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Psychotherapy by Siobhain Crosbie

Seven questions that define who we are from a psychotherapist view pointThe role of the therapist is unique, it fills a void in society or at least attempts to fill the void created by the legacy of what have gone before and what is now being played out in the present. I have been fortunate in my working life to train, work and meet some amazing therapists. I find these people as deserving of the title of Being Extraordinary. I have put together seven questions in order to see what “makes them tick” as people working in the world of therapy. I have titled my question list The Magnificent Seven. (And yes I love the film)

Meet Siobhain Crosbie (Vonnie) being her nickname. Vonnie run’s a private practise in South Woodford, London E18 1BG. The company name being APS Psychotherapy and Counselling, she is a member of BACP (The British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists) her Siobhain crosbie Psychotherapistqualification is from a humanistic perspective, Vonnie incorporates Psychotherapy, CBT, Gestalt therapy, but always underpinned by a Person Centred Approach. She also a qualified Mediator and Family Therapist and performs workshops in relation to therapeutic techniques and education for companies in the UK. Vonnie has been a qualified therapist for over 13 years and has been fortunate to have a full client list since the day she qualified and this has continued throughout her career. Vonnie has worked with all different types of difficulties from depression, bereavement, eating disorders, OCD, suicidal issues, self-harming issues, Munchausen’s Syndrome, childhood sexual abuse, physical abuse and emotional abuse, sexual offenders and much more. She is passionate about her vocation and loves working with individuals; she sees the courage, motivation and self-awareness in those she works with to want a better, happier life with themselves and in the relationships they form along the way.

 

The Magnificent Seven.

  1. Many people seem to begin their journey into being psychotherapists having found themselves as the “go to person” for problems by family and friends. How did your journey begin on the road to being a psychotherapist?

I believe this was always my vocation although I was never conscious of this, I had my only son 17 years ago and his birth created medical complications due to neglectful diagnosis of doctors and the pain and trauma of my physicality resulted in me seeing a therapist.  She was a lovely lady and as my whole life had just changed due to becoming a single mother, I thought she has a great job, I could do that and work my life around my son too, so off I went to apply to college to enrol  on a course.

It was a basic 10 week course and as my studies started so did my entire life. It was literally like light bulbs firing off in my head and an understanding of the whys, how’s etc all became clear.  I immediately grew in confidence and through my learning becoming more intense, my enjoyment of my new found self-awareness and how to change my negative thinking became clearer.

Approximately 6 years ago I found some old school books and discovered that at the age of 15, I was writing about the effects of sexual, physical and emotional abuse on individuals and what I had written was phenomenal for the age I was, but I also came from a time, culture and background where no one went to university in my family, the options were Secretarial work or child minding and I simply went down the only route I knew which was the secretarial route and continued doing office jobs until I had my son.  I sadly knew no better and sadly was not guided to achieve, but as I suggest fate had already played with my mind and starting my studies for me meant following the route that had always been preordained.

  1. What is your approach to helping a person who sits in front of you for therapy?

My personal approach to therapy is always initially person centred. By building the rapport between myself and my client and developing trust by being empathic and non-judgemental to enhance the trust and security of the individual sitting in front of me. I automatically use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy unless it is a client going through bereavement, I find CBT quickly enhances the individuals self-awareness of their feelings and their thoughts, this in itself also encourages the individuals to work proactively between the appts recording their thoughts and feelings, this allows me to help them consider the history behind them and the connections within their history and how it plays out in their present so the psychotherapeutic side of my work comes into play, so although I always remain loyal to a person centred approach, by utilising all my other skills alongside my clients they learn to achieve the results of their goals and working this way has proved to be a very successful way of working for clients.

  1. What do you think is the most important quality required to be a good therapist?

Personally I believe my own personality is what makes me the therapist I am. To find a singular quality is quite difficult to define, but if I had to say anything it would be my intuition that is the most important quality within my work, my ultimate secret ingredient and having been through many traumas in my own childhood, adulthood I can genuinely empathise and appreciate the difficulties clients may have.

  1. Has therapy changed over the years? For the better or otherwise?

Therapy has changed in differing ways, negative and positive. Firstly, the negative. There are so many differing approaches that I believe it has caused much confusion for individuals as to what will work and what won’t work for them, the NHS in the UK is using and moving towards pure CBT to ‘fix clients’ which reflects good progress within the 6 sessions that is offered, and good levels of success and good statistics, but any good therapist knows that 6 weeks of CBT rarely resolves the difficulties in the long term and the client will inevitably end up back in therapy. I also see more and more therapists being allowed to qualify when they are not emotionally ready to practice therapy and courses are becoming less strict so some don’t even encourage, as criteria, personal therapy for the therapist as part of the course. This in my opinion is a very dangerous direction to go in.

The positive side of changes are in society and its perception of therapy. In the UK, it is becoming more and more acceptable to have a therapist and does not reflect a client being ‘nuts’ to have therapy, but the recognition of the impact of abuse that require help to overcome and for me personally this is fantastic progress. I, at the moment actually have more male clients than female and I am witnessing a tide of change that encourages males in particular to recognise it is ok to see a therapist; it is beneficial to understand yourself, your behaviour and how to change it. The Media is also creating a positive response to therapy by advertising ‘help lines’, advertising abuse is wrong. The combination of media and human acknowledgement is creating stronger desires for change and acceptability of help.

  1. Do you have other interests outside of your therapy work?

My interests outside of therapy are wide, but due to time and such a strong client practice and being a single Mum I don’t always get the time to enjoy them. My favourite source of enjoyment is travelling and I aim to take 3 weeks off work to take my son to far off destinations to explore other cultures, ways of living and spending quality time with my son, before he flies off into the big world with his friends and future girlfriends....my time is generally split between my son, work, partner and animals and increasing the profile of my business, but I love writing and reading just rarely get the opportunity.           

  1. Are there noticeable differences between Irish attitudes and English attitudes to life?

I am of Irish descent, but living in London since I was 11 I have become increasingly aware of the differences between Irish and English culture. Firstly the English are becoming witness to their own culture disappearing through the multi-cultural dimensions of the UK whereas I see the Irish as still being predominate within their own culture although I am aware of changes within Eire that are beginning to replicate the changes in the UK.  I have to work to not be bias in relation to the differences between English and Irish as I am aware I am very patriotic and passionately proud of being Irish and enjoy the reputation of the Irish as being happy go lucky people whereas the English stereotype is quite cold and can be distant. The Irish I find have a more frivolous sense of humour and I am basing this on my relations rather than my therapeutic practise, but they also appear to struggle more on a deep emotional level whereas the English appear to be more advanced in accepting emotional issues, once again all based on my family rather than Irish/English overall.

I see the English following the USA in relation to therapy being popular and the Irish following the English in relation to appreciating emotional difficulties.  There is I still see a divide between the Irish and English and I suspect the histories of the two Islands are deeply ingrained in the generations and although I rarely now hear racism I certainly have within both cultures whilst growing up. As a plastic paddy I certainly got viewed at times and treated negatively whilst visiting family in Ireland and yet have also suffered direct insults from English people in relation to knowing I am of Irish descent. There is the aspect of the Irish Catholic history that is very different to the English and religion can have positive dynamics and negative. The Irish in my family steadfastly believe in Catholism whether that’s avoiding sexual abusive scandals involving priests or whether it’s using the faith to create strength within them. The English in my experience have much less tolerance of religion and find the catholic religion damaging, invasive, dominating and controlling.  I have worked in relation to my thoughts on Irish/English dynamics on an exceptionally conscious basis as I do know I am drawn towards my history rather than where I live and love being of Irish descent. The last thought I have is that as a female with red hair and of Irish descent I am aware that English males tend to find those aspects of me very appealing and therefore it enhances my pride in my history and the acknowledgements from the male gender in particular of loving Irish Red Heads. I often wonder if that is based on red heads having a reputation for being feisty and whether there is an unconscious connection to dominant mothers with very protective natures and therefore perceived as feisty.

  1. What have you learned about yourself as you have got older and moved through life?

I learned as I went through life that the feelings I had as a child were not my fault, my anger, hurt, lack of self- esteem was not my fault, my constant feelings of being a disappointment and my actions fulfilling these expectations were not my fault. I learnt I had my own power and could use it to benefit my life and create happiness in all areas of my life. I learned that from my history I could create security within my child and enhance my child’s confidence so that he never felt as I did as a child. I learnt to not try to fix things that were not fixable, but to accept what I couldn’t change and have the wisdom to recognise when I couldn’t change something. I learned that true happiness is being happy with myself, to let go of people who caused me pain, to forgive myself for my mistakes, and to fully recognise the only person I need is myself, but I can allow others to help and accept kindness for what it is. I have learnt that not everyone who smiles at me is my friend. I also found the business side of my head much harder to work for me favourably and I have had to learn to accept some therapists should never have qualified, but I cannot control the system, but I can focus on my own learning and development, I have also learnt to disassociate with all people that cause me unnecessary stress  and I am more comfortable than ever with challenging my colleagues who rent my space, on inappropriate behaviour and letting them go if they cannot respond as an adult could.  Most importantly I learned never to internalise another’s’  judgement, or bad behaviour and to teach my son he had the right to be angry, to feel his feelings, label them and understand how to become a more solid secure individual and to be happy within himself. Lastly I learned to communicate with my body, what it feels, what it might be telling me and how to ensure I relax and enjoy life. True happiness is recognising who you are, being happy with your behaviour, to enjoying life for exactly what it is, my life and my duty within my life is to be happy, teach my son to be the same and create happy fulfilling relationships and create a future for my son that was very different from the past I had as a child.

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Siobhain (Vonnie) Crosbie. ADV.DIP,CCC, MED, MEMBACP.
www.apspsychotherapyandcounselling.co.uk

 

  

 

 

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