Meet the Therapist: Wendy Cummins
What attracted you to become a therapist?
I experienced anxiety in my early thirties and along with other things and counselling really helped me through. It opened my mind to the world of mental health and inspired me to help others.
Where did you train?
The Counselling Foundation in St Albans. The Foundation is a not for profit organisation, offering affordable counselling in and around the Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire area. I chose to train through them as I knew the student fees fund the organisation and allow the continued cycle of 'counselling for all.'
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?
I’m a psychodynamic counsellor, which for me makes so much sense. I think we all realise we carry emotions and behaviours from our childhood; you will hear someone say something like ‘I can hear my mum’s voice telling me I shouldn’t do that.’ It’s something we experience every day. However, sometimes the way we think about ourselves can make us feel stuck or repeat patterns which aren’t helpful.
Counselling for me is about exploring these emotional patterns and behaviours in a safe way. There is no pressure to speak immediately about anything uncomfortable; it takes time and trust to feel OK when sharing how we feel.
Psychodynamic counselling explores the past and present and encourages us to gain strength and confidence in who we are today. Over time, this approach allows us to move forward to a happier, healthier, life.
How does psychodynamic therapy help with symptoms of low self-worth?
Psychodynamic therapy supports symptoms of stress, anxiety and panic when related to a lack of self-confidence, self-esteem, and feelings of inadequacy or low self-worth.
When we challenge what we believe about ourselves, we begin to realise we have those beliefs because of what we have been told or experienced when we were young. We internalise these feelings and grow to believe it’s who we are, and it impacts how we experience life as an adult.
Challenging these thoughts and rebuilding internal values through psychodynamic therapy really supports growth and confidence, repairing the past and allowing better relationships in the present – especially the relationship with yourself.
What sort of people do you usually see?
I work with individual adults. My clients are mainly between 30 and 50, most commonly having difficulty with anger, stress, relationships and feeling overwhelmed with life.
Have you noticed any recent mental health trends or wider changes in attitude?
I really embrace the trend ‘it’s good to talk'. Men in particular are more likely to struggle in silence, and I think anything that encourages conversation around men's health is a positive step forward in mental health.
I feel worried about children and the impact social media has on their lives. Despite being designed as a great communication tool with so many benefits, it has been shown to have a negative impact on our young people. I have real concerns about the bullying and negativity our teenagers go through every day. It’s so easy to be a bully behind a screen, but the words and actions can be so painful. I am pleased to see this is being recognised by EE – their advertising campaign at the moment highlights this behaviour and I hope more will join them in this movement.
What do you like about being a therapist?
First and foremost, I am always encouraged to help people and I enjoy the reward of seeing them grow stronger. I also enjoy building the therapeutic relationship and going through the stages with the client.
Although I am the counsellor, clients always bring something new to the relationship and I may learn something which allows me to continue to grow as a counsellor.
What is less pleasant?
Working alone can sometimes be difficult and I remind myself to check in and practise the self-care I promote in my own work. We are all human and sometimes I forget to slow down and will find myself focussing on a particular project. It’s important in our profession to make sure we take a step back, make time for friends, socialise and share fun with family.
How long have you been with Welldoing and what you think of us?
I recently joined Welldoing, the site is really great, easy to navigate.
What you do for your own mental health?
I go for country walks, read, and socialise. I’ve also recently taken up photography, on a very small scale, just to notice and capture the wildlife and nature on my walks.
You are a therapist in Great Dunmow, Essex. What can you share with us about seeing clients in this area?
Great Dunmow is a historic market town, with a population of around 10k. There are a variety of independent shops, cafes and small businesses and I find this reflects the type of client I currently work with.
Another interesting fact is the average age group is around 48 which again is reflected in the age group of clients I work with face-to-face.
I have a warm and welcoming consultation room where I see clients both online and face-to-face.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
I wish people realised how beneficial therapy can be for their wellbeing, not just in crisis situations. It really is good to talk, everyone struggles sometimes, and there is no shame in wanting to talk to a professional.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
I learned to say no, and not to people please. There is a difference between being kind and wanting to do something for people, and doing things against how you truly feel. It’s OK to say no. I also learned to recognise my boundaries and be kinder to myself.
I gained strength in challenging internalised negative aspects of myself and know I can change any unhelpful thoughts and will continue to grow as a person.