Meet the Therapist: Ian Michie
What attracted you to become a therapist?
I was at a crossroads with my career and, having been in therapy, I was converted. Before that I worked in the media.
Where did you train?
I trained at the Highgate Counselling Centre as a psychodynamic psychotherapist. I’ve been seeing clients since 2011.
What sort of people do you usually see?
I see everybody, but mainly people with addictions, anxiety and depression. The arc of my experience over the past six years is that my clients have included pretty much everyone from old to young, and the gender mix is usually about 50/50.
What do you like about being a therapist?
I like the fact that sometimes people can come with what they believe is their problem and we discover that it’s not! I like exploring the blanks that aren’t evident in any of the material that they bring. Sometimes they offer up the most selective fact and I like suspending my knowledge and getting the unknown to emerge.
What is less pleasant?
Oddly, I think that when it’s least pleasant it can be the most informative. Usually if I’m uncomfortable it’s because something important is emerging.
How long you’ve been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?
I joined when you started, nearly four years ago. There are lots of websites that promote counsellors and psychotherapists, but I like welldoing.org because it's an accessible platform where people can understand things in language that doesn’t involve jargon. I think everyone should benefit from being curious and exploratative about their emotional wellbeing
I also like the new diary management system. It’s offering clients a degree of autonomy in how they book and pay online. As it’s a safe website where everyone is vetted, it helps get rid of a few pre-held myths about therapists.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
Very rarely, although sometimes when working with clients with addictions in the short-term, then I might give them something.
What you do for your own mental health?
I like cycling and I like reading. I also juggle.
What’s your consultation room like?
It’s brilliant, I love it. It’s in [North London neighbourhood] Dartmouth Park, and it’s part of an old Victorian building. It feels very solid. The rooms themselves are quite small, but they’re very easy on the eye. And there are lots of facilities, like bike racks.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
I kind of wish they knew nothing - come as they are. I agree with one of your previous interviewees that therapy is not necessarily prescriptive and we can’t solve everyone’s problems. I would like people to know that it’s not necessary to intellectualise in order to manage yourself. It’s more about a unique experience.
What have you learnt about yourself in therapy?
I’ve learnt that before I went into therapy I was kind of wandering around looking at the world as if I was wearing 2-D glasses, and now I feel I can see in 3-D, which is far more fascinating and ‘alive’ with possibility.