This week we interviewed Sujarda Herring, a registered integrative counsellor and holistic therapist and the owner of Space to Tame, a private practice in the centre of Edinburgh, Scotland. Space to Tame has the aim of providing a space to support people with their mental health, personal development and well-being. Check out our talk with Sujarda below!
About combining mental health, personal development and well-being.
In my opinion, the three go hand in hand. That said, a lot of people raise an eyebrow when they find out that alongside my counselling practice I also offer Reiki, Hypnotherapy and practices such as Tarot and Moonology readings. My response is simply that I take a holistic approach to well-being. We are complex human beings, each with our own interests, preferences and styles, by offering a range of therapies, tools and techniques which are all underpinned by counselling, I can work with clients to find out what would work best for them as an individual.
Traditionally people seek the support of a counsellor when an issue or problem has developed, and rightly so! However, counselling can also help people with personal growth, personal exploration and self development as well as general well-being. If we learn to manage change, solve problems and develop coping techniques then it’s also possible to prevent mental health issues such as depression and anxiety developing in the first place. By integrating well-being and self development into my practice I aim to do just that.
How did your previous career and experiences help you in this journey, healing people with your therapies?
Prior to becoming a counsellor and holistic therapist I was the Head of Public Relations for an international corporation. The skills and experience I learned in this role helped me not only develop my business and service offering but it gave me first hand experience of the pressure and challenges of modern living.
I was commuting between Edinburgh and London every week working long hours and living out of a suitcase and I was away from my support system – my family and friends. I felt the pressure of always having to be ‘on’, being the best manager possible, keeping people motivated, keeping clients happy and constantly proving my worth. Then on the rare occasion I was home, I was trying to scrape some ‘quality time’ with the people I love and was simply too tired to do anything fun like socialising or enjoying life. The result is that I was utterly miserable and ended up suffering from burn out.
If I had a space where I could reflect on what I wanted out of life, who I wanted to be and what actually made me happy, I would have left my previous career many years before it got to the point of my mental health suffering. But my silver lining from this experience is that I left that career, retrained as a counsellor and started again. As I explored different approaches and counselling theories, I was led to experience, and then becoming qualified in, a range of alternative and holistic therapies and from this- Space to Tame was born.
Mental health is an important topic that begins to get the attention that it deserves. What are the main problems that people bring to you in your sessions (too much work, not enough rest, pressure etc) and how do those problems manifest in your patients (anxiety, insomnia…)?
I have clients come to see me with a range of issues, everything from the fact that they are simple feeling a little lost, to those dealing with bereavement and trauma. However the majority of my clients (around two thirds) in the last 12 months have been dealing with anxiety.
The pandemic caused a lot of health anxiety for people, and of course brought about major changes and flux, which many of us find hard to deal with. There are a lot of people also coming to me with work related stress and simply not having the resources to do their job effectively which creates a lot of pressure.
This can manifest in many ways for clients from panic attacks to insomnia to low self esteem and relationship issues and because people are so varied and therefore their issues are so varied, it helps that I can be flexible and work with a range of therapies to support people.
For example, learning breath work to calm our nervous system can really help with the physical symptoms of anxiety, and help a client feel a lot more in control, which can break the cycle of being anxious about their anxiety!l For someone who simply can not switch off, then Reiki or an Indian head massage can promote relaxation and wellbeing and when they feel relaxed and replenished it enables them to look at their issues with a clearer head and from a new perspective.
About her therapies and how “one size does not fit all”
Many therapists agree that the most important ingredient in someone’s healing journey is their relationship with their therapist. Of course, I’m not the right fit for every client, just as we don’t click with every single person we meet, the same is true for the client therapist relationship.
But what is important is that the client can feel comfortable with their therapist and feel safe and supported enough to be able to talk openly about their issues. By creating a supportive environment, clients can openly discuss what is bothering them during an initial consultation (which I offer free of charge) and from this I discuss what therapies can work well for their unique situation.
Then we may try different approaches and talk about what worked for them and what didn’t, and I adapt my approach to their preferences. The key really is communicating and not pretending to have all the answers, I work collaboratively with clients and we both play an equal role in their therapy.
In terms of trying to connect all the therapies I offer… Ultimately I believe the mind, body and spirit are all connected and for me to offer a holistic approach to wellbeing, thenI feel that all the therapies I offer are connected. For example a client coming in with severe anxiety can:
– Benefit from a reiki session so they feel more relaxed and able to articulate what the cause of their anxiety is
– Benefit from an Indian Head Massage to alleviate the physical symptoms anxiety can manifest such as migraines and tense jaws
– Benefit from an EFT session to develop a coping technique for symptoms of anxiety so they feel more in control
– Benefit from breath work and coping techniques so they can learn how to regulate their nervous system and preventing anxiety escalating into panic attacks
– Benefit from Hypnotherapy to learn new coping skills, confidence that they can overcome anxiety and reinforce healthy behaviours
– Benefit from a Moonology reading as it gives us a 12 month plan to set goals for every single area of our life which neatly correlates to astrological signs, its a simple goal setting and life planning tool!
– Benefit from using Tarot cards if they find it hard to articulate their thoughts and feelings, tarot cards represent elements of life that are common in the stories we all share and experience, so by using the cards as a talking point, clients can unlock the subconscious as the cards bring awareness to thoughts and feelings.
One of the things I get asked most about it my Tarot readings as people do not see how they can fit into my practice so I also want to address this. I do not claim to be psychic or offer predictions of what is going to happen in someone’s future, because my belief is that we are in charge of our own destiny. I have been through rigorous Tarot certification with both Biddy Tarot, Ethony Dawn so I know the meanings of the cards, but I use them to promote conversation, reflection and instigate change in clients not to tell them what they future husband looks like.
Tarot sometimes gets a bad wrap and in my opinion that is a real shame. Decks are just ink and cards and certainly nothing to be feared. The symbols and signs printed within the pictures represent the trials and tribulations of life and reflecting on these can lead to understanding about personality, attitude and circumstance, aiding self exploration and development. And given that, I really can’t think of a more appropriate counselling tool!
With all that said, I will end by reiterating the need for personal preference and autonomy. I will meet my clients where they are at and so if they simply want counselling and make that clear, I don’t even bring alternative therapies up. Conversely I have clients that only ever want Reiki and wouldn’t dream of having a counselling session. I then have clients who are eager to experience everything and love to try new therapies – all approaches are great! My role is to support the client and work with their agenda, not mine.