Therapy is such a confidential situation, so not everyone gets to hear about the great work that is done behind closed doors. So that’s why we are putting together a series of short interviews with our therapists to feature the amazing work they do and a little about the people behind the job titles.
This month we are featuring our Counsellor and Psychotherapist Caitlyn St John. Here’s what she had to say:
Can you briefly tell me about yourself?
“I’m Caitlyn and I’m originally from California. I’ve been in the UK for 12 years and love living in England, although I have grown to appreciate California more the longer I have been away. I work at the University of Leicester providing time-limited student therapy as well as working at Rutland House as a Psychotherapist.”
What do you like doing in your free time?
“I enjoy being in nature particularly mountains and forests and exploring other countries and cultures. I like having coffee with friends, playing sports with my family and I enjoy cooking as well!”
Why did you choose your career path?
“I grew up with someone close to me working in the field of psychotherapy and, as such, I have always been interested in how our earliest relationships form us and impact us in the present. I thrive off a deep relational connection and working as a psychotherapist has always felt like a huge honour – being able to walk alongside others on their journey of growth and discovery.”
If someone walks up to you on the street and asks for some advice on mental health, and you have about 1 minute to spare, what would you say?
“I would say that good mental health starts with kindness towards yourself. Try to notice how you speak to yourself after you have ‘got something wrong’, feel stressed, or have had a difficult interaction with someone. Are there patterns to how you talk to yourself? Are there any additional ways that you can offer a kind response to yourself that is validating or normalising of your experience?”
What is the objective of a psychotherapy session in your opinion?
“To come alongside and meet the client wherever they are in that particular session, and help them meet with themselves. To provide a safe space for the client to engage cognitively, emotionally, somatically, behaviourally and relationally and work with any blocks to this full range of experiencing. To allow our relationship and the space we create together to be the platform of learning to relate more deeply with themselves and others and recognise how past experiences may inform the present. And ultimately, the objective is to work toward the client’s specific goals and reasons for accessing therapeutic support.”
When do you think someone should consider psychotherapy?
“First of all, I think this is very subjective, and everyone will have different reasons for needing support and different ways that their experiences or situations have impacted them and these are all valid. I believe that if someone is trying to understand themselves better, wanting to change something about their lives or relationships, or have unresolved pain and memories, and their attempts to work all of this through on their own are no longer working or they are stuck, that accessing therapeutic support can be helpful.”
As a psychotherapist, how do you manage to be emotionally available to your clients all the time?
“First of all, I think it is impossible for any of us, as humans, to be emotionally available all of the time, me included. And my hope is that when I haven’t been as available as I would like to be that I could recognise this, bring it into conversation with the client, and recognise how this may have impacted them. Some things that I do to try to help myself be as available as possible would be: engaging in good selfcare – making sure I am aware of my own needs and getting these met outside of the therapeutic space; attending supervision regularly – to help me think deeply about my therapeutic work and recognise any blocks to my availability; my own personal therapy – where I work through my own story, so that when I am with my client, I can better recognise and differentiate their feelings and needs from mine.”
How has the industry changed since you started?
“I think culturally, psychotherapy is becoming more accepted, especially in younger generations. I’ve witnessed an increase in young adults accessing psychotherapy for the purpose of just trying to understand themselves better. It feels like there is a lot less stigma around therapy now.”
What do you like about your job?
“It is such an honour to be a psychotherapist and walk through the ups and downs of life with clients and to be invited into vulnerable spaces. Having a job that is based on deep relational contact feels like such a privilege. Each client I have ever worked with has changed me in some way and made a lasting impact on my life, and what greater job is there than that?”