Meet the Therapist: Michael McLinn
What attracted you to become a therapist?
As a very young adult therapy saved my life, so it is a profession I have valued since I was a teenager. For several years I worked as a patient liaison officer, I think managing this as well as my sister beginning her training are what made the difference between it being an attractive prospect and a possible one.
Where did you train?
City and Islington College on the Holloway Road.
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?
My practice integrates principles of humanistic and psychodynamic counselling. This speaks to my very transparent experience of taking what my early environment told me, especially about being gay, as gospel and this rearing its head years later as habits and relationship breakdowns in my adult life.
This form of therapy seeks to find where our worth is conditional; and where failure to meet those conditions has been so painful that these experiences become subconscious, often leaving us scratching our heads about why we do half the things that get us intro trouble in the first place.
For clients, this can look like exploring their experiences to identify where terms and conditions come into it, where they have got those from, sort of stock taking and getting rid of what’s not doing them any favours, meanwhile exploring a relationship with me where terms are mutually negotiated, and conditions are challenged.
I often describe this type of therapy like a ghost train. You begin wanting to do it and hopefully are pleased you have at the end, but the middle can be, isn’t always, but can be, very unsettling.
What sort of people do you usually see?
Individual adult clients are where I best serve. Self-esteem, sex and sexuality are common difficulties I am approached for and often though not exclusively by LGBTQ clients. Recently I have been working more closely with antenatal mental health and early parenting.
What do you like about being a therapist?
I like being able to give people a sense of agency, I like being reminded of my own, that we often have more leverage than we exercise. I like thinking about whether we are the sum of our experiences or not. On a more superficial note I am very grateful to have a job in which maths and computers play a very small role.
What is less pleasant?
Having to explain to people in your personal life that you are not analysing them, that you couldn’t even if you wanted to and that you definitely do not want to.
How long you’ve been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?
Just over a year now, I think it’s a really great way to match clients and therapists.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
Not very often but “I’m OK You’re OK” by Thomas Harris has definitely come up more than once.
What you do for your own mental health?
I try not to spread myself too thinly socially. Therapy forever. Read as often as possible.
You are a therapist in SE1, London Bridge. What can you share with us about seeing clients in this area?
I am fortunate to have a very diverse range of clients; this may well have something to do with London Bridge itself. The other areas in which I have practiced (Peckham, Lewisham and Greenwich) were all for organisations serving particular client groups so I do not have much basis for comparison.
What’s your consultation room like?
Lovely, it has some great plants and you can see The Shard behind me though the window. Very Freudian!
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
That asking a therapist what you should do is about as much good as asking Google why you have a cough.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
That grief needs to be given free expression to go anywhere. That stress can very much be held in the body. That internalised homophobia remained to grip me years after my own experiences of homophobic prejudice ceased, and that they possibly always will. That ‘just being yourself’ really is the best thing for your health and that being authentic is not necessarily the same as being nice. That even the strangest things we do in some context are good for us.