Meet the Therapist: Martin Kelly
What attracted you to become a therapist?
After a breakdown trying to reconcile being Christian and gay, I had therapy which helped me focus on what I wanted out of life (a partner, a garden, a dog and a house). They came but not in that order.
Where did you train?
I trained at what was then the Psychosynthesis & Education Trust, and qualified in 2002.
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?
I practise psychosynthesis because I found it transformed my life when I was on the receiving end. It takes pain, crisis and failure seriously but doesn't believe you are 'ill' or a 'problem'. Rather you are a person who needs trauma to grow (ouch!). On the other side, however, lies growth in your potential as a person and an increasing sense of self-fulfilment.
What sort of people do you usually see?
I see all sorts and ages, but I only work with individuals. Relationship difficulties, people looking to find their place in the world and what they're for, predominate. Like I did, there are people who want to put together their sexuality and their spirituality, too.
What do you like about being a therapist?
It's hard to say this without it sounding like a cliché but it is an honour to sit with people in their struggles and a joy to see them come through them.
What is less pleasant?
Sometimes it's hard work, particularly staying with a client in depression. Then you realise this is actually a job, not just something you do because you're fascinated. I've never thought it was a job not worth doing though.
How long have you been with welldoing.org and what do you think of us?
I'm new to welldoing.org so I haven't got much to go on except so far so good!
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
I've suggested Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child by John Bradshaw to a couple of people, and once I recommended a passage from Anna Karenina in which the depressed landowner Levin reviews the life he actually leads as opposed to the one in his head. He comes to the conclusion that his life is good but his thinking is bad.
What do you do for your own mental health?
My prayer is contemplative and that helps refresh and centre me. I also enjoy being part of the community, particularly running the bar for our local film club, The Fleapit. Until recently I walked every day in the countryside with our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Sadly she died in March but we are hoping to get another one, probably this time from a rescue centre.
You are a therapist in London and Westerham. What can you tell us about seeing clients in these areas?
Like London where I also work, Westerham and the surrounding towns, villages and countryside produce clients with the full range of challenges. It is a prosperous area and the one issue that stands out is disillusionment. I have everything, but what does it mean? What is it I really want?
What's your consultation room like?
In London I rent a room in Staple Court, which is a fantastic building on High Holborn right outside Chancery Lane tube. The Tudor facade survived both the Great Fire and the Blitz. At home in Westerham my consulting room is small, containing three chairs, a bureau, a bookcase and a lamp table. I consider it cosy and I hope it gives my clients a sense of containment and safety in which they can open up to me about anything that is on their mind or heart.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
That it is about growth, that there is hope embedded in their troubles.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
That I was valuable. That my thinking was bad but that my life could be good.