Meet the Therapist: Liam Kernan
What attracted you to become a therapist?
I sought therapy for myself following a turbulent time in my life. It was whilst I was there I noticed that the approach may be a barrier to some men – bowl of stones, glass of water, box of tissues, etc. I thought about how it could be different to attract your ‘average’ chap and then it occurred to me that maybe I could offer that. Several years later I am doing exactly that, offering therapy to men in what I think of as a more male-friendly environment.
Where did you train?
I did a foundation course and a diploma in emotional therapeutic counselling through the FETC. It was mostly in Cheltenham and then, thanks to the challenges of 2020, I completed my advanced diploma via Zoom. I have just enrolled on a Masters in Psychology too.
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?
Emotional therapeutic counselling is aimed at working clients through what is going on for them now, coupled with their historic past, all through the lens of how we feel. It is the approach I have enjoyed receiving for over 20 years and, despite the obvious initial reservations some men may have talking about their feelings, I think it is a great way of getting men to open up.
How does therapy help?
ETC can help with any problems. Timeline activities to heal emotional blocks, family rule book activities to understand where we get our beliefs and values, right through to visualisations; this type of therapy can help anyone.
What sort of people do you usually see?
Apart from only seeing chaps, I have clients aged 10 to 73. Most have anger issues (not uncommon for men), amongst many other things. Shame is probably the underlying emotion that most of my clients start with but this starts to disappear once the feelings of positivity return.
What do you like about being a therapist?
I like being able to steer someone’s ship through the storm that they are experiencing there and then. I like how blunt and upfront blokes are, and the outpouring of love and emotion too.
What is less pleasant?
Seeing the pain some guys are in to start with and not being able to click my fingers and make it go away immediately. It does take time, but the journey is always worth it.
How long you’ve been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?
I’ve been with welldoing.org for a few months now and I regularly read the weekly newsletter and may even be writing some content for it, too!
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
The Calm app is going down a storm with my clients.
What you do for your own mental health?
I used to have tattoos done regularly and that was my zen – but Covid did away with all of that. I enjoy a bit of Star Wars Lego, I read loads of books, rumble with my two labradors and just relax with my wife.
You are a therapist in Worcester and online. What can you share with us about seeing clients in those areas?
What Covid did for me was show that I can be wider than my Worcester base – I have clients from Devon to Newcastle now. The online platforms work well – fitting in with clients’ lifestyles.
What’s your consultation room like?
Comfortable and not at all clinical – it's all about putting clients at their ease from day one.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
I had a client that I spent four months exchanging messages until he came here. I asked him after the session what is was like for him and he said, “It’s just chatting innit?!” There is no magic and nothing to be scared of, it really is just chatting.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
Way too much to share in this forum! I learnt about where my compassion comes from and how to be a better bloke, which is what I want for my clients.