HOW I WORK
I’m Leah Booker and This is How I Work….
First of all, tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.
My interest in the world of therapy developed as a result of feeling different to others and never really understanding why. Aged 40 I tested positive for dyslexia and was diagnosed with an Auditory Processing Disorder. Training and qualifying as an online therapist and supervisor was challenging for me! It wasn’t a natural fit for me personally in the initial stages of training and I was convinced face to face work was more effective, little did I know my views would change so much in response to my experiences with clients and supervisees and my own willingness to try online working myself as a client and supervisee. The training was rigorous, more so than face to face training. I developed ways of working that really enabled me and my clients to be creative in the way we communicated with each other. I was able to accommodate my own and others needs in a variety of personalised way. I am the Managing Director of Free to Be You, a training, counselling, psychotherapy and supervisory organisation we work with children, young people, adults and professionals predominantly but not exclusively in educational contexts.
Take us through a recent workday.
My work life has change dramatically since Covid-19, the ICT accommodations that enable me to be more inclusive of others and myself, have become ever more essential. As a person who is self-isolated within my own home, as so many of us are, I have wanted to reach out in whatever way we can to clients, children, young people, adults and the professionals we work with as a team. We now have team meetings online, deliver training and offer a range of personalised ways of engaging with clients and supervisees that suit their needs and the needs of our counsellors, art therapist, psychotherapists, and supervisors.
What apps, gadgets, or tools can’t you live without?
Zoom features centrally in my world now. The visual potential of Zoom for me is great, I can lip read, see people, share documents, and even draw and create together! I love that you can change the backgrounds so easily on zoom too. We have introduced a competition to our staff team meetings for us to come up with creative and challenging backgrounds. One of our staff also has outfits to match their backgrounds as they are involved in local theatre group with children and young people! We were recently on the bridge of the star ship enterprise with one of their crew! We obviously must remind ourselves to change the backgrounds before we see clients and supervisees unless they ask for the Star Ship Enterprise!
What’s your workspace setup like?
My workspace is colourful! The more post it notes, coloured stationary and pens I have the better! Whether they are physically on my desk or on my computer, colour always features 😊 It helps me get organised and process my emotions throughout the day, I doddle all the time, and I encourage staff to engage in doodling where it works for them and their clients.
Take us through an interesting, unusual, or finicky process you have in place at work.
Every process in the world of Free to Be You is visual and coloured, our new Art Therapist loves our approach and feels nurtured within our creative work environment. We constantly learn from each other and this informs all our work with clients and supervisees online and face to face. I can make all such processes monochrome for anyone who is overwhelmed by colour too, we get that not everyone likes to see a rainbow of colour and that for some it creates a sensory overload.
Who are the people who help you get things done, and how do you rely on them?
The Free to Be You team are just amazing! Sarah Gillot our Business Manager is a star, she is the Free to Be You oracle for all things ICT and office based, she keeps us organised in so many ways! Our staff team Jo Casey-Castley, Joy Wright, Sarah Morley, Sue Towers and Mal Moody are all remarkable individuals! Free to Be You couldn’t engage the children, young people and professionals we do without their ability to engage people in relationship who have been traumatised in some way using a range of approaches, we work with individuals from some very challenging contexts within the UK in Rotherham and Sheffield and the wider region. They all do a fantastic job 😊 They offer face to face, online and telephone work with clients and supervisees. Lastly, I want to say thank you to the courageous professionals we ‘meet’ and work with daily who facilitate some of the most vulnerable children and young people in our contexts to engage in therapy or come forward to engage in supervision. We could not do what we do without you!!! Adrian Dunkley and Sarah Morton, mgrw – accounting angels! Having experts who sort out all thing’s financial saves me hours of my time, it enables me to do what I love which is being in contact with clients, supervisees and staff. Last, but not least, my wonderful partner who is inspires me daily to embrace my difference and follow my own path.
How do you keep track of what you have to do?
My phone helps me keep track of everything that I do, it is a Samsung Note 9. I absolutely love it! Everything in one place double password and fingerprint security with virus protection and a VPN. In addition to my phone I would not be without my Office 365 Business package, helps me to access info from wherever and whenever I need to.
How do you recharge or take a break?
My garden is my haven. I find nature very restorative, the peace and quiet is much needed at points throughout my working day. My APD can leave me feeling very tired at times so having some time in the garden whilst recalibrating my senses and listening to the sounds and smells of nature enables me to refocus and regulate for my next session or meeting.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
The three best pieces of advice I have ever received are to ask for the time you need to do complete a task or reflect upon a decision. If I need time to process a thought or a feeling, I give myself this or ask for it, I also provide this for others too. Secondly, allow myself to be a beginner. No one starts off being excellent, especially in the world of online therapy and supervision. Navigating the technology alone is an interesting journey. And thirdly, complete a therapeutic will. This has enabled me to feel settled knowing that everything is in place if I became severely ill and unable to work or if I were to die. I know all the people I have mentioned throughout this piece would be help, my clients, supervisees, my staff, organisations I deal with and my partner.
What’s a problem you’re still trying to solve?
I think the following two quotes summarise the problems I face and I am trying to solve, I advocate for myself on a daily basis but also for the needs of children, young people and other adults who are not traditional learners
‘I am a recovering perfectionist and an aspiring good enoughist!’
‘I don’t ‘suffer’ from dyslexia, I live and work with it. I suffer from the ignorance of people who think they know what I can and can’t do.’
Erica Cook – Learning Ally Member
I have learning differences, being Dyslexic and having APD means I do things differently to others. For too long I tried to do things like everyone else. We all have strengths in different places. Working online as a therapist and supervisor helps include so many individuals who might not otherwise engage, and it does not work for all. Personalisation is the way forward and online work certainly helps the team at Free to Be You achieve engagement with a wide variety of people. We care if you are free to be you, it’s not just a name it is genuinely a way of being.
Always happy to engage with others, come and join our Facebook or Twitter online community or get in touch with Leah by email firstname.lastname@example.org