Meet the Therapist: Saffya Fatima
What attracted you to become a therapist?
It was timing. I was at a point in my life where I didn’t know what I wanted to do for my career. I had just left university prematurely after witnessing a traumatic event and felt lost. I was struggling with a lot of difficult and conflicting feelings because up until that point I had always pictured myself as going to university and completing a degree. When I came home feeling defeated, I had some counselling with a really challenging, inspiring and wonderful therapist. I remember panicking about my future and where I was heading in one session and then looking at my therapist and thinking, I want that, I want what she has, I want to be a therapist. I’d had therapy a few times before and it never crossed my mind, but in that moment I felt so strongly that it was right path for me. It still feels right to this day. It all happened really quickly after that. I signed up for counselling training that evening and haven’t looked back since.
Where did you train?
I trained at City and Islington. It was a real microcosm of London.
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?
My approach is integrative and combines psychodynamic, person-centred and existential principles. It means we will look at the root and underlying cause of your difficulties, usually stemming from your past and explore how they may be impacting you in the present. I would be along side you as we explore your difficulties and would gently challenge and bring awareness to perspectives or alternatives you may not be able to see for yourself because you may be feeling stuck in one place or within patterns that are no longer serving you.
How does therapy help with symptoms of trauma?
This approach is helpful for trauma in that it can help you to heal, find meaning and begin to thrive again. Having another perspective, understanding why we do what we do and exploring our emotions can be a great catalyst for change and finding purpose in our lives once more.
What sort of people do you usually see?
I often see younger to older millennials from the BAME community. I come across a lot of trauma surrounding identity issues, cultural issues and race. These issues have become even more pertinent now with the current political climate.
What do you like about being a therapist?
I love watching the evolution of the relationship between client and therapist. From the very first session, to building trust, the highs, the lows, the testing of waters, laughter, tears. All of it. It’s so dynamic.
What is less pleasant?
Juggling work and further study.
How long have you been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?
I joined welldoing.org recently and like the diverse content it has. I enjoy reading the articles that come in the newsletter, they provide great insight.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
I have once in a session when it felt appropriate and I have a page of resources for clients on my website. I usually find that my clients are pretty resourceful themselves though when it comes to it and they usually tell me about books or apps they’ve been using.
What you do for your own mental health?
A fair amount of things. I prioritise my own needs, say no a lot and set a lot of boundaries. I find nature immersive and peaceful, so I go for long walks. I also run. I like getting stuck into a new project so I try to have one on the go fairly regularly. I love learning so I try to study as much as I can. I have regular therapy and breaks. Finding time for community is really important to me, but equally so is solitude.
You are a therapist in Bloomsbury. What can you share with us about seeing clients in this area?
I am around the corner from Birkbeck, SOAS and UCL universities so it’s mostly students and lecturers in the area. My rooms are really central and less than a 10 minutes’ walk from Goodge Street, Holborn, Russell Square, Tottenham Court Road, and Warren Street tube stations so it’s open to anyone who lives and/or works in London.
What’s your consultation room like?
It’s on the top floor of an old Georgian building in Bloomsbury. There’s a lovely view of The British Museum in our back garden with a beautiful, tall tree prefacing it. The room is spacious and warmly lit. I find it really peaceful.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
It’s ok to challenge your therapist. Some of the most profound work I’ve done in my own personal therapy and with clients is when I have challenged and been challenged by my therapist or have challenged and been challenged by a client. It squarely addresses what’s really going on. It makes the relationship more real, more alive, more authentic and it can be really empowering.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
To be kinder to myself. That a lot of what I was carrying wasn’t entirely my own. That I am not alone both as an individual and in what I face and that there is hope.