Meet the Therapist: Graham Allen
Graham Allen is a counsellor in Golders Green, North West London
What attracted you to become a therapist?
I did psychology at university after school and loved it but I had a lot of unresolved pain from the past which I didn’t really understand until I entered therapy for myself. In seven years of therapy, many things started to fall into place. I didn’t get all the answers or solutions but a big journey had begun. My therapist was wonderful and encouraged me to start training myself.
Where did you train?
I did psychology at university straight from school in the 80s when it was very unfashionable, everyone else from school was doing law, politics, history etc.
Then I trained at Middlesex University and latterly have done two courses at the Institute of Psychoanalysis.
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practice?
I am an integrative practitioner which means I draw on three major models of therapy. My initial training was in behavioural approaches now allied to CBT, at university I was introduced to the humanistic / person-centred approach of Carl Rogers and the psychodynamic approaches derived from Freud and the unconscious. Latterly I have been training at The Institute of Psychoanalysis, usually revisiting some early papers by Freud, Klein and Bion.
For clients I think this gives insight from a number of angles but also encourages change in behaviour, the two work together.
What sort of people do you usually see?
A wide range in terms of background and age. Anxiety is a big presenting issue now with younger clients. I also work at an Osteopathic College as a student counsellor, so the variety is fantastic. I often attract people in the arts and also sport, which I like.
What do you like about being a therapist?
I think it is a true privilege to be allowed into someone’s private world. I never forget that. Every day is different and people always surprise you. You never know what is going to happen. Practically I like the flexibility, I can cycle to work.
What is less pleasant?
I get very tired sometimes of listening and attuning intently. I worry a bit about holding all my clients each week in some of their suffering. It’s a lot of responsibility.
How long you’ve been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?
I think since the start? I like the setup, the more personal service, functionality, also the presence on social media platforms.
Have you tried the Calm mindfulness app offered to all our therapists?
No, I ‘m afraid I'm trying to cut down on apps and screen time.
Have your clients tried it?
Yes, they seem to like it.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
What you do for your own mental health?
I cycle to work every day which is important, it clears my head and is physical. Through the summer I still play Middlesex League cricket for Hornsey, I joined in 1987 and top scored with 124 this last season so I think I still have something to give. I‘ve played league cricket since the age of 12 and now I’m 54.
I also play (hobby) drums, very cathartic and love trying to work on four-limb independence, again, a nice offset from Counselling.
You are a therapist in Golders Green, What can you tell us about the areas you practice in?
I work in Golders Green and at an Osteopathy College. I am a partner at the Golders Green practice so get involved in management too, it’s a busy practice.
What’s your consultation room like?
Large and bright, I need plenty of natural light; it’s on the 2nd floor which is great for gazing from between sessions. We have a couch but I rarely use it.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
In this time of digital / screen, to be attended / attuned to is getting rarer and I feel there is an utter enchantment about really being listened to. Once people ‘get it’ I think it is transformative.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
Too much to state here, probably that each of us are truly ‘enough’.