What motivated you to become a therapist?
Primarily supporting the mental health of marginalised communities. As a student in 2018, I attended the BME Voices inaugural conference. Getting the chance to engage with a room full of professionals with such a wealth of experience and knowledge at the start of my journey was truly inspirational. I came away from the day feeling energised and affirmed in my chosen path.
Do you have a specialist field of practice?
Working with students who find themselves an ethnic minority in the university environment, through an intersectional approach. This involves actively considering how characteristics such as gender, religion, culture, ethnicity, socioeconomic background, sexuality and disability intersect with each other to impact a student’s mental health in the higher education environment.
What have you learned about yourself since becoming a therapist?
I’m never going to put boundaries on myself ever again – I’m never going to say, ‘I don’t think I can’, and I’m never going to say ‘maybe’. I can and I will.
What do you find challenging about being a therapist?
Graduating as a psychotherapist in a global pandemic! All my training as a student was done in person with clients, so learning how to be present and connect with individuals over Zoom was definitely a challenge, and some days still is.
Higher education places so much focus on fostering an environment of ‘excellence’. So holding a space for students in which they aren’t being judged on their performance or compared with their peers is really special.
What are you most proud of achieving?
There are so many things I still want to achieve! But last year I moved to a new city during a national lockdown, to live alone for the first time in my life, with no family or friends here. I started a completely new job role in a sector that was alien to me at the time. It has been really huge for me – this, and surviving my first winter ‘up north’ in York without getting frostbite. I’m also proud that my master’s research won a BACP award.
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Tell us about your research project:
The initial idea was actually inspired by Afua Hirsch’s book Brit(ish), which really resonated with me. Before reading it, I had never really come across work that explored mixed-heritage identity in Britain. I found the majority of academic research regarding mixed-heritage identity was rooted in a sociological viewpoint, both in the UK and in America. I was unable to locate any research from a psychotherapeutic viewpoint that exclusively explores the identity of mixed white and black Caribbean people in Britain. I thought there might be people who could identify with the topics and feel seen.
What book, blog or podcast do you recommend most often?
The website www.afropean.com, a multimedia exploration of the social, cultural and aesthetic interplay of black and European cultures, founded by the writer and photographer Johny Pitts. I have always been interested in the theme of belonging and how that’s shaped by the cultural landscape we find ourselves in.
What do you do for self-care/to relax?
Walking in the Peak District – I like being reminded of how unfit I am; overpriced ‘brunch’ on a Sunday morning, and solo trips to attend art exhibitions.
Who is your psychotherapy (or counselling) hero(ine)?
Lennox Thomas – his teachings and clinical practice were truly pioneering. May he rest in peace.
What would people be surprised to find out about you?
I started life in a laboratory as an IVF baby. Unfortunately, they didn’t give me any superpowers.
Where would you like to be in five years’ time?
It’s still early in my psychotherapy career, so I hope to have strengthened my clinical skills and deepened my reflective practice. Oh, and to be a ‘dog mum’ to two Border collies.