Interview with Noel Bell and Author of Noel Bell – Psychotherapist in London
About Noel Bell: Noel Bell is a United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) accredited clinical psychotherapist in London who has spent over 20 years exploring and studying personal growth, recovery from addictions and inner transformation. Noel is an integrative therapist and draws upon the most effective tools and techniques from the psychodynamic, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), humanist, existential and transpersonal schools. He is based in Central London in private practice.
[OnlineCounselingPrograms.com] When and why did you originally start a blog about addictions, anxiety, relationship issues, and depression?
[Noel Bell] I started the blog in the first year of my psychotherapy training, in 2011. I was keen to share any useful insights from experiential ways of working on the course and how these observations could help with addressing the human suffering around addictions and anxiety. I guess I was keen to share my light bulb moments as I embraced each part of my training. I had already been introduced to the concept of self-publishing and I believed that blogging about my experiences on the course would be a useful way of producing content for my website. Digital marketers say that content is king when it comes to having an effective website presence. Dynamic content, in the form of a blog or news section, is a way of ensuring that the search engine spiders visit your site so it seemed obvious to me that blogging about my training experience would be the simplest way of addressing this need. So often people working in the therapy field think it is adequate to publish an ‘off the shelf’ website product that contains basic information about their service with the obligatory picture of a rainbow or a sunset as their avatar. I was keen to try to offer something different.
[OnlineCounselingPrograms.com] What do you hope to achieve by maintaining your blog?
[Noel Bell] I have always offered free content on my website. I believe that the most beneficial aspects of the internet are the enormous amounts of freely available resources that can help people to overcome adversity and promote mental well-being. If one person benefits from my musings or podcast interviews then that would be fantastic. However, my blog also gives me a voice about trends within the profession and I enjoy the platform that this has afforded.
[OnlineCounselingPrograms.com] We’ve highlighted your recent post, “Crisis counselling interventions do not work,” because of the solid evidence you provide to support an alternative response to trauma. In brief, how do you think mental health professionals could change the way that care is administered after traumatic experiences?
[Noel Bell] By not rushing to offer crisis listening. So often it is assumed that people need to talk about their experiences straight away. This can potentially re-traumatise people, if people are being encouraged to talk about their experiences too quickly. More often than not people will overcome their trauma with their own social support networks. Most people will have the resilience to cope from chatting with their friends, co-workers, partners, families and so on. Of course, those who seek help should be helped.
[OnlineCounselingPrograms.com] You have an intriguing educational background, with undergraduate and graduate degrees in history, political science, and modern European studies. On your website you say that it was meaningful questions like “why we are here, who we really are” that drew you to the field of psychotherapy. Have you seen any of those questions answered, or addressed, in your blogging and private practice? If so, how?
[Noel Bell] I have always struggled in my personal life with the Existential “givens,” or what might be known as the ultimate concerns, choice, meaning, isolation and death. I was a daydreamer as a boy and my studies largely reflected my interest in seeking answers to questions about the meaning of existence. I probably still am a daydreamer and can struggle with self-regulation at times if left to my own devices without a schedule. I am not sure if I have really had any questions answered, per se, as sometimes it feels right to just coexist with the state of not knowing. However, seeing human struggles from an Existential lens can be very useful as a frame of reference in the consulting room and can assist in making sense of long term client work.
[OnlineCounselingPrograms.com] Reflecting on your graduate education, is there anything you know now that you wish you had known then, and that you can offer to prospective students of psychotherapy by way of advice?
[Noel Bell] I would offer the simple advice of listening to your hunch and learning to trust it when choosing which path to follow, whether you are drawn to an academic route or a more experiential training programme. Become an informed consumer and try to attend open days of prospective training institutes and ask as many questions as you can about the total student experience. Some institutes offer the opportunity of attending some aspects of the formal teaching programme as a paying guest for a lecture or experiential weekend. This can be useful to get an idea of the ethos of the place and the quality of the teaching. Private practice in psychotherapy is a crowded marketplace so it would be advisable to start writing consistently about your specialist area as soon as possible. It used to be the case that you needed to write a book in order to be considered a specialist in a particular area. That is less important these days with the increasingly greater prominence of blogging to search engine optimisation (SEO). Clients are increasingly searching for therapists online, especially on mobile devices, so not having a robust online presence can be problematical.
[OnlineCounselingPrograms.com] You also mention the evolution of your focus in your blog posts: from written responses to your lectures and course readings, to recent developments within the psychotherapy profession. What are some trends in the field that have most intrigued you?
[Noel Bell] I am intrigued with the so called evidence based approach of some disciplines. It is hardly surprising that public sector commissioners wish to ensure value for money in these austere times when procuring taxpayer funded services. However, I believe that it is worth exploring anecdotal ‘evidence’ about what works rather than seeking to prove the scientific approach of some interventions. I believe therapy is more art than science. Clients often don’t want to see technicians but are essentially seeking a relationship when they approach therapists for help. Most of the research would appear to back this up when it alludes to the importance of the therapeutic alliance in successful outcomes.
[OnlineCounselingPrograms.com] Have any other new questions or focus areas emerged from your blogging?
[Noel Bell] I have become aware of the issues associated with an online presence and of the consequent need of maintaining appropriate boundaries with clients. I have found it necessary to be extra aware of privacy settings when using social media apps and to have a social media policy for my practice. I sometimes see inappropriate personal material on the publicly visible social media profiles of some therapists and I wonder whether such material impacts on their client work. I want to know who it is I am contacting if I, myself, am seeking a therapist for a course of therapy sessions. Having a blog, with podcast interviews and regular posts, gives potential clients a fairly good idea of who I am, and certainly what I sound like and what I look like. This is different to the blank screen approach of some practitioners when they seek to hide their identity online from potential clients.
Thank you, Noel. Learn more about Noel Bell – Psychotherapist in London on our Top Therapy Blogs list.
« BACK TO MENTAL HEALTH BLOG AUTHOR INTERVIEWS