Lorna Devine is a cognitive behavioural therapist, accredited life coach and mindfulness practitioner. She holds a BSc (Hons) in Psychology, a Master’s degree in clinical psychology and mental health and a Post-Graduate Diploma in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
Lorna has worked with over 3000 clients experiencing a range of difficulties including (but not limited to) anxiety; low mood; perfectionism; stress and burnout; physical health problems; low confidence and low self-esteem. She has worked in various sectors including the NHS, independent, charitable, education and research sectors. In addition to offering 1:1 therapy and coaching sessions, she delivers emotional wellness workshops and group sessions including psychoeducational and relaxation groups.
Lorna adopts an integrative approach to client work; she draws on different approaches to enrich her practice including life coaching, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), compassion-focused therapy (CFT) and mindfulness-based approaches.
Thank you for joining us Lorna can you tell us a little bit about your background story as a therapist?
Thank you for inviting me! I feel very grateful to be a part of this platform with so many inspiring female entrepreneurs.
Growing up, I always loved studying and had clear career goals from a young age. Whilst studying Psychology at the undergraduate level, I worked in the research sector carrying out research in schools investigating links between exposure to social media, body image and wellbeing. I then went on to study a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and Mental Health. It was during this time that I developed an interest in mindfulness after studying the effects of a mindfulness-based intervention on symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and perfectionism for my dissertation. As part of my dissertation, personal mindfulness practice was required. I realised how daily practice benefitted my own wellbeing whilst juggling my studies and work and so have continued to practice mindfulness ever since.
Whilst studying for my master’s, I started working in the NHS in a children’s hospital and a highly specialised inpatient paediatric/psychiatric unit. This involved 1:1 work with children and parents; running anxiety management groups for children with chronic illnesses, and administering psychometric and neuropsychological assessments. Following this, I worked as a therapist in neuro-rehabilitation settings with adults and elderly clients. Here, I provided individual therapy, conducted neuropsychological assessments and delivered cognitive-stimulation therapy groups, psycho-educational groups, social skills groups and mindfulness groups. I have always had an interest in evidence-based interventions so, during this time, I continued to be involved in research at University College London investigating a range of psychological interventions for individuals experiencing mental health difficulties.
For the past five years, I have been working as a therapist in primary and secondary schools. No day is ever the same but typically involves a combination of individual therapy with children and young people; parent and/or family work; running psycho-educational groups and multi-family therapy groups; consultation; and training educational professionals.
A few years ago, I decided to study for a Post-Graduate Diploma in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) whilst working as a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist in a counselling and psychotherapy service. I provided CBT to help children, young people and adults overcome a range of difficulties including panic attacks; social anxiety; health anxiety; body image difficulties; low mood; and self-harm.
I have recently taken the plunge and resigned from one of my part-time roles so that I can focus on launching my business. This was a huge step for me but it seems to be paying off which is super exciting!
What and where did you to study to become an accredited coach and what advice would you give for those looking to pursue this as a career?
I trained as a life coach and personal performance coach with The Coaching Academy, the world’s leading coaching training provider. For individuals looking to pursue coaching as a career, the advice I would give is to attend an introductory day or course to find out more about coaching and whether you have what it takes to become a coach. Introductory courses are a great way of seeing whether coaching is for you and whether you want to study coaching to become a life coach, learn personal development skills or to even improve your current skillset.
This will also give you the opportunity to see whether the training provider is right for you as different courses have a different coaching approach. I attended a foundation course in life coaching prior to enrolling on my course. I had the best weekend, met some amazing people and immediately knew that coaching was for me and was something that I was passionate about. I learned some of the fundamental coaching principles and tried out different tools and techniques used by coaches to help their clients (and yes we had to do role-plays!). You will learn how coaching differs from therapy and mentoring. I found this particularly interesting as I had to make a conscious effort to not give advice, especially given my background. If you decide at the end of it that you do not want to pursue coaching, either way, you will leave with newly acquired coaching skills and knowledge that will be helpful in both your personal and professional lives.
What methods do you use to measure the results of your clients that you work with other than testimonials?
The methods I use to measure results depends on the service I offer. For example, I ask my coaching clients to complete pre-coaching questionnaires and a wheel of life which is one of the key tools that I use in intake and review sessions. The wheel of life helps clients identify how satisfied they are with different areas of their life including health, finances and relationships. Many of my clients have been amazed at what their wheel of life looks like when it is on paper (the power of writing things down!) and towards the end of the coaching, have also reported being surprised at how many of their other life categories improved in terms of satisfaction ratings as a result of working on particular areas such as their health and wellbeing; ultimately resulting in a more balanced and fulfilling life.
Research suggests that working with goals can support positive change so goal-based outcomes are a tool that I use with every single client. In addition to ensuring that my coaching and therapy sessions are personalised to each individual client, goals are particularly valuable to help clients decide what they would like to achieve, track progress along the way and then measure how far they have come at the end.
In Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) sessions, I use a range of screening, assessment and outcome measures depending on the client’s presentation and goals. Following the assessment stage, alongside the use of goals, I select a measure tailored to my client’s presentation, goals and intervention agreed. For example, if I am helping a client overcome panic attacks, we will agree on a measure to track symptoms of panic attacks so that we can assess the extent to which things are progressing as expected. Likewise, if a client comes to me for help with improving their mood, we agree on a questionnaire that specifically tracks symptoms of low mood.
One key thing I have learned over many years using outcome and feedback tools, and conducting research and projects examining the use of outcome measures is to ensure that clients understand why they are filling in questionnaires and to feedback what the questionnaires show. I have seen many individuals collect questionnaires and then put them in a drawer without feeding back so I always make sure I use outcome measures and feedback tools in a positive and meaningful way. As well as obtaining qualitative feedback, I use feedback tools such as session feedback questionnaires to track change, understand the impact of my work and enhance the effectiveness of the interventions that I provide.
Can you give us three small yet effective ways we can prioritise our mental wellbeing as a busy entrepreneur?
- Firstly, prioritise rest and self-care and most importantly, do not feel guilty for it! Too many of us (I have been guilty of this too!) is on the go 24/7 and push ourselves to the point of burnout. As an entrepreneur myself, I completely understand how difficult it can be to rest when you have a never-ending to-do list, but working 24/7 seven days a week can actually be counterproductive. Give yourself time, space and permission to just ‘be’ – step away from the ‘doing’ mode (getting things done, always on the go) and shift into ‘being’ mode (just be in the moment).
- Secondly, breathe! This is key. Breathing will calm your mind and body. It will activate the relaxation response of your parasympathetic nervous system, also considered the ‘rest and digest’ system. There are a range of breathing exercises that you can try. Deep breathing is particularly effective as you can do it anywhere. Sit and place one hand on your abdomen. Breathe in through your nose (four seconds), hold your breath (four seconds) and then exhale slowly through your mouth (six seconds). Practice this for three to five minutes. You can play around with the exact timings – see what works best for you.
- Lastly, monitor your wellbeing on a regular basis rather than waiting for your body to give you a sign that something is not right. Take some out and identify if you are meeting your basic needs. Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating nourishing foods? Are you drinking enough water? Although this may sound simple, you would be surprised how many people are not meeting their basic needs and if you are not meeting your basic needs, you will be more vulnerable to experiencing a range of emotions including anxiety, stress and overwhelm. Check-in with yourself the next time you feel stressed or anxious. Are there any unmet needs that you need to pay attention to? If you are tired, make sure you prioritise rest and sleep. If you are hungry, eat nourishing foods.
It is important to remember though that our needs are so unique so what works for one person won’t necessarily benefit the other. So, find what works for you and then keep that up!
Can you talk us through the three minutes ‘Breathing Space’ meditation and the benefits of including it into our daily life?
The three minutes ‘Breathing Space’ meditation (Segal, Williams & Teasdale) is a great way to include mindfulness into our daily lives, and is made up of three steps:
- Awareness. The first step involves attending to what is and bringing yourself into the present moment. Focus broadly on your experience but without the need to change what is being observed. Ask yourself, what is my experience right now? Think about your thoughts, feelings and physical sensations. For example, what thoughts are going through your mind? How are you feeling? What sensations can you feel in your body? Once you have a sense of what is going on for you (stepping out of automatic pilot mode), you can move onto the next step.
- Gathering. The second step involves redirecting your attention by focusing on a single object (the movements of your breath). Focus your attention on the movements of the abdomen, the rise and fall of the breath. The breath can be a helpful anchor to bring you into the present moment again.
- Expanding. The last step involves expanding your awareness. As well as being aware of your breath, widen your attention again to include the whole body and any sensations that are present e.g. in your neck, back or shoulders.
Practice this meditation three times a day. You can start by doing this at three set times in the day if you feel this will make it easier for you to remember. You can then begin to do this whenever you feel like you need to take a mindful moment in the midst of a hectic day.
A major benefit of this meditation is that it is a shorter meditation practice that you can start with and easily integrate into your daily life. You can do this anywhere e.g. in bed, on the way to work or while you are sitting at your desk.
What does it mean to practise mindfulness and what are the common misconceptions associated with it?
Jon Kabat-Zinn, one of the pioneers in bringing mindfulness practice to the Western world defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgementally.” Mindfulness is basically the opposite of ‘mindlessness’. Practising mindfulness means recognising when you are on automatic pilot, stepping out of it and coming back to the present moment. You can start to practice mindfulness by noticing and paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, behaviours and the environment surrounding you. Start paying attention to what you can see, hear, smell, feel and/or taste – basically anything you are experiencing in the present moment.
There are many misconceptions about mindfulness. A common misconception is that mindfulness is all about getting rid of thoughts. Some people think they cannot do mindfulness because they cannot empty their mind. When I have explored this with clients, it usually comes down to them believing that mindfulness is all about having no thoughts, an empty mind which is absolutely not what mindfulness is about. Mindfulness is not about banishing all thoughts but relating to them differently; it is about letting thoughts come and go without getting caught up in them while making space for other aspects of our experience.
Another common misconception is that mindfulness is easy – it is not! You cannot learn mindfulness just by reading books about it. You have to practice it. It takes real-time and commitment to experience what it really has to offer. There are no quick fixes, unfortunately. Despite studying mindfulness for my master’s degree, attending various courses and practising it for nine years, there are still times when I find it challenging. The biggest challenge can be to actually remember to be mindful, especially when we are so often on autopilot!
What platforms are you using as marketing tools?
Up until very recently, I have been relying on word of mouth. However, I am now trying to be more active on Instagram which has surprisingly resulted in a number of new clients. I am a member of the Life Coaching Directory.
You can also find me on The Hip List, a directory of wellness professionals curated by the Hip & Healthy team and the WELD (Wellbeing, Exercise, Lifestyle and Diet) app.
WELD is a fitness and wellness marketplace platform which enables individuals to access a range of health professionals and benefits everyone involved – both clients and health professionals! I am extremely honoured to have recently been identified as an ambassador for the brand.
Do you currently use any apps or tools to help the functionality of your business?
At the moment, I am not currently using any apps or tools but I am sure that this is something I will consider in the future if I come across any apps or tools that will help the functionality of my business.
What does #BEYOUROWN mean to you?
To me, #BEYOUROWN means being true to yourself, living and working in align with your values and ultimately being your authentic self. It also means taking that big leap of faith to follow your passions, no matter how scary it may feel! Believe in yourself and don’t let other people’s opinions get in the way of your dreams and what you want to achieve. You only have one life so #BEYOUROWN and do what truly makes you happy.
What does 2020 look like for you and how are you looking to expand throughout the rest of the year?
If the start of 2020 is anything to go by, 2020 is looking like it is going to be an incredible year. For me, this year is all about focusing on launching my business, putting my energy into what I am truly passionate about and travelling more. I recently returned from Bali and had such a magical time. It was the first time in a long time that I gave myself some proper time off. I also had some interesting discussions out there about working as a therapist/coach on wellness retreats so this is something that I would love to do at some point.
In terms of how I am looking to expand, as I mentioned previously, I recently took the plunge and resigned from one of my part-time roles so that I can focus on launching my business. I am now building my client base and am in the process of planning a range of emotional wellness workshops and groups which will take place this year, aimed at helping individuals find a sense of inner calm and prioritise their well-being. I am currently doing some advisory and consulting work for different brands and a mental health prevention app powered by Artificial Intelligence. I have also been chosen as the psychological expert for some upcoming panel discussions and wellbeing events which I am looking forward to. So yes… 2020 is looking like it is going to be a really amazing year!
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