Meet the Therapist: Pat Capel
What attracted you to become a therapist?
I originally trained in counselling psychology in the school context. I started my career as a school counsellor and ended up being a full-time classroom teacher. I was very lucky in that later in my career, the opportunity arose to go back to the books and retrain as a solution-focused psychotherapist.
Where did you train?
I originally trained at Rhodes University and Stellenbosch University in South Africa. My psychotherapy training is through the Human Givens College.
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?
I practise solution-focused psychotherapy. This tends to be quite short-term rather than a week in, week out commitment. I selected it as the evidence suggests that it is really effective and that clients quite like the idea that there is a goal and a time limit.
How does Human Givens therapy help with symptoms of depression?
Human Givens therapy is a great way to deal with depression. We often get to the root of the depression really quickly and then get working on it with clear goals from the start. I have found that all my clients leave the first session feeling really positive about their future. Because they have an immediate goal (often set through agreed homework), they feel they have something to work towards and achieve by the next session.
What sort of people do you usually see?
With a teaching background, I have seen many teens in my practice. There are so many young people these days struggling with the pressure and stresses of school, particularly round exam time. But I have noticed that recently, more men in the 35+ age bracket have started calling me. They tend to want to look at relationship issues, depression, work-life balance difficulties.
What do you like about being a therapist?
The style I used is solution-focused. This allows the client to see the way forward immediately. As we work, we can easily see how we are doing and how successful we are as a team. Tiny steps in the right direction can be very rewarding for both me and the client.
What is less pleasant?
There are times when I have had to realise that the client and I have reached the end of what we can achieve together. There are even times when the style is not quite what the client is looking for. Not quite achieving what we have set out to achieve can be very disappointing. But it is also about acknowledging our strengths and weaknesses as therapists. We cannot be good at everything! And we are all human beings and we do not always gel.
How long you’ve been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?
I have been on the register for about two years. The articles are always interesting and written by us so they are not overloaded with psycho babble. The Facebook group is also useful.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
All the time. Especially when it is clear that the client wants to go away and do some reading. With young people, I have found that their parents very often want to read a little more. I have now started providing book reviews on my Facebook page.
What you do for your own mental health?
I love to read, walk, go to the gym. And I have a wonderful social circle. My supervisor is also brilliant at keeping me on track.
You are a therapist in Watford, Central London, The City, and Battersea. What can you share with us about seeing clients in those areas?
I work out of rooms in Watford, Central London, The City and Battersea. I tend to go where I am needed or where it the most convenient for the client and myself. All the rooms are quiet and easy to get to. I have also gone into schools at times when it is easier for me to see the young person within the school environment. That has to be cleared by the school and the school then becomes part of the process. It has been really useful for many children and can be easier logistically for the family.
What’s your consultation room like?
All the rooms I use are quiet and comfortable. They are easy to get to.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
Therapy does not always mean that you are mentally ill. Therapy is often an experience designed to tweak skills or to learn new ones that allow us to cope with the world in a healthier way. It can be one of the most rewarding experiences you can have and it can skill you for the rest of your life.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
We are all individuals and there are times when all of us find the world a little tough. It is being able to admit to that and then find what resources are available to help us through these patches. Having baggage is not a crime! We just need to learn how to deal with it.