Meet Dr. Emma Radway Bright – Lead Therapist at I Need Therapy. Emma and her business partner Sharon have been residents at Peckham Levels for 3 years.  We spoke to Emma about her PHD, her confidence to change career paths and how to access services at I Need Therapy. 

Tell us a bit about your PHD and what motivated you to study the sciences?

I’d always loved sciences at school; and went on to study Medical Microbiology at The University of Surrey. During my undergrad, I had the opportunity to spend a year in Geneva at a research lab. That totally sparked my interest in medical research. So it felt really natural to go on to a PhD. at UCL.

My PhD was pretty hard! In a nutshell, I will summarise 4 years of virtually living in a laboratory & hospital, patient consultations, tears and anguish… It was researching the auto-antibodies that play a big part in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and anti-phospholipid syndrome. I got particularly interested in the part these antibodies play in women that were experiencing multiple (up to 9!) early miscarriages.

At first, it was purely lab based, but I slowly became interested in the more ‘human’ side of the research, as I started sitting in on some of the consultations these women had with my professors. My project morphed into working with women who were receiving IVF and how these antibodies played a role in the success or failure of their treatment. And, I guess, this was the seed of my initial interest in women and the emotions associated with getting, keeping and seeing a pregnancy through to the birth of their babies!

Was it a difficult decision to change the focus of your career from sciences to counselling and what advice would you give someone who is keen to change their career path?

I never intended to be anything but a scientist…I spent the next 20-odd years of my career in roles that essentially shaped the medical and clinical research policy in the UK; and eventually ended up overseeing Quality and Regulation at an organisation that facilitates stem cell transplants for patients in the UK and all over the world.

In the meantime, being a ‘serial-learner’, I started a counselling course and spent four years qualifying, all while volunteering for a number of years (both while training and post-qualification) working with women and young girls who have experienced rape, childhood sexual, physical or emotional abuse, and domestic violence; and with clients struggling with post-miscarriage or post-abortion. I started a small private practice in the evenings… after ‘work’… also undertaking specialist training to work with people suffering from the effects of trauma and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

As it is, the fates came together nicely. In the shape of implicit bias and hitting the ‘ceiling-of-colour’, i realised that all the scientific knowledge, expertise, experience and longevity wasn’t going to get me past that ceiling, so I decided to take the plunge and do what I absolutely love… working with people through their most thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

The switch in career was a difficult decision to make, as it meant leaving behind years of scientific experience, but one I don’t regret! 

The main advice I’d have for anyone contemplating a change… do it! You’ve got nothing to lose. If you’re moving into something you’re passionate about, it’s worth the risk. The main gain is personal satisfaction and knowing you’re in tune with what you have chosen to do. 

Is there anyone in particular who inspires you or has helped you along your journey to opening I Need Therapy?

To be honest, my parents are my inspiration. My mum is a career woman, who originally trained as a teacher, then trained to become a nurse. Then a midwife… all before she was 30! In my teens, she re-trained and became a specialist health visitor, then got involved in research into child development. Meanwhile, my dad originally trained as an accountant… found that boring and retrained as a doctor, specialising in paediatrics. So some would say it’s not surprising that I’m a serial learner! 🙂 They showed me that you can follow your interests and there’s nothing wrong in changing or retraining until you find the thing you love!

What is the best way for someone to access I Need Therapy’s services?

Our practice is pretty busy at the moment! While I would have said call either myself or Sharon (the other half of this dynamic duo!), it’s likely we’d be in a client session. So an initial email is usually best.⁠ For those who aren’t sure what to do…

  • Introduce yourself briefly – give your name and phone number. [For their safety, therapists like to know they are dealing with a ‘real’ person.]⁠
  • You need only give one or two sentences about why you are seeking therapy. However, you don’t have to, as that can all be discussed at your first session.⁠
  • It would be useful if you state the days and times when you might be free to attend sessions.⁠ (Due to covid measures, all sessions are via Zoom at the moment)
  • You can ask for an initial phone call where you can ask questions and get a feel for how we work.⁠ 

If you want to learn more about I Need Therapy, visit their website. https://ineedtherapy.co.uk