Ellie Bourne is an online psychotherapist

What attracted you to become a therapist?

It may sound cliché but I have known from an early age that I wanted to work in a helping profession and supporting people to feel better. A moment that stands out to me is reading the book A Child Called It as a teenager and deciding that I wanted to help people like the boy in the story. 

Whilst I did not know exactly how or what this looked like at the time, this influenced my decision to study psychology at College, then University, and to step into volunteering as a Childline counsellor during this time.

Where did you train?

I did not take the traditional route into therapy. Initially I completed a degree in psychology and from this a Masters in Social Work at Lancaster University. 

From here, I started work as a Mental Health Practitioner for the NHS. Within this role, I was able to train further in systemic family practice, enhanced evidence based practice and interpersonal psychotherapy. These were all completed through Greater Manchester NHS Foundation Trust (in partnership with University of Manchester) as part of the IAPT (Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies) initiative. 

I then completed my EMDR training through Mersey Psychotherapies.

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

I practice Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT). This is a therapy recognised by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence). IPT is a time-limited therapy that recognises a link between our mood and our relationships – when our mood is low it can impact our relationships and when we are having challenges in our relationships it can affect our mood. 

The therapy moves through three phases of work: the beginning phase (in working out the area we may need to focus on), the middle phase/treatment phase and the ending phase (reflecting on the work covered and a response prevention plan). 

I find that it can be useful having a structured, time-limited approach as it can really focus the work on what is most useful for the client at that time. The two main goals for IPT are to reduce depressive symptoms and increase interpersonal functioning. 

I also really resonated with the model and its focus on interpersonal relationships (with my background as a social worker and in systemic work) and a holistic approach to depression, blending both a social and medical approach of depression in a way that is empowering and validating for clients.

I also practice Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR). This is a therapy that is recognised by NICE and WHO (World Health Organisation) predominantly in treating post-traumatic stress disorder. This follows an eight-phase approach in supporting clients to process traumatic memories. 

The emphasis here is on how those unprocessed memories and experiences may affect the present day. The aim is to process these to update your experiences to healthier present-day perspective. I chose to train in this therapy model as I think as a society, we are becoming more aware of the impact of trauma. I also was drawn to it as it is a trauma positive model, with a belief that we have the ability to process traumatic memories, and this serves a guide to something that it already innate within us. 

How does IPT and EMDR help with symptoms of depression and trauma?

IPT focuses on reducing symptoms of depression through actively setting small goals to focus on your signature symptoms. This is an active and practical approach and utilises support from others around. Alongside this, it focuses on one of four focal areas (change, grief, conflict, isolation) in addressing what has contributed to difficulties at an interpersonal and contextual level.

EMDR focuses on reducing symptoms of PTSD. A lot of the initial work is making sense of how trauma has informed the present and therefore what would be useful to work on. Grounding and resourcing supports with symptoms around emotional regulation and overwhelm to support us to be more attuned to our own window of tolerance (and support it to grow). 

Processing the traumatic material, reprocessing it and also addressing future situations can lead to a reduction in flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance and can improve the interfering symptoms that you may come across in your daily life.

It is recognised that EMDR can support other mental health conditions, when viewed through a lens of trauma. However, there is less research evidence around this currently. This also applies to IPT, where the usefulness of It in supporting anxiety and PTSD has been identified, whilst further research is developing this evidence.

What sort of people do you usually see?

My background is in working with older children and adolescents (as part of my role within Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services). However, I have also lived and worked as a therapist in Myanmar and Turkey. Working with clients in these countries has included young people, adults, expats, repats and locals. 

This has also included clients who are being supported with short-term sessions through employee assistance programmes and long-term clients. I have experience working with translators to support. Therefore, my client base has been broad and varied. 

I do tend to work with individuals but will provide parent support sessions when working with young people.

The main presentations I work with are depression, trauma related and anxiety.

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

I have noticed that there seems to a positive shift around validating and acknowledging our emotions as a wider change in society. Rather than the emphasis only being how to think differently and be more positive, there seems to be more space to talk about identifying our emotions, processing these and expressing them in a healthy way. 

I have noticed from this how clear it is that many adults are recognising that they may struggle to identify and connect with their emotions as this hasn’t been something predominantly taught and recognised previously. There also seems to be more attention society wide (rather than only in the therapy world) around concepts of attachment and how early childhood relationships and attachments impact on present day behaviours, relationships and presentations. Again, this seems to be a really positive move of having these discussions more present and greater awareness.

The other trend that stands out to me (possibly due to my therapy models) is how isolated many people feel and how social media can be a really important tool to support with this yet also contribute to people feeling less connected.

What do you like about being a therapist?

I enjoy the variety of my work – no two people are the same and what may be the most appropriate solution for one doesn’t work for the other. This means every day is different for me and it is always kept interesting and thought provoking. 

This also reminds me to hold onto my stance of ‘not knowing’, being curious and open to new ways of looking at things. I enjoy that I am constantly learning and growing as we are required to continue with personal development to practice therapy – this again means I am always learning from clients, through training and continue to find my job interesting, challenging and ever changing.

What is less pleasant?

There can be days which feel more difficult than others – listening to others’ stories can at times have an impact and it can be important to have the balance of work-life. 

I utilise supervision to support me difficult cases and situations that might be having more of an impact on me. I also find it important to be reflective and notice how I am managing my time, structuring my day and responding to what is coming up for me and what I need at those times.

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

I am fairly new to Welldoing and have only been on the platform since late 2022. I am enjoying the sense of community and connection Welldoing brings in supporting private therapists to have a space to support one another. 

I also enjoy having a booking and payment system set up so that I don’t have to worry about the business and administration side of my work and can focus more on my therapeutic role.

Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?

I don’t tend to recommend any books or apps generically to clients. However, dependent on the client, and what we are working on, I will let them know about books, apps and provide them with resources that may be something useful.

What do you do for your own mental health?

I am a yoga teacher alongside my therapy work. My yoga practice evolved from a place of looking after my mental health and having a space to go to focus on my mind, body and breath. 

I also use running to support my mental health – I run without music or headphones and focus on the breath and using this almost as a mindfulness movement. 

I also enjoy travelling and find this is what brings me joy so I often have a trip or adventure lined up for myself!

You are an online therapist – what can you share with us about working online?

Working online enables me to see clients from a much broader area. I think this can support clients to find therapists that may suit their needs as there is more choice and option. 

I have also found that many clients I have worked with have reflected they may not have made the step into therapy by attending a session in-person, whereas online felt like a more manageable way for them to access therapy. 

I have also worked with clients who live in small knit communities and find they are more able to engage online as they are less worried about confidentiality – this is not necessarily the confidentiality of the therapist but being seen by members if the community attending therapy.

What's your consultation room like?

I work online only. However, my consultation room remains minimalistic, private and confidential so the emphasis can remain on you.  

I encourage clients to consider their space when joining online – ensuring they are joining from a space that feels comfortable and safe to them. A space where they have privacy and feel able to talk openly without concerns about others overhearing.

What do you wish people knew about therapy?

There are so many models and types of therapy that it is OK if a certain therapy approach doesn’t fit for you. I would encourage that one experience of therapy doesn’t represent how all experiences may feel – this could be down to the approach, model, or the therapeutic relationship you have with your therapist. 

It is OK to explore and find the right fit for you as therapy is about you feeling safe, comfortable, and engaged in the process. Therapists don’t take it personally as we know we are not the perfect match for everybody (who is?!). 

I also wish people knew that giving feedback and naming what you want in therapy is okay – this is your space, and you are the expert in you! That doesn’t always mean this is something your therapist can provide but opens important communication and making decisions collaboratively about how to move forward.

What did you learn about yourself in therapy?

I learnt that my biggest strengths can also at times impact on me in less helpful ways, whilst what I perceive as my weaknesses can be huge strengths at times. I learnt from this that I am not linear and how huge the context of the situation we are in can be.

Contact Ellie here

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