Tasha Bailey is an experienced and accredited psychotherapist who specialises in complex trauma, anxiety, confidence and cultural identity. Trained to work with children, adolescents and adults, she currently works with adults in her private practice, based in London, UK.
Tasha has recently joined the Healthily team as a mental health guest expert, so we caught up with her to talk about all things therapy and mental wellbeing.
When did you first become interested in mental health and what made you want to be a psychotherapist?
Mental health has always been a part of my life, because of the experience of seeing mental health issues in my environment. Because of this, I’ve always been curious about what I could do to help in the wider world of mental health.
When I was about 16, I decided I wanted to be a child and adolescent psychotherapist and that never changed. I have a Masters degree in child and adolescent psychotherapy – that learning applies to working with adults as well.
What can therapy do for people and how do you like to work?
The main thing that therapy is for is creating a space for the individual. I think we all have stories or experiences that we’re left with and maybe haven’t been able to process. Therapy is a space where you have somebody with you who’s always on your side and is there to help with your growth and healing.
The way I work is quite creative because my training was quite child-centred. I learnt a lot about using play and art in the way I work. So with my clients, we might use metaphors, we might draw or there might be song lyrics that help them express something.
What do you think is the most common challenge for people when it comes to their mental health?
I think there can be a lot of shame and criticism around how well we’re doing. When I meet someone for the first time, they often feel shame around not being able to manage their mental health on their own.
In reality, this is something we all need help with. We’re not necessarily shown how to do this, we’re not taught how to look after ourselves when there’s a pandemic, for example. A lot of the work I do is around building compassion first, so my clients can understand that they’re learning, we’re all learning – and that’s okay.
What advice would you give to someone who’d like to try therapy but doesn’t know how to take that first step?
If you’re feeling nervous about trying therapy, perhaps start with some journaling. This can help you think about why you’d like to have therapy, what you’d like it to be about and what your fears are. It can help you work out what you want to bring to therapy and what you want the experience to be like.
I’d always say shop around when it comes to choosing your therapist. Don’t stick with the first therapist you find. Meet a few and see who you feel most comfortable with. Then trust the process and allow yourself to be vulnerable.
When would you recommend that someone tries therapy?
I don’t think there’s any wrong or right moment. Some people come to therapy when things are difficult, for others it’s when things are great. It’s important to know that it’s a commitment and you need to assess whether you can fit it into your life. If you feel you can’t, perhaps think about what needs to change so you can.
What are the benefits of talk therapy?
There’s a real benefit to face-to-face and virtual therapy in that it’s more of a natural way of interacting – being able to see each other eye-to-eye and have a real conversation. When you’re talking to your therapist, they’re tuning in to what you’re feeling. This is really powerful when you’re in a room together or talking over video.
What 3 things, outside of therapy, would you recommend people do or have to maintain mental wellbeing?
What’s a non-negotiable in your own mental self-care?
This is something I’ve been learning and working on recently: not saying yes to anything I’m unsure about. If someone asks me if I’d like to do something and I don’t really want to, I need to say no. Otherwise I’ll end up resenting the thing I’ve said yes to and it’ll take time away from me and the things I actually want to work on.
What’s your go-to self-care exercise that helps with your own mental health?
One is being in nature. If I’m having a difficult or heady day, my medicine is to step out and find some trees somewhere. Another is being creative, so I might draw, paint or make something. That’s my way of being playful and finding peace.
How do you start and end your day?
I now have a vintage vinyl record player, so I start my day by putting a vinyl on. I’ll maybe burn some sage, light a candle, have a cup of tea and chill with my cats – then I start to check emails. I like to slowly build up the start of my day. I end the day with Netflix and a book.
What does living healthily mean to you?
Finding space in your day or week to feel and experience joy, and think about what you need rather than what everyone expects. Use this time to do the things that will help you look after you, and help you do what you want to in the world.
Even as a therapist, you’re not going to have everything in order all the time. There are times you’ll need more rest and times you’ll have more energy. Living healthily is about checking in with yourself: where you’re at, what you have the capacity for and what you need more of.
What do you like to do outside of your work as a therapist?
I haven’t done this for a while because of the coronavirus pandemic, but travel is my thing. I’ve been to about 40 countries so far. By stepping out of my comfort zone and immediate space, I learn more about myself and the world. I love to try different foods, too.
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