Modern living may be throwing up dilemmas we’ve never faced before – but there’s a new breed of therapist rising to the challenge. And they’re just a click away. Miranda Thompson reports…
The Money Guru
Michelle Lowbridge, 40, from Shropshire, helps people embrace their money-earning potential, mostly through online courses. She also has a select number of one-to-one customers.
My clients: Female entrepreneurs who are making money but have hit a plateau financially or are stressed about lack of income.
What I do: There is an ever-increasing number of brilliant people starting up their own businesses, but working solo can be very isolating, which is where I can help. If someone starts feeling stressed about money, it clouds their decision-making abilities. I love supporting people who are ready to look within to figure out what’s happening in their business.
My strategy: I like to get to the root of the issue and sort it out quickly. The best thing for clients is to have a willingness to keep unlocking the next level of their potential. It’s a case of seeing where you are, where you’d like to be and what you need to change in order to get there.
Tip: Ask yourself, ‘Who am I afraid won’t like me if I make a lot of money?’ We are sociable creatures who thrive on connection and acceptance. If we feel that we might be abandoned or ousted from the ‘tribe’ by being more successful, we tend to self-sabotage in incredibly creative ways.
Cost: From £85 for an online course.
The Career-Break Tutor
Anna Johnstone, 39, is director of coaching and development at Women Returners, a site that offers free resources as well as one-on-one coaching sessions to women returning to work after a career break.
My clients: Professional women who have taken a break from their careers for whatever reason – childcare, caring for elderly parents, ill health, relocation. They were typically at mid- to senior-level management before their break and are highly qualified, motivated women who can offer diversity of perspective and a wealth of experience to organisations.
What I do: There are around 427,000 professional women taking career breaks in the UK who would like to return to work at some stage. By supporting women to return to work, improving their CVs, developing their networking skills and practising interview responses, we help them rebuild their professional identity and regain financial independence. Organisations across the UK are keener than ever to have more women at senior levels and are therefore keen to hire returners.
My strategy: I advise women on a career break to take a few simple steps to maintain their professional skills. By keeping an eye on relevant industry publications, maintaining their professional network – LinkedIn can help with this – and considering some ‘strategic’ volunteering or small-scale work, their skills don’t get too rusty.
Tip: Focus on your strengths and what you can offer to an organisation. Ask your friends and family what you are good at – they know you best and believe in you. That will help build your confidence and prepare you for interviews at the same time.
Cost: From £105 per hour for one-on-one coaching sessions.
The Comparison Coach
Lucy Sheridan, 34, from Hove, is the world’s first (and only) comparison coach, helping people to stop negatively comparing themselves to others, particularly on social media. Her coaching sessions take place in person and via online video calls.
My clients: Although their lives might look perfect, they share a feeling of frustration about falling behind their peers, or being unclear or out of alignment with their own goals and dreams. The age range is mostly 28 to 35 years old, although I do have clients in their 40s.
What I do: Social media has caused an epidemic of people comparing themselves with each other, particularly with seemingly perfect celebrities. They end up feeling stuck and envious, as though they’re never going to succeed. It also affects people’s confidence and focus. I help them go from compare and despair to comparison-free, so they can stop obsessing over other people’s lives and live their own.
My strategy: I aim to give people tools and techniques to deal with their compulsion. I ask them to look deeply into their jealousy triggers to reveal the insight that can cure them. If they can keep asking themselves, ‘Why does this matter to me?’ they’ll be able to live their lives better. It takes commitment, but the change is amazing.
Tip: Always apply the house-party rule: if you wouldn’t invite someone to your house party then they shouldn’t be in your social media feed. Regularly hide or unfollow people and content that triggers your comparison until you are feeling more robust.
Cost: £300 for a one-off session (in person or via video call); around £3,500 for a three month coaching programme.
The Divorce Troubleshooter
Emma Heptonstall, 43, aka The Divorce Alchemist, is a family mediator and divorce coach, offering emotional and practical support either online (via video) or in person. She is based in West Sussex.
My clients: are women who are about to leave their marriage. They’re usually fairly certain about this, but two things stop them: the thought of upsetting their children and worries about how they will cope financially.
What I do: I help each client think clearly about whether they’re making the right decision. If it is, I will help them create the plan they require for leaving. I’m no longer a practising lawyer, but I can explain the divorce process to them. I can give women the confidence and clarity to move forward with their divorce at a pace that’s right for them. I also help with when to see a lawyer and when not to, and how to find a good solicitor and make the best, most cost-effective use of them. I encourage women to focus on the big picture and deal with their emotions as they go.
My strategy: The smartest thing you can do is to know where you want to be at the end of your divorce. I advise women to start with the end in mind, then take carefully planned steps to get there. It might take work – deciding what’s important to you and how you’d like your life to be may seem impossible if you have spent years thinking about your family and not yourself.
Tip: Your solicitor is not your therapist! Most lawyers are not trained to give you emotional
support, nor are they there to make decisions for you.
Cost: Messenger coaching service costs £400 a month. Emma’s book How To Be A Lady Who Leaves is published by Librotas, price £14.99.
The Fertility Counsellor
Tracey Sainsbury, 48, is a fertility counsellor at the London Women’s Clinic and a volunteer for Fertility Network UK, working with people who are trying to conceive with assistance as well as sperm and egg donors. Her sessions take place in person or by telephone.
My clients: It could be a couple who are having difficulty conceiving, or a woman who has read something in the media and is concerned, or who has had a cancer diagnosis and is considering freezing her eggs before chemotherapy.
What I do: I teach people about the emotional issues that surround infertility. It is traumatic – it’s all about the primal desire to reproduce, so a practical approach such as cognitive behavioural therapy can’t be applied because it’s all about learning to change the way you think and feel. In specialist fertility counselling we work to be more accepting of thoughts or feelings so they become more manageable.
My strategy: I help my clients make friends with their fertility, otherwise it’s a constant battle. I teach them to use mindfulness to find acceptance for their situation and take time to explore all the options, so they’re not full of ‘what-ifs’. We’re often too hard on ourselves and need to take the pressure off.
Tip: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority offers a ‘Getting Started’ guide with lots of information, which is free to download [hfea.gov.uk].
Cost: Free initial appointment with a consultation through the London Women’s Clinic. For non patients it is £85. Tracey’s book Making Friends With Your Fertility is published by Creative Pumpkin Publishing, price £7.99. Email Tracey at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Later Life Adviser
Sue Belton, 46, helps people who are facing later-life crises. Based in London, she offers one-on-one sessions and will soon be launching an online programme, Change Your Life in Five. my clients Women in their 50s and 60s facing retirement who don’t want to stop working and are often not in a financial position to do so. They might feel deeply unhappy and unfulfilled, and don’t know what to do about it.
What I do: My clients are terrified of the ‘downhill decline’, especially as they no longer have the same responsibilities or family ties. Some feel their lives will lose meaning when they retire: I say they won’t lose meaning, they just haven’t tapped into what the meaning of life is for them yet. We all have a purpose and we’re all meant to have a unique experience.
My strategy: I ask clients to carve out time daily to focus on their life and what they want from it. You can design the life you want, but it takes time and effort – there are no quick fixes if you’re changing hardwired behaviour, but it’s worth the effort if you do. Consistency is key.
Tip: Imagine a billboard on a busy road. It is your billboard, and thousands of people pass it every day. What message will you put on it? It taps into finding your meaning and purpose.
Cost: Six-month bespoke coaching programmes from £7,500.
The Confidence Coach
Ceril Campbell, 63, is a lifestyle, life-change and image consultant from London who empowers women to become the best possible versions of themselves. She works one-to-one with women at home or in the workplace, or in small groups, as well as via video call.
My clients: Women of all ages (and their husbands and partners) who have reached a pivotal life moment – weight loss or gain, post-menopause, divorce, the death of a partner
– that can create loss of self-confidence and self-belief, and require a reboot.
What I do: Midlife women have little time for themselves. They lead such stressful, busy lives. I believe that everyone needs someone who can understand their issues and offer simple life changes that can be undertaken in small, attainable steps, from positive body language to nutritional tips and advice on decluttering. I want my clients to look in the mirror and love what they see.
My strategy: If we can begin to understand why we do what we do, we can move forward and make small, positive changes in how we dress, eat and live in the moment with mindfulness. I help my clients find ways that work uniquely for them.
Tip: Find something to be grateful for on waking. Positive thoughts attract good things.
Cost: Initial consultations are free, followed by a face-to-face session, £75 per hour.