Becoming a therapist, moving to the sea

My journey of becoming a therapist began about 20 years ago. I was 19-years-old, in the landlocked midlands: volunteering on the Childline helpline; working shifts in a dementia unit; and pulling pints in an alternative 80’s nightclub. So I’ve been supporting people in various states of distress or confusion across the life-span for a pretty long time. And not just relating to their musical tastes.

I saw an advert for nurse training on the back of a newspaper. On learning that it was supported by a bursary, I decided to go for it.

Having grown up about as far as possible from the British sea, I decided to head to the coast. My disappointment on discovering that Bristol was not exactly the seaside location I had in mind passed as I fell in love with the creative, fun, and multicultural city.

After training and working as a mental health nurse in Bristol, I was able to work in New Zealand and Australia. I finally got to live by the beach. It was beautifully warm too.

I learned loads from the multidisciplinary services I worked in, and from the people I saw who generously shared insights regarding the complex bio-psycho-social factors which seemed to cause and fuel their mental distress.

However I became increasingly frustrated with the dominance of a medical model, and the limitations which my training and role placed upon my practice. I was working in a clinical nurse consultant role in Sydney, having just completed a postgraduate certificate in CBT, when the opportunity to return to Bristol to complete further CBT training and work as a therapist came up. I packed my bags, and said a reluctant goodbye to the sea.

Training as a CBT therapist provided me with the theoretical framework and skills that I was looking for. Supporting people in psychological therapy is an honour. I have worked in services for people with problems such as OCD; PTSD; social anxiety; and depression, and I spent several years developing and leading a specialist NHS CBT service for adults with eating disorders. I have also published research in this area.

I strive to understand mental distress within the relevant socio-political context(s), supporting my clients to make meaningful change without therapy becoming a further form of oppression. I am currently completing a doctorate in counselling psychology, where my research attends to the potential links between our sense of safety in the world, and experience of being in our bodies.

I remain committed to providing therapy which is free at the point of delivery (through working in the NHS). However I also appreciate the creativity and flexibility that I find through private practice.

At least as valuable as my professional training and practice, is my personal experience of having therapy. This both supports my self-awareness, and enables me to keep my client’s needs central. It has also provided first-hand experience of how difficult and helpful reaching out and talking in therapy can be.

I am passionate about supporting others to find greater self-acceptance and fulfilment, whatever their journey may be.

Now I won’t pretend not to miss the beach. But if I close my eyes, I can just about feel the warm sand under my feet. I’m even occasionally brave enough to swim in the local river (when the dragon flies eventually tempt me in). It may not be the seaside, but I feel lucky to call Bristol home, and grateful to be here doing a job that I love.

About

An experienced therapist, fully accredited with the British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies.

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Published by Charlotte Rose

Cognitive behavioural therapist and supervisor

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