"My passion is to help people reach their potential.” - Ismene Cole
During a recent video interview, we spoke with UK-based counsellor, Ismene Cole. This is an excerpt from our conversation where we discuss the changing landscape of the therapist-patient relationship in a digital age, Ismene's personal routine for feeling organized and centered, and her view on using social media as a counsellor, to run a balanced therapy practice.
Photo of counsellor Ismene Cole (click to see her full profile).
Katya: Hi Ismene. It’s great to finally speak to you after connecting over email! You must interview people all the time during introductory counselling sessions. How do you get to know the person in such a short period of time? Do you have any go-to questions?
Ismene: "Why now?" is a great question for assessing what the core issues are of many potential clients and what their motivation for change is. It’s a great way to figure out if we are a match. I only work with clients that are ready and committed to helping themselves.
Katya: How do your clients find you?
Ismene: When I started in private practice the majority of my clients found me through the UK’s official Counselling Directory. Over the last few years I have expanded how I market my business and built up a number of different platforms to get my message out there, add value and connect with potential clients. A big part of this is social media. I have an active Instagram, Twitter and Facebook profile that I frequently update.
Katya: Have you received any feedback that you can share on what kind of impact your social media presence has on people?
Ismene: This is a new era in counselling; most people live a huge amount of their lives online and are active social media users. I think it’s important that counselling responds to this.
By having a social media profile, my clients can access further information, tools, and inspiration that can act as a reminder in-between sessions about their practice and commitment to their personal goals. I believe this offers a more complete service.
Having an online profile — even though it’s a different way of doing things and not every therapist would be comfortable with this — is a great way for clients to decide whether I’m the right therapist for them and for me to showcase my knowledge, passions and skill base. We are in a world now where it’s not enough to just offer a service or product — people want to know who you are and what you stand for.
Katya: What sorts of clients do you most enjoy working with?
Ismene: I’m passionate about helping people reach their potential so I tend to attract people who want to do great things and live a meaningful life. My clients come from all different types of professional backgrounds but all tend to want to be successful — but in a way that is fulfilling to them — but either they don’t know how, or they are coming up against personal blocks and patterns like self-esteem or past trauma. They may want to start a business, be a budding entrepreneur, find love, or uncover what their passions are. A big part of my work is supporting that process; helping them understand their blocks, discovering their unique worth and defining what their version of success is.
Katya: How can your clients find your social media accounts?
Ismene: I think most people expect that as a business you are likely to have a social media account, so I suppose it’s a natural progression. My social media accounts are also linked to my website, email, blog, and any guest blogs that I do, so they are easy to access.
Either way, I don’t usually tell clients about my blog, unless they ask, or I think I’ve written something that will benefit them, in which case I will send articles of interest in our follow-up communication. Otherwise, I keep it separate and let them choose how they want to interact with me.
Katya: Helping people feel and live better takes a lot of energy. Do you have any practices that help you recharge and hold space for yourself?
Ismene: Yes! It is very important for me to pause and recharge — I really make this a priority in my life because I know that feeling good helps me help my clients.
There are many things that I do. As a UK regulation, I do 1.5 hours of supervision every month and I have my own support network such as a coach as well. I also maintain my own daily practice to stay balanced. I start most days with yoga and meditation. I do invest a lot of time and money into my own development to recharge, for example going to my acupuncturist regularly.
Katya: Quite the daily routine!
Ismene: Yes — It’s important for me to maintain a healthy life style, especially when I’m the one helping my clients fit in such great practices into their own lives! I’m so passionate about it that I released my own meditation CD a few years ago. I work from a very integrated model.
Katya: There are many taboos associated with mental health and getting help around the world — do you have any thoughts to add about this?
Ismene: I feel like through social media I’m able to break down the taboo about counselling. I think that a good mental mindset is something that we should aspire to. I want knowledge to be mainstream and easily accessible.
My driver is to normalise that good mental health and reaching our potential is available to us all.
The culture of therapy and personal development is changing. I don’t want self-help to be taboo only to be used if there is something “wrong” with you, but rather something that is helpful and exciting to us all.
In many cultures, we’re not raised to be asked “what do we want”? I want to help people ask themselves this question and feel alive and motivated. I think social media is really helpful in breaking down these barriers; there is so much free information out there now. If done in the right way, it can inspire people to think differently or make a change from their phone or computer most places in the world. It’s powerful.
Thank you, Ismene, for your time!