Meet the Therapist: Kellie Marie Bennett
Kellie Marie Bennett is a counsellor in Essex and online
What attracted you to become a therapist?
Reflecting on my journey, I feel that becoming a therapist was a natural progression for me.
My upbringing in the care system with a dysfunctional family who struggled with mental health issues and addiction exposed me to various traumas.
At the age of fifteen, I began using talking therapy intermittently to work through my personal issues and come to terms with my past experiences in a safe and supportive environment with the help of trained professional therapists.
I have experienced first-hand the value of speaking with a trained therapist who offers empathy, understanding, and psychoeducation. Therapy helped me understand myself and others better and supported my growth, healing, and forgiveness. I am grateful to the individuals who have supported me throughout my journey.
Prior to becoming a therapist, I worked in various roles nationwide and worldwide, usually within roles that I believed could make a positive impact on social change. I have always been intrigued by people's life stories and what made them who they are today. After working as a Learning Support Assistant, I decided to pursue a career in a field that I respected, which empowers people to create positive change and healing within themselves.
After four years of rigorous training, continuous personal and professional development, and ongoing personal therapy, I now have my own private practice and work with Mind in West Essex as a person-centred therapist. I support individuals with a wide range of issues, including depression, anxiety, abuse, trauma, post-traumatic stress, addiction, bereavement, loss, personal development, and low self-esteem.
I strongly believe that the effects of therapy can spread like wildfire and not only benefit the individual receiving support but also positively impact those around them, leading to healthier interpersonal relationships and a positive influence on our wider communities.
In summary, my journey and experiences have led me to become a therapist, and I am committed to helping individuals create positive change and growth within themselves.
Where did you train?
I began my education at Chelmsford Adult Learning Centre with an introductory course at level one, which provided me with an understanding of various therapeutic modalities and helped me determine if I wanted to pursue further training in counselling.
After completing the course, I decided to pursue a Diploma at the Colchester Institute in Essex. I eventually obtained my Bachelor Honours degree in person-centred therapy from the University of Essex.
To continue improving as a therapist, I seek out training in areas that interest me and are relevant to my practice, ensuring that my skills remain up-to-date and applicable.
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?
I specialise in person-centred therapy, a type of humanistic psychotherapy developed by Carl Rogers.
This therapy is based on the belief that individuals have the innate capacity and power to find their own solutions and make positive changes in their lives. I chose this approach because it does not position the therapist as an expert, but instead enables clients to become experts on themselves.
In sessions, the therapist provides a safe and supportive relationship where clients can take the lead, rather than offering direction or advice. The therapist helps clients explore their experiences and emotions, guiding them towards their own solutions and empowering them to take control of their own lives.
Ultimately, the goal is to help clients develop the skills and confidence to find their own solutions in the future.
How does person-centred therapy help with symptoms of trauma?
The gentle, yet powerful, non-directive approach of person-centred therapy is particularly effective in addressing trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This therapy enables clients to gradually gain confidence in exploring their innermost feelings and rediscover their inner voice, which may have been suppressed for a long time.
Person-centred therapy provides a supportive environment for individuals to make sense of their experiences and move forward in their healing journey. By working with the client's unique perspective, this therapy encourages personal growth and helps clients achieve a greater sense of authenticity.
What sort of people do you usually see?
As a therapist, I work with individuals, both men and women, who are 18 years old and above.
Many of my clients struggle with issues related to self-belief, feeling overwhelmed by the pressures of daily life, and experiencing a sense of inadequacy. It is often the case that challenges experienced during childhood continue to impact individuals well into adulthood, affecting their self-esteem, daily functioning, and ability to relate to themselves and others.
Have you noticed any recent mental health trends or wider changes in attitude?
I have observed a growing trend of individuals relying on self-diagnosis, facilitated by easy access to information on the internet. While I support people taking control of their own health, as they are best placed to understand their bodies, I am also aware that this can lead to unnecessary stress and worry. Often, individuals attempt to diagnose every symptom they experience, which may not always lead to accurate results. Additionally, self-diagnosis may hinder individuals from receiving the proper treatment they require.
I believe it is crucial for us to be more aware of this issue as a society. We must examine why people feel the need to pathologise their health, which frequently results in the use of pharmaceuticals. It is critical to highlight that other options, such as self-care, healing, and holistic approaches, are available and can lead to improved health and wellbeing.
What do you like about being a therapist?
My work is deeply meaningful and purposeful to me. It is an honour and a privilege to work with the individuals I do and to be a part of their journey, even if it is only a small part. Witnessing their transformation is truly inspiring.
I have great admiration for my clients, who demonstrate immense courage and determination by showing up and being honest about their experiences every week, all while striving for a better life. I take great joy in facilitating this growth and providing them with the tools and support they need to reach their goals.
What is less pleasant?
Balancing work and family life can be a challenge, especially for single parents like myself. Managing my private practice work alongside school runs and other family commitments can be difficult at times since everything needs to be coordinated to work together seamlessly.
How long have you been with Welldoing and what you think of us?
Since March 2023, I have been using Welldoing and my experience so far has been positive. I am in the process of building up my presence on the website and I feel that the Welldoing team has been supportive in helping me to achieve this.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
I often recommend 12-step programmes to my clients who are struggling with issues related to substance abuse, family members' substance abuse, emotional eating, and other related issues. These programmes can provide an additional layer of support, offering online and in-person meetings to help clients in their ongoing personal development.
In addition to these programmes, I also suggest books for my clients to read. Two examples of books I often recommend are Brene Brown's The Gifts of Imperfection and Robin Norwood's Women Who Love Too Much. These books can be valuable tools for helping clients to gain new insights and perspectives on their experiences and challenges.
What do you do for your own mental health?
In order to maintain my own mental health, I make it a point to see my own therapist regularly. Additionally, spending time in nature has a profound effect on me and helps me feel grounded. I enjoy taking walks, biking, paddling, or going on mountain hikes. I also make a habit of regularly exercising at the gym. I am mindful of what I eat and have stopped drinking alcohol.
To recharge and connect spiritually, I set aside time for myself to meditate, pray, and practice gratitude. When necessary, I write in my journal, and I am conscious of my internal dialogue and try to be kind and compassionate with myself.
Connecting with my loved ones is also important to me. Additionally, giving service to others helps me to think beyond myself and supports my mental health. All of these strategies contribute to supporting my own mental health.
You are a therapist in Essex and online. What can you share with us about seeing clients in this area?
As a therapist located in Essex, I have clients from all over the world due to my ability to offer online and telephone sessions. This demonstrates that therapy is valuable and beneficial regardless of geographic location.
What’s your consultation room like?
Light, airy, warm, safe, and tranquil.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
To seek help through therapy is a sign of strength rather than weakness.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
Through therapy, I learned that I don't need to dwell on my past and can live in the present moment. I also discovered the power of forgiveness towards myself and others, and that I possess more inner strength than I previously realised.
Overall, therapy has helped me develop self-acceptance, self-worth, and a sense of inner peace.
Contact Kellie here
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