Why I chose to train as a psychotherapist

I write this having recently received the wonderful news of being accepted for training as a Person-Centred and Experiential Psychotherapist. I plan to continue blogging as I embark on this new exciting professional and personal journey.

Having undertaken personal therapy in the past, I associate the profession with sage wisdom, books aplenty and beautiful North London period homes. Psychotherapy conjures up Yalom’s compassion, generational stories intertwined and a life well-lived. I also know the emotional growth my own psychotherapist mother experienced when undertaking psychodynamic and then Gestalt training. The draw has always been there for me.

That’s the romanticism.

My realism recognises how much collective trauma we are facing as a human race with the threat of the pandemic, the mirror that it has held up to inequality, poverty, and structural disadvantage.

My own work coaching health staff and teams increasingly needs a more profound connected reference frame. My academic writing would benefit greatly from a theoretical basis calling for greater compassion, a recognition of unique human potential, that which is not solely justified by the economic prerogative.

Over the years, a disillusionment has built up within me about the marketisation of Higher Education and how it has chipped away at staff wellbeing and student experience. In the context of COVID-19, we now see how dangerous this has become with lives being put at risk with the short termist ‘cash is king’ push for face to face teaching.

I want to channel my unease about social injustice into making a difference. I hope to do so working with individuals, and being a gentle guide through their journeys. I want to grow as a person, to create the space to explore my own mortality and to nurture my compassion towards self and all sentient beings, in line with my Buddhist learning.

I chose a university accredited course, though it was important to me that the study was based at an independent institute, which would help it retain greater elements of creativity and spirituality. I see this as a way of having time in my week to take a breather from the managerialist discourse so firmly embedded and insufficiently contested in Higher Education and the NHS where I work.

There is a joy in being a trainee again and looking at the world through the fresh eyes of a novice. I begin next week — wish me luck.

Qualitative health research & evaluation practitioner. Psychologist & Coach. Trainee Psychotherapist. Director www.respeo.com.