Meet the Therapist: Salvo La Rosa
What attracted you to become a therapist?
I was drawn to the possibility of helping people in their times of crisis and struggle, the same way that I received help when I went through difficult times. It was an intuition that maybe I could see myself being of service to others in the future. It took a lot to trust that intuition, but I am glad I did.
Where did you train?
I studied at CCPE, the Centre for Counselling and Psychotherapy Education. They are an integrative transpersonal centre overlooking the canals of Little Venice, in London.
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?
The four words I would use to describe the therapy I practise are integrative, transpersonal, relational and trauma-informed.
Integrative means that I have a grounding in all the main traditional approaches, and I can tailor the therapy and the interventions used to the needs of the clients without being limited to just one model.
Transpersonal means including the spiritual dimension of the individual. By this I mean seeing the person not just as the sum of their problems but also recognising the little bit of uniqueness in them, their innate qualities. In practice this can include methods and techniques drawn from mindfulness, yoga, meditation, or working with active imagination, dreams, symbols and using creativity.
I like to practise in a relational way because I always endeavour to be a real human being in the room connecting to another, rather than hiding behind a role. For example, I am the kind of therapist that would answer your questions or apologise if I get something wrong, the kind of therapist that would be open and collaborative about the work together.
Trauma-informed means that I recognise the contribution of the latest neuroscience research on the effect of trauma, abuse and neglect on the nervous system. I have a special interest in working with complex trauma and dissociation, which, I was surprised to learn, is actually quite common.
This doesn’t apply just to people who have gone through big traumatic or violent events but even to the everyday traumas of growing up. An example of the events that could have a cumulative effect and generate a chronically traumatised nervous system are things like bullying, losses, being sent to boarding school, parents divorcing, any fighting of violence in the home or neighbourhood, any form of abuse, witnessing violence, feeling lonely, neglected or isolated or not having our emotional needs met and so on.
This approach has also taught me to recognise the importance of clients feeling safe in themselves and in the therapy, the importance of giving clients choices throughout the treatment and of including a mindful awareness of the body. This also means we would not rush into the most difficult areas straight away or make the client overwhelmed in any way. We would work one drop at a time, helping the client process just a little bit of the distressing stuff from the past, and then coming back to the present and help them feel OK again, so that the stuff from the past can be fully resolved in time.
Slow is fast in this type of work.
How does integrative psychotherapy help with symptoms of complex trauma?
It helps with giving the clients practical tools to regulate their internal state and make themselves feel better. This can include breathing, grounding techniques and using movement and the body. We can also use active imagination to help the client create a feeling of ease and comfort in themselves.
With a little bit more time it can also help to go to the root of the distressing symptoms from the past or help the different parts of the personality linked with past events to become more integrated.
What sort of people do you usually see?
I work with adults, usually struggling with symptoms such as anxiety, depression, anger, shame, addictions, relationship issues, feeling lost or in need of a sense of purpose in their life. I also have experience of working with people who have experienced trauma and with LGBT+ people. My other paid employment is also working in addiction rehab clinics, doing addiction work from a trauma-informed perspective.
What do you like about being a therapist?
I love feeling a heart-felt connection to the person in front of me. It reminds me of our shared humanity and each client helps me to learn and grow as a person as well.
What is less pleasant?
It can feel lonely in this profession. That’s why I find it really important to find ways to connect with other practitioners and friends and to put aside regular time for fun and self-care, to find time to be light-hearted.
How long you’ve been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?
I have been with the platform for about four months. It seems very user-friendly but haven’t yet made the most of the booking system and the Facebook community. I was also fascinated with the personal matching service to pair clients with therapists.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
Yes, I sometimes do. These days I am particularly fond of Benjamin Fry’s The Invisible Lion and always on the lookout for the latest meditation app that I can suggest to clients.
What you do for your own mental health?
I keep up my personal therapy, do regular exercise, when I remember I do some yogic breathing and meditation or go on retreat. I also find activities like ecstatic dancing, five rhythms and sound and gong baths to be particularly recharging for me.
You are a therapist in London W1, W2 and E8. What can you share with us about seeing clients in those areas?
Of the three locations where I work, the Dalston rooms are more easily accessible for people that live East or work in the City or Liverpool Street, whilst the Fitzrovia or Little Venice rooms are more easily accessible for people who work more centrally.
What’s your therapy room like?
In both Dalston and Fitzrovia the room is quiet and private, with comfortable seats and enough room to move around. The centre in Little Venice has many rooms, when you are lucky you can get one of the rooms with really pretty views over the canal.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
That it is not necessarily about having people sobbing uncontrollably on the floor but about giving people tools to live a more fulfilling life and become more of who they truly are. Also, that it doesn’t have to involve a stone-faced therapist saying little to nothing but that it can be an experience of warmth and attunement.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
I learnt that all feelings, all parts of me are welcome and it has taught me to be more accepting and kinder towards myself.