Meet the Therapist: Pat Capel
Pat Capel is a therapist in Central London and online
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.
Being a teacher, I have a particular interest in young people and the challenges they face. But the world of teaching is also very demanding and that led to an general interest in finding ways to keep the stress levels under control.
Where did you train?
I am South African by birth and trained at Rhodes and Stellenbosch universities. I retrained in the UK at the Human Givens College and earned their diploma in psychotherapy. I recently also trained in EMDR through the London EMDR Centre.
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. I leave it up to the client if and when they will return. Some choose weekly for a few weeks, others prefer the flexibility of deciding when they will return. Some prefer being able to spend a few weeks working on what we discussed and then return for the next step.
How does Human Givens help with symptoms of depression and anxiety?
Because Human Givens therapy is solution- and goal-focused, it works really well with difficulties like depression and anxiety. We focus heavily on our given emotional needs and the extent to which these are being met or not. Not having these met is very often the root of the problem. The client and I then explore healthy ways of getting these needs met.
What sort of people do you usually see?
I am very lucky in that my client base covers all ages from early teens upwards. But, for most, depression and anxiety are the core difficulties.
I also work regularly with those who have suffered a traumatic experience. I also have many clients, men especially, who are finding work-life balance tricky.
Have you noticed any recent mental health trends or wider changes in attitude?
I have found that the general awareness of mental health has become a lot more prevalent. However, the negative side of that is that many clients have come to me who have relied on social media for their information. And so often, this information is either not correct or it is simply inadequate. There are buzz words that fly around far too easily (like narcissism) that are not really understood. Often therefore I have to educate, but once the client knows more, they are well on their way to feeling a lot better.
The pandemic has also had a huge impact on us all. We are not quite out of it yet. Teens in particular have found it tricky.
What do you like about being a therapist?
Being able to make a difference.
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 have you been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?
I have been on the Welldoing register for about six 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.
Useful ones are
What you do for your own mental health?
I regularly clear my diary and have a few days to myself. I walk almost daily – sometimes up to 10km depending on where I am working.
You are a therapist in Central London and The City. What can you share with us about seeing clients in this area?
I work out of therapy rooms Central London and The City. 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?
I use rooms owned by A Room in Town. They have four buildings across London. They are all bright and cheerful.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
Seeing a therapist 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.
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