Meet the Therapist: Hannah Downing
What attracted you to become a therapist?
My life experiences combined with my own journey through personal therapy made me realise the positive impact that committing to therapy can have on the quality of life.
There is something quite special and unique about working together with a therapist, sharing what might usually remain within the self and what society can often turn its back on.
I am proud to be part of the creation of safe spaces which allow whatever might come up for my clients, working together with them towards what hopefully can become brighter todays and tomorrows.
Where did you train?
I began my training at the Severnside Institute of Psychotherapy in Bristol before completing my MSc in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy and Counselling for Adults at Birkbeck College in London.
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?
I work psychodynamically with my clients. Psychodynamic therapy is a lighter, and perhaps more accessible, form of psychoanalysis which draws upon psychoanalytic theories in its practice.
I use a combination of psychoanalytic theories and concepts in my work, depending upon what is most appropriate for each client’s needs.
I work with clients on either a long or short-term basis, depending on what my clients’ aims and hopes are from therapy. Short-term psychodynamic therapy can feel more intense and would be suitable for those who are looking to get back on their feet or to have an initial dip into therapy to see how it feels.
Working on a longer term basis seeks to work with the patterns that might have emerged over time, and which might be holding someone back from leading the life that they might prefer to. Through the work, I seek to connect the past with the present and work together with my clients to see if there are parts of themselves that they might not have previously been aware of. The process, over time, can feel like the missing pieces of a puzzle coming together to create a fuller, more colourful, picture.
How does psychodynamic therapy help with symptoms of poor mental health?
Psychodynamic therapy in practice focuses less on treating the symptom/s and more on what might be causing the symptom/s.
What sort of people do you usually see?
I work individually with adults over the age of 18. Many of my clients range from being in their early 20s to early 60s.
Clients will often come to therapy with symptoms, such as anxiety or depression, which might have become too much to bear. I also work with clients who have received a diagnosis, such as a personality disorder or PTSD.
Have you noticed any recent mental health trends or wider changes in attitude?
I have noticed that, although mental health is becoming more openly talked about in society, it has also become less accessible with current economic pressures.
I have also noticed, in line with society’s general increasing need for speed, that a need for issues to be “fixed now” frequently comes through in my client work. Clients tend to want quick fixes which therapists cannot always provide without compromising on a certain quality that can develop from the therapeutic relationship over time.
What do you like about being a therapist?
I feel that it is a privilege to be a part of my clients’ internal worlds and that we can work together in a safe environment towards what can often feel truly life-changing moments. I feel honoured to be a part of the process of therapy for each of my clients.
What is less pleasant?
It can be challenging to have clients end therapy due to financial limitations, something which is beyond anyone’s control.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
That at around 6-12 weeks in long-term psychodynamic work, things can start to feel a bit shaky as shifts begin occurring within. Clients can tend to gather themselves together and leave therapy at this point.
I would like people to know what my first therapist told me, which was to try to stick at it beyond this point, because the shifts that occur can be an important part of the work. When I did this, there was a world awaiting me at the other side.
I also wish that people knew that the freer the voice can become in psychodynamic therapy, the easier the work often becomes.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
Most importantly, I needed to learn in therapy to connect with others (my therapist!) to get to where I wanted to be. Until I began doing this, I was just looping!