Nearly all of us look for someone to talk to when things go wrong, but sometimes it takes a professional to unpick our thoughts to find the solution. Whilst counselling sessions must remain private, it’s no secret that working as a therapist can be both rewarding and demanding. Getting someone to delve into repressed feelings and painful memories needs a great deal of training, and clients need to feel safe in order to open up. Depending on your needs, there can be many different forms of therapy and there is never a ‘one size fits all approach’. In order to find out a little more, we got in touch with Daniel Fryer, who has been working as a psychotherapist for ten years. Psychotherapy allows clients to take control of their lives by noticing the causes, influences and triggers of their emotional problem or condition. Daniel was more than happy to talk to us about the sensitive nature of his work and share his advice for those hoping to get into the industry.
First things first, how did you get into psychotherapy?
Well I was originally a journalist, with a BA in journalism and sociology. Then about ten years ago, a friend who was a director of development at a therapy college and who thought I would be good in the role suggested an introductory course in hypnotherapy. I gained a diploma in clinical hypnotherapy, specialised and gained a diploma in cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy, before going to do a master’s of science in rational emotive and cognitive behaviour therapy.
How has your career progressed from there?
I am self employed and built my practice up from scratch. I have a private clinic in Victoria but I’m also hired as a specialist by a healthcare company and a major London hospital. Alongside all this, I write and present my own specialist workshops and lecture on diploma courses at a college run by the friend who originally suggested psychotherapy to me.
What would you say are the main methods of helping someone using psychotherapy?
I think getting a clients trust is important; showing them that you understand and care about what they are going through. You also need to find out what it is they would like to achieve and then introducing them to the process of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and/or hypnotherapy, whilst explaining how it can help them.
In your opinion, what are the most important skills for a psychotherapist to have?
Empathy, an understanding of people from all walks of life and the ability to get on with a number of different people. It’s also vital for a therapist to have a very good understanding of the therapy that they advocate. In my opinion it helps if you have a sense of humour and have a natural ability to put people at their ease. Finally, I think it helps if you’ve been through the wringer a few times yourself, as you understand what your clients are going through.
Are there any psychotherapy techniques that people could apply to their everyday lives?
The essence of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is to challenge what you are thinking. You are responsible for how you think, feel and act by the beliefs that you hold. Reality is reality, but what you tell yourself in the face of that reality determines everything. So, if you are thinking, feeling and acting in a way that you don’t like, but don’t seem to be able to change, work out what you are thinking and construct a healthier alternative.
What is the best part of your job?
Helping people overcome their problems and seeing them leave my office happier than when they came in.
How hard is it to ensure that you don’t take any of your clients’ problems home with you at the end of the day?
It can be really tough sometimes, especially on a difficult day. I use self-hypnosis techniques to relax myself and unwind and try to speak to friends that can make me laugh.
Is the method of treatment different for every patient that walks through your door, or are there techniques to follow?
Cognitive behaviour therapy is a model with a process and a philosophy and this process and philosophy is the same for everyone. That said, there are a variety of ways of presenting it and various techniques to use depending on the person. If I’m just using hypnotherapy then I can be more eclectic, although even then I tend to follow the CBT model.
Without going into details about any of your clients, what is the most common problem patients come to you with?
I would say it is most typically Anxiety Disorders and Work-Related Stress Management, but between the two that covers quite a lot.
Finally, what advice would you give to students hoping to follow in your footsteps and work in psychotherapy?
It’s tough now as, like everything, there are more and more people wanting to do it. My advice would be to make sure you are properly qualified on a reputable course that offers more than just a few weekends of training. I would then advise volunteering on a programme (a lot of therapy centres run programs that use the services of trainee therapists) or for a charity that needs volunteer therapists, to get some experience.
If you want to find out more about the theories behind Daniel’s work, why not take a look at all the psychology courses listed on our site? What’s more, if you are the problem solver amongst your friends, follow in his footsteps and learn to help people through therapy with a counselling course.