SocialFam ‘5 minutes’ with Therapy in Barcelona

Leigh, Francesc and their son.

Leigh, Francesc and their son.

09.01.2019
With this set of ‘5 minutes’, we are focusing on those that aim to help our mental health!
We caught up with the family behind Therapy in Barcelona to find out about this much needed support for us international families in Barcelona.

Leigh, thank you for chatting to us. Lets start off with where you guys from and what brought you to Barcelona?
I'm Australian, my husband Francesc is native to Barcelona, and our son, who is now 6 years old, was born here in Barcelona.
I met Francesc in Australia in 2010 when he was there on a gap year. We had a whirlwind romance and, after he returned to Barcelona in September 2010, we missed each other. I visited him in December 2010 and he proposed to me in a little cafe in Gracia when I arrived. I said "yes!" We skipped the bureaucracy in Spain and got married in Australia in 2011.
I moved to Barcelona in August 2011 - what a ride it's been!

What made you start Therapy in Barcelona?
I'm a Psychologist from Australia and am passionate about helping people. When I moved, I knew I would continue with my vocation. In managing the adversity, and reaping the benefits, of immigration myself, I saw the need Barcelona's english-speaking international community has for support in their own, or most comfortable, language.
Therapy is always worthwhile but the need for consistent professional assistance is magnified when one's familiar networks are absent.
Research suggests expats are more likely to experience depression and anxiety than their counterparts in their countries of origin. Living abroad inevitably presents as many challenges as it does opportunities.
Therapy in Barcelona seeks to be a valuable resource for members of Barcelona's international community seeking to further their wellbeing, cope with the challenges, and enjoy the opportunities, of living abroad.

What are the most common issues you see at Therapy in Barcelona?
Primary concerns for adults include work and stress related concerns amongst entrepreneurs, MBA and PhD students; issues around identity, meaning, and belonging; grief related to chronic cycles of separation and loss; restlessness and rootlessness; family of origin issues; homesickness; isolation and loneliness; relationship issues; and anxiety and depression, which often come along with the adjustment to living abroad; 57% of expats surveyed by InterNations in 2018, were in an intercultural relationship, so it's no surprise that intercultural relationship challenges feature; in addition to other marital issues, parenting and family issues. Mothers or Mamas- to-be are often managing the challenge of a changing identity and the intensity of bearing the weight of childcare without family around. The juggling of career and family is a common concern amongst the women of Barcelona's international community.

The top 4 challenges of living abroad for children are 1) missing family and friends back home, 2) making new friends, 3) settling in to a new school, 4) Learning a new language (Expat Explorer, Broadening Perspectives, 2017, HSBC Holdings plc.).
The team at Therapy in Barcelona can help with all of these concerns and more.

Leigh, it seems as though you have always been on course to start Therapy in Barcelona, can you tell us what led you here professionally.
In the last 17 years, I have worked with a wide range of people in government, non-government, hospital and research settings, and in my private practice in Australia, which I started when I was 29. You can read my bio here:
therapyinbarcelona.com/about

I started Therapy in Barcelona in 2011, but as demand for therapy services has outweighed my capacity to provide it as a solo practitioner, I have created two services with the goal of connecting clients from Barcelona's international community with english-speaking practitioners easily and quickly: the Therapist in Barcelona online directory and the newly opened Therapy in Barcelona center in Esquerra Eixample, on Calle Paris 162-164.
All my passions have converged in this new space where a group of therapists can work in synergy with other practitioners in to help adult individuals, children, teens, couples, families, mamas, papas.

How do you find managing your dreams alongside having a family?
Living in Barcelona is great, because the local culture, in general, values work-life balance. This is evident in long lunches, shops opening at 10am, long August holidays, and the lower probability of being asked: "what do you do for a living." Rushing around, and eating on the go are out of place here, and that helps me slow down!
Clear boundaries, and clear working hours are critical, but hard to achieve, because there's always work to be done and my work is my passion so I could work all the time!
Family holidays are a must, as are shared, memorable experiences. We try to have dinner together, and prioritise little things - good morning and good night hugs and kisses, talking together about the day, playing, and supporting each others' wellbeing and dreams.
My husband and I are true partners. As an intercultural couple, we have weathered challenges which have strengthened our relationship. With that foundation, courage and, hard work, you can make dreams happen,

What is in store for Therapy in Barcelona in 2019?
Helping. Collaborating. Community Building.
Since the initial opening in October 2018, I have been organising procedures so everything runs smoothly for clients and therapists from woah to go.
The next phase is working toward the vision- community building. I hope to organise a launch party, a consistent monthly networking event, group therapy and workshops and open the space up to other community events and organisations.
I want it to be a place where members of Barcelona's international community feel comfortable to seek help for problems of any size; where problems can be heard and professionals can help alleviate isolation and aid movement forward. I also want it to be a place where professionals who take care of Barcelona's international community can meet each other and work together to create a model of shared care for clients.

Be well Barcelona and, if you need assistance, therapy is just as simple as you and a professional in a room, working on your truth, needs, and goals.

Thank you so much and we look forward to seeing the growth.
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Visit the Therapy in Barcelona page here, Instagram here and Facebook here