Welcome to Self podcast – Listen to Sarahs journey into private practice

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Hi, this is Welcome to Self ™ Caring for the Human in the Therapist Chair, and I’m your host, Dr Hayley D Quinn, fellow human, clinical psychologist, supervisor and trainer. Welcome to Self ™ is a place where you can come and learn ways to elevate your own care and compassion. A place to rest, be soothed, and at times maybe gently challenged to think about yourself and your practice. A place to remember that you are human first, choosing the helping profession is just one of the roles in your life. My aim is that this is a place of soothing, comfort, nourishment, growth and nurture. A place where you can also welcome yourself.

 

I’m thrilled to introduce my next guest, Sarah Rees. Sarah’s podcast was the first one that I went on as a guest and it is part of what inspired me to start my own.

Sarah is a BABCP Accredited Cognitive Behavioural Therapist who is also trained in Compassion-Focused Therapy and EMDR. She works in private practice delivering online and face-to-face therapy along with delivering clinical supervision for therapists.

Sarah, like myself, believes that the most important relationship you’ll ever have is with yourself and that learning to understand your mind and change unhelpful patterns of thinking is one of the best things you can do to improve your mental health and well-being. With the right knowledge and tools, you can experience a happier life with less stress, anxiety and overwhelm.

Sarah helps people develop the coping strategies they need to reduce psychological distress and difficulty and to build resilience, through therapy, mental health blogs and her podcast “Ask the Therapist”

So, it’s with great pleasure that I return the favour and welcome Sarah on to my podcast. I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I enjoyed chatting with Sarah.

Hayley Quinn 

Hi, Sarah, welcome to the podcast. Thank you. Thank you so much for coming on. This is really lovely for me, because your podcast was actually the first podcast of somebody else’s that I ever went on.

Sarah Rees 

Oh, wow.

Hayley Quinn 

This is nice to have you on to my podcast now. So welcome.

Sarah Rees 

It’s lovely to be here. Thank you so much for asking me it’s so lovely to connect with you again.

Hayley Quinn 

Always. I feel very lucky that I saw you not that long ago in the UK and now down and hopefully again later in the year,

Sarah Rees 

Which we’ve just discovered. I’m very excited that the conference and that means I have to go to the conference now. So that’s I’m can’t wait

Hayley Quinn 

Fantastic. Lovely. So you’re zooming in from the UK. So it’s morning for you. So thank you for starting your day with this. Do you want to just start with telling us a little bit about yourself and your pathway to a career in the helping professions and what it is that you do now?

Sarah Rees 

Okay, so I don’t know how far back I should start?

Hayley Quinn 

Wherever you suppose.

Sarah Rees 

Okay, well back in 1970. No, I won’t go that far. But I suppose. How did I come to it? I started my career in the 1990s. And I don’t know if you remember the Caring community act and people they were closing down all the kind of big mental asylums and those big institutions and bringing people into the community which was a bit of chaos at the time, if I can remember correctly. And I was a support worker and I worked with in part of resettling people that had been in these big institutions for years and years. Some had been, a couple have been born there and some had learning difficulties, mental health problems but somewhere literally, it’s because they’re illegitimate children, and they were now elderly being resettled into the communities though, so I got the option to go to these big hospitals and see them which was kind of mind blowing. And that so that was how I came to that job, I have no idea. I can’t even remember, I think a friend was doing it and said, oh, this is really good fun and, and that’s how I got into it. And then I was working with people learning difficulties and mental health problems and kind of decided that I was really interested in, in mental health problems and medication at the time and treatments and stuff. And my next pathway was to become a mental health nurse. So that’s, that’s the route I tucked down. And absolutely loved being a mental health nurse, I thought it was, what I’d do for ever and ever. So I worked in Manchester. I’ve worked in most of the hospitals, in most services in the community, I was a community psychiatric nurse for about six years, I thoroughly enjoyed that until there was this big restructure, and they split everything out. And that just it really, I think that really threw me in my career because I thought I’d be a community psychiatric nurse for the rest of my life. It was at a time where case loads were nice and reasonable. I had people that were elderly, people that were young, a couple of them were people on my caseload that needed more intensive support, you got to know families. And now I know that community psychiatric nurses have about 30 people on my caseload, if you’re well you’re discharged, there’s not that longevity of care. And so it just changed. So that really threw me. But I was always really interested in recovery. And you know, how do we get people well, and I suppose coming from a medical background, I saw the impact of psychiatric medication is, you know, immensely helpful at times and changes people’s lives, and can be really damaging. And I just didn’t think it was, it’s all needs to be on medication, there has to be more avenues. So that became interesting for me, and I did a degree in psychological interventions. And then, and then I thought, I know what I want to do, I want to change the NHS, I’m gonna change the world change the NHS, so I went into management for a while. And I managed the South Manchester primary care team, and quickly realised that I was probably not great as a manager. I wasn’t going to change the world. And I just missed I miss part being part of the team and doing the client work and working with people, so I took the training to become a CBT therapist. I’ve done my counselling training a number of years before, so I had that good foundation. So I did my CBT training and worked in the I out. But not for that long. I think I did about six months. And I just then went into private practice and everything changed again, for the better. So and that was about god that is coming up for I think eight years ago now, which is shocking. So it’s the longest I’ve ever done something for so currently where I am I’m in private practice based in Wilmslow in Cheshire. I do lots of online work now, which is what a lot of us are doing so face to face, online. I support people who making the transition into private work or so I do a bit of business coaching and mentoring. I do lots of supervision I collaborate with, on a website builder for therapists. I do blogs, podcasts, yeah, probably we’ll be doing some writing at some point. I’m doing lots of stuff.

Hayley Quinn 

Lots of diversity. So a varied career, but along the same theme, and sort of starting from a place where you just found yourself. Well your friend had this job and you sort of found yourself there. Yeah. Which has led to you know, doing so much and you’d like to say you’ve got your private practice but then you’ve got a lot of other things that you do in that as well don’t you?

Sarah Rees 

Yeah,

Hayley Quinn 

And I’ve always, people I work with and supervise. I will say you know some diversity in your practice can be so helpful, I think.

Sarah Rees 

Yeah, it can yeah,

Hayley Quinn 

But of course you’ve got a private practice very, very close to where I grew up.

Sarah Rees 

Very close. Yeah, it’s only about 10 minutes away.

Hayley Quinn 

So like you say you based in Wilmslow Cheshire in the UK. What is it you enjoy most about private practice, but also what do you find most challenging?

Sarah Rees 

So that I suppose what I like most I think I’m one of those multi-hyphenated people who likes to, I don’t really I didn’t realise I suppose until I’ve come into private practice how I like to do the breakfast stuff. Because I suppose I always knew, like, I liked nursing and the nine to five, kind of I didn’t like as much. So I’ve always liked the flexibility. But what I love about private practice is the flexibility, being your own boss, and being really creative in the way you work with people. So I’m not, you know, I tend to work with self-funding people, so don’t do work with referral agencies and some health insurance. So we have as many sessions as we need work really collaboratively, collaboratively with the client. Yeah, you know, and it’s the flexibility, the creativity, you know, working with amazing people being able to do podcasts like this, the one one of the things that really kind of pushed me into private practice was that they wanted to do the compassionate mind training with Paul Gilbert in Darby, and the NHS just wouldn’t have funded that at that time. They might do now. And it’s just having those opportunities, having doing the training, I really wanted to do, have the supervision and as much of it as I wanted, you know, there was so much I wanted to do. So that, a few of the things that I absolutely love about private practice.

Hayley Quinn 

Having more autonomy, being able to focus on the things that you feel passionate about. And I think you’re right, you know, over here in Australia, we work under the Medicare system. So people get, at the moment, a maximum of 20 sessions, it was cut back to 10. And it may well be that again, for the new year. And I think it does make it difficult, doesn’t it. So when you can work with people who were funded differently or self-funded, then it makes a difference, because you can spend the time that’s needed, you know, these arbitrary funding packages are based on government decisions, not research. So yeah,

Sarah Rees 

But also the other way, I hadn’t realised that when I came into private practice, I’ll come, I’ll sometimes have people that come for one sessions, and say I just want to see what it’s like, that’s it, I’m off, or have four sessions. And they’re like, no, I want to go away, do this reading. And then if I need you I’ll comeback in the NHS, they’d like to take everybody to eight sessions, the power balance was different, and I hadn’t realised it, you know. I love you know, I think it’s really enhanced my skills, being able to work with people long term, it’s, it’s very different therapy, very different therapy. And, and I just am really passionate about that. But also doing the show, most sure to work, you know, depending on what people need. It’s interesting when you put in a kind of, you’ve just got 10, sessions we’ll kind of will work 10 sessions, people have 10 sessions. But you know, when you don’t have those boundaries, you kind of they will, what do we need? What do you need? What’s right, you’re constantly checking in all the time?

Hayley Quinn 

Yeah. Fantastic. And what are some of the things that you find most challenging about it? Because it’s not, I mean, it’s not always easy running your own business is it. I know certainly here when people study to be psychologists, for example, there is no teaching around how to run a psychology practice. There is no specific training.

Sarah Rees 

No, I mean, hopefully, that’ll come in time. But it’s the same over here. But you just, I had no idea about running a business or a website or accounts. I remember, you know, setting up the most bizarre accounting system that you’ve, that took quite a long time and accountants are one pick, but I was like, it was really bad. But some of the challenges, I think I’ve kind of got a handle on most of them now. But I think, definitely it was the uncertainty, you know, will this work? I remember when I, when I left the NHS, I took on a rental that was more than my mortgage, and I was like, oh my God. But in doing that, I kind of had to make it work. So that was good. But I think for a long time, I was like, I lived with the uncertainty. I actually really like now that have some very busy weeks and quiet weeks and busy days and quiet days that really suits me. I could never do the consistency of five clients a day, five days a week just never work for me. I like the up and down of it. So, yes, and I think a lot of people worry about so there’s the uncertainty you have to manage because you know, especially with COVID, that, you know, my business halved in in a week and I did not see that coming at all. So there are risks, but you can manage those risks. I think lots of people worry about isolation or be on my own, while I was more isolated in a big team working in a really dingy cupboard, where in the NHS. Whereas now I’ve got a lovely room, I know lots of the business owners around where I work, I feel a lot more connected. But then I suppose I’ve worked at that I’ve built connections, like, you know, kind of doing this with you, and we got to know each other while I’ve been in private practice. So my connections, I would say, have kind of really grown.

Hayley Quinn 

I think that’s a good point, though. Because it can be if you’re in a solo private practice, or even in some group practices here, it’s just sort of people come and go. And they I used to, I was very blessed. I worked in a group practice where we all worked for ourselves, but worked in the same practice. But we all spent lunchtime, together we didn’t book clients over lunchtime. And that worked really well. But you know, I know speaking to a lot of people in group practices, it can be a little bit they don’t know the other people who are working there. Like you say, you have to work at it, you have to create networks, don’t you have to create a support system for yourself?

Sarah Rees 

Absolutely. It’s hugely important. And I suppose the last thing I don’t know how you found or this or that, and I’m still working on it. Is that, boundaries, not working too much. Because you’ve so I’m so excited about it. I’m so passionate about it. And it’s, you know, there’s no admin to buffer the emails. I mean, I have had that at times, but still, it’s your business when people really need support, and really struggle to say no, or kind of stick to the hours that I set myself some times. So being boundaried.

Hayley Quinn 

I think, I think living with my chronic illness and learning to sort of manage that and navigate that, for me has been really helpful in keeping my boundaries firmer. I got to learn how to say no, and be with the discomfort of saying no quite well. But an area that I work with a lot of people in, of how do you maintain the boundaries for yourself, so you can take care of yourself?

Sarah Rees 

Absolutely, up to you. Yeah, yeah. You’re constantly learning constantly working at that area to get it right. Yeah.

Hayley Quinn 

What do you think has been the most helpful for you when it comes to running your practice?

Sarah Rees 

The most helpful, I think, has been kind of having the support around me. So having amazing supervision, I think we both share, do you have supervision with Mary Welford as well, yeah, so having, you know, Mary’s supervisor was like the, one of the I think I contacted her as I started in private practice thinking she’ll probably be too busy. But, you know, having that support is she’s been phenomenal. And I’ve had other supervisors as well. So there’s been times where I’ve kind of had been in group supervisions, and had other supervisors on top of that so I’ve had loads of supervision which has been really good,

Hayley Quinn 

Important aspect isn’t it. to feel supported, that you’re not actually on your own with this, but also to make sure because we all have blind spots, don’t we? So make sure that yes, actually, we are getting that supervision of our own practice.

Sarah Rees 

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And I’ve done a lot of work with different business coaches, as well. And you know, to kind of because I got really interested in kind of how businesses run and, and about marketing, I thought found it all really, really fascinating. So that’s been kinda, I mean, it feels like a hobby, really. That’s been really good to work with and I generally have worked with women, and that’s been, you know, given me a lot of confidence and, you know, working with women that have been doing amazing things. So that’s been, you know, I’ve really enjoyed that. I think having a good website has been really helpful for me and kind of, you know, that’s been investing in that and understanding and how that works has kind of that is the foundation of my business. That’s how most people find me. And, you know, that’s, that’s been hugely helpful. Working with, having a few business besties. So other therapists that do exactly the same as what I do. So, you know, there’s there’ll be some times where you’ll say, oh, referrals are completely dropped off, I’m never gonna be busy again. And they will pick you up at those times. So when you’re having a struggle, they’ve generally they’ve been through it and they’re out the other end.

Hayley Quinn 

Yeah, so being able to normalise each other’s experiences isn’t it.

Sarah Rees 

Yeah,

Hayley Quinn 

That this is what happens business is not consistent.

Sarah Rees 

Yeah, no, it’s not and I think, finally is having a her business plan in place, which is something I came to quite late in the day. I didn’t I didn’t even know what to put in one. So I was like, I’ll have to skip that step and come back to it at a later date. But now, I’d like you were talking about you plan your holidays for the year, I do that now and are working kind of three month slots of right, you know, September to Christmas, this is what I’m going to be focusing on, this is what I’m going to be doing and, and then playing it out three months at a time and having goals for my businesses has been hugely, you know, so having a good business plan and understanding business planning has been very helpful. And having a buffer has been helpful financial buffer, because I’m like, completely, triggered by if I don’t have money in my bank account, or I might not be able to pay something that is like triggering for me, and it will take me off being able to work well with clients. So you have to learn what your threats are, and kind of get those covers to having said I’m kind of bad, I was gonna say six months salary in the bank, that would be a lie, I’m on my way to it.

Hayley Quinn 

You make a good point because this is about getting to know yourself, isn’t it? Know yourself, know, the sort of things that are going to be problematic for, you know, the sort of things that are going to put you into threat or put you under stress and overwhelm, and then put things in place in your business that can help kind of prevent, alleviate buffer that sort of stuff? Because it’s, it’s more than just being the therapist, isn’t it? It’s being the therapist and being the business owner. Yeah. And managing all of that.

Sarah Rees 

Yeah, absolutely. And when, when your business is running really smoothly, and is nice and secure, you can focus on being the therapist, and that’s what you enjoy. That’s where you want your spotlight of attention to be. If it’s on the business, then you’re not going to be delivering the therapy and then quite quickly spiral into self-criticism and just it goes downhill a little bit. So having a good business, having putting the time and investment in that to be solid means that you can forget it and focus on the therapy. And you know, I have I work from home now. But I do three days a week in, in Wilmslow. And when I’m there, all I do is I shut the door, and I’m just with my clients and that’s it. And then Mondays and Tuesdays I do you know, other things, I’ve kind of blocked out my time for certain things you have to make, I think that’s one of the things when I’m working with people that they they focus on the clients and the therapy, but they forget to put in time for marketing, accounts, you know, working with coaches and stuff like that they ignore that time. And that’s what can lead to burnout, because it’s  running a business is time consuming.

Hayley Quinn 

Yeah. And that’s the thing, you’ve got to allocate time for it. You can’t do all of it every day of the week. So I think you were saying before about making a plan and sort of thinking, okay, what am I going to focus on for the next three months? And then being realistic about what can I give my time to in the next three months, so that you’re not getting overwhelmed that we don’t take on too much and then overwhelm ourselves? Or thinking ahead. Like currently, at the moment, I’m living in chaos and waiting to move house, and I’m having to pull back on some things so that I’m not overwhelmed. Because my emotional sort of resilience, and my energy levels are less because of the situation that we’re living in right now. So it’s important, isn’t it to tune in? Where am I at? What’s going on in life? What’s going on in our business? And how do I need to kind of massage that so that I can take care of myself and have you know, longevity in practice sustainability and practice? All those things are so important.

Sarah Rees 

Yeah, and I moved house last year is Yeah, and I thought I had it nailed I was like, I’ve got this nailed until the last month. And then I was like, okay, I’ve not got there. It’s so stressful isn’t but it’s totally worth it. But after I moved, I was like the three months after that. I was like, this is my quiet phase in my business. I didn’t really do anything. I really slowed it all down. And yeah, and you plan for that, don’t you?

Hayley Quinn 

Yeah, absolutely. So if you were starting out today,

Sarah Rees 

Yeah.

Hayley Quinn 

And you were opening your own practice. Yeah. What would you do differently? And what do you wish you’d known at the start?

Sarah Rees 

Oh, my God, I can’t like I had literally we need to scrap out the next two hours. Because I didn’t know anybody that had set up in private practice. So I made all the mistakes. So I’ve like done it all. I think the biggest thing is I would not, I can’t do numbers I look at numbers and I go a bit blind, I’ve got like probably gotten number dyslexia or something. So I should never have done my own bookkeeping and accountancy and never have done a tax return it that was really bad. And I was really glad I got this and I talked to some people that would do their own books and stuff and manage it quite well. But I like that is the one thing I would have, you know what you’re not good at and pass it on to somebody else that would have saved me an awful lot of time. And I think I just wanted to kind of have clients through the door, that was my kind of focus to so that I could build up the income and go, I’m making it work. And actually, I wish I’d spent a bit more time thinking about what I wanted my business to look like. And because I did work a lot with referral companies, and ended up with instead of one boss, I have now 10, requiring different paperwork, and different computer systems. And they were quite rude to me to be honest. And they didn’t pay that well, and or they’d pay three months later down the line. And it was just I, you know, I don’t do that now. But I think, you know, I was I was doing that, but also building up my website, and probably any marketing that I was getting through my website or business I had to turn down because I was so busy with, you know, so I wish I’d spent time thinking what do I want this to look like? What do I want my life to look like? Where do I want my referrals to come from and prioritise those rather than, you know, just getting clients in the door? But I think it was the fear of will I make any money? I wonder if no you threats

Hayley Quinn 

Absolutely spot on. When I work with people, it’s that question of do you want to do that? You know, ask yourself the question, do I want to work with that presentation? Do I want to do that sort of insurance work? Or whatever it might be? What do you want life to look like? And then how can you actually factor in the things you need for your business within that? Yeah, and I think you really spot on when you mentioned fear because I think a lot of that is driven by but what if I don’t get any clients so I just need to take whatever comes through the door. And like you realised unfortunately the you then end up with likely a busy caseload of work that really you’d rather not have and then it’s hard to transition it to what you want. So I think starting out but asking yourself some questions around what do I actually want my business to be is really wise.

Sarah Rees 

Yes, yeah. And I kind of think now if I don’t kind of think yes, I really want to do this work like and get an excitement, I kind of just say no to it. So I’ve really learned to tune in to kind of how things make me feel because every time I kind of pulled away from a referral company that had you know, that I’d made a lot of money from it was really tough to do. So once you’ve set it up, it’s really scary to pull it back. But it’s totally worth it, I think there’s something about when you create space in your business, really exciting things come into it as well. Which you have to just trust and just create the space.

Hayley Quinn 

It’s like many things in life isn’t it, it takes courage to be with all the discomfort that shows up.

Sarah Rees 

Yeah.

Hayley Quinn 

But it allows you to actually build your business the way you want it to be and to create your life the way you want it to be as well.

Sarah Rees 

Yeah.

Hayley Quinn 

So I know that you like me have done lots of training in CFT and compassionate mind training. How do you think cultivating a compassionate mind can assist to navigate these dual roles of helping professional and business owner? Because I know for me, it’s been really helpful.

Sarah Rees 

Oh, it’s been absolutely phenomenal you know, compassion focus therapy in the work, Paul Gilbert and Mary and Deborah and all those have it’s completely changed my life, you know, and it’s fundamental to my business, in that I know how to take care of myself it was actually when I kind of came into the private practice that I started to struggle with my health you know, after all those years of sick pay and stuff that you know, so I really had to start applying that stuff to my myself and I think you know, you if you don’t feel like you’re doing a good job as a therapist, because it’s somebody else’s health at the end of that it’s it’s really tough, it’s really tough. So that has, but to do that work you have to look after yourself, your mind is a tool from which you work. So you have to take care of that, you know, so that, you know doing the mindfulness, the compassion focus therapy practice is hugely important. But I think what’s helped me the most is developing the courage and the strength to make difficult decisions. Because I suppose that I would be like a bit more of a people pleaser, things would be going wrong, and I’d kind of go, oh, I don’t want to do that. And now I’m a bit like, this is best, what’s best for me, what’s going to make me the best for my clients, and it’s making tough decisions, as it’s been the thing that I’ve learned the most, I suppose. And really, you know, using the model of CFT I use that within my life and my business. So really identifying the threats, when I’m in Drive Mode, you know, I recognise that in myself, even if it’s a positive, that excitement, I can kind of oversubscribe myself to lots of things. So if I feel like, so if and I recognise that feeling, I’m still not, you know, work in progress and all that bow, I’ll try and tone it down. And, you know, I can definitely like the soothing systems, I have to, you know, work at that. So having that model from you, for your business. So like, working on the threats in the business, you know, sometimes occasionally, you’ll get a difficult client or somebody won’t pay you. And you know, I do not want that to hijack my mind set too much I’ve really, really focused in on, this is what my threat is. So how can I kind of get myself back to kind of balance as quickly as possible? You know?

Hayley Quinn 

I think for me, sort of, you know, developing a compassionate mind has really allowed me to change my relationship with myself, and listen to myself and tune in like us, they start to get to know where am I threats? Where are my stresses? What sort of things overwhelm me? What sort of things bring me joy and excitement? Yeah, yeah. How to know my limits, and when I’ve gone over them. So pull back, and also the things that actually feel helpful to nurture yourself. And like you said, you know, it’s a work in progress, I think for all of us, or as Diana Hill says, a life in process. Yeah, yeah. You know,

Sarah Rees 

We’re never the finished project.

Hayley Quinn 

But it’s so helpful, isn’t it? And I was I do you live with chronic illness and chronic challenges. And I know that this impacts how we manage our work life. What do you think are the biggest challenges that you face in terms of taking care of yourself both within and outside of your work? And how do you try and address them?

Sarah Rees 

The biggest challenges? Oh, gosh, I suppose it is getting a balance. I think we both are similar in that it’s quite invisible conditions that we have. And, and that has been my biggest challenge, because I look fine sometimes. And sometimes inside, I’ve not been fine. And I feel like I have to scream it to people, but our or else, I won’t scream it to people. So people don’t know, around me. So I have a thyroid condition, which I mean, literally, I think within months of starting my private practice, I was hit with a thyroid condition that gave me chronic fatigue for about two years. And that is terrifying. I mean, my backgrounds in nursing, I’m used to doing 12 hour shifts, I have no boundaries, I can really put in the hours and I was catching myself like uhh so like, like you wouldn’t believe so it absolutely stopped me in the tracks, having to think about myself and slow myself down. And I do wonder, you know, sometimes if it’s interesting the types of people that get these conditions that just stop themselves. Do you think that as well?

Hayley Quinn 

Well, I think, for me, it was, I think there’s this little wisdom, it will it was a very quiet wisdom voice that was showing up and showing up and showing up and I was not listening. And then it’s like right you’re not listening? So I’ll put you on your back.

Sarah Rees 

Because she was a single mum doing your PhD weren’t you? I mean when I heard your story. I was like, oh my god, I’m fine.

Hayley Quinn 

A single mum doing a PhD and sometimes working three jobs. I mean I shouldn’t laugh because it’s not funny.

Sarah Rees 

It’s not funny.

Hayley Quinn 

But when you look back it’s like oh my goodness, but at the time, you’re in survival mode, and you’re pushing and you’re pushing and you’re activating that drive system and threat based drive system and keeping on going 

Sarah Rees 

So I do think if you don’t stop yourself, yeah, your body says okay, enough and that’s and it’s interesting the time it came for me.

Hayley Quinn 

And we’re not I mean, we’re not robots always. So we can’t we honestly can’t expect ourselves to keep pushing and pushing and pushing and pushing, and not doing the things your body needs. No, which one of them is rest. We’re designed to sleep we’re a species that’s designed to sleep for, you know, a large amount of hours a day.

Sarah Rees 

Yeah and nap as well. So we should all have naps in the afternoon we’re just programmed to do that.

Hayley Quinn 

I’m a big advocate for mapping now.

Sarah Rees 

Oh, fantastic. So yeah, it’s kind of getting the balance for yourself, isn’t it recognising and your boundaries, you get stopped in your tracks. I have now have celiac as well. And, you know, a lady of a certain age has menopause to deal with, which I thought was nowhere near me. Until recent years. You know, and I can’t believe how uneducated we are as women even as therapists I never asked women about kind of Hormonal Health and stuff. And it’s, you know, almost disgusted. But it should be a fundamental part of our training, shouldn’t it, physical health, which I think that that will, will come in. So I suppose it’s people around you don’t see your challenges, do they? So it’s getting so it’s hard to have that validated. So then it’s hard to validate it for yourself. But the biggest challenge is, knowing your boundaries, getting better at it, but being really in tune in your body. And I think one of my motivations is that if you’re not good for you, when you’re not feeling good, you get very self focused, and your attention really narrows. But when you’re in the best place, and you’re feeling good, you’re much better for other people. So your attention broadens and your outward focus. And that makes us much better therapists and much nice people to be around. So, you know, if you’ve struggled to do it for yourself, sometimes it’s really thinking that self-care is actually the best thing for everybody around us as well.

Hayley Quinn 

Yeah, yeah. I think you know, for other therapists who struggle with chronic illness, because I think there’s lots of us out there. It’s not really something that’s talked about.

Sarah Rees 

I mean, yeah, yeah, we all get hit at some point.

Hayley Quinn 

Absolutely. Whether it’s physical health, mental health, I think I don’t know about in the UK, but certainly here, I think there’s an element of fear of people speaking out and saying, actually, I’m not well. Which is really sad, because I think one of the important things when you’re dealing with whether it’s chronic physical illness or chronic mental illness, is learning to actually ask for help. Because like you were saying, the things that you and I deal with are invisible, and people you know I can remember going places and people, you know, saying, oh you look amazing. And I think, oh, my gosh, you don’t even know what it took me to get here.

Sarah Rees 

Yeah, yeah.

Hayley Quinn 

But because you look, well, we thought we must be well,

Sarah Rees 

I remember losing quite a lot of weight at one point, and everybody was like, you look amazing. It was like, I really ill with my thyroid condition, I wasn’t, you know it’s really bad isn’t it.

Hayley Quinn 

Very toxic isn’t it.

Sarah Rees 

Yeah.

Hayley Quinn 

And I think asking, you know, developing the I won’t say comfort, because I think it can remain very uncomfortable. If you’re somebody that’s not been used to asking for help, or finds that difficult, is working on being able to ask for help. Whether that’s stuff in your personal life, because your health isn’t great, stuff in your business, because you’re struggling with it. You know, like you were saying before, there’s so many aspects to business and there’s so much learning on top of staying up to date with all the therapy you’re using and what have you, but actually reaching out to other people and asking for help.

Sarah Rees 

Yeah, yeah. But I think it’s difficult sometimes for people to hear it as well because it’s just not fashionable is it. You know, and it’s people want this Instagram kind of world. So if sometimes when people ask for help other people just kind of blanket up a little bit because, just being human and all our ups and downs is not trendy. It’s not you know, that challenge as well. You know,

Hayley Quinn 

Hashtag not trendy to be human.

Sarah Rees 

It’s not trendy to be human.

Hayley Quinn 

We need to change this

Sarah Rees 

Yeah.

Hayley Quinn 

Being human should be one of the trendiest things.

Sarah Rees 

Yes, yeah. And with that comes our ups and downs we all experience grief. We many of us are carers aren’t we, for other people and that’s like we have for my mother in law’s got dementia I probably don’t really mention that much because nobody wants to hear it. You know, and that’s, that’s tough. So there’s something about opening up people’s voices isn’t there and other people hearing it. That’s the tragedy, isn’t it, the dark side that Paul Gilbert talks a lot about, but life is really, really tough and we can’t pretend that it’s not. And when he can’t do loads of therapy to get to the point where everything’s going to be rosy forever, that’s, it’s working with the tough stuff isn’t it.

Hayley Quinn 

We all suffer and I think you make a good point. You know, there’s things going on, like you’re looking after your mother in law with dementia. And people are in all sorts of different caring roles, on top of being a helping professional in terms of say, being a therapist, with our clients. And actually acknowledging that for yourself, that actually, I hold many roles, and some of them are really hard to hold. And I am human first, and I choose to be a helping professional as actually a work role. You know, it’s one aspect of our life, isn’t it? And we need to acknowledge that actually, we have full lives, that aren’t all about the work that we do.

Sarah Rees 

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Hayley Quinn 

Challenging work, it’s challenging work on a good day.

Sarah Rees 

Yeah, what do we do? But it’s so rewarding isn’t it? So, you know?

Hayley Quinn 

Yeah, absolutely. And it’s, you know, lots of other people are in jobs where you go home, and you talk to your partner, or you talk to your friends about your work, and you might, you know, have a bit of a moan about your job, or you might talk about something exciting that happened at work, and generally, as therapists that’s we don’t get to do that, because we can’t go home and start talking about our clients, and what we heard and the stories we heard, so it’s a lot to carry. And I think if you don’t have good peer support, or you don’t have good supervision, then you’re actually holding a lot of stories. And if people are in therapy, they’re likely going to be stories of suffering. So you’re holding a lot of suffering by yourself.

Sarah Rees 

I always say that the one that one of the main things that my clients have given me is the ability to see that we are all struggling, we all have our stories. Now I get amazing people walk into my clinic room every single day. And I think they just look amazing. And then they have this, underneath have this story, like everybody and that’s so I walk around the street going, you all have your stories. I know when so many people walk around and go, I’m broke, and everybody else has got it together. That’s the one thing that you know, is a real, it’s interesting from being a therapist, isn’t it, that we have that different take on that?

Hayley Quinn 

Absolutely. And that and having that, you know, ability to have that compassionate lens, to say that actually everyone is suffering, including ourselves and making sure that we include the three flows of compassion in our lives, you know, compassion to others, which most of us as helping professionals are very good at, very skilled at can give out loads of compassion, here have some compassion, I got heaps of it, you can have some. Yeah, but then also offering compassion to ourselves. And then, you know, people will sometimes say self-compassion is the hardest in my experience of talking to people, and from my own experience, is actually receiving compassion from others. Yeah, can be the one that’s really tricky.

Sarah Rees 

Yes, yeah.

Hayley Quinn 

And allowing ourselves as helping professionals to receive that compassion from others as well, as well as giving it to ourselves.

Sarah Rees 

Just having, I had Paul Gilbert on the podcast a couple of weeks ago, and at the end, we were talking, he asked me at the end about your my health conditions, and he was like, that’s tough. He was giving me compassion an I was like oh, gosh, I know what you’re doing. This is, I could have squirmed he was like, that’s really tough. I was like, Oh, that’s horrible. I realised I’m just really not used to it you know, he’s been very therapeutic. He was offering me compassion and I really struggled with that.

Hayley Quinn 

It can be hard. I had spent a lot of time you know, working on my own self-compassion, pre COVID. Gosh, I don’t even know when it was now probably 2019. I went over to New York, to present at Dennis Tersh’s compassion Summit. And the evening before the summit, we had a dinner at his house and I fell and busted my ankle. And of course, I’m with all these presenters who were presenting at the compassion Summit, so they’re all these beautiful, compassionate people. And I’m on the floor, and everybody came rushing over to help. And I felt physically sick, and just wanted to tell them all to get I’m fine. I’m fine. I wasn’t fine. I couldn’t walk. And I had to have, I think it was Stan Stidal and Yotum helped me under my arms to get me back to the hotel. But for me, that was and then throughout the summit, people going and getting my lunch for me, because there was these stairs that I couldn’t walk down, and having to be really open to receiving this compassion. And that was a massive learning for me.

Sarah Rees 

So interesting, isn’t it?

Hayley Quinn 

Like I was shocked at first, but then really kind of looked and went, wow, this is something I need to work on. Because I thought I was all over this compassion thing I can know I’m compassionate to others ad I’ve got really good at being compassionate to myself. But when this compassion was coming to me, I was like, you I was like, oh,

Sarah Rees 

We can’t moderate it can you can’t grade it? I think even developing self-compassion, you can go okay, right done for the day. That’s good, tick my self-care box, and off I go and forget that for the rest. But when it’s from people, you can’t moderate it. You can’t can you? You can’t block it. Well, you can, but if you really allow it in, it’s really overwhelming.

Hayley Quinn 

And I think one of the interesting things for me, was that real understanding then. You know, I always think it’s, you know, these experiences and I think Paul Gilbert said this to me at one point, or training, that, you know, we go through these difficult things, but as psychologists, they can be really good learning experiences. Like once we’ve dealt with that on a personal level, they can actually be really good learning experiences for therapists, because for me, it was like, okay, I need to titrate how compassionate I am towards certain clients as well. Or they’re going to be in my room feeling like they want to leg out the door.

Sarah Rees 

This is a nightmare. Yes.

Hayley Quinn 

Yeah. So just moderating that you’re not kind of being overly compassionate to people at the start, when actually that’s really aversive for them?

Sarah Rees 

Absolutely. Yeah. And I think people can really tell when you’ve had to do the work yourself. People can really tell can’t they? And you can feel like you’re really doing kind of, they’ll say, how did you can that, do you do mindfulness every day? Do you do these compassion exercises. And I think if you can share that your experience of having to do them that’s can really open things up for people and you know, but then sometimes people want the therapist to be kind of these perfect people that don’t have the ups and downs don’t they. Awks, we’re not like that.

Hayley Quinn 

No, goodness no. Despite the despite, I think, you know, training sort of years ago, wanting you to be this kind of blank slate of don’t, don’t be don’t let anybody know anything about yourself.

Sarah Rees 

Yes, but I think that’s quite unique and compassion world, isn’t it that we kind of present as were human too. We go through stuff, and it’s showing that common humanity?

Hayley Quinn 

Yeah, absolutely. So what would be one piece of advice and I know that can be hard to single things down to one thing, but what would be one piece of advice you would share with our listeners?

Sarah Rees 

Well, I think this is easy for me. I like, I had something in mind, is that I really think that the most important relationship we have is with ourselves and when we get that right, we are in the best place for everybody else. So it starts with ourselves instead of kind of often we kind of focus outwards on what we can do for others and everybody around us but if you’re not okay then that’s gonna fall, that’s not sustainable it’s gonna fall down and like I said before, when you know when you you’re struggling our focus goes inwards and we’re not great for everybody around us but when we’re in a good place, when we’ve got the relationship with ourselves kind of sorted then we can see broad and we’re much better for other people around us. So I think creating awareness of mind is you know, really tuning in to how you are so that you can kind of get your own needs met, put your own oxygen mask on first so that you can be in a good place for everybody else.

Hayley Quinn 

Oh, absolutely, I mean, I think you totally agree that the best and longest relationship we’ll ever have, yeah sorry, the most important and longest relationship, hopefully, the best relationship,

Sarah Rees 

Hopefully the best. Yes.

Hayley Quinn 

Is the one we have with ourselves, it’s so so important, isn’t it?

Sarah Rees 

It sets the tone for everything else in your in your life.

Hayley Quinn 

I honestly think it’s Sarah as well that we can take care of our clients best when we take care of ourselves first.

Sarah Rees 

Yes, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Hayley Quinn 

So I’m going to ask you a question I asked all of my guests. If you could meet your 80 year old self? What do you think your future self would say to you?

Sarah Rees 

It’s such an interesting question, isn’t it. I’ve not been asked that one before. Oh you know, oh, my God, I hope I meet my, you know, get to 80, which is like phenomenal, isn’t it? If I could meet my 80-year-old self, she’d say, slow down and enjoy the moments more. Notice the moments yeah, I remember I did this thing on Instagram a while ago, and I just did it for myself. But every day, I’d take a picture of a moment, and then I’d post it and kind of go today’s moment. And that was really good at kind of, because I’d go about my day thinking, what a nice moment. What’s going to be my moment today? And it would, you know, just be something tiny. And I think, oh, maybe if I could do that every day, that would be really good. So notice the moment slow down.

Hayley Quinn 

Lovely,

Sarah Rees 

Because it goes so fast, doesn’t it? We’ll be 80 before we know it hopefully.

Hayley Quinn 

It’s like I want to get there. Just not yet.

Sarah Rees 

I want to get there. Just slowly. Yeah, yeah.

Hayley Quinn 

So if people want to find out more about you or get in touch. Where can they find you and engage with you and your work? And I’ll put link.

Sarah Rees 

Oh, brilliant. My website. Yeah, everything, it’s on my website. So do lots of blogs for on different mental health topics and journaling and therapy, and there’s therapists corner on there. Stuff for other therapists. So my website, sarahdrees.co.uk. And I’m probably at the moment most active on Instagram, I’d like to say, but I’ve been just off it the past couple of weeks. So I normally do lots of stuff on Instagram. And the podcast is Ask the Therapist, where you can listen to a podcast I did with Hayley. Which was fantastic.

Hayley Quinn 

Oh you’ve got some great stuff on your podcast, some great guests.

Sarah Rees 

Yeah, it’s really it’s fun to do isn’t it, it feels like such a treat to have an excuse to kind of contact amazing people and get them on and have some great conversations.

Hayley Quinn 

Yeah, absolutely. So website, podcast, Instagram, although you’re having a bit of a break from that, which I think as well is some very good self-care to just step back and go I’m not going to get caught up in it.

Sarah Rees 

Yeah absolutely. Thank you so much for having me on. I’ve really enjoyed myself. It’s nice not being the host.

Hayley Quinn 

Thanks. Thank you so much for coming on. It’s it really is an absolute pleasure. And it’s lovely to have you on my podcast having been on your podcast. And I look forward to seeing you at the compassionate mind foundation conference in Edinburgh in October.

Sarah Rees 

I can’t wait. Fantastic

Hayley Quinn 

I’m excited.

Sarah Rees 

I know looking forward to that.

Hayley Quinn 

Yeah. And just to give them a little plug, actually, just for anybody that can’t go to Edinburgh it is online as well. So they can go to the compassionate mind Foundation website and find out information about it there. Fantastic.

Sarah Rees 

Yeah, it’s gonna be a good one. They are good fun.

Hayley Quinn 

So thank you again. It’s been an absolute pleasure.

Sarah Rees 

Thanks, Hayley.

 

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