With over 15 years of experience as a qualified child and adult therapist, Emma-Jayne Browne is bringing her expertise and wisdom to The Lily-Jo Project as our newest blog contributor – taking in your questions and offering insight and answers. We call it our “Ask Emma” series, and we are so excited to have Emma on board with us; bringing even more support to the community and offering another perspective to the conversation surrounding mental health and well-being.
Possessing a Bachelor of Science with honours degree in Human Psychology along with postgraduate diplomas in both Play Therapy and Cognitive Analytic Therapy, Emma has used her academic background to help people struggling with their mental health. Over the course of her career, she has worked with children, young people, and adults from all walks of life experiencing a range of challenges.
Before we open the floor to some of your questions, we wanted to have the opportunity to get to know Emma a little better. In this first instalment of our “Ask Emma” series, Emma opens up about her life as both a therapist and an individual.
What do you love the most about your job?
“I absolutely love the variety in my work. There really isn’t a ‘typical’ day for me. I’ve been working as a therapist for over 15 years but every day I am thankful for what I do. I see it as an honour and privilege to both hear and play a part in the stories of my clients. Although it can be really tough at times I cannot think of a more rewarding career, one that is designed solely to decrease suffering and improve quality of life for others. I celebrate those moments where I see hope for the first time in the eyes of a client, or a recognition of their own loveliness, or even being able to share a long-abandoned hearty laugh together.”
“The relationships and connections we build through the therapy process are incredibly meaningful to me and I’ve never had a client yet who hasn’t taught me something about myself! I essentially earn my living watching stories of strength and perseverance unfold before me. I get to join them and help them along the way as we share the obstacles and successes together. I can’t deny it there’s nothing I’d rather do with my life.”
What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?
“As a family we moved to the Yorkshire countryside 5 years ago and I absolutely love being out in the woods or hills, rain or shine (often rain!). I now know the importance of exercise for mind, body and spirit and believe me I’ve tried the gym, but I just can’t do it. I’ve found a way to combine the two by trying to get out in the countryside for a run 2 or three times a week. I’m also really into Mindfulness meditation/prayer and I’ve just started yoga too. I try to start my day with a combination of these practices as it really helps me to look after myself and feel more open and present to the work I do with others.
Other things I love to do is to sing in my local church, bake with my children (10 and 14), travel and explore new places both home and abroad. My guilty pleasure is definitely clothes shopping although I do love a bargain and am pretty good at hunting them out”
If you could go back in time what advice would you give your teenage self?
• “Learn to tune in to yourself and risk acknowledging and asking for your own needs wants and desires to be met– you will feel more fulfilled and have less regrets by not trying to please others and meet their needs all the time (especially boys!)
• Start exercising – It’s much harder to start in your late 30’s!!
• Worry less about what others might think of you
• Keep reading books
• Vulnerability and strength are not mutually exclusive
• Write in your journal more often
• Pay more attention to the present moment – try to step out of your head more, you can’t change the past and it’s your best chance at shaping the future you want
• No matter how crazy the world seems, just trust your instincts and be true to them, they’ll never betray you
• Don’t take your nose ring out even though your parents and teachers will tell you to – it’ll close up really quickly and leave a scar and you may never have the guts to re-pierce it!
• Value your family, they really love you even if you don’t believe that now….spend more time building relationships with your sisters. Don’t let your feelings of worthlessness get in the way of maintaining and holding tight to relationships. The biggest regrets you will have is losing touch with people who you love.
• Don’t keep dying your hair black and purple – you suit blonde much more!
• Just try to be yourself – you don’t feel it now but you’re actually pretty cool x”
What kind of questions would you welcome from the readers?
“I guess my expertise are in thinking about issues to do with trauma, difficulties with managing or regulating emotions, difficulties within relationships both with others and in the relationship we have with ourselves. I have quite a bit of experience dealing with eating disorders, self-harming and addictive behaviours as these are often a symptom/consequence of other deeper rooted difficulties. I also have a real interest in anxiety and panic.”
“I am very much coming from a place of my own experiences of mental health struggles, particularly through my teenage years and twenties. Everyone’s journey is unique but we are all human and I like to think of myself as a fellow traveler who hopefully has something of value to offer and through that, can promote and increase our understanding, kindness and compassion towards each other through these struggles we come up against in life.”
Emma is passionate about finding ways of normalising mental health and well-being issues. Even if she does not have all the answers, it is about opening up conversations and offering support and guidance in the right direction.
“I’m super excited about being a part of The Lily-Jo Project and I’m really looking forward to hearing from anyone who has concerns or questions about mental well-being, whether its their own or someone they care for”.
Have a question for Emma? We would love to hear from you!
Give us a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org and Emma will give her insight and answers in our next instalment of the “Ask Emma” blog series.
The Lily-Jo Project Team