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How long have you been working out of A Room in Town’s premises? Since May 2019
1. Hi Sandra. Tell us about yourself and what you do in your capacity as a psychotherapist?
I am a Counselling Psychologist and accredited CBT therapist. I have over 10 years’ experience and work in private practice both in Central London and in Ealing. I had originally studied literature and languages at university and came into the psychotherapeutic profession in my 30s. In many ways, I substituted written stories with real life stories belonging to the people sitting across from me.
2. How did you come to do the job you do now? (studying, training, any previous jobs or experience)
I had always been attracted by psychology but the idea of enrolling onto a second Bachelor’s degree was a bit daunting. I had a BA and a Masters in Comparative literatures already. When the Psychology conversion programs appeared in UK universities, I enrolled right away. In one year, you could translate your previous degree into a psychology degree and pursue postgraduate studies in Counselling or Clinical Psychology.
Counselling Psychology was the course for me due to its humanistic base rather than the more medical model of Clinical Psychology. I also wanted to pursue the course on a part-time basis which Counselling Psychology allowed to do with more flexibility. As time went on, I gained voluntary experience in counselling and psychotherapy, acquired CBT accreditation with the BABCP and started working for the Priory at Roehampton and one of its NHS hubs in Richmond and Twickenham.
There, I developed as a therapist and received some excellent experience and training in CBT. I started a small private practice and eventually ran supervision groups for Counselling Psychology trainees at the University of East London. Over ten years later, I am working full time just from my private practice – having BABCP accreditation has opened up opportunities for me and I get a lot of referrals from private insurance companies.
3. What groups of people do you normally work with? And broadly speaking what are the common issues that you address within these groups?
I mainly work with adults and older adolescents struggling with anxiety, depression, bereavement and general relationship/life difficulties. Private health provider referrals make up the bulk of my private practice. I also offer psychological assessments for prospective adoptive parents wishing to adopt from overseas. I fell into this by chance and find the work very rewarding and a good break from clinical work, preparing reports and using psychometric measures to support the evaluations.
4. What are the main challenges you’ve encountered running a practice?
The biggest challenge of running a private practice is managing my boundaries – learning to say no to yet another referral. I am aware that the ‘feast or famine’ mindset runs me at times. When I have the opportunity to take on another referral, I really need to take a breath and ask myself, do I really have the space (mental and emotional, not just the time slot)? I have learned to be more boundaried but occasionally I fall into the trap.
5. What do you hope to achieve in 2020 in your practice or professional goals?
Unfortunately due to the coronavirus outbreak, I have had to adjust the way I work like so many of our colleagues. Working remotely has always been something I avoided but I have surprisingly found it takes very little away from the sessions, especially because I work in a relational way. All of my clients have agreed to work remotely and I have even started with new clients via FaceTime and Skype. This is not my preferred way of working. However, adjusting and adapting to the limits imposed on us by this pandemic is essential during this time, and in many ways it can be useful to use this challenging experience as therapeutic work regarding limits, acceptance, dealing with grief and our lack of control.
6. If people want to find out more about what you do, where can they find you? (website, social media, any research or talks you have upcoming)
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