Sharon Kirby is a therapist in Exeter, Devon

What attracted you to become a therapist?

A mix of influences; I had a background in health and social care and had observed the power of supportive caring relationships in peoples lives. I studied psychology as a mature student and - perhaps most influential -  my personal experience of therapy at different times of my life, providing rich a source of support, inspiration and growth.

Where did you train?

Reading University, 25 years ago, where I completed an MA in Psychodynamic Counselling; then in 2008 I decided to train as an Integrative Psychotherapist at the Minster Centre in London

What sort of people do you usually see?

I work with adult clients, men and women of all ages, and also with couples.

I work with a wide range of concerns including anxiety, depression, self-esteem, transitions and trauma. I have an interest and specialist training in working with couples and relationships.

What do you like about being a therapist?

Getting to know people at a depth which isn’t always possible in day-to-day life. Feeling profoundly moved and privileged to be able to hear individual life stories and witness the strength, hope and humility clients so often bring to the therapeutic process.

What is less pleasant?

Therapy doesn’t provide an answer or ‘fix’, which at times can feel frustrating and disappointing. What might feel unpleasant however, often brings great potential, as being with and exploring this experience, is often at the heart of the therapeutic process.

How long you’ve been with and what you think of us?

I joined nearly two years ago; I very much like's approach to finding a therapist match, and also the resources the website provides.

Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?

Yes, I recommend reading – articles and books when I feel this might be helpful for a client. I regularly recommend mindfulness apps to clients as so many clients seem to find these helpful in managing stress and anxiety or just creating space for themselves.

What you do for your own mental health?

I now live by the sea and love taking slow walks along the beach or coastline and I practice meditation, pilates and yoga. Keeping in touch with friends and colleagues and, most important, connecting with my family, my husband and grown up children, on a regular basis.

You are a therapist in Exeter and Shaldon, Devon. What can you share with us about seeing clients in those areas?

I moved to Devon a year ago after working in London and Windsor for many years. Life is different in some ways for clients in this part of the world, but in other ways clients are faced with personal and life challenges, familiar to us all wherever we live.

What’s your consultation room like?

My therapy room in Exeter is in a lovely old building in the centre of town; the rooms are comfortable and full of character, the only drawback being lots of stairs. In Shaldon, I have a dedicated room in my home – bright, cosy with a lovely view over the sea.

What do you wish people knew about therapy?

That to engage in therapy is a sign of strength and commitment to self-care and personal growth, rather than a sign of failure and not being able to cope. Yes, clients may feel overwhelmed, vulnerable or perhaps in crisis when they come to therapy but being in therapy, as an individual or couple, is nothing to do with failure.

What did you learn about yourself in therapy?

I’ve learned many different things, at different levels, at different times over the years. Perhaps in a nutshell, I’ve learned to feel more at ease with being me and to shift habitual patterns in my own behaviour that get in the way of me being true to myself and fully present to others. All of this is still a work in process!