You might have noticed that my name is Amy Scott, not Amy May.
I haven't called my private practice 'Amy May Wellbeing' to deceive you - there's actually quite a few reasons for it based on my journey as a client first, then a therapist.
I was named after my grandmother on my mother's side - May. I've been told that she always wanted a granddaughter, however she died before I was born. My mum had a complex relationship with her mother and therefore didn't want to name me May so they did a bit of reshuffling of the letters and viola - I became Amy! Strangely enough, I was also surprised to find that I look very much like my grandmother May (and not so much like either of my parents).
Intergenerational trauma and the breaking of repeating patterns
Intergenerational trauma is the passing down of the impact of traumatic events through a family line. Often the same or similar patterns are passed down through generations and mental health difficulties can appear to be inherited. For example, a child will often learn to be hypervigilant to threat from an anxious caregiver.
I have a real curiosity and interest in this, particularly regarding working with adults who have a tricky relationship with their parents and/or are trying to break the patterns in their family line. There have been tricky relationships down my matriarchal line for a few generations in my own family - each one playing out the impact of the generation before. When you trace through the generations in my family tree, I've been told that we also have our fair share of mental health difficulties that go back through both sides.
I'm a great believer in the idea that, although your family history and your family of origin does have an impact on you, it does not define you. I love the symbolism behind the swapping around of the letters in my name. My family story impacts upon me but I have the freedom to choose what I'm going to do with that awareness and information.
Subsequently, I've done a lot of personal development work through training and personal therapy to forge my own path forwards and break family patterns such as the anxiety that tends to run in the women in my family through my mother's side. I still experience it; the roots of this anxiety run deep through the generations. The difference is that I've faced it head on, brought it out into the open for exploration without shame, befriended it and learnt how to use psychological and somatic tools to address it firmly but with compassion. Without this, I couldn't be the person that I am today and I most definitely wouldn't be the therapist that I am today.
The name Amy May Wellbeing is a nod to all of this.
When I first set up my private practice I couldn't afford to employ a graphic designer so I started experimenting in Canva. I created a colour scheme for my logo and professional social media and shoved a few pieces of clipart together to create a blue and gold logo that in hindsight was quite pretty but also not great as an actual logo!
I've recently redesigned my logo with the same themes and much better, simplistic design but the concept is the same.
Kintsugi and the colour scheme
Kintsugi is a beautiful Japanese artform in which gold is used to fix cracks in broken pottery. I love it because it treats the cracks in the pottery with such reverence and works with them rather than against them to create an even more beautiful end result. It doesn't hide the cracks or pretend that there was no damage, it honours the journey that the pottery has been through and integrates this into the final design. I chose gold and blue as my main logo colours as a reference to Kintsugi and how beautifully it acts as a metaphor for the therapeutic process. Far too often we are harsh on ourselves and try to hide what we see as shameful imperfections or damage. Through the therapeutic relationship we can begin to piece things together again, using self-compassion as the gold that creates a new, beautiful but different end result which integrates and honours our past but shines with hope for the future.
The growing plant
In both incarnations of my logo, a plant has been central to the design to symbolise growth and hope.
Carl Rogers, the founder of person-centred therapy, believed in the 'self-actualising' tendency of all human beings. He believed that, even when the conditions are unfavourable, every person will try to grow towards their potential and that therapy can be used as a way to help people to do so, to create more fertile soil and conditions within an equal and supportive therapeutic relationship. When describing this 'self-actualising tendency', he used a metaphor of potatoes which are stored in conditions without any sunlight, describing how they will still grow in an effort to become potato plants, growing taller in an effort to try to try to find the light. Although I am trained and I practise integratively or pluralistically (using a combination of tools and approaches depending on client preferences and needs) rather than in a purely person-centred way, I have great respect for Carl Rogers. As I do, he believed that the client was the expert in their own lives and is an active partner in the therapeutic journey, rather than a passive patient, which was a very controversial view at the time.
I also always felt that it was really important to integrate rain into the design. Rain often gets an unwelcome reception. Most people prefer to gaze out onto a beautiful, sunny day rather than a grey, overcast, soggy one. When it rains we prefer to stay inside or at the very least protect ourselves with an umbrella. However, if we had no rain, we'd have no crops to eat, no flowers, no grass parks to enjoy and ultimately we'd have no water to drink to sustain us.
Sometimes we think of our more challenging emotions in the same way that we think of rain. We try to shut them out, we don't want them, we prefer the warmer feelings. The problem is that if we numb off our more difficult emotions like pain and sadness, unfortunately we often end up numbing the rest off as well. Humans aren't very good at selectively numbing off, it tends to be all or nothing. Therefore, if we don't make space for the grief, then we can't fully experience joy and beauty. Counselling and therapy create a safe space where all emotions are welcome and where clients can begin to trust in their capacity to tolerate them. At tough times, the therapeutic relationship is like an umbrella that we both stand under, in the rain, together. Perhaps eventually we might even experiment in dancing in the rain and welcoming it in.
Mindfulness, interbeing and nature
My journey into mindfulness was something that changed my life and helped me begin to learn how to calm an overactive an hypervigilant nervous system. I personally learnt Mindfulness through the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, the Buddhist teacher and peace activist who founded Plum Village in France.
The concept of 'interbeing' is central in Thich Nhat Hanh's teachings. This is the idea that everything is linked, particularly in nature, and that to be aware of this brings us closer to peace within ourselves. In one particular meditation on 'interbeing', the meditator is asked to reflect on all of the things within their cup of tea - the sunshine and rain which helped the tea to grow, the worker who toiled in the fields to pick the tea, the people and the processes which transported the tea, the energy used to boil the kettle to make the tea...even the cloud which made the rain that became the water for the tea. It helps us to realise and reflect upon our connection to everything else and to care for everything else with compassion.
As a therapist who openly states that I work with eco-anxiety and climate-grief (amongst a wide variety of other client difficulties), I believe that more of a sense of 'interbeing' in society would help us to navigate this difficult and pivotal time in the history of humanity and the planet. The rain and the plant refer to this idea, incorporate the balance within nature and the circle that runs around my logo is reminiscent of the incomplete circle used within Thich Nhat Hanh's calligraphy.
A lucky coincidence
Not by design, but by lucky coincidence, I also realised today that the plant in my new logo looks like it has a heart in it formed by the lower two leaves. I continuously reflect on how lucky I am to be able to work in a job that feels so much like home to me. It truly is an honour to be a counsellor and to walk alongside my clients on their journeys.
If you have any comments or questions, or if any symbolism from my logo that I haven't thought of stands out to you, please do feel free to comment below.
If you would like to reach out for support then I offer free, no obligation 20 minute consultations on Zoom. You can book yourself in via the link on my website.