Meet the Therapist: Neil Young
What attracted you to become a therapist?
I have always been fascinated by people’s internal worlds and responses to difficult experiences and feelings. I worked for many years as a youth worker – supporting queer young people one-to-one and in groups – and after therapy helped me to transform my own life, I wanted to become a psychotherapist so that I could offer deeper support to others.
Where did you train?
I trained at the Institute for Arts and Therapy in Education (IATE), London over five years, studying a full range of humanistic, psychodynamic and relational theories as well as learning how to work therapeutically with the arts (art, clay, movement, music, poetry, puppetry, sand tray as well as dreams and metaphor).
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?
As an integrative psychotherapist I believe that the relationship between client and therapist can be a key source for change, reflecting relational and humanistic theories. Early relationships, particularly in the family, are also significant because they influence our subsequent expectations for, and ways of being in, relationships with others – as psychodynamic and attachment theories show us. Working with the arts can help access less conscious material and to then explore what this represents for the client, before they can potentially integrate it.
How does integrative psychotherapy help with symptoms of stress and anxiety?
People often present with symptoms of stress or anxiety that they connect to an issue they are struggling with in their lives, such as a relationship, workplace bullying or having angry outbursts. As an integrative psychotherapist I can explore how this feels in the ‘here and now’ – going to the body, slowing down the experience to see what feelings and thoughts come up for the client or facilitate them creating something with the arts that reflects their inner feelings. In the moment and over time, this can often lead to deeper, more complex explorations of feelings, often connected to childhood, family dynamics and trauma.
What sort of people do you usually see?
I work individually with adults, aged 18 and over, who bring issues such as anxiety, work stress, trauma, loss and struggles with past and present intimate and family relationships. Difference is also a key theme, including clients with a range of sexual and gender identities and relationship styles, racial, class and cultural diversity – including inter-racial relationships, faith and experiences of immigration – as well as increasing numbers of clients who have been to private boarding schools.
What do you like about being a therapist?
I love not knowing what is going to happen in the therapy from moment-to-moment – what will be said and the feelings and experiences that may be evoked, in both the client and me. I also enjoy my role supporting and challenging the client to honestly explore their past and present experiences so they can have grow into who they want to be or at least recognise the choices available to them.
What is less pleasant?
Much as I enjoy the work, it can take a lot of energy to listen, feel into and respond to the traumatic stories that my clients often bring or are working through. The support of supervision, therapy and my self-care really underpin my ability to process and then turn up and continue doing the work.
How long you have been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?
My experience over the past year has been positive so far. I have had quite a few referrals and I like that clients can search availability and then book in and pay before we meet.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
I tend to work with books, apps, articles. films and other sources of support that clients are drawn to or that seem relevant. For example, in my work with gay and bisexual men, I often explore the meanings and responses clients have to Straight Jacket: How to be Gay and Happy by Matthew Todd and The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man's World by Alan Downes.
What you do for your own mental health?
I find real solace being in nature, especially walking through woodlands and cycling along quiet country lanes. I take regular holidays and exercise, love hot bubble baths, bake, garden, create art, listen to the radio, disappear into novels, play Scrabble and or simply watch trashy TV on the sofa with my boyfriend.
You are a therapist in Central London. What can you share with us about seeing clients in this area?
I see a real mix of clients – from people who work locally in law, finance, advertising and management consultancy to others who travel into central London to see me, including self-employed people, professionals, students, trainee therapists, artists and performers.
What’s your consultation room like?
I work from a large, beautiful room in a Georgian townhouse that has been lovingly converted into a modern therapy centre. My second-floor room is quiet, gets lots of light and has a homely mix of new and antique furniture to welcome clients. The building has a private waiting room and is jam-packed with plants and freshly cut seasonal flowers, which is lovely for clients and therapists.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
That therapy with an experienced, skilled therapist offers the possibility to work through experiences in your life that can keep you stuck, unhappy and living a life that does not meet your needs or reflect who you are and can be. Over time, the relationship and trust developed together in therapy can transform your experience of yourself and the relationships around you.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
Over the past ten years, individual and group therapy have allowed me to access my vulnerability and develop greater compassion for my younger self. I have been able to work through traumatic family dynamics and childhood experiences and have grown more and more into the ordinary, loving, playful adult that I always had the potential to be.