10 Questions with Reed

Below I talk about my therapeutic approach and my journey to become a therapist;  I even touch on my favourite film and ‘bad hair’ days! In hindsight, I found writing up these answers very meaningful.  I hope you enjoy reading them and please don’t hesitate to get in touch if I can support and assist you to change, grow, and flourish!

1. What led you to choose Psychotherapy & Counselling as a profession?

My journey to psychotherapy has for the most part been intuitive. My first encounter with psychotherapy was during my early twenties. I worked with a wonderful practitioner for a number of years, and this experience left a profound imprint. For the first time, I understood what it really felt like to repair, grow and change. This set me on a path of personal development – a path I am still walking – with the intention of understanding others and myself better. This, in turn, led to studies in relational and person-centred therapies and Post Graduate qualification in Counselling & Psychotherapy from Western Sydney University.

2. Which philosophical approaches have influenced your professional/personal development?

I have always found existential philosophy fascinating.  I like the idea that existence is an embodied experience, and that we learn and grow when we start to connect our mind and thoughts with feelings that are grounded in the body.  This somatic connection can be very meaningful and sits at the foundation of most change processes.  Ultimately this philosophical approach helps me to live a more self-determined and meaningful life.  I find that it is a very authentic way of approaching things; in particular, life’s challenges.

The other significant philosophical influence in my life is Buddhism.  My approach to this non-theistic philosophy has helped me find a sense of equanimity in my day-to-day living.  The practices of mindfulness and compassion are often very central to the work done in therapy, and I see these tenets very relevant when we look at, and attend to, what is causing distress.

3. Which particular aspects of health or the human journey are you interested in?

I find that all stages of the human journey interest me and I work with a diverse group of clients. That said, I am particularly interested in those places where we sometimes get stuck or stranded. If life is about being in the flow, then my work and what interests me is supporting people to shift from a place of distress to a position embodied with meaning, flow, connection and momentum.

4. What methods do you use?

My training is predominately person-centred, and my key priority is to establish client relationships that are collaborative, open and authentic.  For the most part, my work is client directed, and I therefore shift my therapeutic approach to suit the needs of the client.  I sometimes use Mindfulness-based approaches and am also influenced by Attachment Theory and trained in the Enneagram System.  As mentioned above, I am interested in Existential philosophy and approaches and also draw from other schools, including Jungian and Narrative Therapy, and Positive Psychology.

5. When do you think the client will start to feel that progress is being made?

Honestly, I think from the moment the client knows that they are being heard, being seen, being understood and not being judged, transformation can begin. Progress is incremental, sometimes subconscious – and also completely individual. When a client feels safe to sit with their feelings and distress, progress is being made. Often the initial act of reaching out and making that first contact can be symbolic of the change process already having commenced; because of this, I believe that clients start to feel that progress is being made from the first or second session.

6. How has therapy made you a better person?

I have done individual therapy and couples therapy with my partner. I have studied and read extensively, and I love the calm that comes from knowing myself better. I don’t oscillate as wildly as I used to, I now mostly feel grounded, focused and on path. I’m more aware of my patterns and I acknowledge the need for ongoing self-reflection. Finally, I am gentler with myself when I get it wrong, self-compassion being central to my daily practice.

7. What do you like most about being a therapist?

It is an honour and a privilege to be in the therapy chair. I cultivate safe, open relationships with clients and am witness to their joy and pain. It humbles me to see people work so hard to grow and change, to better themselves and to step into the flow of their lives with meaning and purpose. People are amazing and a constant source of inspiration.

8. Do you ever have ‘bad hair’ days?

Yes, both literally and metaphorically!  Like everyone else, I am broken and beautiful.  I try my best to keep it real, to feel what I feel and to live a good life.  But the world throws curve-balls and we all have baggage.  On ‘bad hair’ days, all I can do is be present with what’s happening and engage my learning and experience to see it as part of the journey, not the be-all and end-all. Each day is a teacher.

9. What do you think is the most significant problem we face, in the world today?

In the West, we are mostly caught in a meaning loop.  How do we find meaning in our day-to-day experiences when we are saturated by media preaching messages of inadequacy?  How can we be gentle with ourselves, take care of those who need us, and also offer what help we can to ensure we don’t add to the woes of both society and the planet?  Our biggest issue is that we have lost sight of the fact that no life is ordinary, and that each of us plays an integral role in creating the world around us.

10. Can you share the name of a book, film, song, event or experience that inspires you?

This is a bit of a tricky question to answer; life is, after all, full of wonder and inspired moments!  Reflecting on the human condition I think one of my all-time favourite films is Little Miss Sunshine (2006).  It touches on so much, what it means to be vulnerable, to trust, to experience joy, to break down, to regret, grow, change, triumph and finally dance like no one’s watching…. I could go on.

A constant source of inspiration for me is the natural world.  I recently walked the Milford Track on the South Island of New Zealand and it’s an experience that will stay with me for a very long time.  I was able to drop into my quiet, Tolkien-inspired world as I zigzagged my way up the side of a mountain to the summit and later down the mossy, wild track.  It was both physically demanding and spiritually expansive.  A wonderful and inspirational journey!