Exercise improves self-esteem — not just on an external level by promoting positive body image, but when we commit to doing something for ourselves — something which we know is good for both our mind and body — we’ll find that our confidence levels naturally get a boost.
I had the pleasure to interview Dr. Elena Touroni. Dr. Touroni is the Co-Founder of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic and Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer of My Online Therapy. She is a skilled and experienced Consultant Psychologist with a track record of delivering high-quality services for individuals with all common emotional difficulties and those with a diagnosis of personality disorder. She is experienced in service design and delivery, the management of multi-disciplinary teams, organisational consultancy, and development and delivery of both national and bespoke training to providers in the statutory and non-statutory sector. Having obtained a first degree in Psychology (BSc) at the American College of Greece, she completed her doctoral training at the University of Surrey. Dr Touroni is highly experienced in the assessment and treatment of depression, anxiety, substance misuse, personality disorder, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, adjustment disorder and relationship difficulties. She works with both individuals and couples and can offer therapy in English and Greek.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in wellness?
Psychological therapy is obviously an important component in the facilitation of both physical and mental wellbeing, so in many respects, I would say my core job has always involved wellness.
But wellness has also been a personal passion of mine on my own journey towards discovering what works for me and how I feel my best. So it’s a combination of both my personal and professional experiences which culminated in the development of Chelsea Wellness. Our retreats are all about integrating psychological understanding with a range of mind-body interventions, looking at health in a holistic sense. Chelsea Wellness has been 18 months in the making and we’re really excited to be launching in autumn this year.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I’m the kind of person who enjoys jumping on new opportunities when they present themselves. A year ago, I received an email from an Italian entrepreneur equally passionate about mental health and the possibilities of opening therapy to a wider audience. It’s now one year on since we launched My Online Therapy (https://myonlinetherapy.com/) — a digital clinic with a vision of combining high quality psychological therapy with digital interventions.
Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
I have dealt with people’s psychological wellbeing for over 20 years in a variety of different settings and contexts so I like to think that I bring a solid psychological understanding of the individual.
My passion lies in taking those learnings and incorporating them into a holistic understanding of a person whereby it is possible to create a bespoke plan that brings about transformative change in the fastest possible way.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
When I was working in the NHS (National Health Service) in the UK, I was fortunate enough to have two exceptional colleagues. One was a very talented Consultant Psychological who was both my line manager and mentor for many years. The other was more of a divisional manager and he mentored me when I took on my first head of services role. The combined talent and experience of both of these individuals were key to broadening my understanding of service development and organisational dynamics.
In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
I would separate blockages into two main categories: external and internal.
External blockages are day-to-day, reality-based obstacles e.g. wanting to have a better work-life balance but responsibilities getting in the way. In these cases, there may be a lot of consequences to making certain changes that keep you feeling trapped and prevent you from moving forward.
Internal blockages, on the other hand, are subconscious patterns that keep us repeating the same negative cycles e.g. constantly choosing unavailable partners. When you keeping choosing unavailable partners it’s not because you want to suffer but more about an internal drive (you’re likely unaware of) around wanting to overcome or master something that happened in your childhood (typically abandonment). However, if you keep making the same choices (partners who are unavailable) then no matter how much you try, nine times out of 10, you’re going to get the same outcome. In order to overcome these kinds of internal blockages, you usually have to dig deeper in therapy and understand their magnetic pull.
Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)
- Kick-off your day with a five minutes mindfulness meditation — this helps you set an intention for the day. We all have good and bad days, and even just a short mindfulness exercise can help provide you with a sense of what emotional state you’re in so you can create a day that is sensitive to how you’re feeling.
- Journaling — getting your thoughts and feelings down on paper is a great way to gain more clarity and a new perspective.
- Scheduling “me time” — can be as simple as creating a nice morning routine or committing to eating lunch away from your desk in the local park. It’s important to make sure you take the time out to do things that are just for you.
- Self-care and making time for the things you enjoy — we run into trouble when there’s an imbalance in what we’re giving out to the world and what we’re taking for ourselves. It’s about creating time and space for the things you enjoy and bring you a sense of wellbeing.
- Committing to moving your body at least three times a week — regular exercise ensures the release of endorphins in the body which help boost your mood and promote feelings of positivity.
As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?
- Boosts happy hormones — helps reduce stress, and leaves you feeling happier and more relaxed.
- Improves self-esteem — not just on an external level by promoting positive body image, but when we commit to doing something for ourselves — something which we know is good for both our mind and body — we’ll find that our confidence levels naturally get a boost.
- Increases productivity — endorphins improve the parts of our brains we use to prioritise and focus. After exercising, you’ll find it easier to block out distractions and concentrate on the task at hand.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
‘Why love matters’ by Sue Gerhardt was an influential book for me in the sense that it validated something I’d seen time and time again in my practice.
The book provides a great explanation of the science behind how therapy works. Childhood experiences inevitably shape who we are, changing the way neural pathways are created in the brain. We carry these experiences with us through life and in the way that we relate to the world. But just as these neural pathways are created, they can also be changed (with some hard work, that is!) Somehow in the process of therapy something “clicks” and once that happens we create the space for real change. That change often takes time, but the message is clear: if we’re prepared to do the work, we have the ability to break free from negative patterns.
You are a person of influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
For everyone to have therapy in their early 20s! Starting this process when you’re young provides you with an “emotional map” of your tendencies and patterns. When you have an understanding of your early experiences and what you might be drawn towards because of them, you have the power to make conscious decisions that serve you best — instead of being driven by subconscious conditioning.