PortfolioCast

PortfolioCast from The Portfolio Collective: Ep.2 with Psychotherapist Hannah D'Souza

September 18, 2020 The Portfolio Collective Season 1 Episode 2
PortfolioCast
PortfolioCast from The Portfolio Collective: Ep.2 with Psychotherapist Hannah D'Souza
Chapters
0:39
What led me to a portfolio career
2:39
How specialising can create more opportunities
7:55
Facing misconceptions in order to work wherever, whenever
19:35
Learning to never settle, and to plan ahead
26:40
Having confidence to stay with the uncomfortable feeling
PortfolioCast
PortfolioCast from The Portfolio Collective: Ep.2 with Psychotherapist Hannah D'Souza
Sep 18, 2020 Season 1 Episode 2
The Portfolio Collective

PortfolioCast Episode 2

We interview Hannah D'Souza, Integrative Psychotherapist and Counsellor on:

  • What led her to a portfolio career
  • How specialising can create more opportunities
  • Facing misconceptions in order to work wherever, whenever
  • Learning to never settle, and to plan ahead
  • Having confidence to stay with the uncomfortable feeling


Hannah is an Integrative Psychotherapist and Counsellor, whose portfolio career has allowed her to gain varied and international experience counselling, mentoring and caring for children and adults in both private and organisational environments.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

PortfolioCast Episode 2

We interview Hannah D'Souza, Integrative Psychotherapist and Counsellor on:

  • What led her to a portfolio career
  • How specialising can create more opportunities
  • Facing misconceptions in order to work wherever, whenever
  • Learning to never settle, and to plan ahead
  • Having confidence to stay with the uncomfortable feeling


Hannah is an Integrative Psychotherapist and Counsellor, whose portfolio career has allowed her to gain varied and international experience counselling, mentoring and caring for children and adults in both private and organisational environments.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart :

Welcome to the second episode of PortfolioCast. Today we're speaking with Hannah D'Souza. Hannah is interrogative psychotherapist and counsellor, whose portfolio career has allowed her to gain varied and international experience, counselling, mentoring and caring for children and adults in both private and organisational environments.

Hannah D'Souza :

Hi, Hannah, welcome. Hi, nice to see you.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart :

Nice to see you too. So let's start with a really obvious question. What led you to start a portfolio career?

Hannah D'Souza :

So for me, I've always been more of a free spirited person. I like change. I like variety. So I found when I was old enough to work, and I did the usual kind of one role, nine to five-y thing. It never really fit with who I was as a person. So I always found that I would then try and balance out that kind of monotony in my career with hobbies and social life and things like that. And so then I guess, as I then started University, really, it was studying that forced my experience of the multi role, that portfolio kind of role because you, you have to study and so you can't physically work full time in one job, you have only got kind of set days and set times that you're free. And so that motivated me to then, try different roles trying to you know, earn money, make a living, and I guess then getting the experience of that whilst at uni, that I can do multiple things, and really getting to experience the freshness of that meant that I then continue doing that after I graduated. And so I made sure and whatever I did, I really cared about that caring remit and so I did, make sure that what I was doing fell on under that field, but it was always in different roles, different part time roles, whether it was teaching or nannying or caring or tutoring. I always made sure that there was that difference there for me because I really enjoyed it whilst I was studying, and I wanted to continue that. And so then I guess when I qualified and now I'm in a more specialised field, I'm going to and have been endeavouring to continue that variety in my more specialised field of psychotherapy and counselling.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart :

Yeah, I mean, it has, have you found that by specialising you've been able to create more portfolio career opportunities?

Hannah D'Souza :

Absolutely. Absolutely. So, you know, training as a psychotherapist, and qualifying as a psychotherapist has meant that along the way, whilst I wasn't able to necessarily be a qualified therapist yet, there were many other roles that were similar to that and attached to that I was able to do because I was in training. So, when I did qualify, I was aware of the kind of other skills I could utilise. For example, you know, I love administrative and managerial that side of things and you can't really execute those skills and just be kind of a counsellor or psychotherapist because it's your is very independent, kind of doing things very one to one or one with your clients. And so I found other roles through my portfolio career journey like counselling coordinators, counselling administrator, and things like that, that allowed me to work as a team at another practice or know with online group work as a team and really utilise their skills that allow them to kind of organisational, administrative and managerial things. Yeah, absolutely.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart :

Fantastic. I know that kind of intimate role of a therapist, is it like say it's very one on one. And obviously, our working environment has completely changed this year like everyone, but have you had to rethink your approach was it allowed you to to kind of explore more of those team based roles, that allows you to kind of have one have more contact with people potentially,

Hannah D'Souza :

yeah,

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart :

also kind of develop what you're creating in your psychotherapy

Hannah D'Souza :

Therapy relies heavily on the client feeling safe and heard. And really, it gets accepted in the space that they're in. And so usually, you would find that that is something that you would require in a face to face role. And that actually, with the pandemic and everything that's happened, all my clients had to move online and for many of my other fellow therapists, we all had to move our clients online. And so actually, we had to definitely adapt our approach and I had to adapt my approach so that I was ensuring that my clients still felt heard, understood, accepted and safe over a screen, that takes changes. So I did have to for example, accentuate my body language more on the screen, make sure that I had a wider lens, Zoom was quite good, because it is wider and things like that so that they could see more of me. And also just, I guess, more verbal cues, they were really, really important. So whereas you can really feel that I'm understanding and hearing and empathising, with what you're saying, face to face through my body language and things like that, because there's then that limitation through a screen, I then had to make sure that there were just more verbal cues. I was checking in more, saying, I understand how that feels and say, I've heard what you've said, and just really dialling that up, things like that. But it's been great. It's been, I've been able to really create a space that replicates that which I had face to face. So much so that now my clients are really happy to be online because we've been able to the new approach I've taken has worked

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart :

Fantastic. That's great. To hear, that's such a hard barrier to to face. I'd love to know how you've been kind of progressing your career during lockdown and during these changes. Have you been looking for kind of new opportunities? Or has there been any kind of like standout challenges other than obviously having to create this new space for your clients?

Hannah D'Souza :

Um, well, funnily enough, it's kind of been the other way around for me and sense of the challenge has come with the influx of clients that I've had, because of coming from the mental health field, the pandemic has been very triggering for a lot of people. And so actually, it's meant that a lot more people have tried to seek out mental health support during the difficult time that they've been in: whether it's because of the pandemic itself and lockdown itself, or because of issues that they had prior. Now they either had more free time to explore because they were on furlough, or it was triggered by something at home that made it feel just that bit harder. And so definitely, for me, the challenge has actually been to try and manage my kind of new influx of clients that I got over that period. And to be really organised, making sure that I can see my clients whilst doing the other roles that I have and the training and CPD that I was also doing at the time.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart :

I guess on the reverse, has it been the amount of clients that has been surprising? Or is there any other surprising elements to this new way of working and within exploring those new roles as well? If you're, you've got multiple roles now - are there any surprises that come along with that?

Hannah D'Souza :

The surprising element has actually been how happy the in my clients are now to stay online. Actually. They've been able to get to see is that, I think, I guess, misconception that we had that in order to really understand a person, you've got to be there in the flesh and too particularly when, as you said, with something is intimate as counselling, I had clients who, when they first contacted me, they would have never wanted to go online. And now having experienced it, the surprise has been how willing they are to actually continue online. And then actually, that's been then great for me, because then I guess, moving forward, can continue to have a variety of roles. And that's when I can have a variety of roles abroad as well, because I now don't need to be in one place all the time. I can work a variety of roles online and in other countries. And so that's the that's been a great surprise, actually, about how happy my clients are to to be online.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart :

Yeah. Do you think working internationally. I know that you worked internationally previously, but with this kind of openess to work anywhere and to work with anyone, do you think this has helped towards your portfolio career or that's where you think it's going to keep going? That you're going to have more opportunities to work across the world?

Hannah D'Souza :

Yeah, 100%, for me, working internationally, just gave me an insight into how culture and race and religion can play a massive part in your job role. And so I had to, you know, working abroad, I had to learn to adapt and change my skills and my approach based on the environment I was in. And so I definitely have learned those skills moving forward. And so I want to kind of continue to exercise those skills as well. And as I said, I like freshness, I like change. And so it means that continuing to do that means I'm able to keep nurturing those skills. I want to now, now that I can have that online presence, with my counselling, it means that yes, I would love to continue to work internationally, go abroad, do mindfulness courses on a beach and work at retreats and that means I can still do a retreat in Bali while still having my online clients. So yes, I will absolutely continue to do that. Because I love the skills and everything that I got from it previously.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart :

You reflect so beautifully, the ability to juggle so many different things is quite often we talk about juggling being quite negative connotations that come with that are quite negative because it's generally an overload. Whereas from what I'm hearing, you have more a chance to then select what you want to do.

Hannah D'Souza :

Absolutely. Absolutely. You hit it on the nail that is exactly that. For me, it doesn't feel like this overload of roles. Actually, it feels like new fresh experiences.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart :

Yeah, fantastic. So, how at the moment within your career right now? Do you mark your success? And how do you think that's going to change in the future? I mean, that's hard to say but obviously within a traditional nine to five roles, that framework for success don't you, what does success mean to you now and how do you mark that as you continue your career?

Hannah D'Souza :

I think for me at the moment, because I'm quite early in my portfolio and career as a therapist, as a psychotherapist anyway. At the moment, I probably mark my success by the amount of clients I have, because I am in that earlier stage in this field, and also probably my clientele. So obviously amount of clients makes me feel like I'm getting enough in but also the type of clients I have means that I'd love to have clients that have a range of issues and difficulties and needs. Because then for me as a therapist, it means I'm building on various approaches. So if I have clients that come in with a variety of needs, I then need to be able to give them a variety of approaches to work with, because no one person is the same. And so I need to be able to adapt and tailor my approach to suit my client's needs. And that's why I trained integratively, so that I could do that. I guess moving forward, I may not care or worry so much about the amount of clients I have in the future because I would have really got myself set in terms of that field, but probably still be that the quality of therapy that I'm able to provide for my clients, as I said, and that comes with these early stages, having that variety so that I can give my clients in the future, the quality of counselling that they need.

Unknown Speaker :

At the moment you work within your own Practice, and within the NHS, and you also work with a Brit school: that kind of being able to pick different elements or different environments to work within, also feeding back that ability to develop and to diversify as you go.

Hannah D'Souza :

And that's exactly why I've taken on a variety of roles since specialising because I want to be able to continue to build my skills. Just like with working internationally. There's such a difference between working with young people at the BRIT school, for example, and then working with adults in NHS and then working with adults in private practice, because these are all not only different age groups, but cultural groups as well. People that can afford private practice is different to those that are coming from NHS and also same with at a school the needs that young people have are very different to that of an adult and so it means that I then have to adapt my way of being. And so I'm still being authentic. I'm being myself. But there's certain the way I speak certain phrases, just, yeah, my whole approach has to change. And so that's definitely why I've endeavoured to have and work in these different roles so that I'm building on those skills and I'm, I have transferable skills and adaptable skills.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart :

So have you found a wider positive impact from creating a portfolio career? I know you've had experience of working within this kind of environment you've set up for yourself, but do you think you... this a hard question to ask... would you want to stay within a portfolio career rather than go back to or go into a full time nine to five role?

Hannah D'Souza :

For me, yes, definitely. Because everything that I've learned so far from being in a portfolio career, there's so much more to it. You're running your own business as such. And so there's a lot to be taken from that. And as I said previously, because of my nature, I like that variety. I like that change. And so for me, I will always endeavour to have a portfolio career, you know, for as long as I work, and because it makes me happy, as a person, if I think if I feel happy as a person, then I can do my best work I can give my clients or my colleagues the best of me, if I am happy, and that's where I'm happiest sitting in a environment where there's change and difference and variety. So yeah, definitely for me,

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart :

Brilliant. Have you had to learn, or are you still learning - I know that this part of your portfolio career seems quite new obviously having recently qualified, are you still learning new skills to help you work as a portfolio professional learning the different steps that you need to take?

Hannah D'Souza :

Absolutely. And I would say for me, it is been everything around trying to get myself out there on a platform. So the marketing side of things, and like I said before the business side of things, building a website, all those things that come with a portfolio career because you are your own selling point as it were you are continuously trying to put yourself out there to see what else you can get back and see what other roles might be out there or clients that that might need you. So it's definitely I think that side of things in terms of bookkeeping, like I said, how to showcase myself, building a website, administration, all of those things, definitely had to learn recently to try and really develop them my portfolio career because they're, I think, really essential parts of a portfolio career. And I am continuing to learn more and more about it. Especially if you're not particularly tech savvy and things like that. It's definitely a journey but a good one.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart :

Yeah, I think these are the skills that you often, I guess, take for granted, and often within a traditional nine to five, those platforms or those frameworks are there, established as part of the organisation, whereas there's a lot of freedom within portfolio careers. And that means that you have to create those from scratch almost don't you?

Hannah D'Souza :

Absolutely have to kind of create the opportunity and which is great, but it is a learning experience and it doesn't happen on its own. You have to be very active in building a portfolio career as opposed to having that, you know, single profession, but I love the flexibility.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart :

Absolutely. You have anybody that you turn to a mentor or resources you head to for advice or guidance on, on how to establish yourself or how to create this going forwards?

Hannah D'Souza :

So, actually yeah, luckily enough, when you do have, you know, training and becoming a therapist/psychotherapist, you have to have a supervisor.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart :

Yeah.

Hannah D'Souza :

So somebody that supports you along the way with your client work, and things like that. So I've been lucky enough to have a great supervisor who I turn to for not only support with my client work, but also general support as a kind of new professional. And so actually just getting advice and hearing about her experiences of having a portfolio career, working in local services charities, and working as a supervisor privately and as a therapist, and also having a whole different career previously, just being able to talk and share and understand her journey and kind of utilise that to navigate the way that I can take mine in and also from her mistakes as well as it were - things that she wished she didn't do or, you know, shouldn't have spent time, you know, kind of wasted time on. That's great for me as well to kind of learn from those as well. So, you know, the way she navigated her career acts as an example of how I could possibly go against mine.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart :

That was so invaluable, especially having people that you can go to and talk to. That thing about mistakes...we all are going to make mistakes as we learn to do something for the first time. Is there anything that when you first started as a portfolio professional, that you would avoid if you were to start over again?

Hannah D'Souza :

Yes, definitely. Lots of things come to mind. But really, if I were to pick, I would say that I probably wouldn't settle as quickly as I did. Because I think as a professional, there can be this fear of being without a job. And particularly, as we said, we're kind of creating our own opportunities and our own roles. And so it can be really easy at the beginning to just kind of take the first one. Take one that seemed that at least means that you've got something that actually I think, in hindsight, you know, looking back, I would definitely advise and I'd tell my, my younger self not to settle, to actually not be scared to wait, and to really establish that self-patience, because good roles can come and will come. And so yeah, I think definitely, I think that comes with having confidence in yourself though to believe that you are capable, to believe you're worth what you do deserve and so I think with that belief, can come the ability to be patient. So yes, I would definitely not not settle as quickly as the kind of the first thing and try and conquer that fear, get past that fear and just keep going and waiting until I found the one that was really right, not just the first one.

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah, I mean, settling...you automatically feel like you have to say yes, right? Is there anything else that makes you think "okay, right, if I was to start again, what would I do differently?"

Hannah D'Souza :

Yeah, I think that I probably would be a little bit more organised with my planning of it all. So actually sitting down and researching, investigating what's out there a little bit more so that I understood the opportunities that I had because I think you can just kind of make assumptions or go based on your past experiences or your friends or family you know, roles that you know out there, but actually, I think I would have done yeah, more more exploration, more investigation, more research into the variety of opportunities and roles there were in the kind of my field or others if I felt like it. So that I, you know, again before I just kind of dove in, and that goes back to the idea of feeling like had to have something. And actually, I just kind of took that step back and took time to look into things more research more in that in that early period then I would have, I guess found roles better suited me and faster.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart :

That's really good advice. I think quite often, we rush because of the urgency that comes with starting something completely new, and not knowing where it's going to head next. And having that faith and that confidence as you say, those opportunities will come to you. Especially if you do take the time to do research, what could work for you. Really interesting advice. Definitely something that I would have loved when I started rather than just running in. You've said that your life ambition is to be a leading psychotherapist with the aim of developing your counselling practice. Do you think your portfolio career will help realise that ambition? Is this the is the building blocks that helps you towards that goal?

Hannah D'Souza :

I think having a portfolio career, as I mentioned before, it will afford me with the skills and varied approaches. That's much needed for a successful counselling practice in terms of mental health. It's so varied, and people come in with such a variety of needs and from such a variety of backgrounds. I think definitely having a portfolio career allowed me to experience working with people from a variety of backgrounds with a variety of needs, like I said, whether it's young people, different races, different religions, and different different mental health issues. Having that experience now working in all those roles, means I can kind of take all of that all that I've learned and kind of put it together to create a really holistic, successful integrative practice. Definitely.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart :

And do you think that this change in working practices that we're all facing at the moment whether you're in a nine to five or, or whether you're already started your portfolio career, do you think there's changing working practices will mean more medical professionals will feel more able to take the chance or explore the possibility of a portfolio career going forwards?

Hannah D'Souza :

Yeah, I really I really do actually. Because it is, I think it's particularly for medical professions. There is this there's just been this common belief that in order to be successful, you have to have this one role, long houred job where it's said the way you're building rapport with people because in a rapport really important in medical professionals. And so it's this idea that having this one long term role gives you that, but actually, I found that because of the pandemic. It's meant that people in medical professions have been able to see what it's like working in more than just one role and in more than just one way. And actually from experience and from other fellow medical professionals that I've spoken to, they actually feel more invigorated when doing their work, because they're not having to go through to fill that kind of monotonous feeling that comes with having one role. And it can it can be mentally exhausting, and kind of mentally draining to have that monotony. And particularly for you know, medical professionals, just getting that difference, that flexibility can make them feel more invigorated, because you know, each new role that they're doing, it's like having a break from the one that they had before. So when they go back to it, it feels fresh. And so personally, I think, moving forward in this new way, and you know, what the pandemic has I think definitely motivated, that idea of not just having one role that you have fear or feeling drained by, but rather that variety of roles, that you can be your best self in, you can give the best of yourself, because you're getting those breaks, you're getting that freshness. And that may be well needed novelty, that I think just all human beings need.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart :

Is there for, anybody who's thinking about starting a portfolio career at this point, do you have any, I guess words of wisdom or any kind of pointers that you would say like what's your advice on that?

Hannah D'Souza :

Mmm, I would definitely say just dive in. Dive in headfirst, go for it, because there's I've kind of brought put up a couple of times there's always this fear, this fear that holds you back. And actually, I would say if you just start, just get started. It doesn't matter if it's rubbish. It doesn't matter if you're bad at it. For a while, and it doesn't matter if it all feels a little bit strange, a bit alien a bit uncomfortable. I think I'd definitely advise to sit in that uncomfortability for a while and just dive in, because after a while, you will start to find your feet, you will start to feel more relaxed and more comfortable in the varied work that you're doing. But I said also, I think I would definitely advise to see what's out there for support. You know, as you're newly joining, beginning, building your portfolio career, there are things out there to support you with that, like The Portfolio Collective. It's been so incredible for the time that I've joined to be able to have that support with website building, how to start your own business and all those really core basic things that you just don't have. And so I definitely say to kind of reach out to places like The Portfolio Collective to try and get that support, because it is out there. Always endeavour to find it, if you are struggling, to help you find your feet and to help you on your way.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart :

Brilliant. Well, this has been so insightful. Thank you so much, Hannah, and thank you for joining us today, and I wish you all the best for your portfolio career.

Hannah D'Souza :

Thank you so much.

What led me to a portfolio career
How specialising can create more opportunities
Facing misconceptions in order to work wherever, whenever
Learning to never settle, and to plan ahead
Having confidence to stay with the uncomfortable feeling