Meet the Therapist: Rory Howlett
What attracted you to become a therapist?
I was aware of how modern society adversely impacts many people’s mental health and I wanted to be part of the healing conversation. So much is demanded of people today that just ‘being’ can feel like a constant state of anxiety. I realised that there are many different ways to combat this and that therapy is one of them.
I also like working one-to-one with people. Most research now shows that the best indicator for a positive therapeutic experience is the relationship between the counsellor and the client.
Where did you train?
CPPD in North London. It’s a small but brilliant school that was well worth the hour and a half commute!
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?
I am trained as a humanistic, integrative therapist. Integrative therapy involves tailoring my approach to the clients’ needs. I take aspects of different therapeutic models into my work and adapt them to the person I’m working with.
The areas that I find most useful are attachment theory, transactional analysis (TA) and psychodynamic therapies. These practises place strong emphasis on our early childhood experiences and how they may be impacting our lives.
Most of our behaviours as adults are an attempt to reconcile elements of our younger selves. This is why noticing our subconscious patterns is so important, as only by doing this can we enable positive change.
I also like to take a positive approach to therapy. This doesn’t mean that we always need to feel positive (sometimes we need to be sad!), but it does mean that there are steps people can take to feel better quickly, while acknowledging we will sometimes feel low.
Sharing problems, noticing when things go right, helping others, and many other small acts can inspire bigger change. Watch ‘Stutz’ on Netflix for an insight into this approach in action.
How does integrative therapy help with symptoms of depression and anxiety?
Having an integrative approach means that I can use different ideas to help and support an individual in recognising patterns that they may not be conscious of.
By becoming aware of these and identifying them in a non-judgemental and non-confrontational way, people are able to take ownership of their symptoms and their responses to them.
In other words, we are able together to work out what is wrong and then how to address it.
What sort of people do you usually see?
I work exclusively with individual adults.
Recently I have tailored my practice to work more frequently with men. This is to meet the demands of increasing numbers of men seeking therapy and seeing the value in it.
Have you noticed any recent mental health trends or wider changes in attitude?
There is a lot of self-diagnosis of various mental health conditions due to the rise of a quick fix mentality, perpetuated by social media. While wider discussions on mental are welcome and needed, it is dangerous to do all your learning in this way.
I think this has come about through a lack of available services for people, so it is simply filling the gap.
What do you like about being a therapist?
I value the insights and lessons that I have picked up over the years. Each therapeutic experience is valuable
What is less pleasant?
There are positive changes, but therapy is still a quite exclusive habit. Accessing free or low-cost therapy is difficult and often there is a time limit on the amount of contact an individual will have.
Talking therapies (as well as other therapies) should be accessible to all.
How long have you been with Welldoing and what you think of us?
I have been with Welldoing for around five months. I really like the website, which offers an accessible gateway to available therapies.
Also, the booking system is great – it is easy to use as removes a lot of the admin for both client and therapist.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
I like to suggest books, articles or even videos/clips to clients if appropriate.
For people who have struggled with addiction I recommend watching the “nuggets” video, which was shown to me by a client in the past. Alternatively, anything (book, video) by Gabor Maté.
For stress and anxiety about a healthy work/life balance, read Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman.
For a greater insight into how trauma impacts us try The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk.
My favourite therapeutic author is Irvin Yalom.
What you do for your own mental health?
I like to have something to look forward to (a holiday, seeing a friend, an activity, etc.).
Exercise is non-negotiable for my mental health usually running, but I like group sports too.
Lastly, I believe it’s important to take some guilt-free time to do something considered unimportant or unproductive: mine is probably going on YouTube.
You are an online therapist based in London. What can you share with us about seeing clients in this area?
I currently see most of my clients online, but have previously worked in Bromley, Lewisham and Burnt Oak. London is a diverse area and working with a difference of culture, ethnicity, gender and other characteristics is really important for me.
One of my therapeutic goals is to ensure access to therapy for everyone and to reduce any associated stigma. Therapy should be for all.
What’s your consultation room like?
I’m currently working online. I have a clear open space opposite a large window.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
That you may need to work through the difficult times where it feels like ‘it is too much’ or that ‘nothing is changing’.
That although therapy is for everyone, there are still a number of barriers that stop people accessing it. My wish is for people to push through those barriers.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
That a lot of the ways I behave are aimed at trying to make people happy. This is not as helpful as it sounds for a therapist. I had to work on being able to have constructive conflict and being able to share my view.