Meet the Therapist: Tommy Hammond
What attracted you to become a therapist?
I suffered with poor mental health myself in my younger years. It had a profound effect on my wellbeing, affecting my relationships, education and career. Having lived experience of psychological disturbance instilled passion for me to help others through a technique that worked well for me. I am living proof wellbeing can be achieved with REBT, and how great it feels when it is!
Where did you train?
CCBT - Regents University, London.
Diploma (Distinction) CBT/REBT
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?
I practice REBT, which stands for rational emotive behaviour therapy. It branches from CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy).
REBT is based on the idea that our unwanted emotions and behaviours are maintained by the beliefs we hold to others, the world and ourselves. These beliefs drive thoughts and behaviours which maintain our difficult emotional and behavioural responses to events.
"Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them." ~ Epictetus
During sessions I create a safe space where my clients can be heard, and their issues acknowledged with empathy and understanding. I teach techniques to help them overcome their disturbance and provide them with in-between session work so they can continue to learn between sessions. The goal is that by the end of therapy, they achieve psychological wellbeing by becoming their own therapist; this can be hugely empowering.
How does REBT help with symptoms of anxiety?
REBT encourages you to acknowledge that it is not the situation that causes anxiety (e.g. upcoming interview), it is your absolutist, rigid, dogmatic beliefs about the event. The solution isn’t ‘avoid interviews for the rest of your life’, rather it’s ‘instead of interpreting this event as dangerous or threatening, how can I shift my beliefs so they are more rational and helpful’; and by doing so, transition from a place of anxiety to healthy concern.
I empower the client to see that the power is in their hands, and I am there to teach, encourage and help navigate until they achieve this.
What sort of people do you usually see?
I offer individual therapy to adults. Anxiety is very common.
What do you like about being a therapist?
What’s not to love! It allows me to interact with many interesting people from different walks of life. I’m fortunate enough to be allowed into their private inner-world and they trust me with their personal, sensitive issues; I love chatting and helping them.
What I enjoy most of all though is seeing my clients make progress. REBT is such a robust and helpful tool; I have seen great progress in all my clients so far.
Being self-employed is also a great, flexible way of working.
What is less pleasant?
It can be quite lonely profession. I am fortunate enough to have great friends, so my active social life makes up for it!
How long you’ve been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?
My experience with welldoing.org so far has been great. Easy to sign up and get started and very helpful technical support. It has been straightforward to manage the booking system and my clients have had no problems using it either.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
I prefer to send clients worksheets and techniques to implement between sessions (thought record sheets, mindfulness and breathing techniques, disputation exercises). The resources I offer are personalised to each client's issues and preferred way of working.
Audible is a great way for clients to listen to educational/self-help books on the go. One I audiobook I love is Four Thoughts That F*ck You Up by Daniel Fryer. It offers a great explanation of REBT and how we can implement it in our daily lives.
What you do for your own mental health?
I balance activities that I enjoy – weight training, seeing friends, spending time with my partner, going for walks, cooking and baking, playing video games – with activities that are more focused on personal growth: learning French, learning code, preparing healthy meals for the week, weight training, exercise.
You are a therapist in Bristol and online. What can you share with us about seeing clients in that area?
I have seen all my clients online thus far, no face-to-face clients yet. My clients tell me it is convenient for them as they don’t have to travel and can talk to me from the comfort of their home.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
Entering therapy is not equivalent to having something ‘wrong’ with you; it suggests you have a self-improvement outlook. Whether that be for your own benefit, your loved ones or even your colleagues – that’s pretty noble in my book.
Not all therapy models will spend long periods of time exploring your personal history and childhood. Although it is important to do this to establish your unique traits and themes, very often it is not where the solution is found. I encourage client’s to focus on the present – you are experiencing issues now, so let’s work with that.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
I have learned I am an empathetic, helpful teacher and listener. I love speaking to my clients and sharing techniques which I am confident will help them achieve their goals and build a brighter future.