Jo Oliver is a therapist in Manchester

What attracted you to become a therapist?

My own personal journey made me realise I wanted to help others to make positive changes to their lives in the same way my therapist had helped me. And a ‘gap year for grown ups’ gave me the space, insight and confidence to follow my passion and enrol on a counselling course.

Where did you train?

The Manchester College

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

Person-centred therapy. I love its ethos, the fact the client is equal and that a unique space is offered for the client to explore their feelings with no judgement, to feel heard and to become empowered to come up with their own answers. Certainly for me that was what I valued the most from my own therapy – I’d spent all my life believing others knew best for me, believing others opinions, whereas I finally felt heard and Iearned to trust my own judgement for the very first time.

How does person-centred therapy help with low self-esteem and not feeling good enough?

It offers a space where the client can unravel where those feelings of low self-esteem have stemmed from, as they so often are deep-rooted in childhood messages. And it allows them to explore other ways of being able to validate themselves from within rather than relying on external things or people to fulfil that self worth. Low self-esteem almost always goes hand in hand with a strong inner critic and it allows the client to see how harshly they speak to themselves and look at more positive self talk. I work a lot with nurturing self-compassion.

What sort of people do you usually see? 

I see adult men and women over the age of 18, the majority of whom come with debilitating issues of low self-worth and critical thinking, albeit with varying backgrounds and history.

What do you like about being a therapist?

The amazing feeling you get when you witness the client making transformational changes in their lives, becoming more confident and fulfilled and, ultimately, feel they no longer need therapy to continue positively in their lives. It is an honour to feel that I can have played just a tiny part on their journey.   

What is less pleasant?

The only downside is that it can get quite lonely and I miss the office banter!

How long you’ve been with and what you think of us? 

I have been with for nearly a year. I find it a really useful website that’s clear, easy to navigate and has a wealth of useful information, especially the numerous articles, resources and case studies. Hopefully it is making counselling feel more accessible to people and opens them up to the possibility of change when they can read first hand about the experiences of others who have benefited from therapy.

Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?

Occasionally if I think they may benefit from it and it may enhance our work together. 

What you do for your own mental health?

I have ongoing personal therapy and two supervisors. I specifically diarise ‘appointments’ for the gym and exercise as I know how much better I feel afterwards. Self-care is an important part of my daily routine now and that includes sleep, healthy eating, exercise, meditation, reading, walking, the outdoors, being in nature, family and friends and playing with my six-year-old son.

You are a therapist in Didsbury and Chorlton, South Manchester. What can you share with us about seeing clients in those areas? 

There’s nothing specifically about my location that defines my client base.

What’s your consultation room like?

I have two - both are modern, contemporary and welcoming. One is part of a holistic and spiritual centre and I love its energy - it has a very calming and therapeutic feel to it.

What do you wish people knew about therapy?

That you don’t need to be in crisis to have therapy – in fact it is a really helpful thing to access if you are struggling or facing a particularly difficult situation before it gets to crisis point. Absolutely nothing is too big nor small to bring to therapy – talking things through with an impartial person can help you make sense of things and gain clarity.

Also that counsellors are human too and have most likely sat in the clients chair themselves – we’re not superhuman who have everything sorted!

What did you learn about yourself in therapy?

I learned how certain relationships and experiences had shaped my self worth and behaviours over the years and how this had manifested into my day to day life and other relationships. I gained so much insight into my feelings and behaviours and pinpointed when and how certain events or people could trigger me. Once I understood why that was I could work on making positive changes. Ultimately, I Iearned how to like myself again, be kinder to myself, trust myself and believe in myself.

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