Sam Rawlings is a counsellor in Leeds and online

What attracted you to become a therapist?

After receiving my own therapy for several years for childhood trauma and having had various roles in childcare settings, nurseries, schools, and children’s homes, I realised I had more to give. I am a good listener and empathetic. My colleagues would often comment on this.

Plus, during my therapeutic journey, my therapist stated that I would make a good counsellor.

At first, I questioned this, then thought I would give it a try. So started on an introductory course. As I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, I wanted to train further. I knew then it was what I was meant to do.

Where did you train?

Leeds City College

Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?

I am a person-centred counsellor; I chose it as it felt the right kind of approach to use. Always having my clients at the centre of decision making. This has something which has ran through my roles with children and young people.

I also trained with Place2be through a Level 4 Certificate, additional to my main approach. This has enhanced my knowledge and learning when working with children and young people.

I’m not a trained play therapist, but I completed an accredited qualification working with play.

Having a background of over 25 years in childcare settings, I have a broad understanding and awareness of child development. I also increased my knowledge around brain development after working in children’s residential and seeing the impact that childhood trauma has on growth, psychological and physical development.

I believe I have the expertise to support parents and carers to help their child. I also believe early intervention is better towards providing a child with positive outcomes for a happy and healthy future.

I help children and young people with their mental health and emotional wellbeing, by offering sessions in a confidential and safe space to empower and change their mindset.

I offer alternatives through creative therapy as children can often find it difficult to express how they feel through verbal communication. Through play, children feel more relaxed and open up in a natural way using metaphors and stories to express feelings and thoughts. This I believe is the best way for a child or young person’s therapeutic journey. No pressures, they lead the play and I find rapport and trust develops. 

They don’t see me as other professionals who may already be in their life. This, I say, is my strength.

How does therapy help with symptoms of anxiety?

One of the main areas which I specialise in is anxiety. Anxiety can show itself in many ways. Particularly for children, anxiety can be in the form of physical pain, tummy aches or headaches. A child isn’t always aware of what a panic attack is and there can be a lot of confusion of what is happening to them.

I support by helping the child become aware of any changes in their breathing and simple strategies to help. Through play and creativity or sometimes talking, I can build a picture of the child’s interests and any behaviours they might display.

Together we can use resources to help with coping strategies and help the child identify what may cause the triggers.

What sort of people do you usually see? 

I see children starting from seven upwards whilst working online from any background. All my sessions are for individuals

What do you like about being a therapist?

I like being able to support others who might need help in establishing a change of mindset, routine and may be stuck. I like to see the progress my clients make as their therapeutic journey evolves. I also like to build professional relationships with my clients. This stems from my roles in childcare settings, as I found the child’s progress would improve once this relationship was established. There would be a noticeable change in their wellbeing once they felt secure and safe.

I also like I can offer a safe and confidential space for my clients which may be the only time they have this.

It is important to me that every child has a voice and is listened to and treat as an individual.

I also enjoy networking with other therapists and learning new skills and increasing my knowledge through regular CPD.

What is less pleasant?

The only thing I can think of a little less pleasant is not being able to offer my sessions face-to-face. Even though I am still able to provide a good service for my clients, I believe being in a room full of play resources enhances the therapy further.

How long have you been with and what you think of us?

I have been with for two months so far. I like the matching service for clients and there is a wealth of information for therapists as well.

I have also joined the community on Facebook and find it beneficial for advice, tips, information etc. I also find it a valuable place for networking with other therapists.

Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?

I will suggest apps related to clients, parents, carers struggles, particularly for mindfulness, crisis support and resources to help.

What you do for your own mental health?

For my own mental health, I ensure I go for walks around my local environment through woods, fields. It is a beautiful area to live. 

I spend time with my family, particularly my daughters and grandchildren. I love music – listening to it, singing and I am a member of my local community choir. I also enjoy breaks in the Dales, coast, and Lakes.

I use mindful apps and meditations to help with sleep.

I am also a Neal’s Yard Consultant, what I love about it is all the products are natural and organic, made from herbs. Especially the range of aromatherapy which I find will help with my mood and hormonal imbalance.

What do you wish people knew about therapy?

That you are not alone, there is support out there. Mental health awareness helps others to understand how people may behave differently hen they are struggling. The importance of connection as the first step to recovery.

What did you learn about yourself in therapy?

I am strong and I have so much to live for. I am not to blame for what happened to me.

I am enough.

I’ve got this. I often look back and reflect on how far I have come, the progress I have made and how I have changed my own trauma to a positive to help others.

Instagram Facebook

Contact Sam here

Meet more therapists