Which industry do you work in and what do you love and/or loathe about it?
As a Psychotherapist and mindfulness/wellbeing facilitator and trainer, I have worked in many different sectors (University, NHS, private, voluntary/charities) but these subjects have been at the core of all my work. With trauma, mindfulness and the neurobiology of stress and distress being areas of interest/specialism.
What I love about the area of therapy and well being I work(ed) in is innovation. The new neuroscience of mental health, understanding well-being through a somatic and neurobiological lens is exciting and there is always something new to learn.
I have created training myself in the application of theories such as polyvagal theory, the neuroscience of distress and trauma, how to use these theories in therapeutic settings, apply them to day to day life, as well as how to understand and take care of the impact working in mental health and trauma settings have on caring professionals.
I am currently creating accessible, mindfulness workshops with these theories (neurobiology of stress/distress, polyvagal theory ++) underpinning the activities and tools, so that meditation can be easier to engage with for those who may have found it tricky in the past, due to experiences of trauma or neurodivergence.
How did you get into your job/industry?
My older brother was diagnosed as schizophrenic when I was still a child. In my teens, I wanted to understand what was happening for him and went to the library where I had always gone to understand the world. I started reading psychiatric and medical books and quickly moved on to R.D.Laing.
This journey took me as a young adult into my own psychoanalysis, attempting to understand my life, my family and what being human is all about.
I went on to work as a volunteer at The Studio Upstairs, an art therapy space for people with mental health issues. One incredibly important lesson (of many) that I learnt there, was to understand the need, not to 'help' anyone, as this disempowers people, but to learn to be alongside people wherever they are, provide space where possible for people to express themselves, explore, be felt and heard.
I began my training in therapy aged 26, the youngest person in the class.
Have you always wanted to work in your industry?
No, growing up I wanted to be either a clown or a writer. I still write a lot and I have a great love of improv. The playfulness of improv work is something I feel is both deeply therapeutic, as to play with a feeling of impunity and without shame is how we truly learn, create and relate. It's also a wonderful way to be in the here and now, without judgment, free, so it's also deeply mindful.
Does it feel like a good 'fit' for you as a neurodivergent woman?
The fact that my work means being honest, challenging and using my acute sensitivity has meant it has been a fit in many ways. However, there is a lot of languages used that can feel pathologising and there is a lack of understanding of what neurodivergent means, I have felt judged by other professionals at times.
I love being able to share useful ideas and information and offering warmth and care to humans who need it.
What advice would you give to another Neurodivergent woman navigating their way through life?
If you can, try to work out what's masking and what's you. Seek other autistic women as therapists & mentors. Don't accept misogynistic & outdated research that tells you who you are or what you can do. Your passion, intensity and sensitivity are not weaknesses!