they were at and working with them in a way and at a pace that suited them really made sense to me. It was also important for me to find a new career which enabled me to have a much healthier work/life balance.
Where did you train?
I am currently training at the Metanoia institute in Ealing. I have completed two years of a Diploma and now I'm in the first year of an MSc Integrative Psychotherapy. My training so far means I'm qualified to work with clients as a counsellor; the training I am continuing currently is to become a psychotherapist.
I really like how there is a strong emphasis on the practical application of theory and personal work so we can really see it realised, not only with my clients but also with myself.
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practice?
The Integrative approach doesn’t have a fixed ideology. It is essentially where a variety of theoretical models and techniques are ‘integrated’ by the therapist who then uses them in a way to best suit the client.
I was drawn to integrative psychotherapy as I am very much of the mind that one size doesn’t fit all and really enjoy the interplay of differing ideas and how they relate to one another.
How does therapy help?
As a form of relational therapy I strongly believe that many of the issues we experience in the present, be it anxiety, low self worth/image, depression etc, are rooted in the past, and that true healing from these hurts can only happen through healthy and secure relationships now. I see integrative therapy as being one of these relationships.
What sort of people do you usually see?
I typically see individual adults aged 18+. The kind of difficulties I work with range from general feelings of being lost or directionless to issues with how individuals relate to themselves (identity, sexuality, self esteem/image etc) and to others.
I have particular interest in how negative childhood experiences can affect us in the present. More specifically, as a gay man, I am also very interested in the impact developmental and societal influences have on LGBT+ individuals and how this can affect their self worth and relationships.
Have you noticed any recent mental health trends or wider changes in attitude?
There is a definite move towards increased awareness of mental health but there is still a long way to go, both in terms of accessibility for those who need it most and for men.
What do you like about being a therapist?
Walking alongside individuals to help them work through their issues, developing a greater sense of themselves and finding some form of resolution is such a privilege. I get a real buzz out of seeing people overcoming the pain of the past realising their own sense of empowerment.
What is less pleasant?
I am often struck with how, when a person comes to therapy, they almost always bring issues that they have never told another person. Though I count this as the most enormous privilege, it also deeply saddens me just how much individuals carry all by themselves, even when they are surrounded by people.
How long have you been with Welldoing and what you think of us?
I have been with Welldoing for a couple of months now. I find the platform easy to use and have had a couple of enquiries.
What you do for your own mental health?
Maintaining strong social connections is very important to me. Life gets tough for all of us and knowing I have people to call on when needed means the world.
I am also very fortunate to live close to the North Norfolk coast and enjoy cycling and walking in the area which is beautiful. I also dabble with a bit of painting which has been a really powerful medium for me to be able to express feelings when the words aren’t available.
You are a therapist in Hackney, London and Norfolk. What can you share with us about seeing clients in this area?
I am a therapist in Hackney E8 and in North Norfolk NR21. I really appreciate the two contrasting locations, one urban loaded with diversity and the other rural much less diverse but also with its own interesting demographic.
What’s your consultation room like?
My consulting room in Hackney is in the Mare St Wing of St Joseph’s Hospice. It’s a light but calming space. I see clients from my home in North Norfolk.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
I think there’s still a bit of a misconception that you have to have serious mental health issues to go to therapy. I think it can be really invaluable to know that you have 50 minutes a week that is completely dedicated to you, where there is someone giving you their full attention. It’s like an anchor point each week.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
I think I have been surprised, as my relationship with my therapist has developed, at just how deeply rooted my childhood experiences were in forming my identity and influencing my relationships, both in terms of parenting but also growing up as a gay kid in the 80’s and 90’s.