Meet the Therapist: Sally Nilsson
What attracted you to become a therapist?
In 2010 I wrote a biography called The Man Who Sank Titanic about my great grandfather who was at the helm when Titanic hit the iceberg. It was researching his mental health for the book (PTSD, violence, alcoholism, redemption) that I became fascinated with mental health. I also had some personal work to do and when I was treated by a Human Givens Psychotherapist I knew then that I would choose this model, get trained and I have now seen 80 clients with 250 hours under my belt these past two years.
Where did you train?
I trained with the Human Givens College. Residential in Bristol and London and online modules. I had also trained with Chrysalis for a year and three months. I’m a qualified hypnotherapist too.
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?
I love the humanistic approach of Human Givens therapy. There’s no psychobabble and treatment is generally four to six sessions (a few clients longer).
We look at nine emotional needs which must be met in balance to have good mental health. We set goals for the client and show them how they can use their own inner resources to feel better. We target emotions before thought. Human Givens is also excellent for trauma work.
Clients like how straightforward and practical Human Givens is. They can see hope after the first session and real progress with each subsequent session.
How does Human Givens help?
I have particular interests in autism, trauma, addiction and OCD. For alcohol addiction Human Givens therapy is a forgiving model. Much praise is given for any work achieved and positive, achievable goals are set which are highly focused. I gave up alcohol and cigarettes for good three years ago with Human Givens therapy. It was easy.
What sort of people do you usually see?
All sorts of people. I treat young people from 14 upwards and I had a wonderful client who was 92. Couples, relationship issues, phobics. A lot of anxiety-related issues and a growing number of domestic abuse and narcissistic cases.
What do you like about being a therapist?
I like the challenge. I feel very rewarded when I can see real change and when my client returns for their final session and we can put everything together and they leave a new person.
I always leave the door open and see some clients for one-off treatments as and when they need it. I'm happy to say I get a good few recommendations. I love seeing how my career is progressing and I’m now entering the corporate market and I am on a working group for my institute which makes me feel like I’ve achieved a lot.
What is less pleasant?
Couples therapy can be difficult as there is a certain amount of acrimony and arguing.
How long you’ve been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?
I’m a newbie. I love the look of the site and hope that welldoing.org becomes a great resource for clients and therapists alike. I look forward to our relationship
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell have written some great books on depression, anger and anxiety. Their full volume of work is Human Givens: The New Approach to Emotional Health and Clear Thinking. It changed my life.
What you do for your own mental health?
I get all my emotional needs met in balance. I walk in nature. I have a number of hobbies. I regularly keep in contact with my family and friends and push myself to learn new skills. I don’t drink alcohol and I rest when I feel I need to replenish.
I help others and share everything I learn, in the articles I write and the clients I treat. I ensure I regularly meet up with my peer groups and supervisor and I have a good sleep routine.
You are a therapist in Reigate, Surrey. What can you share with us about seeing clients in this area?
I run the Reigate Business Women Workshop. There are a lot of women setting up new businesses and I help them with the events I run and the speakers we invite to improve their mental health as they juggle home life, full time jobs, elderly parents, children etc.
There is a wonderful community around me which spreads out to Redhill, Dorking, Leatherhead, Merstham and Godstone. I have joined all the local Facebook groups and these are brilliant for sharing advice and attracting clients. I also go to a number of networking events and grow contacts within the councils, chambers of commerce and the emergency services and educational establishments in my area.
I also talk at local Women's Institute groups and local radio. I love setting up my stall at different markets and fetes too, to talk about mental health and hand out my leaflets.
What’s your consultation room like?
Beautiful. It’s in Brockham (just outside Reigate) and is small building with a farmhouse complex which offers all sorts of holistic therapies. It’s comfortable and quiet with a fabulous reclining hypnotherapy chair.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
People should trust their therapist and know that they are properly regulated and ethical. So many people go straight to their GP who only refer IAPT-recommended therapists. I hope this changes as there are so many excellent psychotherapists and counsellors who are waiting to see clients who are often sitting on long waiting lists becoming more mentally unwell.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
I am strong, intelligent, caring, positive and have a good work ethic. I can achieve anything I put my mind to. And that I am a good psychotherapist.