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  • Writer's pictureJamie de Carvalho

How I found my way to psychotherapy

I have had a long journey to where I am today as a practising psychotherapist. I write this post because I think a lot of people have a long and interesting journey to where they are, and it is these experiences that shape who we are as a person, for good and bad. This is the information that we can use in sessions to learn about you and how your experiences have affected you. With this in mind, let me explain what brought me into the practice of psychotherapy.

I finished my undergraduate psychology degree thinking I was going to pursue training as a clinical psychologist and, with this in mind, began working in an inpatient mental health unit in Bristol. I continued this work, in various units and teams for roughly 4 years, becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the medical model that was so prevalent within NHS mental health care (and which much of clinical psychology based its theories around). My last job in mental health was working with a community team that sees those who are at risk of going into hospital due to their struggles with their own mental health. The job was extremely challenging, namely because I never felt that we were actually helping those individuals we were working with. It felt more like a plaster over a wound than a deep clean. Not a lasting solution.

During this time some colleagues I had worked with spoke about a brilliant course they had completed which was ran through our employer. Eventually I was accepted onto the year long course which, I then found out, was about psychotherapy, a subject that I knew very little about but was extremely interested in. The course was a revelation, a sea change in the way I thought about trauma and the mechanisms we have to cope with trauma. Whereas previously my experience was that those with mental health problems are best treated using medication and, maybe, some light cognitive behavioural therapy, psychotherapy showed me that the roots of mental health problems may be deeper within the mind and related to our experiences growing up. It also confirmed in me something I had been thinking for a long time, that we all experience mental ill health at some point in our lives and that talking about our experiences and what troubles us can help.

I began my own psychotherapy once I was accepted onto a formal psychotherapy training, eventually seeing my therapist twice weekly. What I found during this time was: 1. I had not considered that I had any lasting problems; 2. Actually I have; and 3. That this is okay and a natural part of life, no one has a perfect childhood. This confirmed the point above, that everyone experiences mental ill health at some point in their lives and some experience this to a greater degree than others. Although a painful and emotionally difficult experience at times, I learned so much about myself while seeing my therapist. I was able to integrate my formerly un-integrated self and began to understand why I think and behave as I do.

And this is the lesson that I take into my practice. I want to pass on my passion for psychotherapy to others because I know how much it helped me. However you think of yourself, whatever struggles you have experienced and are still evident in your life, whether you have a formal diagnosis and are taking medications prescribed by a psychiatrist, psychotherapy can help. Give it a try. You can find my contact details on the main page.

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