Lynda Britchford is a person-centred counsellor working in Nottingham

What attracted you to becoming a therapist?

It was a bit of a journey really, a desire that developed over time. But there were definitely things which ‘put the fire in my belly’ to choose that path. The first thing was my old job. I was a qualified learning disability nurse, and for a long time, I worked closely with families, couples and individuals, supporting them with personal relationships and sexual health. This also meant I supported people with very traumatic histories, and I developed strong relationships with some amazing people, who trusted me enough to disclose and share their experiences and pain. I particularly enjoyed supporting people who had a diagnosis of personality disorder. I had enormous respect for their courage and resilience, their daily struggles just to survive, in a climate where support services often viewed them as being untreatable.

My desire to do more, to support people who had experienced trauma in their lives, started to grow. I left nursing after 14 years, and retrained to be a therapist.  

The second thing was experiencing my own therapy, and feeling and learning first-hand just how valuable it was. I wondered why this wasn’t available to everyone! It was a really positive life-changing experience for me, and further fuelled my desire to be a person who could be part of facilitating that experience for others.

Where did you train?

Haha, I’m still training! (I LOVE training - for me it’s very much an ongoing pleasure).

My Advanced Diploma was with Chrysalis, in Nottingham, and was an integrative qualification. I have since discovered a love for Transactional Analysis, and last year completed my Foundation Certificate in TA, at the Berne Institute in Kegworth. I’m currently studying for a Certificate in working with Children and Young People at the Berne Institute, and in September I join their part time programme - MSc in TA Psychotherapy, as my long-term aim is to be a certified Transactional Analyst. Exciting times!

I also have a particular interest in trauma, so my continued professional development has been courses related to Trauma, Distress and Dissociation.

What sort of people do you usually see?

I’ve worked with people who have had quite a mix of difficulties - low self-esteem, anxiety and bereavement for example.  

Many of the people I have worked with have experienced significant childhood trauma, sexual, physical and emotional abuse. Some people have had diagnosis of (varied) personality disorder(s), PTSD, or have historically or currently experienced dissociative episodes. This is my main area of interest. 

I also see people with diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome, which I am very comfortable with. Supporting people with Asperger's Syndrome, has been an ongoing part of my role for almost 30 years, in various jobs, including nursing.  

What do you like about being a therapist?

Watching people develop and grow. Finding their inner resilience and self belief. And watching them learn to like - even love - themselves for all that they are, and the experiences that have shaped them. People often enter my therapy room with self loathing and shame, struggling to manage distress, and carrying a burden of responsibility for experiences they had no control over.To see them develop and move forward positively with new self belief is wonderful.  

And I just find people, and their life experiences so interesting. Their courage and resilience humbling.

And lastly the time. The time to be with someone 1:1, to hold that safe space for them with no distractions. That’s so valuable.

What is less pleasant?  

I confess that I’m not a fan of admin, so being self-employed has its drawbacks.. tax return time being one! At the moment, the new General Data Protection Regulations are giving me a headache as I ensure everything is in order for when they come into force soon.  All very important stuff, just not much fun...

Being a therapist can mean listening to experiences that are distressing and traumatic, which is where as a therapist it’s important to ensure good self-care, and support through supervision.  But being present and supporting someone who has trusted me to be there through their journey, feels an absolute privilege.  

How long have you been with and what do you think of us?

I confess I only found you last week! I really liked the way it’s set up, and was very happy to sign up with you. The website is easy to use both as a therapist, but also as a person searching for therapy. I’ve been really impressed.  

Have you used the booking and payment system, and how did you find that?

Yes, I have used it (I had a person contact me a few days after I joined), and it’s been really simple, both for me and the client.

Have you joined the therapist community on Facebook.  If so how did you find it?

Yep, I’ve joined - to be honest I haven’t had too much time to look at it yet, but it looks a really active group with lots of interesting posts.

Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?

Sometimes - it really depends on the client and their difficulties. Some clients are keen to do stuff at home, whereas others prefer the work to be face to face in session. Everyone has different learning and processing styles.  

What do you do for your own mental health?

I have personal therapy (this will also be a requirement when I start my MSc). Away from therapy I love the outdoors, just being out in the countryside or at the coast. I also love animals, have two cats and am involved in wild hedgehog rescue. And to get rid of some energy and try and keep as fit as I can, I climb (bit of a novice but it’s fun!).

What’s your consultation room like?

It’s quite neutral but welcoming. It has two wing back armchairs, a table for drinks/tissues etc, with some mantra cards, a bookcase, blanket, floor lamp and two big black and white prints on the walls. One of a path through woodland, and a bench, the other is of a rowing boat on a still lake; both are really peaceful.  

What do you wish people knew about therapy?

That having therapy is nothing to feel ashamed of, that loads of people have therapy, and that it can change your life.  And that you don’t have to feel in a mess to benefit from therapy. No problem is too small or insignificant. If it’s important to you, that’s what counts.  

What did you learn about yourself in therapy?

I’ve had therapy twice. Once when I was much younger, and latterly as a requirement of training. When I was younger I leaned that I had much more internal resilience than I thought. That had had a real impact on me and how I viewed myself. And it’s something that has stayed with me.