Getting to Know our Team: Anne Devlin, Psychotherapist and Co-founder of City Therapy
In today’s “Getting to know your therapist” we are delighted to have the opportunity to interview Anne Devlin. She is the co-founder of City Therapy and a practicing Psychotherapist at City Therapy, Dame Street, Dublin.
Question 1: What would you say to someone who is thinking of talking to a therapist but is unsure?
If I am unsure of something, I always follow the same train of thought and a) determine what I want from a service and once I have determined this b) I would then make enquires. By finding out what I want I can then create questions to be answered by the particular service/person I am going to engage in/with. I also don’t put pressure on myself to make something fit, I might not find the best fit the first time and that is ok. In relation to therapy, I would always encourage a client to ask loads of questions to help them make the right decision. Some questions I might ask a potential therapist are:
- Have you worked with the issue I am presenting with?
- How will you work with the issues/s I am coming to you with?
- What is expected of me as a client?
- What can I expect of you as a therapist?
- What are your qualifications?
- Will there be reviews or does the therapy go on until I say I want to leave?
It is your right to ask all the questions you want; it is after all your mental wellbeing and that needs to be handled with care and professionalism.
Question 2: What is one tip you would give someone who is going through anxiety?
In the immediate face of anxiety, I would use deep breathing to help me feel calmer. I might also engage in the 54321-relaxation technique to bring me back to the present using my 5 senses – sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. To use the 54321 Exercise – I look around at 5 things I can see, Identify 4 things I can hear, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. I might do this more than once.
In the long term, I try to discover when I feel at my most anxious ie is it situational, is it my self-talk, is it my behaviour, or is it linked to particular people? Through a process of elimination, I can see when I am at my most anxious and if there is a pattern. If I identity the ‘when’ of my anxiety I can then start to look at the ‘why’. I can either reflect on this myself or I might link in with friends and talk to them about my discoveries. If I can’t talk to friends, then I might go and explore the ‘why’ with a professional.
Question 3: What do you do every day to keep your mental health in check?
It is a combination of things that allow me to keep my mental health in check. I am active 6 days a week and while this might not always be strenuous, I try to do something; this might be cycling to work, or going for a stroll at lunch, or going for a swim. I also try to eat nutritious food, I make sure I get a good night’s rest, I meet friends for coffee/chat, I take time out for myself, I try to introduce something new in my life for a year each year ie learn a language, learn to paint, learn to play an instrument. I engage in activities that are mindful, ie sea swimming, and hill running. I touch base with a therapist every 2 months just to check-in and if I need to increase this I do. Finally, I surround myself with people who make me laugh and keep a distance from people who only look out for themselves.
Question 4: What advice would you give to the readers to help them nurture their mental health?
Prioritise it!!! I think people take their mental health for granted only focusing on it when they are not feeling great. I would suggest taking a proactive approach to mental health and approaching it as part of the package of whole-body health. I see nurturing your body/mental health as a gift to yourself and not as an afterthought. Prioritise your overall health every day and throughout your day. Life isn’t a dress rehearsal.
Question 5: What’s the WHY behind what you do?
I started in the fitness industry as a personal trainer because I was fascinated with people’s relationship with food and weight. I thought I could use exercise to help people change their unhealthy behaviours around their nutrition and their bodies. As time went on, I realised that the key to behaviour change was deeply entrenched in their psychology and their experiences (previous or current) of their world. So, I became interested in the ‘Why’ behind people’s behaviour which saw me going back to college to study a new discipline. So, after a seven-year journey, I changed my career and began working with the psychology behind behaviour. The thing that straddled both careers was, and still is, my desire to be a catalyst for change by so that people can make changes they want in their life. I brought so much from my work as a personal fitness trainer to my work as a psychotherapist and in turn to my role as a business owner. I am nourished, and nurtured by my work and I find it a privilege to be invited on another person’s journey.
Question 6: What do you love about your job?
There are so many things I love about my job. One thing is the laughter. While the work can be really tough at times, I really enjoy those moments where I can share a joke or a little lightness, I have often laughed the hardest with those who have traveled through the most emotionally painful places. I also love when the work comes to a natural conclusion and a client feels they are ready to leave. While I leave the door open for past clients, for me an aim of the work is to get a person to a point where they are ok moving through the world with greater ease than they did before.
Question 7: Tell us about a success story?
Success is different for everyone and sometimes a therapist joins in on a part of a person’s journey and may not witness the success of the work you have done with them.
One experience I recall was when I worked with someone who spent their days and thoughts making sure everyone around them was well looked after. Over time this minding of others was causing resentment within my client and also leaving them feeling physically and emotionally drained. It is not uncommon for a person to come to the therapy blaming others for how they are feeling, but for true change to happen a person needs to own their own behaviour and their response to others. With this client we looked at the ‘whys’ behind their behaviour, the behaviours of minding others being a symptom of things underlying. The work took over a year and it was very painful and frustrating at times for the client. It can be difficult for a client to come to terms with the part they play and to recognise that on some level needs are being met within that client. They were beautiful moments when the client would come in and recount stories of where they had put themselves first or where they had said no to someone and not felt guilty about it. My client’s relationships improved overall because they were now approaching their relationships with others from a healthier less resentful place. The work ended organically but the door is always left open.
Question 8: What’s your favourite positive quote/affirmation?
The following quote is used in many ways but I say it to myself at times when I need to put perspective on something
‘The strength to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference’
In life I keep things simple…. ‘Be kind’ Anne Devlin
Anne Devlin, accredited with IACP.
To read more about Anne and how she devoted her time developing City Therapy. Click on the link below: