Meet the Therapist: Hannah Beckett-Pratt
What attracted you to become a therapist?
I'd been interested in a career in therapy since being at school, but didn't fully understand why. I found my degree in psychology rigid and dogmatic and changed to anthropology, which is much more aligned with my perspective on humans, relationships and mental health.
I went on to work in publishing, followed by teaching (psychology, ironically) and then I joined a basic counselling skills course to help me with a promotion in the education sector. I was simultaneously attending a leadership course and had the privilege of attending a listening workshop run by the coach Jackee Holder. I realised in the workshop that I didn't even want the promotion anymore, I wanted to continue counselling training.
Since beginning clinical training, I have become aware of many reasons I became a therapist, which were initially outside of my awareness. It has been through my own personal therapy that I have recognised a deep need to know and understand myself, to become more of that person and to relate authentically to others. I feel fortunate and grateful that my work allows this process to continue and deepen, while I facilitate my clients in the same journey.
Where did you train?
I trained with the University of Middlesex in humanistic counselling with transactional analysis.
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?
I practise a two-person, relational therapy. This means my priority is attuning to the client and involving myself in their experience, so I can walk alongside them as we work it out together.
Simultaneously, I am holding in mind how the client and I are relating in the here-and-now; what we are co-creating in the therapeutic relationship. I often bring this to the client's awareness when it can help them to understand their patterns of relating to others and then we can explore this and experiment with something different.
How does relational therapy help with identity issues?
This style of therapy is not limited to one area that I specialise in, although many clients work with me on issues surrounding identity, knowing and understanding themselves and their relationships on a deep level; they have a sense that they want to become more of their true self. They may relate to having low self-esteem and confidence, lacking a sense of safety or find it difficult to regulate their emotions.
What sort of people do you usually see?
I see individuals from age 16+ in my private practice, WellSpace Counselling. I work on an open-ended basis and perhaps due to the nature of my work, I attract clients who wish to work on a long-term basis.
What do you like about being a therapist and what is less pleasant?
I work at relational depth in my client work and often with issues that I have experienced myself and worked through in personal therapy. I am attuning not only to the client, but also what they evoke in me that may not be in their awareness and therefore what is playing out between us in the therapeutic relationship.
I give a lot of myself in my work and it has a powerful impact on me. I believe this is necessary in relational therapy and it’s a natural way for me to work; I feel enriched, alive and excited by it.
It also means I need to be conscious about balancing my work with the rest of my life and have effective self-care, as it’s easier to burnout when working at relational depth. I take regular breaks, have a lot of supervision and am committed to my own personal therapy.
How long have you been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?
I joined welldoing.org last week, but it has been on my radar since I was training. I like the design and usability of the site, how friendly the team are and the promotional and marketing opportunities offered to therapists, such as writing.
It can be a frustrating process finding a therapist and the more visible we can be, the more the process is demystified, the more easily connected the therapist and client who are looking to work in the same way can be.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
Boundaries by Jennie Miller and Victoria Lambert is very accessible and practical.
Counselling for Toads (Robert de Board) is the story of transactional analysis counselling told via the characters of The Wind in the Willows. It’s great for anyone who wants to know more about the therapy process, or practitioners interested in TA.
A friend and fellow therapist recently gifted me Philippa Perry’s Couch Fiction which is another exploration of the therapeutic relationship, beautifully illustrated by her daughter Flo, in a fun, graphic-novel style.
What you do for your own mental health?
I am in ongoing weekly psychotherapy of my own and have been for several years. This is integral to the way I practise and I believe the better I know myself, the more deeply and authentically I can relate to others, so this benefits my professional work too.
I have practised yoga for many years and, for me, nothing compares in terms of releasing stress and tension from my body, as well as my mind. I also love to spend time with my Ragdoll cat, Lupin, who reminds me that the best things in life are also the simplest.
You are a therapist in Winchester and online. What’s your consultation room like?
It's within a converted mill, which is now a health centre, opposite the Watercress Line steam rail station. I wanted to work somewhere local to me, that represents a commitment to wellbeing in the wider field.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
I believe good therapy is the single most effective and important investment we can make in ourselves, our health and our futures. You can go to the gym to lose weight, yoga to destress, acupuncture to release muscle tension, a life coach for motivation, a GP for chronic pain...or you could just go to therapy and work it all out there in one single, safe, supportive relationship.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
When I first began therapy, it was because it was a requirement of my training. I didn’t think I had anything to 'bring', but looking back, my ‘normal’ was quite a volatile, emotionally turbulent state of being, with a real dependence on others to define my life. I had exceptionally low self-esteem, no tangible sense of who I was and had a sense that I was waiting for someone or something to rescue me. I was very self-critical.
Gradually, I became aware that I didn’t have to be this way and I have learned how to be clear about what I need and developed a growing confidence and trust in myself. I retained the passion and intensity I have for life, but I’ve learned how to let go of the drama and life is considerably less of a struggle; even in difficult times, I know I can cope.
I grew up in therapy, I became the woman I wanted to be. I suspect that’s what I help my clients do too.