What attracted you to become a therapist?
At the time I decided to become a therapist I had already been in weekly personal therapy for six years, and I had experienced first-hand how empowering and life-changing therapy can be. I wanted to share with other people the opportunity for change that therapy can offer and for life to feel much better.A secondary reason is that I have two family members who have suffered for many years with long-term paranoid schizophrenia or ‘hearing voices’. Understanding this as a psychological reaction to an extreme form of distress, again I wanted to offer opportunities for intervening so that stress and distress responses such as these might be prevented from emerging.
Where did you train?
I have taken what is termed a ‘portfolio approach to training’, training at different institutes and taking shorter courses. This is because my modality (Transactional Analysis) is very diverse and training institutes offer different emphases of the various approaches.However, my training included extensive periods of training at two main institutes – The Manchester Institute of Psychotherapy and The Berne Institute, two of the recognised training institutes for Transactional Analysis psychotherapy.
What sort of people do you usually see?
I see a wide range of people, from the young (people in their early twenties) to more mature (typically up to late fifties). I see people needing short-term help (say, up to six sessions) to people wanting long-term therapy. I see people who are looking for symptom relief (e.g. from anxiety or depression), with diagnosed personality disorders (e.g.Borderline) and to people wanting to explore repeating life patterns, wanting greater self-understanding, or to explore existential issues. Finally, the people I see are adults, both individuals and couples, but I do not work with children.
What do you like about being a therapist?
I enjoy helping clients develop a narrative about their experiences which gives them self-understanding. I enjoy helping people explore areas of change which makes life feel better from them. I enjoy seeing people who begin their therapy feeling troubled and/or distress leave at the end of the process feeling much better able to cope with the ups and downs of life.
What is less pleasant?
Therapy is often not a linear process. There can be ups and downs, ruptures to the process, including missed sessions, as clients deal with their fears and anxieties. There can also be uncertainty for both clients and myself about what can be helpful and the ways in which we can both stay with something that can feel difficult at times.
How long you’ve been with welldoing.org and what do you think of us?
Checking back through my records I think I first joined in May 2016, and from the beginning have very much appreciated the blend of services you offer. I’ve written some articles for you, I have found the site easy to navigate and an effective service on which to present what I offer to clients, and more recently have found the online booking service adds something extra to my practice which clients also appreciate.
Have you used the booking and payment system? And how do you find that?
I have used it and do use it regularly. It offers a way for me to provide for clients information about what appointments I have available. They don’t always book using the system but they do check to see what I have available. For those clients who do use the booking system it offers an additional way to book and pay for their sessions (additional to in-session and BACS payments). I find it easy to use and have come to rely on it now as one of the systems I use to manage my practice.
Have you joined the welldoing.org Therapist Community on Facebook? If so, how did you find it?
Yes, I have and enjoy the range of content presented there – from the sharing of therapy-related articles to thought provoking questions about the nature of therapy. There is a diverse range of content and there is frequently something posted which is of interest and use to me in the development of my philosophy and practice.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
I don’t take this approach in my practice. I don’t adopt an expert, top-down approach. I adopt more a of mutuality, intersubjective philosophy. With this in mind, I often ‘discuss’ books or apps with clients. They may initiate the discussion or I might, and we may discuss the impact (potential or otherwise) in terms of the therapeutic process (e.g.: how an app may make them feel ‘good’ or ‘bad’, or how a book may feature a detailed discussion of an issue a client hold as important) but I don’t make actual suggestions.
What do you do for your own mental health?
I take the view that both personal therapy and supervision are vital for therapists throughout that part of working life in which they offer therapy. So, I hold the view that to be in my own personal therapy, not just while training but also when in practice, is important from a therapist developmental perspective but from a personal wellbeing perspective too. Similarly, with supervision. While there are aspects of supervision which are important for ethical and professional practice, there are also aspects which support my own mental wellbeing too.
What is your consultation room like?
My therapy room is on the top floor of a building, so something like an attic room, and is bright and yet cozy. Colours are gentle, with greys and pale pastel colours, and it has the combined feel of an office (with a desk in the corner) and intimate living space where two people can engage in conversation, in a manner which feels not too close and not too distant.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
I recall the TEDTalk by the Research Professor Brene Brown, who recalled visiting a therapist and the therapist saying that it is ‘neither good nor bad’. This is the first thing that I wish people knew about therapy. I also wish they knew that coming for therapy is not about something being wrong with them, but about something having happened to them which needs working through. It is not an admission of failure but of needing help and that we all need some help sometimes. Finally, I wish people knew at the outset how wonderful an experience it can be – to be heard, to be understood, and to have someone helping you work out how to create the life you want for yourself and the person you want to be.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
So many things, including those above – what I wish people knew about therapy – but that life does not have to be a solitary struggle, that there are things I can change and develop in myself, but that I am also a product of my life experiences which brings both opportunities for change and for self-acceptance.