SIDE HUSTLE

Laura

Fell

Illustration by

Marta Mateu lloveras

Laura Fell is a London based musician​, whose debut album 'Safe From Me' was released this year. She is also a pyschotherapist. For Side Hustle, she talks to Hook about her two roles, and how they complement each other. 

I’ve been seeing therapy clients for around four years now, initially alongside my training, then part-time alongside various jobs in helping professions—I worked at a Rehab and then for a homelessness charity—before setting up my own full-time practice a couple of years back now. I actually moved to London specifically to do my therapy training, and that was around the same time that writing and performing my own music really started to come in, so the two worlds have always co-existed with one-another, and I suppose also felt quite connected to each other for me in that sense. 

I absolutely love my work as a therapist. I’m constantly learning from the relationships I have with my clients, and feel very grateful to have found a job that feels the farthest thing from work for me. I think it’s such a deep privilege to be alongside people in their own respective journeys, and so wonderful to share in that and in the progress that clients make. Aside from music, I can’t really imagine doing anything else. 

It's tricky to know how much it impacts my music. I’m naturally an empath, and a very introspective and analytical person, so I’ve never felt surprised that I ended up a therapist. Those qualities of emotionality, introspection and questioning are definitely a strong presence in my songwriting, but it’s hard to tell whether my therapy work informs that or more just my nature generally. That being said, I think that the resilience and self-awareness achieved through my therapy training has definitely facilitated in me a far greater ability to sit with myself, and to be curious and questioning instead of shutting myself down with judgements, and that certainly affects my writing; the ability to be open, non-defensive and curious that you need as a therapist certainly opens up a wider space for self-questioning and reflection. 

 

My colleagues, supervisor and therapist all know of my music, and a few of therapist friends that I train with follow all my music stuff quite closely and will come out to gigs—it’s nice when the two paths cross in that way. I’m not sure if any of my clients have come across my music—if so they haven’t said anything to me—but I’m open on my website about the fact that I’m a musician and writer, because a special interest of mine is working with creatives and people in the arts. If clients were to hear my music though, I suppose my hope would be that it modelled for them my doing of the things that I’d invite them to think about in therapy—opening up to vulnerability, building resilience to difficult emotions and experiences by acknowledging and sitting with them, working to develop a more compassionate relationship with self. 

The two jobs alongside one another strike a really restorative balance for me, which feels very healthy. Who knows what the future holds—perhaps there’s a point where I’d pause my therapy work to place a full focus on music, and I also considered looking into music therapy training at some stage. The music therapy thing is interesting, actually, because at first when I was training it felt incredibly important to keep my music separate in every way. I think perhaps because the training was so emotionally taxing and intense I felt I needed music to be this protected, sacred space outside of that, which would give me the energy back that the training was taking out. But now I’m qualified and working full-time, and especially as I’m working mostly with creatives now, I’m more and more drawn towards creative approaches to therapy, and ideas as to how the two paths might converge more. In and of itself though, I’d definitely say that therapy is a highly creative job - you’re constantly having to think on your feet, make connections and see how things all fit together, and you never quite know where you’re going to end up based on where you start. In those sorts of ways I feel its incredibly similar to the process of making music. 

To Terry Gilliam