Welcome to my Crowdfunder! I am raising £5,020 to cover the fees of the first year of my four-year MSc in Integrative Psychotherapy at SPTI (The Sherwood Psychotherapy Training Institute) in Nottingham as first-year students are not eligible for Student Finance support, due to this being a preparatory year. Tuition fee loans are available from Student Finance England from year two and the course is registered with Staffordshire University from that point.
Who am I?
I am an advocate for stronger, more effective and more easily accessible mental health services within the U.K. Whilst we all find our way amidst this new global reality in 2020 and as so many people are struggling with their mental health and in accessing the care they need, now really feels like the right time to start this new journey in my life. There has never been more of a demand for mental health services and the mental health industry is growing exponentially.
Mental illness doesn’t discriminate; rich or poor, male or female, old or young. We all need help sometimes and therapy should not be seen as a luxury; it is a necessity and should be quickly and easily accessible to those who urgently need it. Too many of us don’t know what support is available and how to access it. My aim is to play a part in getting the support to those who need it, however small that part might be in the grand scheme of things; I just know that there is a great need for this support within the community and we all have a responsibility to help others in need, however we can. I have known for many years that my life’s purpose is to help others and it would be a dream come true to be able to complete a master's in Psychotherapy, become a qualified Psychotherapist, and volunteer my time each week to help those desperately in need of support who cannot afford to enlist the services of a private therapist.
Why am I appealing for help?
To give you a bit more of an insight into who I am and what I do, I always planned to fund the degree (at least the first year) myself. I was working as a Personal Assistant (PA) until January 2020, when I left my job after suffering greatly due to having been a victim of sexual harassment at the hands of my boss. After finding the courage to come forward, an external investigation took place and this experience pushed me to my limits. I feared I wouldn’t be believed, that the company would stand by him as he was a long-standing member of staff and there was a real ‘old boys' club’ culture, as well as being scared that the man in question might turn up on my doorstep at any time and harm me for speaking up. As you can imagine, this greatly impacted my mental health, and seeing a therapist was one of the things that really helped me get through it and to process how I felt. This was one of the most traumatic experiences I have lived through and unfortunately not the only time I have been a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace. My story is all too common. The most disappointing thing for me was the lack of support offered by the company. I felt dehumanised and shamed, and was treated with hostility by senior members of the organisation involved in the case. I felt that they wanted to silence me and for the problem to 'just go away'. My mental health was really hanging on by a thread at this point so I was scared into submission and took the case no further after he left the company, but was relieved to be able to walk away from it, knowing that I would not have to face my boss in the office again. The real lack of support following the events was shocking; I appealed to HR time and again for additional mental health support and all they wanted to do was sweep it under the carpet. Any support I had was provided by friends, family and a private therapist who I had to engage outside work. I am disgusted and saddened by the lack of victim support and how I was treated. This experience has only strengthened my resolve and determination to help others. If I can help just one person recover from their own experience as a victim of sexual harassment, it will all have been worth it. I have survived and moved forward and I want to help others do this, too. Facing up to my perpetrator and overcoming the debilitating feeling of shame was one of the hardest things I have ever done and it took every piece of courage and fight I had in me.
After leaving my job as a PA, I planned to teach English full-time (I am also a Teacher of English as a second language) and right now, I would have been teaching English to University students on an immersion course. Due to the pandemic, the course has not been able to go ahead this year, so I am trying to establish my own teaching business online; it is a slow process but extremely rewarding and liberating. Consequently, I am struggling financially and unable to fund the first year of the course myself which I why I have decided to appeal to others for help.
I am a very private person so it has been difficult to share these parts of my story but I do feel it is important for each of us to find our voice.
What is Psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is a general term for treating a broad variety of emotional difficulties and mental health problems by talking with a psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health provider, using scientifically validated procedures. Psychotherapy can help eliminate or control troubling symptoms so a person can function better and can increase well-being and healing.
Problems helped by psychotherapy include difficulties in coping with daily life; the impact of trauma, medical illness or loss, like the death of a loved one; and specific mental disorders, like depression or anxiety. There are several different types of psychotherapy and some types may work better with certain problems or issues. Psychotherapy may be used in combination with medication or other therapies and is a collaborative approach between an individual and their therapist. During psychotherapy, you learn about your condition and your moods, feelings, thoughts and behaviours. Psychotherapy helps you learn how to take control of your life and respond to challenging situations with healthy coping skills and more effective habits.
What is Integrative Psychotherapy?
There are many types of psychotherapy, each with its own approach. The type of psychotherapy that's right for you depends on your individual situation. The reason for my choosing to study Integrative Psychotherapy is due to my own positive experience of it. One of the advantages of this approach is the flexibility and focus on the whole of an individual and the integration of a number of different approaches allows the therapy sessions to be tailored to meet a variety of different needs. As human beings, we are all so different and have our own individual qualities, personalities and experiences and I believe that this approach responds effectively to address a wide range of clients, as opposed to a more one-dimensional route.
Integration involves drawing complementary theories from different psychotherapeutic approaches and blending them based on certain core principles. These core principles are that the client-therapist relationship is an essential aspect of healing and that our relationships and development as children affects subsequent relationships and our way of being in the here and now. If aspects of us are not supported as children, they do not fully develop and cannot integrate seamlessly into our personality. Integrative Psychotherapy aims to understand the client’s development story, helping them to change old patterns of behaviour and to learn new ones.
Integrative Psychotherapy allows for a better adaptation of the therapy to the distinctive characteristics and needs of each client, by allowing the therapist to tailor their knowledge of evidence-based treatments and approaches. The main emphasis is on the individual characteristics of the patient and on the therapeutic relationship, both considered as key elements of therapeutic change.
Why support me?
Whilst training and once qualified, I plan to volunteer a portion of my time working with charities in the Mental Health sector, alongside my own private practice. My goal is to work with charities such as Refuge or Women’s Aid, as well as the Mental Health charity, Mind. As aforementioned, having the support of a counsellor or therapist to support me through difficult times has been a real lifeline. I would love to have the opportunity to be that lifeline for others and give something back.
I am passionate about, and driven by, helping people. I currently volunteer my services as a Telephone Support Volunteer for the NHS and have volunteered in the past for Independent Age (a charity for the elderly which offers support and advice on a range of topics), offering my time to support and befriend elderly people who are isolated, lonely and in need of a friend. This was so rewarding and I only wish each lonely, vulnerable or isolated person suffering right now could benefit from such support.
What are the benefits of therapy, in my experience?
Being someone who has learned to live with anxiety and depression through my going to therapy over the course of many years, I can honestly say that it has changed my outlook and approach to life, as well as helping strengthen my coping mechanisms. I would love to be able to help others with their own mental health struggles, not only to survive but to go on and thrive, helping equip them with the tools to better manage and cope with what life throws at them, to empower them to go on and live their best lives, or even just to help them find the strength and peace to go on living.
It would be a dream come true to be able to complete a Master’s in Psychotherapy and donate my free time, as a qualified Psychotherapist, to those desperately in need of support, who cannot afford to enlist the services of a therapist and have no one to turn to in their time of need.
Mental illness can affect anyone at any time and I feel it is my duty to repay the kindness, support and understanding that was afforded me during difficult times.
I want to play a role in others being able to tell their success stories, of the mental health battles they overcame and how they went on to become survivors, who are stronger and better equipped to handle all that life throws at them; not necessarily ‘cured’ but learning to live their best life alongside their mental health concerns. We need to reach more people in need; everyone deserves quick access to proper mental health care and support.
As stated by mentalhealth.org.uk, 'there will be no vaccine for... population mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, we should urgently invest in meeting our fundamental and complex human needs'.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and a huge heartfelt thank you if you are able to contribute, even if it’s just £1.00. I am truly grateful.