On Time to Talk Day, three MyWellbeing College therapists talk about listening to people share their stories – and the transformative and positive impact listening and talking can have on lives.
Time to Talk is the national campaign led by Time to Change, which aims to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness by getting people to talk openly about issues that can affect us all. The theme for this year’s campaign is ‘talk, listen, change lives’.
Richard Crofts – Senior Psychological Therapist
Richard Crofts has worked as a therapist for over seven years, at Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust’s MyWellbeing College, and finds it a privilege when clients share their stories with him – often leading to major, life changing, positive transformations.
Richard explained: “The most rewarding part of the job is building relationships and helping people – it’s the best part of the job. Getting to know people, getting to understand what their issues are and then using the tools and techniques that we have in the service to help them and see them get better – it’s lifechanging. It’s a privilege for me to listen to clients telling me things they wouldn’t share with anyone else; they often tell us things they’ve never told anyone before.
“I work with a variety of clients to help support them with mild to moderate mental health problems such as depression and general anxiety disorder (GAD) mostly but also, panic disorder, OCD, health anxiety and Phobias.”
Explaining further, Richard said: “The work that I do involves assessing people. Sometimes I might assess people that might not be suitable for our service, but they might need to be signposted to the appropriate service. Sometimes the problems are more serious and complex like PTSD and trauma, so it can be quite a difficult job at times, but I love it and I support and supervise other colleagues that do the same job as well.
Citing an example of a client he had helped, Richard said: “I worked with a woman who had been to drug and alcohol services for many, many years. She was addicted to prescription drugs and things that helped to calm her down, like diazepam, which is quite a potent type of medication that can help to make you feel relaxed. Unfortunately, this became a bit of an addiction. Her GP became aware it, so the medication was stopped. She replaced this addiction with something else, which in this case was alcohol. My first impressions were that this might be quite complicated, and this person might not be suitable for our service, but within one session she mentioned something about feeling panicky and that she might die or choke and that was the reason she wanted to feel relaxed. That was the reason she was drinking. I realised it was panic disorder. I talked to her about how terrifying it is to feel that you might die or choke. Panic disorder is a fear of your body’s fear system – which is called ‘fight or flight system.’ Just having that education on the problem was a landmark moment for her. She said the first session had been really helpful and she was looking forward to coming to the next one, which is always good to hear as a therapist. The second session she attended she hadn’t drunk any alcohol and hadn’t taken any medication. She’d also remembered to do some of the breathing techniques and started to get a little bit better, so we covered some other interventions on how she could change how she thought about the panic attacks and stop avoiding things as well. We then did some work on her facing her fears. By the time session four came, she was completely in recovery – and she has been ever since. She writes me a Christmas card most years and lets me know how she’s doing. I enjoyed working with her immensely and it was life changing for her.”
Ellora Greenwood – Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner
Ellora Greenwood has recently qualified and has been working at Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust’s MyWellbeing College as a psychological wellbeing practitioner – a role she is passionate about and finds fulfilling.
Ellora said: “Speaking to clients is rewarding in itself – and to be able to help someone… just being that small part in someone’s life. At the end when you can really see a difference. I like to compare how they were at the beginning, to how they are at the end. You can see that real growth in someone and how confident they’ve become. It’s rewarding knowing they’ve got that answer and they know what the next steps are.
“Recently I was working with a client who was about 19. She was very anxious and very self-conscious. She was trying to find her own way through life and growing up. We worked through these issues, and she recovered. She sent me an email after to let me know that I’d really helped her to build her confidence and as a result she decided to take her driving test, which she passed. It was really lovely.
“Working at MyWellbeing College has allowed me to grow as a therapist, it’s not the same day, every day. We’ve got a broad variety of therapy sessions, assessments and training and as a service we’re really good at communicating and keeping in touch with managers and colleagues, even through the pandemic.
Sarah Ledger – Lead Psychological Therapist
Sarah Ledger has worked as a therapist for over seven years and finds it incredibly rewarding helping people overcome issues that have been affecting their lives.
Commenting on her work at Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust’s MyWellbeing College, Sarah said: “I’ve worked with quite a broad range of people experiencing lots of different mental health conditions and help support them with common mental health problems such as: depression; generalised anxiety disorder; social anxiety; health anxiety; post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). I find it incredibly fulfilling as you can build up some lovely relationships with them. I also supervise other therapists within the service with their client cases.
“The job is very busy; I see lots of people every week and for me the variety makes it interesting and enjoyable. You meet all sorts of lovely people that have been through some very, very hard things and it’s incredibly rewarding seeing them through a course of treatment.
“One of the most recent clients I’ve worked with was a lady who had a particularly difficult birth experience and had post-traumatic stress disorder, so it was really affecting her life. She was experiencing flashbacks, nightmares and wasn’t sleeping. She was finding it really difficult when friends around her were announcing pregnancies and talking about their birth experiences. We did a course of treatment and it’s completely changed for her. She says her relationship with her baby is so much better, she’s not experiencing flashbacks or nightmares anymore, she’s sleeping, well as much as you can when you’ve had a baby. Her friendships have benefited. She’s been able to listen to her friends, who have new babies, talk about their birth experiences and been able to talk about her own, which is pretty major considering she wasn’t able to speak about it before. It’s been really life changing for her.
“Because we do see such a wide variety of people from all walks of life, that’s what makes it interesting and so rewarding for me.”
MyWellbeing College is open to anyone over the age of 16 who is registered with a GP in Bradford, Wharfedale, Airedale or Craven.
People don’t have to go through their GP to enrol on a course, they can register online at www.bmywellbeingcollege.nhs.uk
For information on all mental health and wellbeing support services in Bradford and Craven and self-help resources and apps, visit www.healthyminds.services.