How did I get to be a therapist?
I always wanted to be an engineer …and a footballer, in fact I still want to be a footballer.
I started on the engineering route through college and onto Uni where I gained my BEng Hons in Aerospace Engineering, however this didn’t lead to the glittering career I expected. Instead I returned home and eventually found reward in voluntary work, gaining experiences that started to shape who I am.
A chance purchase of a newspaper one day with an advert for a course at Man Met Uni began my next chapter. I moved to the North and spent a year studying for an MSc in Design & Manufacture followed by three years as a development engineer. Then out of the blue I was made redundant and my world slowly crumbled. Self esteem and confidence hit rock bottom and I didn’t want to face the world or all those adult things I needed to do.
Football eventually became my route back to normality as a job and as a pastime. During an 18 month period I spent time at MCFC Football in the Community and concluded with six months coaching in the USA. Whilst in the USA I’d enjoyed seeing young people develop and wanted to find something that enabled me to be part of that longer term. I also helped set up a Women’s football team; coaching and playing for several years as well as gaining some lifelong friendships. The team is now entering its 20th year and it’s great to look back on those first few years.
A few months after returning from the USA I joined a youth charity and started to learn about young people who were struggling with their mental health, substance misuse, offending, homelessness etc. Seeing behaviours as a communication and recognising small outcomes as successes became my new journey.
Then to rock the steady life I had we adopted a four year old. My home life became a roller coaster of emotions and a very, very steep learning curve of how to care for a child who’s suffered trauma. When a child is telling you things that have happened to them that are unknown to services or haven’t been shared by them you have to work things out very quickly. At times we wondered what we’d done but held on tight to the fact that her behaviours were a guard against sharing her real needs and feelings. Our job was to help her feel safe and allow her to grow emotionally and make sense of her world. She’s now 19 and a young adult who still may find the world confusing sometimes but knows we are there to guide and advise.
During the early years with our daughter we had a lifeline in working with the NSPCC. This was my first encounter with Transactional Analysis (TA) therapy and I saw first hand how it worked. A short time later I sought out my own Transactional Analysis therapist to deal with some issues that were impacting me at work and it left a huge impression on how I viewed myself and others.
I saw how it could benefit me at work in terms of my interactions with colleagues and to have a greater understanding of young people’s behaviours and how to work with them. So I returned to study again and in 2010 began part time my Diploma in Transactional Analysis Psychotherapy. During my first year I was insistent that I’d only do one year, this would give me enough knowledge for work and I had no interest in being a therapist!
Of course I completed year 2 and in year 3 I began to see clients as part of the training. Seeing the change in people and being part of the process was so rewarding that when I qualified in 2014 I set up my private practice alongside working full time.
Learning about TA has influenced every part of my personal and working life and without it I’d be a very different version of myself.
I also decided to do some more voluntary work as I wanted to give something back. I chose the LGBT Foundation as I wanted to be a positive role model for those who may not have the support of a partner or close friends.
Full time work continued and was consistently a roller coaster, stresses of this being compounded by family issues which finally led to a breakdown and a long road to rebuild my emotional fragility. I’d learnt to talk about emotions to the people I knew who cared and surround myself with friends that supported me. I ensured I made time for self care; taking time to be outdoors, see more bands live and read more.
Then came the biggest step; a chance to take voluntary redundancy and become self employed and here I am calm, relaxed and enjoying life.