Change Your Mind | Psychotherapists in EC1

Creative Clerkenwell is famed as a design hub, but did you know there are more than 200 psychotherapists working in EC1? Local psychotherapist Naomi Goode discusses professional help for our mental wellbeing, while a pair of Clerkenwell therapists explain why they recently opened their practice in EC1…

What kind of problems do people bring to therapy?
Sometimes it will be a life event, for example relationship breakdown, bereavement or redundancy; sometimes an ongoing problem: feeling low or depressed, constantly feeling tired, suffering with low self-esteem, a general feeling of anxiety or stress. People frequently come for therapy because of relationship difficulties – with life partners but also with parents, children, siblings or colleagues. Sometimes people don’t know what the problem is, they just know something isn’t quite right, and that may be as elusive as a lack of direction or meaning in life.

What sort of person might seek therapy?
Adults go into therapy at all ages. About twice as many women as men seek therapy. People worry their difficulties are so small they are being self-indulgent, or so big they cannot be helped. A therapist will not think something troubling you is unworthy of their attention, nor that you are beyond help. But if the therapist thinks they cannot help, for example with drug addiction, they will refer you to someone who can.

What prevents people from seeking therapy?
Often people say they don’t see how just talking about their problems will change anything. But in practice ‘just talking’ does help. It can be a transformative experience to share one’s troubles with someone impartial and non-judgmental. Factors such as time and money can also be reasons for not seeking therapy, although if people are serious about addressing their problems, they generally do manage to find the time and money to invest in their own wellbeing. Employers are often supportive of a request to arrive a little late, leave a little early or have an extended lunch hour once a week.

What can you expect from a first session?
The client and therapist will want to find out something about each other and get a sense of whether they will work well together. The therapist will want to know what brings the person to see them. The prospective client may have questions for the therapist: how does the therapist work, what is a realistic outcome, how long will it take, how do they end the therapy. Some therapists have a fixed fee, which they publish on their website, and others offer a sliding scale. Fees in EC1 are typically between £60 and £80 per session; some practices offer concessionary rates.

How do you choose a therapist?
Some people like to obtain a personal recommendation, such as from a friend or GP. Others prefer the privacy of finding a therapist over the internet. You do not have to stick with the first therapist you meet. If the relationship doesn’t feel right, you should try someone else. There is a confusing array of therapies, from cognitive behavioural (challenging negative thoughts) to psychodynamic (exploring underlying causes). The British Psychoanalytic Council has a useful publication called Making Sense of Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis on its website (psychoanalytic-council. org/about-psychotherapy/what-psychotherapy). But research shows that the most important factor in a successful outcome is the relationship between therapist and client rather than the type of therapy. So the most important thing is to find someone you feel you can trust and want to talk to.

Professional contacts

British Association for Counselling
and Psychotherapy

United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy

The Counselling Directory

Affordable therapy

Matthew Bell & Susanne Levin explain the ethos behind their practice…

We decided to set up The Farringdon Practice in 2013 because there was a need, in an ever-shrinking NHS culture, to provide affordable psychotherapy. Our ethos is to supply excellent practitioners to as much of the local community as possible, irrespective of income (fees are negotiated with each client).

Matthew has worked at Holloway Prison and for the NHS in Soho. It was while volunteering as a Samaritan in central London in 2000 that he first thought about training in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. One of the most memorable calls was from a woman who simply cried for 45 minutes and then said ‘thank you’ and hung up. It was extremely powerful being there for someone who wasn’t ready to talk but needed someone to hear her cry.

Susanne worked at Women + Health in Camden and Maytree, a refuge for suicidal people in Finsbury Park. After qualifying and setting up in private practice, it was always her hope to have a socially responsible set-up with long-term therapy available to as many people as possible.

There has been a misconception that therapy is just ‘chatting’ and people can do that with their friends without the costs. Psychotherapy is a different type of relationship entirely between practitioner and client, where a trained person takes seriously what the client is bringing to the session. The fact they are not friends is vital. For that reason, there is great respect for all patients – it takes a great deal of strength of character to begin therapy.

People come to the practice from all walks of life – finance, retail, design and the arts. Many of the people we see live or work in Clerkenwell. Personally speaking, we both love the area – its history is fascinating and there’s an eclectic Clerkenwell community.

(New patients accepted from September.)