Meet the Therapist: Victoria Oruwari
What attracted you to become a therapist?
I lost my sight at the age of six and did not have any therapeutic intervention to deal with the trauma until I was at music college. My then therapist helped me reframe my relationship with my disability and find a way of being that honoured my true self.
The result was that I developed a better relationship with my disability and was better able to navigate the pressures of being a classical musician whilst honouring and embracing my difference.
The positive regard and empathy I experienced opened my mind to the possibility of being a therapist. I am particularly passionate about helping people to access their authentic selves. Being a therapist has given me the skills to use dialogue to help people access and use their authentic voice.
Where did you train?
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practice?
I have an MSc in Humanistic Psychotherapy which means I use interventions from the following modalities: person-centred, Gestalt, and Transactional Analysis.
How does humanistic therapy help with symptoms of anxiety?
By using the person-centred approach, I am able to help people with anxiety in a variety of ways. By looking at their lives from their point of view and using empathy, I am able to help them understand:
- Where their anxiety comes from
- What triggers their anxiety
- How to manage their anxiety
This way, the impact of their anxiety on their day-to-day life is significantly reduced.
Using Transactional Analysis I can help clients identify their drivers and injunctions which inform their expectations. Recognising this could significantly reduce anxiety, as they will make decisions based on their needs and not what is expected of them.
Using the Gestalt cycle of awareness to help my clients explore their experiences can help them identify where there is an interruption in their cycle of experience, which can sometimes lead to the client coming to a conclusion about a situation that doesn’t reflect reality.
I offer a reparative experience by giving the client the space to revisit these experiences without interruptions.
Another of my areas of expertise is self-confidence and self-worth.
My humanistic belief is that every single person is worthy of understanding because their thoughts and feelings are valid. In Transactional Analysis this is perceived as a life position of “I’m OK, you’re OK.” From the person-centred approach, it can be seen as conditions of worth. In Gestalt it can be seen as “top-dog, under-dog” position.
Using techniques from these three modalities, I can help clients understand their life position which is often informed by how their caregivers responded to their needs in their early years. In therapy we can explore these, and I can offer a reparative experience to reframe the way clients see themselves in relation to others.
Most issues with confidence are as a result of the “I’m not OK, you’re OK” life position.
What sort of people do you usually see?
I see both individuals and couples aged from 21 and above. Common difficulties include people struggling with anxiety, bereavement, self-confidence / self-worth, relationships, sexual abuse, trauma, stress and disability.
Have you noticed any recent mental health trends or wider changes in attitude?
While there is still a long way to go in eradicating the stigma around mental health, conversations about the subject are no longer considered as taboo as they were in the past. Living in a more liberal society has encouraged individuals, in different communities, to pursue their own happiness and shun the restrictions of normative behaviours and social pressure. This has created situations where individuals can feel isolated from their communities as a result of the choices they have made.
As a result, more than ever mental health practitioners need to be aware of different communities and the challenges they might face, so that each client who finds themselves in a therapy session feels heard and understood.
What do you like about being a therapist?
I like the fact that I have the privilege to get to know people on a deep level, accompany them on their emotional journey, and watch them thrive.
What is less pleasant?
Hearing unpleasant aspects of people’s lives is never easy, even though it is part of helping them move forward on their emotional journey.
Also, my role as a therapist is not to tell a client what to do, so sometimes observing them making decisions that do not help them can also be difficult.
How long have you been with Welldoing and what you think of us?
I have only been with Welldoing just over a month but I feel well supported as a therapist.
I also like the monthly peer support group sessions they offer, because they are a useful source of information.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
Kristen Neff's Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself
Bessel Van der Kolk's The Body Keeps the Score
What you do for your own mental health?
I attend bi-monthly supervision, exercise, have regular contact with friends, and I go on holidays. I also practice self-compassion as much as I can.
As a classical singer, music is not only a profession to me, but a form of self-care.
You are a therapist in London. What can you share with us about seeing clients in this area?
I am a therapist based in London but I work online, which means I can see clients who are in and around London and the South East.
I find that my clients tend to be lawyers, accountants, bankers, doctors, people in the music industry and media.
As I work online it is very easy for these busy professionals to make their appointments, as they do not have to spend valuable time travelling to and from my location.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
That as a therapist, I am not an expert on your life. Therapy is a conversation with another person whose sole purpose is to understand your point of view, demonstrate that they do understand, and help you achieve clarity when you are confused. Everyone yearns to be heard because when you feel you are not alone, situations become much easier to manage, that is what therapy is.
Therapy also gives you the tools to communicate effectively because you are more attuned to your needs. It can also improve your relationships with others, because you develop a better relationship with yourself. Therapy gives you the confidence to nurture healthy relationships because you are better able to set boundaries.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
I learned that as a result of my disability I was perceived by society to be weak, incapable and not expected to amount to much in life. In my effort to refute those projections, I had a tendency to be hard on myself. I focused a lot on being perfect, strong, and compliant to social expectations. In therapy I learnt to be compassionate towards myself and see my thoughts, feelings and creations as valid.
I learnt that being a singer gave me the opportunity to use my voice to tell other people’s stories, and in that moment, I was in control. Through therapy I came to learn my own story. Now I use my voice in a more authentic way, which has significantly transformed my life and the way I use my voice on stage.
I became more comfortable with speaking my truth and setting boundaries where necessary.