June Webb is a psychotherapist in Norwich and online

What attracted you to become a therapist?

Like many who work in ‘caring’ professions I was a ‘helper’ from a young age and was the one who provided emotional and practical support to those around me. It struck me from an early age that listening is something most people think they do but I found through experience that active listening is a skill which needs to be learned.

I trained in psychotherapy as I believe in providing a space for others to feel heard, particularly many who feel they have no voice. People can then gain clarity and then take action to change themselves and their situations or accept what they cannot change, yet. Perhaps they can connect with others who understand them and leave difficult relationships.

Where did you train?

I completed initial training at the University of East Anglia, completing a PG Diploma in Counselling, PG Certificate in Focusing and then an MA in Counselling. I completed a Coaching Certificate at Cambridge University. I am still learning and invested in continual professional development. I recently completed a PG Intermediate Course in Family Systems Therapy with Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. This has been very helpful in working with individuals around childhood and adult trauma. Prior to training in therapy I was a social worker and housing caseworker, working with homeless people and in hospital and community settings with people with physical and mental health needs.

My experience in working in social health and justice environments brings a depth of experience to the relationship as we are always situated in a social, economic and political context and part of the wider ecosystem we inhabit.

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

I integrate my approach with each client as everyone is unique. My learning and experience includes existential, person-centred, focusing, acceptance and commitment, mindfulness and coaching approaches. I have a breadth as well as a depth of learning and experience I can bring to the therapeutic relationship.

I feel it is important to integrate both mind and body approaches to therapy and the therapeutic relationship as we are both and neither works independently of the other.

How does your integrative style help?

I find an integrated approach is the most useful rather than applying any one approach to any specific symptoms. I approach therapy as a holistic process rather than ‘prescribing’ certain techniques for anxiety, stress etc. I do provide techniques if clients welcome these, which may be practiced such as raising awareness of the body and behaviour, however these need to be understood in a context rather than merely ‘symptoms’ of dis-ease.

What sort of people do you usually see?

I work with adults 18 and over from a range of social and economic backgrounds.

Common difficulties focus around relationships as we are always in a relationship with someone or something and certainly we have a relationship with ourselves. These difficulties of course create tension, stress, anxiety and thus difficulties in sleeping, sometimes using unhelpful ways to avoid feeling pain and generally feeling stuck in moving forward. Trauma is on a continuum. We all experience the effects of trauma and sometimes need someone we can trust to help us to explore what past wounds are impacting on our present wellbeing and ability to live fully.

What do you like about being a therapist?

It is a privilege to be able to actively listen to others and to provide a safe space for them to be able to explore and clarify their feelings and thoughts. I like asking questions which may open up a ‘thinking space’ for people to move forward in their lives. The thing I like best is providing a safe thinking and feeling environment, because without that we can’t meet our own and others’ needs and live life to our full potential.

What is less pleasant?

Working with individuals, there is a limit to what can be achieved and I feel that much of the popular psychology promotion of therapy in the media is that if we can ‘fix’ ourselves then everything will be OK if we only tried harder or took this particular medication. I sometimes feel conflicted in this role as I don’t want to collude with this mindset to merely help people to ‘conform’ to something wider which needs to change.

As therapists we need to critical and outward looking, being aware of wider societal and political issues which impact on our lives and our planet. We need to be mindful of the effects of sexism, racism, ageism and other prejudice/bias in ourselves and others and what limits our personal and societal growth and wellbeing in the widest sense.

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

I have been registered under a year with Welldoing.org. They appear to be a values-led organisation which I feel is important.

Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?

I work with people with chronic issues and with trauma related problems. Acceptance and commitment approaches include books by Dr Russ Harris, The Happiness Trap; Ray Owen’s Living with the Enemy for Chronic Pain and Illness; Ann Weiser Cornell, The Power of Focusing, which is a self-help book for use alone or with a therapist around connecting with our bodily sense of things. For those wanting to use this approach with their children or grandchildren, Focusing with Children by Marta Stapert and Erik Verliefde.

What you do for your own mental health?

I practice what I preach or ‘teach’ in the widest sense. I Focus regularly with a Focusing partner and I also practice mindfulness as a way of being. This might be whilst baking bread or working in the garden. I struggle with the same feelings as everyone at times and I am to remain connected to whatever I am feeling and not push it away or try to change it. Being with whatever is there, the pain and the pleasure and being grateful for what is there is important. Everything can teach us something if we listen and welcome it, this is acceptance of what is there and a commitment to lead a meaningful life whatever that life presents to us. Compassion for ourselves and others is also crucial as we all carry some trauma as part of being human and we can use this experience to connect with others and make life a little less difficult and share our joys too.

You are a therapist in Norwich, Norfolk. What can you share with us about seeing clients in that area?

Many people live in isolated places in Norfolk and again this impacts on them economically and socially in the work opportunities and other resources available to them such as public transport. They find accessing mental health support difficult and it is often fragmented and of a temporary nature due to the NHS only providing certain therapies in certain forms. I have attempted to help expand that by creating a charity specifically aimed at supporting those living and working in Norfolk.

What’s your consultation room like?

I have a room at home where I work remotely now due to COVID-19. It is cool, calm and very quiet and is kept for this work and in providing a quiet space away from the rest of the house.

What do you wish people knew about therapy?

That it is about the whole of us and it is based upon a relationship where we co-create something in that space. It is a process which involves both therapist and client being “present”. That process of being present is part of our way of being for the rest of the time between sessions and beyond into the rest of our lives. Therapy includes anything which supports our connection with our whole self, our creativity and our environment. Our problems are largely due to not receiving what we needed as children and then adults and how we have been treated and how we treat others.

What did you learn about yourself in therapy?

I learned that I had lost touch with my body because as a child, to survive I had to stop feeling. Once I understood that there was more to life than mere survival, for others as well as myself, I then worked at finding out who I was and what my life was to be about. I am still a work in progress. Viktor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning” was a turning point for me around choice and responsibility.

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