Meet the Therapist: Louise Harris
What attracted you to become a therapist?
In my early twenties I was working for a huge media corporation as an Assistant Producer. I was asked; “If you were not doing this job, what would you be doing?” Without hesitation I replied: “A relationship counsellor”. As years have passed, I took redundancy, experienced many life transitions and moved house countless times.
I retrained at the right time in my life and felt so positive about the timing and process. I ‘trusted the process’… a term I didn’t believe in at the start of the academic journey.
Where did you train?
I studied at a nearby adult education centre for two years and then Ocean Counselling Training, in Kent. The academic training was valuable and immense, but so was the journey through it. The continuous triads, observations, roles, coursework, exams, placements, therapy, supervision and so much more took me out of my comfort zone. I also learned that it costs a lot in training expenses, time and commitment. I am currently studying an MSc Psychology via Derby University.
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practice?
Originally, I trained in person-centred and other humanistic theories such as psychosynthesis and Gestalt. Person-centred theory is a fantastic base for unconditional acceptance, non-judgment and aiding client autonomy.
I’ve also undertaken further studies to integrate CBT, transactional analysis (TA) and for working with trauma. It’s so important to continuously learn to be able to work with a range of presenting issues. There can be great tools for various issues and everyone is unique.
How does humanistic theory help with symptoms of depression?
I listen, have no judgements and understand that ‘fixing’ or ‘giving advice’ is not fulfilling. I’ve learned to understand that we are all a soul who have gone through many experiences, transitions, loss and received messages when developing and growing. I truly hear my client and work to their agenda.
In everyday conversations I often observe the subject matter which switches back and forth with interruptions, mixed agendas and advice can be given. I use the safe space to reflect and use my learned tools to open up my client, hear their story and contributory factors and ‘hold’ them, with the aim of building their autonomy.
What sort of people do you usually see?
I work with adults in Liverpool Street, in the heart of London City. Many people commute into the business and finance district due to the extensive trains and bus routes. There are also a lot of cyclists who access facilities in the Bishopsgate area which is where Longcroft House is based.
There are a wide range of presenting issues, but I commonly see the affects of juggling, burn out, relationships suffering and lack of purpose and meaning. These can impact in so many ways, leading to low self-esteem, depression and anxiety.
I also work in Rochester, Kent with varied clients and carry out Skype and telephone sessions. Besides this I work for an online portal working with parents through a number of issues they may be experiencing. Online work can help make counselling more accessible for those who find travelling difficult, or from wider distance and abroad.
What do you like about being a therapist?
When I see changes and a person’s autonomy grow it is truly wonderful. I am privileged to work with each person and build a unique relationship and hear their story. The trust that is put in the relationship can be truly magical.
What is less pleasant?
A part of it is to see and hear the pain that each person may be carrying. Also, the late nights on the days I work in the London practice, but it’s important for those who can only access therapy after 5pm also.
How long you’ve been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?
The amount of resources and information that is accessible. I am a true believer that the state of our mental health is an abundance of contributory factors. There are many elements to wellbeing and I like how welldoing.org covers the resources, including our body, spirit, our gut and has recommended apps and books which is so helpful.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
Haha, yes, I do. Following from my answer above, I like to recommend those that I feel a person may gain from. I own a mountain of books which I’ve picked up from charity bookstores (I have my favourite go-to stores), ordered online or been recommended. I like to do my own research with varied apps too, as so many people are digital and switched on also.
What you do for your own mental health?
I know how our lives can be full and I absorb so much information that I find that I must always practice self-care. In order to be the best for others, I must first look within. Exercise has always been a wonderful release as well as good for my body. HiiT (although burpees are not my favourite), spinning and kettlebell moves to pumping music. I cycle and recently started yoga and pilates at home.
I’m an advocate for healthy eating for a happy microbiome and feeding my body the right fuel. I wouldn’t poor the wrong fuel in my vehicle, as it wouldn’t work well. I give it a regular service, clean and MOT it and make sure it has water and oil… we are machines too.
I read, sketch and have fortnightly supervision and always spend quality time with my loved ones every weekend.
You are a therapist in Bishopsgate, London and Rochester in Kent. What can you share with us about seeing clients in those areas?
The areas are within commuting distance, and many people commute to London from Kent due to the great rail routes and fast speed trains. However, demographically they can be quite different in client set. The EC2M postcode is bustling with a majority of crisp, smart suits and is continuously full of commuters to-ing and fro-ing various buildings, lunch meetings, whilst clasping devices and being extremely switched on.
Rochester is a Medway town in Kent and not as built-up, it is historically known for being a Dickens favourite and there are mixed smaller businesses, homes, places of study and new, affordable homes built by the station which commutes in to Stratford and Kings Cross St Pancras as well as other major mainline stations. This area can bring a client set which are not necessarily still in work mode and brings varied diversity.
What’s your consultation room like?
Both are welcoming, comfortable, calm spaces with soft lighting and cleaned regularly. The space I work in is an important place for the client to feel safe and able to communicate.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
That it is confidential, but that it doesn’t mean it’s taboo. Everyone is a person, no matter who they are and where they are at; we are all susceptible to struggling and going through various events.
Also, that the therapist can give the tools, but the person must want to use them.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
That when I started to speak out about my thoughts and feelings, it was amazing to hear them… something I learned over the years to keep to myself and ‘be strong’, through various messages and injunctions. I learned so much about how I felt through therapeutic alliances and that I was not as assertive as I could be which is so vital.