Becoming a therapist, moving to the sea

As a landlocked 19-year-old in the midlands, I was volunteering on the Childline helpline, working in a dementia unit, and also working in an alternative 80’s nightclub. So you could say that 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 paper. 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 the seaside location I’d expected faded 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 got to live by the beach. And it was warm too.

I learned loads from the multidisciplinary services I worked with, and from the people I saw. I learned about the complex bio-psycho-social factors which can cause and fuel mental distress, and about the importance of listening carefully.

However I became increasingly frustrated with the dominance of a medical model, and the limitations by which my training and role placed upon my practice. I was working in a senior clinical nurse consultant role in Sydney, and had 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, said a reluctant goodbye to the sea, and took it.

Training as a CBT therapist provided me with the theoretical framework and skills that I was was looking for. Supporting people in psychological therapy is a real 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.

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

I’ve been on ‘the other side’ of the therapy relationship too (both past and now present, as part of my doctoral training). Having my own therapy supports my self-awareness. In turn, this 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.

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


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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