I’d been having problems over the course of a year or so with anxiety and recurring negative thought patterns. I’d also been finding my emotions really hard to manage and had been dealing as well with intrusive thoughts about a past trauma which I’d never had the courage to fully deal with.

Working with Orla led me to develop a totally new mindset, more confident, more sure of myself and with a different perspective on certain things that have happened in the past. I definitely feel that I’ve come away with some really practical tools that I can go on using to maintain this new mental state. I feel like I have a lot more choice in terms of what I am feeling and thinking. I definitely have a more peaceful and positive internal landscape. And then there have of course been various knock-on positive effects branching out from this. I’ve been able to cope much better with certain stressful situations in my job as a youth-worker – for example when a young person I was working with hurt herself and was bleeding copiously, which I would previously have found extremely stressful, I was able to simply remain calm and respond effectively. I have also found myself able to become much more assertive and confident in group situations, both in work and in terms of sorting out practicalities and responsibilities with my housemates: I’m no longer taking on too much simply out of a desire to avoid confrontation. Similarly, I have been doing an ‘Art, Health and Wellbeing’ course over a series of weeks, and I feel that I have been able to fully engage with the group side of this in a much more confident way than would have been the case previously.

Excitingly I have, for the first time in a long while, made proper time for my own art too, and started really prioritising this in my life. My degree was in Fine Art, but I’d found that with the pressures of work and general everyday life, I had drifted away from this. Now I have signed up for a range of different courses where I’ve learnt new skills and techniques and also carved out time in each week to make art and be creative. This feels really brilliant and has definitely contributed, along with everything else, to much greater feelings of happiness and wellbeing.

(Meredith, Youth Worker, 26)

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