What attracted you to become a therapist?
My counselling journey began when I was very young. I saw someone through the car window who was less fortunate than me, living in the streets of Guatemala. A young girl begging, which tugged at my heart and I decided then that I would do something to help people in the future.
My first attempt at doing this was to study medicine, but after my second year of struggling I decided that this was not going to be the way I would be helping anyone. I chose the closest career to this, not expecting anything much really. The way I came about this was that I’d completed a course during my medicine training called “culture and personality”, which I really enjoyed and influenced my choice of career.
So I fell into counselling sort of by chance. The dean of the psychology department was also the lead tutor in many of the courses, and he exuded passion for psychology and counselling, which infected me, and I’ve not looked back since.
All of my experience was also reinforced by personal experience of psychodynamic counselling. It really helped me work through some personal issues and I saw first hand the effects of what talking therapies can do for someone. I keep seeing that in my clients to this day, which is amazing and such a privilege!
Where did you train?
My initial counselling training was in Guatemala, Universidad Francisco Marroquin. I am happy to say that I became a graduate member of the BPS with this diploma.
I re-trained at Brighton University, completing a PGDip in therapeutic psychodynamic counselling in 2011. I also hold a PGCert in Supervision from the University of Derby, completed online in 2016.
What sort of people do you usually see?
I see adults and young people whose lives might have become overwhelming and are in need of some support to get their lives back on track. I work with people with Asperger's, anxiety, depression, emotional overwhelm, relationship and work issues.
I speak Spanish as my first language, so I offer sessions in Spanish as well.
I’ve recently started working online and have a few clients I see via Skype or other secure platforms that work in a similar way. I also take EAP referrals for short term work.
What do you like about being a therapist?
I enjoy the freedom it gives me in regards to working hours. I choose what days and times I work, which allows me to be flexible when clients contact with a variety of time requirements. I see some people early in the morning or late in the evening, and throughout the day.
I like seeing the changes in my clients across time. The “aha” moments are quite special too.
Working side by side with my clients to work out what is best for them, what brought them to therapy in the first place and how to develop coping skills and other skills to thrive in their lives, as well as to be in control of their own lives, feelings and situations as much as possible.
What is less pleasant?
I guess less pleasant is the uncertainty of where the next client is going to come from – we can’t exactly advertise in the traditional routes or go tell people “you should come see me for counselling” like you would in other types of businesses.
Some particular “peeves” are late cancellations, clients suddenly disappearing without paying the last session or just disappearing without a chance to close their process down like I’d want to. Of course they are entitled to cancel and go when they want, and I have contracting in place for these situations, but it is tricky to navigate these things at times.
How long you’ve been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?
I found out about welldoing.org at a BACP conference late last year and signed up straight away. I’ve been happy with the service and newsletter so far. I am starting to write for welldoing as well which is also exciting and a way to promote myself and the knowledge I’ve gained – particularly to start with I’ll be writing topics around learning disabilities, which is an area I’ve worked in over 10 years.
Have you used the booking and payment system? And how do you find that?
I haven’t yet, but hoping to getting some referrals through the site soon!
Have you joined the welldoing.org Therapist Community on Facebook? If so, how did you find it?
Hadn’t heard about it but have now requested to join. I do lots of networking and liaising with other therapists via Facebook so I’m sure I will find it useful and supportive.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
I have or rare occasions. If clients ask for resources then I will spend a few minutes looking for online blog posts, articles or books for them to look at. These might open up discussion in the next session.
What you do for your own mental health?
I have my own therapist, whom I contact through email. I find I say more when I write, so this has proven effective to me for keeping tabs on my emotional life and relationships. We also schedule live chat / video sessions now and then which are particularly helpful.
Apart from therapy, I enjoy disconnecting with a Netflix binge, or going out for meals, sleeping is a favourite of mine, and keeping a regular bedtime is important. Self-care is basic and I write about this in my blog. I only write about things that resonate with my own life, otherwise it wouldn’t be genuine, so if you want to find out a bit more of what I do for my self-care, check them out!
Scheduling something to look forward to in the near future, like a holiday or just time off either of my jobs/businesses also helps keep my mental health in check.
Building relationships on social media has been important, talking to other counsellors is good because counselling can be a lonely place – we can’t discuss clients with our loved ones or anyone apart from our supervisor really, so having somewhere where people understand because they are on the same path is great!
You see clients in Hove. What can you share about seeing clients in that/those areas?
I am based in Hove, so see face-to-face clients in the surrounding areas.
I see clients who speak Spanish, which allows me to have a greater variety of clients, and allows me to help people that might have moved to this country and might prefer to speak to someone in their first language. Our emotional language might be programmed more in our first language rather than our second language, especially if the person has learned English more recently. I feel confident and have been fluent in English since I was very young so I feel fluent in my emotional language in both languages.
I see clients online, which again allows me to see clients in different parts of the country and even the continent. My insurance covers me for this so that is a great advantage.
I see clients with Aspergers/autism. I have worked with this client group in a support work capacity for over 10 years now, and have recently started offering counselling to people in the spectrum, which has been a great experience and privilege.
I see clients with issues like anxiety, depression, emotional overwhelm, relationship issues, work issues – these are the most common ones but I also work with others.
What’s your consultation room like?
I have tried to make it as cosy as possible, with lamps rather than a main light, and comfy seats. I have also added a whiteboard which I thought would be mainly used for my language students but it has proven very helpful with my counselling clients as well.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
That you don’t need to be in crisis to come see a counsellor. You can see a counsellor to find out more about yourself, to understand your relationships better and to improve your general wellbeing.
It is not daunting at all and us counsellors are aware of how anxiety-provoking contacting for the first time and meeting a counsellor for the first time might be.
We get nervous too, after all we are also meeting a new human being for the first time.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
How much time do you have? I will just say that I’ve learned a heck of a lot!