Nandu
Menon

Nandu had already completed a Foundation year and an MA programme at Regent’s. He chose regent’s for his further qualification because he felt that the study of Psychotherapy and Counselling Psychology at Regent’s University had a very distinguished standing in Europe amidst the therapy fraternity. He was drawn to the eclectic mix of highly qualified and experienced tutors, many of whom are practicing psychotherapists.

Nationality: UK
Programme: Advanced Diploma in Existential Psychotherapy (ADEP)

The University is truly international in terms of its multicultural student body and this is important for me from the standpoint of the varied frame of reference, attitude and expertise that these students bring into various discussions. The college has an exceptional reputation for its existential and phenomenological research orientation in psychotherapy and I found this encouraging when I imagined going on to the Master’s and Doctoral programmes.

Regent’s also has strong links to the Society of Existential Analysis (SEA), and this helps us to gain accreditation from the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP).

All these aspects made me embark upon the Foundation and Master’s programmes and the last three years have helped me to grow, both personally and as a clinical practitioner.

I feel at home at the University and have found my tutors to be open, welcoming, thought-provoking and flexible in their approach. The MA leads on to the advanced diplomas and I liked the range, depth and insight offered on the ADEP programme. I also love the location of the University at the heart of London – the extensive lawns, open air training supervision sessions, assorted eateries and the gates which lead on to Inner and Outer Circles of Regent’s Park.

A professional background

I have worked in sales and leadership positions for the past 15 years. In the last four years, I dedicated my efforts in the acquisition of life skills (Life Coaching). I have always loved philosophy and psychology. Since I began my journey with Regents, I continue to be fascinated by the significance of talking therapies in helping clients with various affective conditions such as anxiety, depression, isolation, bereavement, meaninglessness and trauma. This curiosity, combined with the intent to know the mind in depth made me want to learn more about psychotherapy and the momentum led me on to the Advanced Diploma in Existential Psychotherapy (ADEP).

Existentialism is a philosophical approach that, among other tenets, emphasises the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of their will. The liberation that I get from studying this philosophy is indescribable and Regent’s ADEP program whets my academic appetite. In my clinical practice I am able to distill the essence of these philosophies and apply them in my interactions with my clients. The ability to work with abiding relevance to client’s conditions and facilitate heightened awareness and reflection in their mind are aspects that I find very fulfilling. As Ambrose Bierce puts it, ‘All are lunatics but he who can analyse his delusion is called a philosopher.’ I have just begun this philosophical journey and it instilled in me a new pattern of reflective thinking that keeps me grounded.

I like the commonality of phenomenology and existentialism both of which are about immediate experience and not trying to find the forces that lie behind experience. The contrast between various orientations such as Psychoanalysis, Person-Centered, Gestalt, CBT, Existentialism and others intrigued me and the MA in Integrative Psychotherapy was an eye-opener in terms of my exposure to various forms of therapy. I like Existential philosophy, as it neither has a doctrinaire approach nor does it have a set body of agreed-upon tenets. The exploration/investigative approach is a very malleable and open stance, which provides space for the phenomena to be unpacked. The concepts such as authenticity, responsibility, meaning, freedom, facticity, embodiment, being, inseparability of human beings from their social context and hordes of others are remarkable theoretical resources to tap into. In my own life, I have benefited from its explanations and would now like to reinforce my understanding further.

A challenging structure

Another challenging aspect is the way the programme is structured. For instance we experience academic sessions, experiential sessions, skills sessions and PPD. Our tutors provoke discussion and it is my responsibility to do extensive research to beef up my understanding further. This provides me absolute autonomy to select my dissertation, essays, and presentation topics that further strengthen my skills. The encouragement and cues provided in training supervision and skill development sessions are invaluable and I find all these aspects immensely interesting.

I am a counselor at MIND Westminster and MIND Enfield where I see clients from medium to severe end of the clinical spectrum. With reasonable conformity, I practice the Existential Phenomenological mode of inquiry. Through supervision and therapy, I understood the importance of staying still upon client’s descriptive narrative, how to focus on client’s lived experience and avoid the immediate instinct of moving the client forward. I have had clients with suicide, chronic depression, anxiety, violence, career problems, abuse and other conditions and my consulting room confidence is getting robust as I view the world from an existential lens.

I have so enjoyed the return to collegiate life after 15 years in the corporate workplace. I find the campus a vivacious environment, and I enjoy the rich repertoire of journals, books and DVDs, the cafeteria discussions with peers. Regent’s also periodically conducts various workshops and seminars and these add value too.

The joy of London

London is indubitably one amongst the most vibrant cities in the world. For me it has the right blend of sprightliness, ‘business, finance and technology centricity’ and there is a strong emphasis given to mental health concerns. Psychotherapy is taken very seriously; the entry barriers towards accreditation are very high hence there is assurance of quality in therapy. The levels of education and expertise demanded is high and there are numerous paths that lead on to various niche areas if one wants to embrace any career.

For three years, I have been at Regent’s and it has been a very productive time; I’ve gained academic and counseling skills, group interactions in PPD and the social camaraderie we have had in our peer group. I’ve enjoyed being associated with a University – the philosophical discussions with my peers, the humour (uncontained laughter at times), and the clinical case exchanges – all provided me with a sense of belonging to a group. I find it as a much-needed reprieve from the solitary working format I have and I look forward to being in class.

The ‘Clinical Placement Services’ offered by the University was of great help as it helps us get the agency with the right match for our therapeutic orientation.

Next steps

I am committed upon the Existential path. A logical next step for me is to specialise in Existentialism not just for the acquisition of UKCP but to also fuel my intrinsic interest in the subject both from an academic, publishing as well as a clinical standpoint. I consider it a privilege to be associated with the ADEP program, which, I believe, will open out this astounding world of philosophy to me.

I have my own business with Leadership Coaching, Sales Training and Apperception Programmes as the firm’s services portfolio. Coaching augments people in achieving their goals be it career, health, work-life balance, adventure, philanthropy and so forth.

Psychotherapy on the other hand is more demanding as it deals with people with psychological distress, residue of suppressed emotions and anxieties. Whilst life coaching is forward-oriented, and helps clients realise their full potential, psychotherapy delves deeper into the mind to understand their lived experience and constraints imposed as some clients are stuck in the past with unresolved issues and deeper feelings. The psychotherapy skills that I am picking up at Regents when combined with coaching offers me the possibility of acquiring a holistic and comprehensive understanding of the human mind.