Meet the Therapist: Rebecca Hepson
What attracted you to become a therapist?
I am a natural listener, and have always preferred working with people one to one. I really appreciate being able to give my full attention to clients, who really need someone to hear and truly see them. Counselling is a transformative process. I like to shine a light on any areas where the client feels they are stuck, or holding themselves back. Being able to do this allows the client to reflect on any limiting beliefs they have and make changes where they feel they would benefit; I love being part of such a redefining process in the client's life. Working with people to develop into a happier and more wholehearted version of themselves is extremely rewarding. I feel proud that I am able to facilitate a space where the client can safely explore and develop into the unique individual that they are.
Where did you train?
I originally studied my honours degree in Sociology at The University of the West of Scotland, graduating in 2013. I trained for my Counselling Diploma at Clyde College, Glasgow, completing my placement hours at The Wynd Centre in Paisley.
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?
I am qualified as a person-centred counsellor. Person-centred therapy is founded on the principles of humanistic counselling theory. Essentially, as practitioners we work from the premise that each individual has a unique understanding of their world and has the capacity to be a responsible and autonomous human being.
I chose this type of therapy because it promotes a sense of empowerment for the client, that they are capable of working through challenges and creating a life that is uniquely fulfilling for them. Sessions in person-centred Therapy are client-led, meaning that the client decides what they discuss, and what direction they want to take the sessions. The relationship between me and my clients is collaborative; I facilitate a safe and authentic space for them to explore whatever aspects of their self or their world they choose to.
How does person-centred counselling help with symptoms of low self-esteem?
I have found person-centred therapy to be particularly helpful for clients experiencing low self-esteem. Clients with lower self-esteem tend to place more emphasis on how other people view them, rather than how they view themselves. This can be debilitating as they may be torn between living the way they truly desire, and conforming to the needs and wants of others around them. Because person-centred therapy focuses on how the client sees the world, it continually reflects the value of the individual's experience. This helps clients with low self-esteem to start appreciating their own understanding of their world and to gain more confidence in themselves and their choices. Consequently, they are more likely to live an authentic life, based on what they need and want, rather than what others believe they should need and want.
What sort of people do you usually see?
I see adolescents and adults who are feeling stuck, burnt out, anxious, depressed and, often, traumatised. My clients usually come for counselling when they no longer feel able to cope with their life circumstances, relationships or how they feel about themselves. They may also be struggling with upsetting past experiences that they really want to move on from but feel like they can't. I also work with a lot of clients to build and maintain their self-esteem.
What do you like about being a therapist?
What I like most about being a therapist is seeing the positive changes clients make throughout their counselling journey, and carrying it forward into their daily lives. Often clients start sessions with low self-esteem/self-image, feeling burnt out, or unable to cope with the emotional fallout of past experiences. Through the exploration of these blocks in counselling, clients usually begin to shift their understanding of themselves and the world around them to one that is more positive and fulfilling.
Some clients can go from not being able to look up, to smiling and laughing, and ultimately feeling more capable and confident; the change is incredible. I love being able to provide a space to facilitate that growth for each client, with whatever they bring to the sessions.
What is less pleasant?
Every so often I'll be working with a client, and, either after one session or a few, they discontinue with our sessions, without any indication that they intended to do so. In such instances I am left wondering, sometimes concerned for the client and unsure why the sessions have ended. I always encourage my clients to inform me if they would like to end our sessions, or if there is something about the sessions that they aren't happy with. Usually an arranged ending is best for everyone involved as it provides closure and clarity.
I also encourage clients to tell me if I am using an approach which they don't find beneficial, so that we can explore better ways of working that will be more helpful for them. I believe that as a counsellor, I am providing a service, one in which the client has the right to ask for what they want and need, so that the sessions work in the way they are intended to for that particular client.
How long you’ve been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?
I joined welldoing.org a few weeks ago and I really like the site so far. It it extremely user friendly and someone is always on hand to answer any inquiries I have. There is an option to manage my clients on the site and there are loads of articles and other resources available for both potential clients and therapists.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
I often suggest books, podcasts and videos to clients. I think they are an invaluable resource between and beyond sessions.
For clients struggling with self-esteem I often recommend, The Gifts of Imperfection, and Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. The Sexual Healing Journey by Wendy Maltz is also an excellent guide for healing from sexual trauma and reclaiming your sexuality.
What you do for your own mental health?
For my own mental health I have a daily self-care routine which involves meditation, gratitude and exercising. I also create abstract paintings. I find this helps me to process any emotions I can't quite verbalise or describe. I think the most helpful (and daunting) thing I do as self care is to actively put myself out of my comfort zone, so that I gain more confidence and feel more capable in the aspects of life I struggle with. For example I am naturally shy, but I will often attend large training events so that I am forced to interact with others. This has really helped me become more outgoing.
You are a therapist in the West of Scotland. What can you share with us about seeing clients in this area?
I am a therapist in the West of Scotland, working with clients from Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire and Glasgow. I'm not sure if there is anything specifically distinctive about the types of clients I see, compared to other geographical areas. I really do enjoy working and living in Renfrewshire though.
Paisley, where I grew up and live, has a wealth of beautiful historical churches and other buildings. There is also a rich creative culture in the town celebrating music, art and literature. I really love the sense of community as I feel it is key for an individual's sense of love, belonging and emotional/ mental wellbeing.
What’s your consultation room like?
Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic I have been working from home. I consult with clients via Zoom, Skype, email and telephone. To continue to work as effectively as I would in person, I have dedicated a room in my home where I specifically see all my clients. I write up and store clients notes and other confidential materials there safely, ensuring that each client is offered the privacy and professional service they would expect from a usual face-to-face service.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
Therapy is a safe, non-judgemental, confidential space where individuals can discuss whatever they feel they need to. There is no specific set of rules for how each session should go. This is particularly true in person-centred therapy as the session is client-led.
I've spoken with a few friends and clients who have been disheartened by their experience of counselling because of the counsellor they worked with. It's important to choose a counsellor that you feel comfortable with. What works for someone else in a counsellor may not work for you. It's alright to shop around, or discuss with your counsellor what you feel is working and what is not.
Another thing I wish people knew about counselling, is that asking for help when they first notice they are struggling can help you start feeling better sooner and, in some cases, prevent declining mental health from escalating into a diagnosis. It really ought to be just like going to the doctor; when you feel pain, most people would book an appointment when they first notice something off with their physical health. It is completely, 100% appropriate to do the same when experiencing unwanted changes to your mental health.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
In therapy I was able to identify unhelpful beliefs I had about myself and others, that were holding me back from fully and truly living the life I knew I wanted and deserved. As a trauma survivor myself, I also faced a lot of hard memories, and was able to grieve and process them. This was difficult but I now mostly live a life free from the pain of those experiences, and I'm able to face new challenges head on.
I've learned invaluable coping skills. Most importantly I learned to value and take care of myself. I also believe that having been in both chairs in the counselling room, I know how daunting it can be to disclose how we feel about certain things, so I really appreciate clients sharing the intimate details of their life with me.