How and/or why did you become a therapist?
I became a therapist partly because therapy has helped me a great deal at various points in my life. I’ve had some really supportive and helpful experiences with therapists who’ve journeyed alongside me as I’ve navigated something painful or a big change. Becoming a qualified therapist in the UK, where I trained and now work, isn’t an easy journey. It involved a four year commitment to part-time study, placement experience and more of my own therapy. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the theory and practicalities of the job, though, and had some really inspiring tutors – not to mention how much I learned from my fellow student therapists, several of whom I’m still in touch with even though our initial training is long behind us.
What are the most rewarding aspects of being a therapist?
Without doubt, being trusted with peoples’ private worlds. It’s very special to go through parts of someone’s life with them, and be let into how they’re feeling and changing. Knowing that they have confidentiality allows people to open up in a way that perhaps they can’t do with partners or friends. That kind of confidence being placed in you is humbling and rewarding.
What’s unique or special in your background or approach to interpersonal relationships?
I don’t think anything is – and perhaps that’s useful in itself. Therapy is all about relationships, so in a way all of my training and experience feeds into my approach to working with interpersonal relationships. I love working with all kinds of relationships, too: different couples, at different relationship and/or life stages, dealing with a host of pressures both inside and outside their relationship with each other.
What are your favorite or most interesting interpersonal relationship tips/advice?
I’m very drawn to the idea that the more secure you are with yourself, the more available you are to your partner (and others in your life, come to that). Anxieties in a relationship can really get in the way and cause couples to get into unhelpful patterns of relating.
What are some things about therapy that you want to increase public awareness about?
I’d like therapy to become a very normal thing that people go off and do when they feel they need to. Sometimes it’s seen publicly as something only really distressed or traumatised people are entitled to seek out, or clients worry that they will be judged as ‘going mad’ or ‘being oversensitive’ if they admit to being in therapy. It’s fine to seek therapy whenever you feel it might be helpful. Many of us feel comfortable with treating ourselves to regular personal grooming things like massages or manicures – why not be that comfortable with tending to our mental health, too?
What are some of the biggest mistakes a therapist or patient can make?
I think a client can make the mistake of staying with a therapist they don’t really feel they can talk to, because they assume the therapist must in some way know best. Not every therapist-client relationship ‘clicks’ and I try to encourage clients to keep looking if they don’t happen to find the right therapist right away. Therapists make mistakes all the time – I know I do – and often these things are actually gifts. If I can own up to something I feel I’ve handled poorly or examine the stuff that falls flat, I often end up strengthening the relationship with the client and learning something into the bargain. It’s useful to model that mistakes can be used in this way, too, so that clients can embrace their own insecurities and frustrations, rather than feeling they must aim to be nice and get things ‘right’.
I am a fully qualified counsellor and psychotherapist working with all ages and issues from my practice in Cambridge, UK. I hold a Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling and I am a registered member of the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists. I currently work for a local primary school as a school counsellor, seeing young people with a wide range of issues, and spend the rest of my time seeing clients privately in my peaceful garden studio. I also enjoy working with a diverse range of couples. Please feel welcome to browse my website and helpful articles at www.kirsty-campbell.com.