PSYCHOTHERAPISTS work with individuals, couples, families and groups to help them overcome a range of psychological and emotional issues. They use personal treatment plans and a variety of non-medical-based treatments to address the clients’ thought processes, feelings and behaviours; understand inner conflicts; and find new ways to deal with; and alleviate distress.
We sat down with Mr Stephen Lew, Clinical Supervisor/ Clinical Hypno-Psychotherapist, National Council of Psychotherapists, UK, to discuss his professional opinion on psychotherapy and ways he recommends his clients to engage creatively in the healing process.
Why did you choose this career path to be a psychotherapist?
A fish doesn’t know that it is wet. Just like how I did not know I was struggling with childhood traumas and depression
Mental and emotional distress was part of a daily affair, and it was really challenging. Since I was curious why suffering could actually cause so much pain. Apart from books and movies, I started to search for answers by peering into other people’s lives. The curiosity to learn from others became a collective source of my personal resilience. Emotional pain became the catalyst of my ques in searching for knowledge, wisdom and meaning.
Conversations with others improved my social intuition and communication skills, and to a large extent, it helped me to develop a keen sense of openness for others too. I was really intrigued by how other people think and feel. After some time, starting conservations with strangers became second nature, needless to say, as the conversation unfolds, people started to share their deeper insights, revealing stories of their aspirations, pain and innermost fears.
And the more I did that; a bigger part of the search transcended into my existential calling, and led me to the path of psychotherapy.
Describe the creative methods you use during therapy sessions that have proven to be reliable.
I employ a range of techniques by integrating approaches from CBT, SFBT, Clinical Hypnotherapy and Positive Psychology. The eclectic approach is beneficial to many, as it works in a fluid manner to suit my clients’ cognitive and emotional capacities. I tend to lean towards Clinical Hypnotherapy approach by utilising anecdotes, metaphors and analogies to work with the clients’ unconscious minds, while I like CBT’s way of psycho-education to build self awareness and SFBT to stretch perspectives.
What traits work well for a psychotherapist?
People who possess the strengths of the growth mindset, patience, kindness, perspective and openness. To me, having a resilient attitude is an important trait in a therapist. In the psychotherapy course, the learners will gear their behaviours toward the following competencies:
Great interpersonal skills
The ability to make others trust you
The confidence in dealing with the unknown or discomfort
Willingness to establish alliance with the clients
Having the ability to explain the symptoms to allow the clients to understand and adapt to the treatment plans
Able to motivate, inspire hope and optimism in the clients for coping, change and development
Having the sensitivity to tune in to the clients’ emotional being, yet staying on track to the treatment goals
Having the flexibility to understand and manoeuvre with the clients’ states of minds
Sensitivity and respect of clients’ cultural backgrounds
Able to connect clients to evidence-based references and interventions
A higher awareness of self
What are the challenges you face as a psychotherapist?
There are advantages and disadvantages faced by psychotherapists, just like any other profession out there, but I’d add that the biggest part of being a psychotherapist is the gift of fulfillment in helping others. To me, that is utterly priceless. One of the biggest challenge is having to be on call during off time, given the nature of the profession, I’d receive urgent emails or messages during wee hours. I have to identify the urgency of the clients’ demands or request, and offer necessary information, make recommendations or allocate time to respond to the clients.
Any advice for aspiring psychotherapist?
I love my job. When I love it so much, it is no longer considered a job to me. I think, to a large degree, you need to have the passion for this. The opportunity to be part of my clients’ well being development and existential awakening are considered fulfilling to me. It actually enhances my wellbeing too. If you intend to pursue this path purely for the sake of money and success, I would advise otherwise. However, if you are seeking for a meaningful and rewarding career, you are definitely at the right place.
Achieving your goal of being a psychotherapist is possible!
The school of positive psychology offers psychotherapy courses at different levels, something for everyone.
Certificate in Counselling
Diploma in Psychotherapy and Counselling
Graduate Diploma in Psychotherapy and Counselling
Professional Diploma in Psychotherapy