Meet the Therapist: June Webb
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 am currently completing an intermediate course in Family Systems Therapy with Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Prior to training in therapy I was a social worker and housing caseworker.
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.
Prior to training in therapy I was a social worker and housing caseworker and I feel this brings a depth of experience to the relationship as we are always in a social and economic context and part of the wider ecosystem we inhabit.
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 which may be practiced such as raising awareness of the body and behaviour, however these need to be seen in a context rather than merely ‘symptoms’ of dis-ease.
What sort of people do you usually see?
I work mainly with women as they are the ones making contact to explore their needs with someone, however I do work with men who feel they are ready to work on issues that concern them including relationships.
Common difficulties tend to be 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.
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 them to move forward in their lives. The thing I like best is providing a 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. We need to be mindful of the effects of sexism, racism, ageism and other prejudice 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 only recently joined welldoing.org so look forward to working with you. I found the staff very helpful in setting up my profile and I like that you have an opportunity for new clients to ‘meet the therapist’ and that clients and therapists are ‘matched’. This is an important relationship and this sounds very supportive for clients.
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 so this might be whilst baking bread or working in the garden. Simply connecting to whatever I am feeling and not pushing it away or trying to change it. Being with whatever is there, the pain and the pleasure and being grateful for what is there. 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.
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.
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 that 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 a loss of relationship, being present and positive connectivity.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
I learned that I had lost touch with my body and that I perhaps valued my mind above the rest of me. Once I realised that I needed to see the importance of myself as a whole things began to change for the better.