Stephen Slatter is a therapist in London, Surrey and online

What attracted you to become a therapist?

I experienced a significant bereavement almost ten years ago, and in the aftermath realised that, not only did I want to use that experience to help others, but that also my life had changed, including my interests, motivations and so on. It seemed like I’d been given an opportunity to do something different, and to make a difference to the lives of others. 

Although I started by volunteering with Cruse, I knew grief work alone wouldn’t be enough intellectually, and so I decided that I wanted to become a psychotherapist. I’d always been fascinated by people, and my journey to retraining began.

Where did you train? 

I trained at the renowned Westminster Pastoral Foundation, WPF Therapy, in Central London.

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

I am a psychodynamic psychotherapist. The psychodynamic model looks to examine and gain an understanding of one’s past experiences and relationships, as far back as very early childhood, in order to gain more of a cognisance of how these things can influence behaviours, feelings, actions and reactions in the present day.  

I had always seen integrative therapists in the past and felt that an integrative training would be good for me, as it would have been familiar to a certain degree. At the recommendation of a friend, I went to an open evening at WPF Therapy to see what it was all about, and had a good feeling about what we were told about the course and the model there. I thought that feeling was probably quite instructive, and that to choose an unfamiliar modality of therapy to train in would be an opportunity for a bit of growth.

Although the psychodynamic model was the original psychotherapy as conceived by Freud over 100 years ago, I feel passionate about making it relevant for clients, their lives and their presenting issues in 2024 and beyond. Blank screen style psychoanalysis just doesn’t work for Gen Z clients for example, who often need a much more open, warmer space.

How does psychodynamic therapy help?

I believe strongly in the psychodynamic model and that working with the unconscious allows the opportunity to help with almost any presenting problem. I’m sure all therapists hear clients say “I feel a bit depressed/anxious/stuck (and so on), and I don’t know why”, and, for me, that’s the perfect place to start. Let’s find out together.

What sort of people do you usually see?

I work with adults aged 18 and over. Common presentations are depression/low mood, anxiety, low self-esteem, addiction, trauma, abuse and relationship issues; less common presentations include some personality disorders

I have an interest in neurodiversity and enjoy working with neurodiverse clients.

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

I’m delighted to say that I see the awareness of and conversation about mental health continues to grow and develop, which is absolutely invaluable to peoples wellbeing. There is no longer any shame in going to therapy (not that there should ever have been!) and people are increasingly honest with each other about how they are feeling. 

We are also in a boom period of awareness and understanding of neurodiversity; I am qualified to assess for ADHD, and that is a side of my practice that is growing.

What do you like about being a therapist?

I absolutely love what I do, and I consider it a privilege to be a psychotherapist. I think you have to love the job to do it. No day is the same, no client is the same, no client session is the same. It is a role that rewards, challenges and stretches like no other. My practice is my creation, and I am building a portfolio career that is incredibly fulfilling. 

Hearing clients say I have changed their life is so moving, and seeing the change in people as the work progresses is incredible. I am looking forward to continuing my work, and meeting my clients of the future.

What is less pleasant?

The admin isn’t my favourite thing to do!

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

I am brand new to Welldoing. Thus far I am really impressed; there seems to be a level of support, and indeed investment of effort, in connecting therapists to clients that isn’t really present in other directories. I am looking forward to doing some CPD soon.

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

As someone who leans Kleinian in my therapeutic outlook, reading Jung’s Red Book was a real opportunity to consider a completely different way of thinking. I love Irvin Yalom’s books and have found them inspiring. 

They F*ck You Up by Oliver James was one of the first books I read when beginning training and led me on the road to object relations and the effect of early years care received on us as adults, and I really appreciated it’s straightforwardness. 

I am currently working with a client in his 70s who experienced some physical trauma last year, still impacting him currently, which we are unpacking alongside a lifetime of emotional trauma, both interwoven. I recommended he read The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk and this has helped him, and indeed us in the work, immensely.

What you do for your own mental health? 

Self-care is absolutely vital. For me this means regular physical exercise, it means time with family and friends, it means my own therapy, it means time in the fresh air with my dog, it means parenting myself really gently and kindly, it means the occasional treat, and it means, sometimes, switching off from work entirely and taking breaks. 

You are a therapist in Central London, Surrey and online. What can you share with us about seeing clients in this area?

Geographically where I am means I am lucky to work with a diverse range of clients and presentations, including international clients. Working online opens this out even further; in a way, the advent of Covid and working online/from home changed the world of therapy, and responding to that changing normality and expectation from people is important.

What’s your consultation room like?

Both the rooms I work from are small and have lots of natural light. I like smaller rooms because I feel that it really emphasises that there is two of us in a room together, thinking and feeling, without things getting lost in an expansive space or a high ceiling.

What do you wish people knew about therapy?

I like the saying ‘Therapy starts with two anxious people in a room’. The most important thing, in my opinion, about therapy, is not the therapeutic model, it’s the fact that ultimately, it is a relationship between two people sitting in a room together. It’s a relationship like no other. 

So many clients are concerned about ‘doing therapy right’, or anxious about beginning or what they might find out, that they often don’t seem to consider the relational aspect to it.

What did you learn about yourself in therapy?

That there is still so much to learn! I began with the Aristotle quote: ‘Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom’ and the more I learn, I realise the more I have still to learn. 

I also realise that having my own therapeutic space is vital for me as a therapist. I’m quite sure I will dip in and out of therapy for the rest of my life.

Contact Stephen here

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