What attracted you to become a therapist?
I became an integrative arts psychotherapist after seeking a change from a long career in graphic arts. Having always enjoyed art in its many forms, I was drawn to professions that provided a combination of creative expression and mental health healing. What attracted me to psychotherapy and using the arts in therapy, was a belief that this way of working can be transformative and have long-term mental health benefits.
Where did you train?
At the Institute for Arts and Therapy in Education (IATE), in Central London. My training included an MA in Integrative Arts Psychotherapy, Counselling Skills and a Postgraduate Certificate in the Therapeutic Arts. I found the experience truly unique, challenging and transformative.
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?
I practise as an integrative therapist which is a form of psychotherapy. I integrate and individually tailor a blend of different therapeutic approaches, including making use of the professional relationship between myself and my client. I work with my client’s many different forms of expression, such as through words (talk therapy), gestures, postures, metaphor and by using the visual arts.
I offer a person-centred approach, which focuses on my clients' strengths and provides a non-judgmental stance to support a stronger, healthier sense of self and understanding of their feelings. I may also integrate a psychodynamic way of working, which focusses on early life experiences and the affect these may have on current adult life.
How does integrative arts psychotherapy help with symptoms of stress, anxiety and grief?
One of the areas that I specialise in is helping my clients to manage stress, anxiety and grief. The benefits of integrative arts psychotherapy can be enormously supportive in helping to reduce and manage the feelings that may arise.
Sometimes, words are not enough or maybe difficult to come by, and as we go about our lives, we may not be aware of how our thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and behaviours are affected by our past experiences. When working with the arts in psychotherapy, there is the potential for our unconscious minds to be expressed, reflected upon confidentially between client and therapist, while held, safely, within the arts.
Also, it may be heartening to know when working with this type of therapy, there is no need for clients to have had any previous arts experience or artistic skills.
What sort of people do you usually see?
I work with a diverse range of people of all ages and welcome all adults and young people, from 16 years upwards, to my practice. By encouraging a collaborative partnership between us, I wish to support my clients to feel better and help them lead a more fulfilling life. I work with clients on an individual basis and the length of therapeutic process varies; it may be over a few years or a much shorter length of time (such as 6 to 18 weeks).
There are many reasons that bring clients to seek support and consider therapy, as they may benefit from having a non-judgmental, confidential, safe environment where they can unburden their troubles, to speak or express anything that comes to their minds.
Some of the areas I work with include, anxiety, panic and stress, I also see people who feel overwhelmed, isolated and stuck in their lives. Often, they wish to increase their self-esteem, self-worth and identity. I also support people of any age who need help with body-image and food issues.
What do you like about being a therapist?
I believe that it’s a fundamental need of human beings to have someone to express to, share with and talk to. It is enormously fulfilling being able to create a safe space for my clients to bring whatever they wish too.
What is less pleasant?
I find all aspects of working with clients a great privilege, particularly being alongside them enabling their healing process. What I think of as less pleasant, is a sense of isolation when working in private practice as a sole therapist. However, this is why I have chosen to have a private practice within a wonderful community of other therapists, including colleagues that I trained with, which allows me to connect with people with many different ways of working.
How long you’ve been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?
I joined welldoing.org earlier this year on a recommendation from my supervisor, to support and grow my private practice. I particularly like the articles welldoing.org post, which are written by multi-disciplined therapists – they are a useful resource to call upon with a variety of specialist clinical areas.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
I occasionally suggest books, poems, podcasts or apps to my clients believing psycho-education to be an important part of the therapeutic process. I have offered suggestions such as: Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig, Susan Cain’s TED talk The Power of Introverts, Brené Brown’s talks on vulnerability and Peter Levine’s self-care exercises to support traumatic experiences recovery. With each of my suggestions I am mindful to offer what may support my clients’ individual therapy process and personality.
What you do for your own mental health?
To support my own mental health, I enjoy walks in nature, visiting art galleries and exhibitions and attending a variety of mental health focussed workshops.
You are a therapist in Central London and North London. What can you share with us about seeing clients in those areas?
I have a broad client base, although currently stress and anxiety are some of the more prominent issues my clients are coming to therapy with. Often there are other layers of concern or worry surrounding their anxiety, such as intimacy issues, traumatic experiences, depression and grief. In my Central London practice, I find that work related issues are prevalent, often as a result of a fast-paced and pressured inner-city environment.
What’s your consultation room like?
My private practice is in two London locations, both rooms are quiet and calming. They are both safe and confidential spaces, to explore what clients are bringing and seeking support for at this time in their lives.
One of the rooms is a large, relaxing, bright room, which is calm and peaceful on the ground floor of a Georgian town house. It is located in the centre of London at City Therapy Rooms practice, a few minutes from Chancery Lane underground or Farringdon and City Thames Link.
My other therapy room has a theme of intimacy and security, it is located within Barnsbury Therapy Rooms practice, in the heart of Islington, North London, a few minutes from Angel underground or Highbury and Islington station.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
As a psychotherapist I know how worrying it can be to seek therapy. I understand that people might be put off by a perception that seeking support is something negative. I feel that anything that encourages someone to talk about their mental health is positive. I believe it also helps to know that you can begin or end therapy whenever you wish too.
I would encourage people not to wait until they are stressed or when things become too difficult. Seeing someone early on may help to prevent a problem becoming a crisis.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
I have learnt from personal therapy the transformative effect of staying with difficult feelings. How, when we stay with challenging feelings and invite our curiosity of what they mean for us, we can work with our distress as opposed to against it, decreasing our suffering.