How did I get started as a psychotherapist?
My start as a psychotherapist came from being interested in people and wanting to understand them. I was a bit of a book nerd and reading Freud on holiday when I was 15 (!) so I never considered anything but working in mental health as a career.
During my undergraduate degree I gained a place at the Metanoia Institute to study integrative psychotherapy at masters level. On the way I gained a clinical diploma in integrative psychodynamic counselling. In total I trained for six years, qualifying in 2015 with 500 hours of supervised client-facing work (currently over 2000).
Meeting countless survivors of sexual violence no matter where I worked meant I wanted to do more, not only to support survivors with psychotherapy appointments, but also to push back against the systemic injustices they face.
This led me to setting up two community-based services where every person was a survivor, firstly at Together Women Project Leeds & then at Support After Rape and Sexual Violence Leeds. I also use writing and speaking as my primary forms of activism to raise awareness on, and try to change, issues related to sexual violence which affect individuals and our shared society.
It would be disingenuous of me to say I have never struggled with my mental health, or never struggled in general, in part because I believe in the value of lived experiences when supporting others. I also don’t think it’s helpful to be unnecessarily viewed as ‘better than’ clients, as this can be disempowering.
I also believe in learning to ‘sit with’ the whole range of emotions we can experience, as they are useful sources of information that tell us we need moment-to-moment. This is true even if what we momentarily need might not be the best thing in the long run. In this way we can learn to comfortably connect with ourselves, as much as possible.