Meet the Therapist: Thomas Shutte
What attracted you to become a therapist?
My first exposure to therapy was through reading my parents' psychology books in my teens. Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl and The Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck are the books from that time that I remember the most.
In my early 20s I had a crisis of identity and meaning which led me switch from a business undergraduate degree to study psychology and to become interested in spirituality. This led me to a taster course in psychosynthesis, a transpersonal psychology, and starting my own personal therapy.
Having experienced meaningful change in my own life through my personal therapy it was a natural next step to start the process of training to become a therapist myself.
Where did you train?
I did my first training at the Psychosynthesis Trust in London Bridge through the University of East London and then later on I did a MA there via Middlesex University.
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?
I’m an integrative practitioner with a background in transpersonal psychotherapy. The models I’ve studied have given me a whole range of tools to draw on depending on the needs of the client and what they find helpful, e.g. guided imagery, bodywork, chair work, creative drawing, parts work (subpersonalities), dream interpretation etc. Often my sessions with clients involve more traditional talk therapy however with no techniques used.
More recently I have been working as a psychedelic-assisted therapist on clinical trials. There is a lot of research happening around the world at the moment examining whether psychedelic assisted therapy may be able to help particularly difficult to treat conditions such as PTSD, treatment resistant depression, addiction and anorexia.
How does integrative psychotherapy help with symptoms of trauma?
One of the techniques I use in my practice is Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). This is a somatic, ‘bottom up’ therapy which works with the client’s body and nervous system to reduce symptoms of trauma.
One of the things I like most about using EFT with clients is that they can learn to use the technique on themselves so it becomes a resource that they can use anytime they are feeling overwhelmed.
What sort of people do you usually see?
I see adults for a whole range of issues: trauma, addiction, depression, anxiety, difficulty sustaining relationships, searching for meaning and purpose, stress and career related issues.
Have you noticed any recent mental health trends or wider changes in attitude?
In the UK I can see that there has been a much needed increase in awareness of mental health issues amongst men and I’ve been encouraged by more men of all ages trying therapy.
What do you like about being a therapist?
I am very grateful to have a career which allows me to work closely with so many different people on the things that matter the most to them and to witness and support them in their successes and struggles.
It is also gratifying when the work goes well and something long wished for is attained.
What is less pleasant?
When the therapy doesn’t work despite my best efforts and those of the client.
How long have you been with Welldoing and what you think of us?
I recently re-joined Welldoing as a few long-term clients finished and I have spaces to fill. I find the platform easy to use and it works well.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
I tend to steer away from suggesting books to clients unless they ask for a recommendation.
Three recent recommendations:
Judith Herman Trauma and Recovery
James Fadiman Your Symphony of Selves
John Welwood Awakening the Heart
I also read books written by people who don’t have a first name that starts with a J!
What you do for your own mental health?
I have had a daily sitting meditation practice that anchors me for the day
Walking outdoors with my dog
5 rhythms dance
You are a therapist in Oxfordshire. What can you share with us about seeing clients in this area?
Covid moved my work online so my client base is spread across the UK with some international clients. They are all very different.
What’s your consultation room like?
Quiet and comfortable
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
That therapy offers a relational practice and training ground, where you can experiment with and examine your relational patterns without fear of judgement or failure.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
I learned how the defence mechanisms I developed in response to the difficulties I experienced growing up are both a blessing and a curse.