Set clear boundaries between work and relaxation — when these boundaries get blurred that’s when we often start running into trouble. It’s important to be able to leave work behind in the office, and set a clear cut off point for when you switch off from work commitments and responsibilities.
Ihad the pleasure to interview Dr Elena Touroni. Dr. Touroni is the co-founder of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic. 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! What is your “backstory”?
Both Tom, my co-founder, and I had been working for a long time in the NHS running mental health services. During that time, it became really apparent how much of a need there was for high-quality psychological therapy. Many people prefer to go private because of long waiting lists, but unfortunately, the same level of quality isn’t always there. We launched The Chelsea Psychology Clinic so that the same high quality, evidence-based practices could be accessed in the private sector.
Can you share your top three “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing?
- Kick-off your day with a 5-minute mindfulness meditation session. This will help 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.
- Set clear boundaries between work and relaxation — when these boundaries get blurred that’s when we often start running into trouble. It’s important to be able to leave work behind in the office, and set a clear cut off point for when you switch off from work commitments and responsibilities.
- Balance activities that we ‘have’ to do with activities we do simply for enjoyment — create time in the day to do things that nourish you and fill you with a sense of wellbeing. It can be as simple as reading a chapter of a book or leaving work to go to your favourite gym class.
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 Tom and I 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 a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I started out as a psychologist, I was very much guided by this sense that I could help everybody. And whilst that came from a good place, I suppose it created something of a blind spot when it came to some of the more complex aspects of psychological change. Over time, I’ve come to understand that in some instances, there might be a number of reasons why someone might not be able — or want — to change. As I’ve gained more experience, I have a much more realistic understanding, which helps me be more responsive to that person as an individual. In this way, I’m better equipped to adapt my approach around them, so it benefits them the most.
When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
Mental wellness is one of the key aspects of overall wellness. Especially in the sense that when our mental health suffers, we will naturally start to struggle attending to the other aspects of our life too. This can create a dangerous cycle.
The work I do is not only about facilitating increased mental wellbeing, but also equipping people with the skills that enable them to attend to their own mental wellbeing in the long-term.
We’re currently in the process of developing a bespoke retreat that addresses both emotional and physical wellbeing, combining high-quality psychological therapy with other wellbeing skills and practices like yoga and mindfulness meditation. We’re really excited about it because we believe it’s the first time anyone has sought to integrate health and wellness in this 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, I was fortunate enough to have two exceptional colleagues. One was a very talented Consultant Psychologist 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.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
It would be making psychological therapy available to everyone, irrespective of whether they consider themselves to be experiencing mental or emotional difficulties or not. The truth is, everyone can benefit from therapy and it should be seen as preventative just as much as it is curative — an “emotional health-check”.
What are your “3 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- That experience is invaluable, and how much this adds to the quality and depth of your work.
- I would have liked to have been encouraged to think more broadly about the application of clinical and counselling psychology. How psychological theory can be applied far beyond the therapy room and in so many different domains: workplace wellbeing, organisational work, media, politics etc.
- To pursue my passion and interest in becoming an entrepreneur much earlier on in my life. My long career in the NHS served as invaluable training, but I definitely held back from pursuing my passion for entrepreneurship out of fear when I was younger. I’d like to tell my younger self to trust my instinct, take a leap, and run with it.
Are you inspired by another female in the wellness industry? If you could take one person to brunch, who would it be? (Let another “woman in wellness” know that you respect her as a teacher and guide!)
I’m inspired by all the work Ariana Huffington has done in bringing health and wellness into the mainstream.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
All of these causes are important to me, but mental health is my area of expertise and something I am especially passionate about. My work has made me acutely aware of the limitations that mental health difficulties can impose on an individual’s life — and how this has worldwide implications.