Meet the Therapist: Deborah Warman-Freed
What attracted you to become a therapist?
I first thought of becoming a therapist when I had my own therapy in my late 20s. I found the process extremely helpful and was interested in training, but I felt I needed more life experience. A decade or so later I came to a point when I was re-evaluating my life and it felt like the right time to start my training.
Where did you train?
I have a Masters degree from the Minster Centre which has offered training in integrative psychotherapy since 1978. I was drawn to this training because I liked the idea of studying a range of modalities (psychodynamic, humanistic, relational and body psychotherapies as well as neuroscience research) and developing my own way of working as a result. The Minster Centre is also known for its experiential focus and I found this a daunting but exciting prospect; it didn’t disappoint.
What sort of people do you usually see?
I work in private practice and see adults of all ages (18 to 94 years to date) and from all walks of life. Depression and anxiety are issues that I work with regularly because they are so prevalent but people come with a myriad of difficulties. I also have a particular interest in and work regularly with trauma. I’m a trained EMDR therapist and I’m currently training with [trauma specialist] Babette Rothschild.
What do you like about being a therapist?
At the very basic level I enjoy talking with people about what really matters to them. I find human beings fascinating and helping another person to understand him or herself better and feel less anxious, more alive, happier with being themselves, better able to tolerate their feelings, or whatever it is they are trying to achieve is a true privilege.
What is less pleasant?
I don’t enjoy doing my accounts, and other admin aspects of my job. But there’s really not much to complain about.
How long you’ve been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?
I’ve been with welldoing.org for about 18 months now. I think the site is great and it offers a lot of information for potential clients including a large number of interesting articles. I know I would feel supported and reassured if I were looking for a therapist, especially if it were for the first time.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
I do sometimes suggest both to clients if it feels appropriate. I’m in favour of beneficial resources in whatever form they take. I encourage clients to experiment; if my suggestion is helpful use it, if not ditch it. I have no expectations and I always make that clear.
What do you do for your own mental health?
I often remind clients of the safety instructions given on flights – always fit your own oxygen mask before helping others. I think of this as a metaphor in life and try to follow the advice myself because I’m well aware that if I’m not ok I won’t be much help to anyone else. So I look after myself. I make sure that I take sufficient time off so that my work-life balance is good for me. I find being in nature a healing experience and I enjoy gardening and growing vegetables. I love a good read and a good film or TV programme (Howard’s End most recently and I’m also a big fan of Strictly). I also make sure that I spend time with family and friends. I have regular supervision, which I find invaluable, and when I feel it’s helpful I have periods in therapy myself.
What’s your consultation room like?
I have two consulting rooms; one in Hove and one in London's Victoria. I think our surroundings are important to all of us so I’ve created / chosen rooms that I feel are comfortable and welcoming. Clients often tell me that they feel at ease and that’s my goal.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
I wish people knew that therapy can be life changing in the most positive way and while making initial contact may be daunting, the discomfort is usually short-lived. Of course therapy involves time, commitment and money and it’s not feasible for everyone. But if people are struggling financially I tell them about the low cost counselling services I know so that they have the option of seeing trainee therapists for as little at £15 per session. I wish more people knew about these services.
What have you learnt about yourself in therapy?
An important thing I learnt was that I was quite hard on myself and that doesn’t lead to feelings of contentment or wellbeing. Now I’m much kinder to myself which makes a big difference, and it means that I tend to be more tolerant of other people’s foibles as well. I also have far fewer ‘shoulds’ in my life today which is liberating. Essentially I’m now comfortable being me and I really believe that I’m an ok person. That’s life-changing stuff.