Meet the Therapist: Priya Tourkow
What attracted you to become a therapist?
This may sound like a common statement, but I’ve always been fascinated by people and how they function. My early jobs were in teaching, then onto social work….getting closer to using my adult people skills…and eventually to psychotherapy. I finally reached my desired goal and have never regretted it or been disappointed.
Where did you train?
My initial foundational training in psychotherapy (30 years ago!) was with the Chiron Institute for Holistic Body-Mind Therapy. Not an easy path as a single Mum and no discipline to write essays! As I became more and more interested in working with couples and groups, I turned my attention to relationships trainings: College of Sexual and Relationship Therapy (COSRT), Emotionally Focussed Therapy (EFT) and Couples Encounter Based Therapy.
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?
As I’m mainly working with couples and family groups, my style of therapy is very interactive, eclectic and you might say, Gestalt in flavour. I put a lot of emphasis on the process occurring between people rather than the content they may be putting their attention on. If I had to name my therapy, I’d say holistic, Gestalt, body-mind orientated.
How does therapy help with relationship problems?
Mostly couples come to me because they are disconnected from one another, though they rarely say it that way. They say “we’re not like we used to be” or “we’re not sexual any more” or “we’re always arguing”. I help them, in varied ways, to interact with one another e.g making eye contact, owning their own feelings, doing less blaming and more understanding, talking about what triggers them, slowing it all down and listening fully to each other. I support them hugely in connecting with one another because their interaction is far more growthful than theirs with me. They are the ones IN the relationship. I’m not in there!
What sort of people do you usually see?
All sorts of people come to me: couples of all ages, stages and styles of relationship. Individuals who aren’t doing well in the world of relating and want to get it “right”.
Young people scared of the real relationship world outside of Facebook. Sometimes I see family groups who need help to say things that have never been said. I know about adult ADHD from personal experience, so couples who struggle with this come to see me.
Overall, issues are broadly about communication, sexual concerns, trust issues and loss. And of course, a myriad of variations on these basis themes.
What do you like about being a therapist?
Oh, so much! The never knowing what’s going to come to me next. One minute a family of eight, the next minute a couple in their seventies. I love the variety and the challenges that get me thinking, but also tuning into my emotions and intuitions. Mostly I love seeing growth and change happening; it warms my heart. It’s often truly beautiful and joyful.
This particular journey with a couple is unforgettable. They had been together for 10 years and never had sex. They were very disconnected and terrified. I worked with them weekly for two years at a snail’s pace level and they finally made love!!! We all danced around my therapy room!!
What is less pleasant?
I admit I can get triggered by clients’ behaviour at times when they have little concept of the work involved and the preparation and time it takes to provide the accessibility that I (and all therapists) provide. This shows up in last minute cancellations or a lack of understanding of the process itself. Overall though, this kind of niggly stuff is pretty rare.
How long you’ve been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?
I really enjoy being involved with welldoing,org. I try to make time to read the newsletters and articles and have just joined the FB group. I like their approach which seems to bring therapy closer to people rather than it being a distant thing at arm’s length. I haven’t used the booking system as I prefer to be old fashioned and a few inches away from my diary in book form! Bookings come and go fast as do my life activities, so I like to be able to look at both areas in the same place. I may change….
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
Yes, sometimes I recommend books. I often ask if they would like to receive my regular mail outs about relationship issues, with videos and exercises (encounters), especially when the topic is relevant to what they are dealing with.
What you do for your own mental health?
I think probably not enough! Sitting with clients is a static thing physically. I try to take walks regularly but am not great at that, especially when I get stuck into something exciting like writing a course for couples, which I am doing currently. To be honest, I all too often get to a point of needing to STOP! Then I get on the sofa with a book and and a cuppa or the TV. Oh, and I do see a counsellor every three weeks and it is invaluable.
You are a therapist in Hythe, near Folkestone, Kent, and online. What can you share with us about seeing clients in that area?
I moved from North London to the coast down in Kent just over three years ago and I love it. I’m in a small town and in a way it’s a good feeling as if I do make a point of showing myself, by running a group or giving a talk, I am likely to get noticed and talked about. So, that can’t be a bad thing!
People are less familiar with therapy down here, so I can show them the way. No ego in there, of course!
What’s your consultation room like?
It’s quite small but very calm and cosy. People seem to like it. It always has fresh flowers. I also offer online therapy.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
I would love therapy to be seen and known as a part of life that is important, even essential to being human. Therapy is about making a choice to be and feel more whole, emotionally, physically and spiritually. It’s not something separate from us but a huge part of our journey to feeling the best we can. This may sound good in theory but, as long as therapy is unaffordable to many and not accessible via the NHS, then sadly, this goal is a long way off.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
Firstly, I know that I am privileged to be able to travel a therapeutic path, both receiving and giving. Through, so many different therapeutic modals, I have discovered the depth of who I am and how my beginnings, from in-utero, have shaped me. I value understanding the massive connection of my body with my mind and the power of living in a heart centred way.