Meet the Therapist: Mark Kenichi Davies
What attracted you to become a therapist?
I’ve long taken a lot of satisfaction in helping others; everything from working as a TEFL teacher abroad and in the UK, volunteering with Samaritans, THT and Metro (where I also work as a counsellor); so when I decided to start training, it felt like a natural step; I’d gained a lot of experience especially with Samaritans, but also my own life journey as an LGBTQ+ person.
Where did you train?
I trained at first at City Lit and then embarked upon my Diploma at the Mary Ward Centre. I felt it to be a very thorough training programme which focused a lot in putting my own life experiences into context, and how this journey helps me to be an effective therapist.
I continue to do CPD (continuing professional development); and whilst theory and so on are important, I focus on people’s experiences especially in areas of diversity. I believe that our current cultural context is crucial (especially some of the big events this past year like Black Lives Matter and COVID), and also being up-to-date with how potential clients are experiencing the world and their relationships.
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?
My counselling style is a talking therapy, in which it is about what the client wants to bring to each session. Very often, and especially at the start, this can be a freeing and empowering experience to have a space to talk where you can feel accepted and not judged. As our therapeutic relationship develops more trust and understanding, we can look at little deeper at what “makes you tick”, and the idea is to have a greater insight into oneself - this is where deeper change for the better can happen.
In addition to talking, I often use meditation, body scanning, free drawing and dreams; clients are also welcome to bring things they have written, drawn or created, because these can be very useful ways to express oneself in addition to talking.
At the moment I practise online or by phone - I think this can be a good way to have counselling because you can do this from a place of your own choosing that is comfortable to you, rather than a space that you have to go to. It can also alleviate some of the anxiety of being in proximity to others, which is something at the top of most people’s minds at the moment.
I also like to practise outdoors, in a park for example. I find that being closer to the natural environment can evoke things in the therapy that might not happen in a room; the air, sounds and smells, trees and so on can be very stimulating to the senses.
How does your integrative style help?
Integrative can sound quite vague and technical - basically it’s a way of bringing different therapeutic styles into the therapy in order to make it more effective. For example, talking can provide some narrative and feelings at one level, drawings and dreams can access other levels of feeling, and psychodynamic theory can facilitate understanding of more unconscious ways of being that might come from the past.
What sort of people do you usually see?
My ‘speciality’ is mainly on diversity, especially with regard to gender, sexuality and relationships - in particular LGBTQ+ people - but there are many areas that link to these, such as race & ethnicity, HIV, drugs & chems, alcohol, sex, fantasies, and so on. Nevertheless, the focus is always on what the client wants to bring, and it may or may not relate to these areas.
What do you like about being a therapist?
I think this goes back to the first question - I find it satisfying to help somebody and see them change and grow into a happier person who is more at peace with themself. It’s a privilege to be trusted to journey with someone at a particular time in their life, and whilst this road can be difficult at times, it is often ultimately worthwhile.
What is less pleasant?
I guess it comes to practicalities - being self-employed is always an uncertain place to be! Also, the current Coronavirus situation has made it more difficult for both therapists and clients alike, and I wonder if therapy might seem like too much for some people at this time. That said, online and phone therapy has been working really well for both me and the clients who want to try it.
How long you’ve been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?
I joined welldoing.org in November 2019; what I like about it is the more personal touch I (and clients) have through the people who run it - it does not come across as a big organisation that is held back by its size.
The fact that I was invited to do this interview was a privilege in itself.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
Sometimes. Usually I’d suggest something that is related to an issue they are describing which might be helpful at a particular time. I think it’s important for it to complement the therapy as much as possible.
What you do for your own mental health?
I do a lot of reading – my most recent books have been focused more on attraction, relationships, be they family, friends, sexual or romantic. I also have been regularly attending retreats focused on intimacy between men. More generally, I enjoy spending time in nature - going for walks and bike rides; I think this is very therapeutic, especially at this time when we are staying at home a lot more.
You are a therapist in Brighton. What can you share with us about seeing clients in that area?
I’m new to living in Brighton but I know it is home to a large proportion of LGBTQ+ people, and probably the most LGBTQ+ friendly city in the country. I used to live and work in London (which can feel like a lonely an isolating place), so I am curious to work with people living in the Brighton area to and to work with their experiences.
What’s your consultation room like?
Currently I work online/phone at home, as well as outdoors. I’m not working face to face indoors because of the COVID risks - winter is already a challenging time for many people, and I feel that the internet / phone is the safest way at the moment.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
I believe taking the courage to go into counselling shows a sign of strength and willingness to break out and try to be more whole, which is in contrast to what some people seem to think - that therapy is only for “weak” people. And, no, you’re not going to be lying down on a couch being psychoanalysed! I try to bring as much of a human touch to therapy, by sitting with you and providing a space where you can talk freely and safely.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
I enjoy travelling, and have discovered and spent time in a few other cultures indifferent parts of the world. My own therapeutic journey was far more rewarding than this – only by looking to myself could I really discover. I am far more in tune with my own mental and physical responses and reactions to this, and I cope a lot better in difficult situations – and also take even more enjoyment than I used to in pleasurable ones.Essentially, I feel I’ve a deeper understanding of myself which has both helped me to be a more well-rounded person, as well as a more effective therapist.