MEET THE TEAM – JAMES WHITTAKER
What is your favourite thing about being therapist?
Seeing people challenge themselves and retelling their stories in different ways. I’ve found that we shape our lives through stories we tell to ourselves and stories that are told about us. We can’t change the past, but we can change how we understand what happened to us and who we are because of that.
What is the most common/frequent issue people are bringing to therapy?
Often, it’s something that can’t quite be named. Although depression or anxiety are labels we commonly associate with mental health, I have found that for many people beneath these is a sense that something is wrong or they’re feeling different but not sure why. Therapy is then a space to explore what’s going on underneath our awareness.
Is therapy an art or a science?
An art, maybe a soft science. I guess it depends on the definition of those terms. If you mean can it be quantified, measured, rated from 1 to 10 I’d have to say no. For me therapy is something more subtle than that, a shift within us, an awareness that wasn’t there before. Maybe it would be better to use the term “alchemy” to describe what happens in the therapy room.
What do you do for your own self-care?
Good food, good wine, good company. Permission to turn off from the world and do nothing. I’ve had to learn self-care, it’s something that takes practice and is constantly worked on. I think many of us often put other people’s needs ahead of our own, so I have found it important to keep an eye on making sure I don’t slip.
What is the book/movie that comforts you?
E.M. Forster’s Howards End. The message of that book is “only connect” which is the perfect not only for therapy but for life. Our mental health relies on connection. Connection with ourselves and with others. Whether viewed spiritually, sociologically or therapeutically, loss of connection can lead to alienation.
What’s in a joke?
A joke for me is something that plays on words. I like a joke to make me laugh but also be clever; even if it is very simple in its execution.
Tell us one:
I went to my hairdresser and asked for highlights.
He showed me video clips of all my best haircuts.