Sian Wright is an online counsellor based in Wales

What attracted you to become a therapist? 

When I was in my late 20s my mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I was living in Japan at the time and I travelled home to see if could help my mum and dad. On my way home from Tokyo I researched MS. I’d read about the various medications used to treat this condition and also, that patients with MS often had problems with depression. 

My mum had told my father that she would never take antidepressants even though they may help her feel more able to function effectively. I became more interested in mental health and the conditions which counselling could help.

Where did you train? 

I completed my Master’s degree in the United States in South University, Virginia Beach. This was an accredited course which maps to the BACP alternative in the UK. After graduating and back in Wales, I pursued a CPD qualification in cognitive behavioural therapy accredited by the ACCPH.

How does CBT help with symptoms of anxiety?

CBT has been shown to be particularly effective for clients living with depression and anxiety

Within the context of the therapeutic alliance, various strategies can be explored such as the reframing of ideas and attitudes which can result in a lasting change of outlook and symptoms, often within a surprisingly small number of sessions.

What sort of people do you usually see?

I work with adult and adolescents. I can see clients on an individual or group basis.

Have you noticed any recent mental health trends or wider changes in attitude?

Over the past 10 years there have been notable changes in mental health trends. I have noticed an increase in the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder. There are many reasons that may explain these increases, including the fact that the definition of PTSD has been broadened not only included individuals returning from battle or other specific traumas, but also wider traumatic events. 

The acceptance of these particular mental health concerns in general society has also significantly increased, which may have led to more people recognising and presenting with these symptoms. 

What do you like about being a therapist?

Before I considered working as a therapist, my mother worked as a rape crisis counsellor in Bangor, North Wales, so my interest in mental health counselling was kindled at this time. 

As a recovery coordinator in the United States, I recall one particular client who had bipolar disorder and I suggested that due to his enjoyment of writing letters, that due to his anger towards his mother he wrote a letter, not send it to her but design the content. This gentleman was known as someone who always had long hair and beard with a somewhat disorganised affect. 

When he arrived for his next appointment, he had cut his hair and shaved his beard. The staff did not recognise him as he walked into the office. His demeanor was completely different and he told me that writing the letter to his mother had dramatically improved his positivity and state of mind. It was moments such as this which confirmed my initial ambition to be a therapist.

What is less pleasant?

I find marketing and the semi-commercial nature of making a living difficult at times. There often feels to be a disconnect between helping others because it is the right thing to do and running a business. Initially I found it difficult to ask for payment for sessions as it often feels like people are in genuine need but balancing that against expertise, the length of time training and experience, help me to justify this to myself.

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

I am a new member of Welldoing as my private practice is only a few months old as I have recently moved and settled in Snowdonia. Welldoing encourages their practitioners to attend CPD sessions which I believe are essential for the development of its members and I am endeavouring to attend more as things eventually begin to calm down after the move!

What books have been important to you in terms of your professional and personal development? Do you ever recommend books to clients?

One book which I have found particularly useful is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: Techniques for Retraining Your Brain by Jason M. Satterfield. I feel that this is a very useful and interesting text due to the fact that the case studies allow individuals to approach CBT and facilitate understanding by people who may have no previous engagement with the topic. In addition to this, it is also available as an audio book with makes it far more accessible to those who may have difficulty with text format or for other reasons in their life find it easier or more practical to digest in audio format.

What you do for your own mental health?

I am acutely aware of the importance of my own mental health; I believe that my life outside my own practice is important. Activities such as singing in my local choir every week and participating in local events such as the monthly coffee mornings and going to concerts help me to focus on my life, and then in turn to be more clear-headed for my clients.

You are a therapist in Eryri/Snowdonia what can you share with us about seeing clients in this area?

Eryri/Snowdonia is an area of internationally acknowledged natural beauty. It may be surprising that people living in such a beautiful area can be experiencing sadness and loneliness; I can acknowledge that even though this is a stunning backdrop, people can sometimes feel a lot less than 100%. 

In the area in which I practise, there are very few easily accessible services, for example farming and tourism-related industries are the most common employers. Hope doesn’t need to be lost although sometimes it seems it is. I aim to reach out and be there for those individuals who find themselves needing help or support.

What’s your consultation room like?

My office is at home, as I work online. I am lucky to be able to look out of my window and see mountains and beautiful national park vistas. I have lived in Korea, America and Japan but returning to this amazing part of the world makes me remember how incredible it is.

What do you wish people knew about therapy?

Many people ask how therapy can help them; I would tell them that the day they consider engaging in therapy is the first day of the rest of their life. If you want to ask for help then you have started the journey.

What did you learn about yourself in therapy?

As a therapist, it is essential to look at your own mental health. As I have MS, I have had to really examine any triggers and utilise positive self-talk. In other words, I often use techniques I would advise a client to use as well, and to admit that even though I am a therapist, I am not impervious to day to day stresses. 

Contact Sian here

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