Continuing with our Q + A series, one of our accredited CBT Therapists and Chartered Psychologists – Olivia Plant – has answered a few questions regarding herself, her work, as well as how she has found working digitally. See her Q + A below.
What does your role entail at Brighter Life Therapy?
I work on a part-time basis with Brighter Life Therapy and my role involves seeing clients for a course of therapy on a weekly or fortnightly basis. My main therapeutic modality is CBT but I am also a trained EMDR therapist and use both modalities in my work with clients.
Do you do any other roles/training outside of Brighter Life Therapy?
I wear a few different hats in my professional life. I work as an Academic Tutor and Supervisor on a local university’s Postgraduate Diploma in CBT. I am also involved in clinical research and consultancy. My research and consultancy work focuses on developing treatment frameworks for pathological apathy in neurodegenerative disease and in the utilisation of digital platforms to optimise cognitive health. Prior to training as a therapist, I worked in the neuroscience field and still enjoy being involved in projects relating to this alongside my therapeutic work.
That’s amazing! How have you found completing therapy sessions digitally compared to face-to-face?
At first, I was daunted by the prospect of working online but have enjoyed working remotely and being able to see clients from all over the UK. My clinical work is now mostly online. Although CBT is a very interactive therapy, I have found it still works very well when conducted remotely. I also like how it has made therapy more easily accessible for some who might find it difficult to attend in person.
Absolutely. If you weren’t a therapist, what would you be doing instead?
As I already mentioned, I worked in neuroscience prior to training therapeutically. I imagine I might have taken this further, possibly undertaking more training to work in neuropsychology as this is an area I remain very interested in.
What mental health problem do you find most interesting to work with?
One area I find very interesting to work with is social anxiety. A course of CBT for social anxiety can be a very interactive course of treatment that can have a profound impact on how a client sees themselves in social situations. Social connection is very important for wellbeing and I like how this therapy can enable clients to re-frame their perceptions of themselves socially and open up possibilities for connection which may have not felt possible before.
I am also very interested in applying CBT to help improve the quality of life and emotional wellbeing of those living with long-term health conditions (LTC) and distressing and persistent physical symptoms. I have always had an interest in working with physical health which stems from my work experience prior to training as a therapist.
That all sounds great. What is your one top tip for overcoming these difficulties?
For social anxiety: it is very common that if we feel anxious in social situations, we shine the spotlight on ourselves, and perceive that we come across in a way that might not even be visible to others. This can have the unintentional impact of creating more anxiety which can then make that social interaction harder. My top tip for dealing with social anxiety is to consider where you are placing the spotlight. If you notice it on yourself, it can be helpful to try and immerse yourself as much as possible in the conversation, focus on what the other person is doing or saying rather than how you perceive you are coming across. This is not always easy, especially when feeling anxious, but practising externalising your focus of attention in other situations can help develop this skill so that it feels more possible when interacting socially.
For improving psychological wellbeing and quality of life when living with an LTC: my tip for anyone living with an LTC is that sharing your experience can be important for emotional processing and in helping adjustment to life with a physical health condition. This could be with a trusted friend, a loved one or even a psychological professional. Many physical health services are integrating psychological practitioners as part of their team as there is a growing recognition of how our emotional and physical health are closely interlinked. If you are interested in receiving psychological support alongside your medical treatment, ask your healthcare provider if there is any provision for psychological care within the service you are receiving treatment or within your local IAPT service. We also work with it here at Brighter Life Therapy.
They’re great tips, thank you! Finally then… can you name something interesting about you that we probably don’t know already?
I’ve taken a rather unconventional route into therapy, not initially studying psychology. Prior to studying psychology and neuroscience, I completed an undergraduate in English and Spanish Literature. Although my career has gone in a different direction, I loved my undergraduate and wouldn’t have done things any differently.
How you can contact us
If you would like a session with Olivia or another member of the team for depression or anxiety based problems, feel free to contact us. We provide fast access to CBT and counselling treatment, which you can read about here.