Meet the Therapist: Sumeet Grover
What attracted you to become a therapist?
Sitting opposite my psychotherapist over a decade ago, I was deeply moved by the experience of being totally seen by one person. It was an intense experience that gave me food for thought because since a young age I had felt a passion for understanding the depths of the human experience.
I had spent years trying to explore the unconscious through poetry, but then the experience of therapy, combined with reading the book Boundaries of the Soul sparked a deep passion for this work in me. I am grateful to June Singer for writing this book so beautifully and making Jungian Analysis so accessible.
Where did you train?
I trained at the Centre for Counselling and Psychotherapy Education (CCPE) in London. As part of my training I also went through a psychiatric observational placement at the Baldock Manor Hospital in Hertfordshire, where I had the opportunity to observe mental health treatment in an Intensive Care Unit.
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?
I combine the following approaches in my work: Jungian, transpersonal, attachments and neuroscience. What it translates into the therapy room is that I pay attention to what is happening for my clients – emotionally and somatically – in the here and now; and then we use the ‘here and now’ as a guide into a client’s past, or even to understand what part of their authentic self is emerging from the unconscious.
Last two or more decades of psychotherapy research have shown that all our emotions are felt in the body. Even when we feel numb, a sense of emptiness can be noticed in the body. This has changed how the therapeutic work happens, especially for survivors of adverse childhood experiences and for people who have symptoms of post-traumatic stress.
Understanding how traumatic feelings cause somatic discomfort shifts our focus on emotional and somatic regulation, i.e. stabilisation of symptoms in the initial stages. Feeling balanced and comfortable in the present becomes more important than recollecting one’s past.
How does transpersonal psychotherapy help with symptoms of anxiety and post-traumatic stress?
When people feel anxious, or when they experience the symptoms of post-traumatic stress, it is the understanding of what is happening in the brain, body and the nervous system that brings about a shift. These days breathing and mindfulness are perhaps well-known techniques, but they offer one of the most powerful pathways out of the above symptoms.
When I think of the Triune Brain Theory, which I broadly interpret as showing us three brains in one, the treatment of anxiety and post-traumatic stress becomes specific. Specific breathing techniques can activate a very helpful nerve at the bottom of the brain, which helps us feel calmer and relaxed. Mindful noticing of oneself can activate the regulatory centre of the higher brain. Transpersonal psychotherapy focuses on resourcing a person, helping them feel more grounded and calmer before they can heal themselves.
Mindfulness techniques in psychotherapy offer a person the wonderful gift of being able to hold two different states of consciousness: one foot in the resourced adult self, and the second foot in the past. A client is helped to maintain some sense of their well-functioning adult self to process their distress.
What sort of people do you usually see?
I have been fortunate to work with diverse age groups, and my clients have ranged between the ages of 19 and 60. Some of the common presenting issues that I have worked with are: generalised anxiety disorder, depression, PTSD, relational difficulties and low self-esteem. I work in a one-to-one setting with adults.
What do you like about being a therapist?
Exploring the depths of the human psyche fascinates me, and it is a moving experience to sit in front of a person and witness their life’s journey. Getting to read more books is also an exciting part of being a psychotherapist.
What is less pleasant?
There is nothing that stands out, to be honest. I feel grateful to be in this profession.
How long you’ve been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?
I have recently re-joined welldoing.org and am very happy to be a part of this platform. I like the use of engaging colours on your website: they are pleasant, balanced and inviting to the eye. I also like the intuitive and easy-to-use interface for both clients and psychotherapists.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
Since I teach emotional self-regulation skills to my clients, I do make recommendations, but each of these are specific to each client. Each person responds to, and are touched by, something completely different.
One book that stands out is called The Examined Life by Stephen Grosz, who is an outstanding and articulate writer. He makes his insights from psychoanalysis accessible to the average person.
If I may recommend a song to individuals who suffer from severe anxiety or post-traumatic stress, it would be a song called Lullaby. A soothing voice, such as the one in this song, can help calm down our brain and the nervous system.
What you do for your own mental health?
Mental health and self-care are intertwined in the moments of life. Breathing, art making, listening to music, watching arthouse films, exercise, walks in nature: these are some of the things that nurture me in the most wonderful ways.
You are a therapist in London Marylebone and Leighton Buzzard. What can you share with us about seeing clients in those areas?
There is nothing specific that stands out as a sociological pattern from my work with people in these two areas. Because I have worked with clients from different walks of life, it would be hard to filter out one mental health theme from two different people’s life. My experience has been that even when people come to therapy with the symptom of anxiety, there is often a deeply rich and distinct story of one person’s life and how different events unfolded to impact them.
Having said that, my experience so far has been that the more a person misses affection, love, touch, and respect in their early life, the more this may affect their emotional wellbeing in adult life. Reading books by Bessel van der Kolk and Sue Gerhardt have made me believe that love, and not necessarily romantic love, truly has the power to heal.
What’s your consultation room like?
I like to be surrounded by art, and so I have a few paintings in my consultation room. I also have a stack of art images that my clients like to use from time to time when they are short of words, because an image often helps them to convey everything about how they feel in that moment.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
I wish if people knew that although healing the psyche takes time, it is a deeply rewarding experience which brings many unexpected and wonderful gifts with itself.
I also wish if people knew that not having a structure to psychotherapy sessions can be deeply therapeutic because it truly invites a person to begin to come into a relationship with themselves. It is therapeutic because a person can begin to discover themselves, including their distinct outlook on life and society. Having said that, I also see psychotherapy as a space for an active dialogue and an exploration of a client’s life, something that is done mutually, to whatever extent a client is willing to go.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
A paragraph would perhaps be too small a space to write about this, but if there is one thing that stands out for me is that love has the power to heal.