Meet the Therapist: Cynthia Rao
What attracted you to become a therapist?
During the 1990s and early 2000s I searched for something that would help me to alleviate the depression I had experienced for many years. I tried all kinds of different therapies, many workshops and trainings, and would not pass a bookshop without checking out their psychology/self-help department. In about 2005 I came across the Psychosynthesis Trust in London Bridge and I signed on for their Essentials workshop. It opened up a whole new world of how I could approach my own problems. It appealed to me in a way that nothing had before, and this is what attracted me to train as a therapist.
Where did you train?
The Psychosynthesis Trust, London Bridge
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?
Psychosynthesis works towards psychological healing which is why when clients come with a lot of emotional pain that overwhelms them there are techniques and ways of working. It also encompasses another side so when people come because everything is good, work, family etc, but something is missing, it can work on a more spiritual level. Perhaps a deeper purpose is emerging, and a safe space can be made for this.
Psychosynthesis has ways to work with both ends of the spectrum and everything in between. Once described to me as a ‘Pick and Mix’ therapy, I can offer a way of working that is different for every client. I also use a technique called EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques or ‘tapping’). EFT is simply tapping on acupressure points. Instead of using needles as an acupuncturist would do, we tap on points on the face and body while focusing on what we are thinking and feeling. Even though this is a relatively new technique there has been much scientific research done showing its effectiveness.
What I had always found difficult with therapy was how so much would surface during the session and then we can be left with uncomfortable feelings and emotions. Using EFT, we can dissipate these feelings we have hidden away for so long. This can give renewed energy to exploring deeper memories, thoughts and beliefs that perhaps we normally shy or tend to run away from. However, with EFT we have a choice. Some clients choose to stay with the uncomfortable feelings, i.e. anger, because it is such an unusual feeling for them.
How does psychosynthesis and EFT help with symptoms of co-dependency?
Co-dependency or relationship addiction is challenging to work with because of the depth of self-denial that is required to protect us from overwhelming emotional pain/wounding. Working with sub-personalities or aspects of ourselves, or patterns of behaviour, we can begin to pry apart the different parts that make up our survival personality. As we explore these behaviours it is possible to connect with these parts and acknowledge what they hold for us. This connecting usually leads to better understanding and communicating, less reacting and more responding to our inner world and in turn, the external world. It is all a process and every interaction or situation can teach us something about how we are feeling in that moment. Any addiction needs to be worked at and this one is no different.
What sort of people do you usually see?
What do you like about being a therapist?
Feeling useful and of service and that everything I have learnt I can pass on to others. I enjoy the journey of working with someone and hearing them begin to process things in a different way, to take responsibility and have new insights into their behaviour and beliefs.
What is less pleasant?
I honestly feel fortunate that the only thing I can think of is the admin/self-employed side of things!
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
For co-dependency I suggest Women Who Love Too Much by Robin Norwood. A somewhat dated book written in the 80s, but the message is still relevant. Also, Melody Beattie.
For inner child work - John Bradshaw
Feeling generally lost in life - James Hollis
For trauma, Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors by Janina Fisher; and My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem.
Finally, Irvin Yalom, a man of heart and mind who has written some great books on counselling both fiction and non-fiction.
What you do for your own mental health?
I use EFT (tapping) to calm and ground myself. I also use it if I am annoyed or angry about something to help me understand what is going on with me. I listen to meditation videos on YouTube. A favourite is The Mindful Movement which is especially good if you have trouble sleeping. I have a peer support group and supervision. I also have good friends who share the same interests i.e. talking about ourselves and our feelings!
You are a therapist that did work in London Bridge and Covent Garden before lockdown. What can you share with us about seeing clients in those areas?
I think the area you work in mostly certainly does define your client base. I worked in Bank, EC3 for many years and saw a lot of people who worked in the corporate world. Around London Bridge, SE1 and Covent Garden, WC2 the clients have tended to be more in their 20s and 30s working for less corporate enterprises.
What’s your consultation room like?
At the moment it is a room in my house as I am working online.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
That when we bury our pain a lot of joy, wonder and creativity gets buried as well. It is possible to work through pain. It is also possible to reclaim that childlike wonder we lost.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
That I had very distorted thinking and once that was pointed out to me lots of things started to fall into place.