During that time I mixed with people who had an unhealthy relationship with food and had a variety of ways of keeping their weight down. It was hard not to be influenced by this and I soon ran into difficulties with successive diets leaving me tired and craving foods in a way I had not experienced before. What an irony, I actually found my weight going up and my mood going down! It doesn’t take long for inconsistent and inappropriate ways of eating to negatively impact a normal appetite, metabolism and feelings of well-being. Furthermore, I realised the chaos of disruptive eating patterns can suppress or mask emotions which are being unaddressed.
Fortunately I took some time out and went to work in Paris in a large organisation in HR as a bi-lingual assistant. French people enjoy their food and I observed that despite tucking into a nourishing meal at lunchtime, the Parisian women I worked with remained quite slim. I noticed that although they ate nourishing and balanced portions, their eating was relaxed, regular and mainly confined to mealtimes. They certainly didn’t apologise for enjoying their food!
This was a helpful start on my journey to restoring my own relationship with food and my experiences and observations have developed an empathy and understanding which I now use to help others. When, in later years, I trained as a psychotherapist, it felt comfortable to integrate these observations to understand how food, eating patterns and emotions are intrinsically linked.
I still find it a revelation that therapy can act as such a powerful tool in helping weight and eating problems and to see that people do not need to suffer hopelessly in self-defeating patterns of weight gain and loss and discontent or even misery around food.
I practice as an Integrative Psychotherapist which means that I draw on a variety of perspectives to help my clients. My work integrates nutritional and practical approaches to eating ranging from behavioural CBT to understanding how the past affects the present. It also views the person as ‘master of their own destiny’ and being able to manage and meet their existential hopes and dreams. After obtaining my BSc (Hons) in Psychology I completed a course with a strong emphasis on existential psychology at Regent’s College and subsequently trained as an MSc Integrative Psychotherapist at the Metanoia Institute. I have trained with WeightMatters as a behavioural psychotherapist and have worked within the organisation for nearly two years.
I am interested in the relationship between thinking, emotions and food and how psychotherapy can help restore a natural balance between these processes. I feel strongly that methods and ideologies around dieting and restricting food intake can be counterproductive, negatively influencing healthy mental and physical outcomes. I am interested in helping restore the detrimental effects of the above and seeing successful results in the form of more easily and naturally maintained weight and/or weight loss, an improved physical and mental sense of wellbeing and freedom from self defeating eating and thinking habits.
My philosophy considers that human beings are driven by a need for relationship, meaning, choice and a capacity for growth and development, however, sometimes life events can lead us to feel stuck, confused, discouraged or even traumatised. My belief is that we sometimes need another skilled and sensitive person to help us access our own sophisticated resources and understanding to enable us move on. I also believe that as we experience personal change, circumstances and relationships around us may also be affected.
I hold a mainly holistic view of the person which means that I believe that mind, body and spirit are integrated and can be impacted by any aspect of disregulation. However, I also believe that we are conflicted by what are bodies want and our higher aspirations. Therefore exploration in the therapy is helpful in drawing out buried emotions, particularly in addictive process, where painful feelings may have been suppressed and/or avoided with food, alcohol or other substances.
I have also worked for seven years in private practice during which time I also counselled at the Metanoia Counselling & Psychotherapy services. In 2009, I spent six months working in rehab in southern Spain with different types of addiction, including drug, food and alcohol. I currently volunteer at the Maudsley hospital in a psychiatric ward.During my time of working as a psychotherapist, I have covered a wide range of problems from relationships and personality issues to addiction and food related issues. I have also worked with trauma (including sexual abuse) and psychosis.