Dan Lowe is a therapist in East London and online

What attracted you to become a therapist?

It's weird, I think I've always been on this track. I noticed as a teenager particular moments of deep connection with friends which I came to value and look out for. My mum commented early on what a good listener I was. It struck me as a fascinating career path back before I went to university, though I decided (mistakenly?) that I needed to follow a more conventional path first so I taught for a number of years.  

I've always been interested in and fascinated by the mind and our psychologies. A lot of the qualities you need to teach well are found in counselling – empathy, and unconditional positive regard – so I was practising these skills in an informal way long before training! 

Where did you train? 

I did an MA at Roehampton, 2017-2020 in Integrative Relational Psychotherapy and Counselling which was excellent. 

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

One of my biggest influences is Wilhelm Reich, who is probably the most controversial therapists of the 20th Century. Certainly one of the most tragic lives, anyway. Reich is pretty much the first bodyworker so predates the current interest (Bessel van De Kolk etc) by some 70 years.  

The reason I like Reich so much is because when you start to dig deep in his work, you get a sense of this holistic vision of all of life – this interweaving of emotion and sexuality, how we block their expression, and how this impacts politics, child-rearing, birth and so on. It's such a rich body of work. 

I leaven this and ground it by a strong focus on whatever's going on for the client, in a very person-centred way. I try to place them at the centre of the work. An old therapist said to me that she had to learn how to be the therapist each individual client needs, and I think that's true with my work. I have a strong interest in how the client might be feeling and expressing themselves via embodiment, and encourage enquiry here (though I don't do this with everyone). 

How does your type of therapy help with symptoms of depression and anxiety?

I think it's very useful with symptomologies like depression and anxiety especially if you start to understand these as (partly) physical phenomena and bring in these ways of working with them. If someone is anxious for instance, it might be useful to ask about what they're doing with their breath and what it's like to change that (or indeed if that's possible). Learning to relax physically can be a bit of a revelation for many clients. 

What sort of people do you usually see?

I see a lot of men, as I think they feel more comfortable opening up with another man. I see individuals rather than couples and a variety of age ranges, though I would say 30s is the most common. I think in your 30s you become more conscious of longer term patterns and have the energy and desire to change them, and the maturity to realise you might need some help to do so! There's that sense of wanting change as other life markers emerge into view – issues around career, marriage and children. 

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

When I was teaching, I noticed a huge spike in young people's mental health needs. Referrals went up roughly four-fold. I'm not 100% sure of why this is, but it's something I'd like to work with more actively in the future. I'd like to do more work with young people as they're a great group to work with. 

What do you like about being a therapist?

I think it's a great privilege to be able to see into people's lives in the way we do, it's incredibly enriching. That, alongside the satisfaction of helping people change. 

What is less pleasant?

The uncertainities of freelance work and the comparatively low wages across the sector. 

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

Probably two years or so. I feel the interface is really user-friendly, and I like the separation/independence from professional bodies like BACP. 

What books have been important to you in terms of your professional and personal development? Do you ever recommend books to clients?

Too many to mention, really. I’m a big fan of the works of Nancy McWilliams from a psychoanalytic point of view, and Nick Totten for a contemporary awareness of embodiment.

I’ve often recommended Jonathan Haidt’s The Happiness Hypothesis and Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Wherever You Go, There You Are for mindfulness insights.

I think you can get therapeutic insight from great literature as much as therapy texts so I’d probably recommend someone just goes and reads a great work like Anna Karenina

What you do for your own mental health? 

I see my own therapist, and have my own set of exercise and bodywork practices which I vary, and experiment with. Active engagement with my own mental health is almost like a hobby to me, and I’m always looking for new insight or techniques to try. 

You are a therapist in East London. What can you share with us about seeing clients in this area?

One thing I'm aware of that the clients I see tend to be white, so my therapeutic take up in no way reflects the diversity of the area. I actually have a mixed raced background, though I'm white-presenting so this is something I think about a lot. 

What do you wish people knew about therapy?

I wish people realised how much relating and our social connections and networks are an essential part of being human, and that therapy is a specialised extension of that. 

What did you learn about yourself in therapy?

That there are deep capacities in me for change, and possibilities for health and good feeling that were far beyond my expectations. 

Contact Dan here

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