When I was fourteen years old, life became very uncomfortable and distressing for me, especially at school. I was having real difficulties with my appearance and could see from others around me that they were living more comfortably in their own skin than I was. I would fixate on particular features, cover up to camouflage myself, and constantly check my hair in the mirror so that it would hide certain features. I simply felt a sheer and constant feeling of total ugliness. I was eighteen when I willingly sought psychiatric treatment. Not only was I experiencing depression but I was also diagnosed with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). Through intensive Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and medication, life became stable and enjoyable again. My reluctance to seek help came from the belief that no one would understand what I was going through. I was worried that others would label me vain or a typical teenager going through adolescence. I was slightly hesitant about therapy at first; however, it was a real relief finally being able talk to someone about my issues, in a safe, confidential and non-judgmental environment. With their knowledge of BDD I began to feel that I was normal and I began my journey to be able to live without the continuous and intrusive thoughts constantly in my head.
My personal journey has allowed me to see the importance of receiving psychological help. It ignited a desire to use my experiences to help others leading me to pursue a career in an area so close to my heart. I am now a trainee counselling psychologist at Regents University London with clinical experience in range of presenting issues, such as: body dissatisfaction, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, eating disorders, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, OCD and self-harm. I have worked with children, adolescents and adults. I work very relationally and collaboratively to create a trustworthy and respectful therapeutic alliance. My work is underpinned by Cognitive Behavioural Therapy; however, training as a counselling psychologist allows me to take a pluralistic stance allowing me to be competent in more than one modality. I see this feature as being very valuable, permitting flexibility for treating clients in a way which is most suitable to their needs.
My Masters Dissertation: “Help-seeking in Body Dysmorphic Disorder: Stigma, Attitudes and Treatment Blocking Beliefs” was based on a clinical research project exploring many aspects of BDD and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I was awarded a High Distinction on my thesis and my advisor suggested I pursue its publication; which, is now underway. My doctoral research will be continuing exploring BDD and what it is like for someone suffering with BDD to be in an intimate relationship. BDD still remains misunderstood, unnoticed and untreated thus my motivation in wanting to contribute research that will produce insightful and impactful knowledge into an experience that is largely under-researched and remains lacking in awareness.