Kate Coppock is a therapist in West Sussex and Hove

What attracted you to become a therapist?

In my twenties I always wanted to be a therapist but felt I didn’t have enough life experience then. I think I did not have the confidence in myself, and fell into the corporate world. After having my children I wanted to do something meaningful and started volunteering for a charity working with vulnerable young people. From there I realised I wanted to help people in a more one-to-one way and to a greater depth so started training as a psychotherapist. 

I’ve always wanted to empower people to realise how amazing they are and that their past and how people may have treated them does not define who they are or has to determine their future. I wanted to enable people to be the best version of themselves.

Where did you train?

Wealden Psychology Institute in Crowborough.

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

I choose to study transactional analysis. This is an amazing type of psychotherapy founded by the incredible Dr Eric Berne and was put together with aspects of analytics, cognitive behavioural and phenomenological theories to form a powerful way to make sense of who we are and why we behave the way we do. 

Although the theory is incredibly in-depth he made it understandable for all, so it become very popular with the masses in the 1960s as everyone could take bits and become aware of themselves from this. For me, this means the therapist and the client can work together in a collaborative and equal way to look at the psychoeducation and build a treatment plan cooperatively. 

I was taken with this modality very quickly because I feel it is integrative, inclusive and is ever building on its knowledge – there is room for new and exciting ideas! I think that it is easy for my clients to quickly get a grasp on why they might communicate in certain ways, why relationships always turn out with the same outcome and how their past is getting in the way of their future. 

It was the first therapy to really introduce the idea of contracts between the therapist and client and therefore taking away the old style idea that the therapist is the expert and will tell you how you feel and what you think. Both set out the boundaries of the therapeutic relationship and what the goals are because the client is the expert of themselves and the therapist is there to guide and support you. 

There are three philosophical underpinnings of transactional analysis and these are that everyone can think, all people can change, and everybody is ok. So, the therapy is a contractual method with open communication and it is not the therapists job to change people but to help identify where they want to change.

How does transactional analysis psychotherapy help with unhealthy coping mechanism and destructive patterns of behaviour?

Many clients come to me with presenting issues such as self-harm, being and staying in abusive relationships, toxic family bonds and more. It can be hard to understand why certain behaviours keep happening, why you keep beating yourself up or why that negative voice in your head just wont stop. Transactional analysis looks at how your personality was built, what your caregivers said to you, your environment as a child, and how your brain developed its thinking and behaving patterns. 

This then, with the help of a therapist, can be bought into awareness and clients can come to the realisation that these negative and destructive parts are not their core self, they have been given to them and introjected to them by other people. Knowing this means it can be chucked away and new healthy patterns can be forged. 

Transactional analysis is a therapeutic model for positive change and personal growth. In simple terms it is the study of how people take on certain patterns of behaviours, unconsciously from their early caretakers or authority figures and then continue to play them out in their adult lives. It is a model for people to use to work towards ‘autonomy’, a place from where they can choose to live the way they want to and not to be still acting as if they are controlled by past events or messages.

What sort of people do you usually see? 

I usually work with young people but do have clients of all ages. The most common difficulties I see at the moment are to do with anxiety, often caused or exasperated through lockdown. I think many young people have really been affected by the huge disruption in their schooling and social lives. A problem that may have been there before but was keep manageable by daily life, friends and school was then intensely focused on in lockdown and became harder to deal with.

What do you like about being a therapist?

I love connecting with people and finding a mutually respectful relationship where the trust that is built enables clients to open up and real changes are made. It makes my day when a client becomes aware of how awesome they are and feels really OK with themselves. Doing something everyday that makes a difference to people is what gets me up in the morning.

What is less pleasant?

It is an emotionally hard job. It’s extremely distressing sometimes to hear how badly people have been treated and just how much they hate themselves. But it's what drives me to show up everyday and help to make a change to that outlook.

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

I joined welldoing.org when I started my own private practice so well over a year now. I loved how easy it was to set up my profile and the ability to be able to reach different clients. It’s a very user-friendly platform and they are really helpful for technophobes like me! 

I have had lots of clients through the site so it’s been great. Having your own practice as a therapist can also be quite lonely sometimes so it is lovely to be part of a hub with other like-minded people.

Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?

I have so many amazing books but the ones I regularly recommend are: Help! I’ve Got An Alarm Bell Going Off in My Head by K.L. Aspden – this is a great book for young people to understand the biology and neuroscience of what is happening when they feel anxious and practical tips to help.

The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel van der Kolk which is the most incredible book about the effects of trauma.

Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig which is the most honest and raw portrayal of mental health and how to keep going even in the most difficult times.

What you do for your own mental health?

I schedule in self-care in the week – I have to make it part of my weekly routine otherwise I will not do it – like so many people who are extremely busy this can fall to the wayside. I block in hours throughout the week for dog walking, watching my favourite TV programmes, going for sound baths, personal therapy and supervision and meditating. I feel its so important to stay balanced for myself so I can turn up and be present for my clients.

You are a therapist in West Sussex. What can you share with us about seeing clients in this area?

I see clients in West Sussex and in Hove, as well as online. I love working in these areas – in West Sussex it’s all gorgeous countryside and bluebell woods but in Hove there is such a vibrant feel. All my clients are unique!

What’s your consultation room like?

My therapy room in West Sussex is on a Christmas tree farm – it’s absolutely stunning, set in a barn. The most common feedback I get is that it is so calming, the drive there and the setting. In Hove I am based in a bustling therapy hub off the main road so its busy and vibrant. I love both as they have such different feels. The similarities are that the actual rooms are neutral, calming and relaxing to be in.

What do you wish people knew about therapy?

That one of the most important aspects is the relationship with the therapist. Research shows that the modality they have trained in means a lot less than the rapport and trust you can build with them. So its really important to want to be with your therapist and you feel you can trust them. I work in a relational way so for me it’s the most important part of therapy. I also think its important to know that the session is for you – it's up to you what you bring, how fast things go and what you want to be different – it’s all about you!

What did you learn about yourself in therapy?

That I have a choice how things are for me – life is not happening to me, people are not making me feel bad so I can change any of it. It empowered me to step out of the pattern I was following, the blueprint I was given from birth and make my own path – it's enlightening when you realise you have a choice. 

I also learnt that other peoples reactions are not my responsibility, I can be true to myself and how other people take that is on them.

Contact Kate here

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