It’s 9.45am, I’m sat sipping my coffee and I’m already in a state of shock.
We are only just into the start of the day and Wendy has already spoken to a woman having a panic attack, helped somebody get to an interview without having a meltdown, and suggested ways to control health anxiety.
There are 3 other people in the office directing questions at Wendy and tapping away at laptops as if somebody’s life depended on it.
Maybe it does?
One by one, Wendy answers the questions sent her way and compiles a list of the queries she needs to answer. I call them queries but actually, the answers Wendy’s working on seem like life changing stuff to me.
I’m in the office from which Wendy runs her private practice. The walls are full of photographs of Wendy with celebrities and sports people she’s worked with, and just adds to the glamour of an office in Alderley Edge. Wendy is one of the most highly regarded psychologists in the UK, having just won Mental Health Provider of the Year 2020.
I am struggling to believe that this one women powerhouse, who is busily changing women’s lives within a few sentences, has ever had an anxious moment in her life. Her website tells a story of teenage years blighted by anxiety and how she subsequently became a psychologist. Not only is she effortlessly providing solutions, but she is also warm, smiling and very genuine, the sort of women you just trust implicitly.
“It frustrates me that people think they have to put up with anxiety blighting their life” she tells me.
“I hear it all the time. They’ve had a bit of counselling, maybe been to see their GP, read a few books and just don’t feel any better. They then think this thing can’t be fixed. The problem with GP’s is that they just want to give you the easy option of medication. Counsellors are only trained to listen to you and people you see on the NHS are not always the best. And don’t even get me started about people calling themselves coaches”
The first time I saw Wendy was on the television show, Cheshire Housewives. It really struck me that she understood exactly what people go through. On the show she was helping with relationship problems and I remember thinking that Wendy could psychologically hold your hand and lead you through the rockiest of relationship. I was excited to be able to interview her and ask her the questions we all want to know the answers to.
Wendy has spent 25 years perfecting her skill whilst working with countless celebrities, fashionistas, and sports stars. I decide it’s probably best not to ask her age but suspect that in that time, she has found solutions to most things. She tells me it was only a few years ago that the exhaustion of seeing back-to-back clients in Harley Street, London, and Cheshire led to the decision to only do face-to-face consultations in Alderley Edge. “I’ve always had clients all over the world in locations such as: New York, Los Angeles, Sydney, and Barbados and more and more clients are embracing online consultations after the pandemic. Some clients will come into the office to see me when they’re in the UK which can be very different when compared with our usual video call from the beach.”
“This is what it’s all about” Wendy tells me. She has just read an email from a client who has had a full week without a first panic attack after 4 years of constant panic. “It’s wonderful to get feedback like this. Last week I had a 12-week baby scan picture sent to me from a couple who were destined for divorce courts. I don’t always hear how people got on. The biggest compliment is to give clients what they need and then they go off and live happy lives. Of course, some clients come in weekly or fortnightly and have done for years. The wife of one client tells him to book an extra appointment in with me when his stress levels get too high. She says he becomes unbearable until he’s spoken to me.”
I am starting to see exactly why Wendy’s the go – to psychologist for celebrities. She is seriously impressive and clearly knows her stuff. Not only that, but she just gives you that sense of trust, that she is somebody who can deliver what she says she can. And likeable too, not some stuffy psychologist who has never lived in the real world, a woman everyone would want to be friends with.
I’m off at speed, following her round her purpose-built office in Alderley Edge. Plumping cushions and watering plants as she talks, the office is very Cheshire Housewives. I push her about the famous clients she has, and she smiles “It would be difficult to deny the fact that I support the women on Cheshire Housewives as you’ve all seen it on national television. Other than that, all I’ll say is that our private entrance gets used quite a lot.” I fail miserably in finding out any salacious celebrity gossip.
As I’m watching Wendy whirl round her office, it suddenly occurs to me that if it’s this easy to fix mental health stuff and general problems, why does anybody still suffer?
“Good question, in fact great question. The problem is there are lots of councillors and coaches out there, who may or may not be qualified. Many have some bogus qualification that the public would never know is total fiction. Mental health is totally unregulated, anyone can call themselves a counsellor or a coach. Even if they are properly qualified, they are only trained to listen. They are not psychologists who are trained to identify and interrupt faulty patterns of thoughts and behaviour.
Even more terrifying, counsellors, coaches and people who meddle in mental health can make things worse. Imagine having a problem that you talk about constantly for hours, in the same way as you always have; that’s right, it becomes more practiced and more ingrained”
It feels like this may be source of aggravation I have accidently stumbled on.
“It just makes me really cross that people think they’re doing the right thing getting help from self-proclaimed counsellors and coaches and spend hard earned money on, at best feeling worse, or even going away thinking they can’t be helped.
And don’t get me started on all the yoga instructors, nutritionists and purveyors of woo woo magic who meddle with people’s mental health. This is like trusting someone who’s read a book to do brain surgery, you just wouldn’t, would you?”
I get it. When you think about it like that, I understand why Wendy gets so irate about some counsellors and coaches in the mental health space. I shudder to think how much harm is being done to people and their mental well-being.
It is time for me to leave. Wendy’s keen to maintain the confidentiality of someone coming in to see her at the office. I am a bit sad to be leaving. Wendy and her team at her HQ have created one of those spaces that wraps its arms around you so you feel safe and inspired.
I leave without any doubt that Wendy’s the real deal. That she can absolutely deliver on her promise to help you be free of problems, quickly and easily, and all with a smile.