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Interview with Christina

This interview appeared at We Are St. Albans website. If you wish, you can view it here.

HI CHRISTINA. WE LOVE HAVING YOU AS A MEMBER OF WE ARE ST. ALBANS. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO CREATE YOUR COMPANY?



Thank you, I am pleased to be here. The main inspiration behind setting up my private practice is that it is really rewarding and a privilege to sit in a room with someone and give them the opportunity to change their life. This is the core behind what I do. It is rewarding to see people over a long period of time and see them move through change.


I get to help people feel better and understand themselves more deeply. This awareness carries a ripple effect into their lives and the people close to them. It is not always easy to see quick progress and it can sometimes feel worse before it gets better. This is the work of a therapist to stay with their clients when the going gets tough.


My journey to set up my business started when I decided to re-train and become a counsellor in 2013. Previously, I used to work in Human Resources in a couple of big corporate organisations. I decided I wanted to start my own business to express myself more freely but also to have the flexibility in my life. I was always interested in what makes us tick as people and read books that delved into our psyche since I remember. So, becoming a counsellor was a calling and I honestly love what I do, even on the difficult days.


WHAT HAS YOUR JOURNEY OF TRAINING AS A COUNSELLOR BEEN LIKE?


Training as a counsellor is gruelling stuff. My training lasted 5 years and I was in placement seeing clients from my second year all the way through. As a counsellor, you have to train to understand the theory but also practise at the same time under supervision. The other most important element of training is your own personal therapy. I have personally had 10 years of therapy myself so I know all too well what it means to delve into your psyche. This is of benefit to me but also my clients because I don’t try to work through my stuff through them. This would be unethical!

The wonderful thing about this profession, of course, is that you never stop learning. Every day is a development day and I continually develop myself through reading, reflection and more training.


WHAT DO YOU FEEL ARE THE MAIN WAYS IN WHICH YOU CAN HELP PEOPLE?



The main way I help people is by being their counsellor and offering my counselling services. I offer counselling for adults on a one-to-one basis in English and Greek. If you are Greek and would like to access therapy in your native language, you can come to see me in person or online. I am also specialising in Eating Disorders and have trained with the National Centre for Eating Disorders.


Finally, with my business experience in organisations and setting up my own practice, I offer a coaching programme that can help you hone into some specific issues knowing that you are in the safe hands of a qualified psychotherapist. This service could be ideal for professionals who may realise that some of their personal issues get in the way of their professional life.

You can check out all the details on my website.


DO YOU FIND PEOPLE WANT TO SEEK ADVICE FROM YOU?


Yes, this can happen and it is completely normal for clients to want some advice how to feel better or fix their problems. But therapy isn’t advice. There is no point in coming to see me to just listen to my personal advice. I mean how many times have you told your friends what to do because it’s so obvious to you? How successful was that do you think?


People don’t want to be told what to do. They want to be understood. People want to reach their own decisions based on their own insights. It can be tempting to seek advice and it can be even more tempting to give it. But the art of psychotherapy is to resist and to understand the need for that advice. I create the right environment that nourishes yourself in a way that enables you to make your own decisions. Those decisions are the decisions that last.


YOU RAISE A GREAT QUESTION IN ONE OF YOUR BLOG POSTS; WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COACHING AND COUNSELLING?


Coaching explores a specific problem over a specific period of time. Whereas counselling explores the whole of you over a longer period of time. This is the best way I can describe the difference between the two.


I’d also like to say that as a coach and qualified counsellor, I can cross the divide between coaching and counselling. How many times have you had coaching and you got into hot emotional waters and your coach could not (and should not) have helped you, maybe leaving you feeling uncontained? Well, we can handle that together because we can press pause to coaching and contain you safely.


CAN YOU DESCRIBE HOW YOU START AND CARRY OUT COACHING OR COUNSELLING SESSIONS WITH CLIENTS?


The most common way people get in touch with me is via my website or my email. The next step would be to set up a mutually convenient time to meet. I personally manage all communications with my clients in order to ensure their confidentiality and for them to know that they are reaching me from the start and they are not talking to someone else within my business.


The first meeting is an opportunity to meet and for me to find out as much as possible about you. It is your first opportunity to tell me your story and what brought you to me. I tend to ask some questions – more than I would in subsequent sessions – and we then make a plan if you would like to continue or not.


I work mainly on a regular weekly basis with my clients. This is to ensure that I can create a reliable therapeutic space for you and for me to be able to safely monitor your progress.


CAN YOU NAME AN ACHIEVEMENT YOU’RE PROUD OF AND WHY?


Well, obviously retraining as a counsellor and setting up my private practice but you knew that!

I am very proud of training for a marathon and running a marathon in May 2022. I can honestly say that the training resembles a lot being in therapy where you have to display commitment and push through the hard times and keep on going in order to see progress.


WHAT WOULD YOUR ADVICE BE TO SOMEONE THAT WOULD LIKE TO GET IN CONTACT BUT IS NERVOUS ABOUT DOING SO?


Being nervous is to be expected when it comes to reaching out to someone you don’t know and ask for help which can feel very private and exposing. My advice would be to give it a go. Most people who seek help needed help a long time before they managed to reach out. So, don’t wait any longer. You don’t initially have to say much about what brings to your therapist. Say enough to get you going and there will be time to say more when you actually meet. Take it one step at a time.


DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR CREATING AND MAINTAINING A HEALTHY MIND AND LIFESTYLE?



I love to think of gardening as a great way to understand our mental wellbeing. We enjoy the garden over the different seasons and the garden looks different in the summer compared to the winter. So is our mental wellbeing. We go through phases and sometimes we are blossoming and sometimes we are hibernating.


So, this is my best tip. To think of your mental wellbeing as a whole. We prepare the ground, we dig deep and we mulch, we leave things over winter when we are not quite ready to face them, we enjoy the blossom and some plants that give us joy, and some other plants need more attention and love. We do that whilst we are also enjoying the rest of the garden. It’s the same with our minds. When a part of us feels difficult, let’s not forget all the good parts. Our minds can hold and deal with many things.


HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN THE AREA, AND DO YOU HAVE ANY FAVOURITE HOT SPOTS IN ST. ALBANS AND SURROUNDING AREAS?


I have lived in the area for 17 years. I love walking in Heartwood Forest and going for waffles at the Waffle House. If I get the chance to go for brunch, I love Hatch! And if I get the chance to go out for cocktails, I love Punchin’ Palooka!

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