Arouna Montague Therapist in ‘emotional well-being , specialising in Trauma, Clinical Hypnosis, and EMDR
As I always emphasise, mental health and well-being are essential to running a successful business. If you are not looking after these aspects, you will be running on empty and not from a place of wholeness and a place where you can serve ably. As we are slowly transitioning out of the confines of lockdown and the borders of this pandemic, inevitably we will have or be suffering through some mental health issues. More than ever, it is essential that we take care of our mental health and well-being.
I talked to Arouna Montague about mental health and the importance of looking after it. We also talked about her career journey and how she has come to where she is today! She has some insightful and poignant information to impart to you today!
So tell me a little bit about what you do and your background?
I run Transform Therapies Known more commonly by the name of transform clinical hypnotherapy. I work in a very solution focused way that people can really begin to feel that they can take control of their mind, thoughts and mental health rather than through a medical perspective approach alone – in this way I give people back the power they feel they don’t have. I also have a clinical medical health professional background and so get referrals to my business from schools and Doctors for children from age six years onwards / kids with neuro developmental issues such as autistic spectrum disorder, learning disabilities, physical disabilities and behavioural problems.
What do you think is the most important aspect of mental health and well-being?
Feeling safe, unjudged, and unashamed to say “I’m not okay” is so important in beginning the process of getting better. Self-care, self-love ring true but are not always easy for those who have been through a lot. It’s high time that society turned this ship around on the idea of shame around having mental health difficulties. Knowing that they will not be judged and that there are many people out there that can help them overcome these things; is the movement that we should have taken since the beginning of the 21st century. We are getting there but it’s a slow process sometimes and not helped by the current strain on the NHS services. Learning as much as we can, as young as we can in our schools about ‘how to’ recognise and look after our mental health is where we need to have a focus.
How did you get into the line of work you’re in?
I’m frequently asked this question and it’s a very interesting one. Academically, I completed my Social Sciences at Degree Lancaster University in 2002, which majored in Psychology with Health. My intentions then were to pursue further study in this field however, having 2 children at home, I detoured a bit and completed a second degree in BSc Occupational Therapy which provided me with the beginning of nearly two decades of practice. This lead me through the NHS route where I was able to gain considerable experience working within Mental health in adults for a time and also Paediatrics, where the emphasis is on the holistic model of health – long term mental health alongside complex neuro-developmental, life limiting and physical issues for children and young people. I decided to study further, gaining a Clinical Diploma in Clinical Hypnotherapy & NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming. I also went on to undertake further training to gain my Diploma in EMDR (eye movement and desensitisation re-processing ) to treat PTSD and Trauma.
I often reflect to what lead me down this path, and I firmly believe it was a mixture of desire to really help people really feel better, function in the world in a way that was not dictated by their trauma, adversities or early conditioning , but through a new lens. One where I could teach them that healing on the inside can really happen and can really shape and transform their world. Life experience as a therapist is massively important. I believe and I can honestly say that my own valuable and testing life experiences probably where the tipping point that sent me down this path organically.
What is your most favourite thing about your job?
The amazing people and the fact that I am so incredibly honoured to be trusted with their stories. I love the before and after process as well as the middle of working with people. I hear them often say, ‘ this has been life changing’, I didn’t, think anyone could help me, often that their lives have been totally transformed’. The way I frame sessions is like it is a boxing ring, this life game, when they fall and get beaten by life, I get them up and say – I will not let you give up’, you’re going to make it and I’m going to make sure of it’! Of course I totally believe that my role is guidance and it is through this combination of therapies and their hard work that they are the heroes in their stories – truly.
What is the toughest part of my job?
The toughest aspect of my job is when I hear what people have been through. I can relate to many experiences through my own life learning, however I never lose the empathy, deep compassion and care for the brave people who share their stories with me in order for me to press start on the healing journey. It can be tough and sad at times to hear these things, but it’s those kind of stories that make me determined even more to help the world heal, one person at a time.
It is right there in that moment that I think about my client – ‘ you are really amazing, you inspire me, look at what you defied and overcame!’
Who Inspires Me?
Honestly, people do. Everyday people. Especially the ones that are considered in our society (and I’m not keen on labels) but the ones deemed by society as ‘different, challenging, broken, dysfunctional etc. When I see people overcome lifelong limitations, through our work together, these barriers, discrimination, mental blocks and essentially unhealthy beliefs disappear. It is right there in that moment that I think about my client – ‘ you are really amazing, you inspire me, look at what you defied and overcame’! That motivates and inspires me every day.
My job satisfaction is seeing people grow, heal and transform through sometimes very tough and traumatic experiences. In the raw process, I try to make it as gentle and supportive as possible. It is when I see that light within them begin to grow and then their own disbelief at the fact they’re feeling, doing and living better than ever – that is the real testimony that allows me to know every step I take with them is worthwhile. There is no ego or I in this work but very much ‘You’, ‘We and ‘together’.
“Speak up, always speak up, open your heart and whatever comes out – start there. There is always someone who loves and cares enough to help you live a different story to one you have if that’ what you need.“
What does looking after your own mental health look like?
Funnily there are some clients that ask me this question and I answer within reason, honestly; It looks like;
Recognising my limitations, boundaries when I’m tired, not feeling not my best and being so tuned into knowing when this is happening ‘early on’ is key to not letting things get out of hand. Learning to ‘live’ authentically is self-care and supporting my well-being. This means letting my Yes or No’s be in flow with what I’m really feeling and want or need. Putting my health first instead of last, we’re no good to anyone on empty. For me my authentic self when needing to restore my well being, seeks nature, prayer, solitude, the sea, laughter, trees and all the things that I love. That also looks like speaking to a friend or someone close about my feelings and exploring them if I need to.
“There is always someone who loves and cares enough to help you live a different story to one you have if that’ what you need.“
My daily routine?
My daily routine starts with coffee and a shower – I can’t function without these two. Exercise and trying to eat intuitively is essential for me to thrive. I try to live in flow with my feelings, needs, musts and what’s absolutely necessary. Work is scheduled tightly and I have set times that I see people as I also work in the NHS and in private Paediatric with very challenging complex cases, so self-care and living in flow around these jobs is so important for me.
My favourite song?
I listen to music every single day – trust me, it’s not my best day if I don’t. On my playlist is everything from Lauren Diegal, Sia to Salsa hits. I love all music.
My go-to coffee?
Not a product placement here, but have you tried Costa Coconut latte?!