Introducing Ailsa Robson – Walk + Talk Therapist
We’d love you to give the warmest of SA Woman welcomes to Ailsa Robson, Walk + Talk Therapist, who steps into the business spotlight this month!
Ailsa is a much-loved member of the SA Woman sisterhood, and Jess from Jess McEachen Copywriting couldn’t wait to ask Ailsa all the really deep questions when she took 5 with her.
In this chat, you’ll discover why Ailsa began walk & talk therapy 5 years ago and hasn’t look back! We get the party tooters out for the launch of Ailsa’s podcast, Compassionate Conversations, and we also dive right into the reasons why women in business may not seek the help they need. And, in a beautiful moment, we join Ailsa as she talks to her 12 year old self about body shaming & food shaming. Absolute goosebumps moment.
Ailsa also reveals that from the moment she joined the SA Woman membership community, she felt entrusted by the women she met – for simply being herself. That SA Woman has given her nothing but confidence to back her rebellious vision and work outside the box. Hell yes!
This will leave you feeling so empowered and supported, and we’re so grateful to have Ailsa with us in the Business Spotlight for September.
// Welcome lovely! We’re so grateful to have you stepping into the Biz Spotlight for October! For those who haven’t come across you yet, can you please introduce us to yourself as Ailsa Robson – Walk & Talk Therapist, and who you love to work with?
Thanks Jess, I’m once again excited to be connecting with the SAW sisterhood x
Hi, for those who I haven’t crossed paths with yet, I’m Ailsa. I’m a Psychotherapist who can help you explore how to be happier within yourself, and within your relationships.
I offer Walk and Talk Therapy Sessions in the Hills and by the Beach. My clients love the option of taking their psychotherapy sessions outside in nature and I enjoy offering a personalised and relaxed environment where they can unwind and unpack their thoughts.
I love to work with people who feel capable in most areas of their lives but simply feel stuck on an aspect or two, and wish to move forward. They appreciate the need to work with a neutral professional, but are also looking for a nurturing environment in which to download. Many of my clients are fellow business owners, and together we unpack what they’re struggling with, whilst they create positive change in their lives.
I especially love assisting people who may relate to:
- Body image concerns, from a weight neutral, non-diet perspective.
- Wanting more self confidence and clarity in life.
- The passion and juggle of being in business.
- Finding YOU whilst mothering/fathering.
- Relationship concerns and honing communication skills.
- Breaking free from shame and incorporating more pleasure into life.
No conversation is off the table though, and as long as you’re 18 and older and willing to work with a somewhat sassy, eternally optimistic, and compassionate ally, I’m ready to Walk and Talk with you 🙂
// Not everyone will have heard the term ‘Walk & Talk Therapist’ before, so can you give us a snapshot of how this works, how you came to be practicing it and the goodness it provides your clients?
And, actually, what about the physical side of it – do you need to be fit to do a session with you?!
I decided to trial Walk and Talk sessions in my private psychotherapy practice 5 years ago and haven’t looked back since!
I offer Walk and Talk Therapy sessions to those who would prefer to unpack their stories, whilst walking alongside me in nature, rather than sitting in an office. The therapeutic process is exactly the same, but walking and talking offers additional benefits.
It’s a flexible approach that makes sense to so many people who like to connect with nature and who feel more comfortable walking whist sharing their personal stories, rather than sitting face to face across from each other.
In my professional experience, walking side by side helps to promote equality in the therapeutic relationship and offers my clients a tangible sense of support during our therapeutic journey. We quickly become a team negotiating the terrain together, and the flow of conversation.
A walk and talk session encourages moments of mindfulness and much gratitude, whilst the gentle movement may also benefit your overall sense of wellbeing.
You certainly don’t need to be fit as the pace of the walking or strolling is set by you.
Puffing is normal as we move along, and I’ll never engage in body shaming, diet-culture talk with you because I work from a weight neutral perspective. I’m more interested in your mind than your fabulous body 😉 We may choose to find a lovely spot to sit a while, or indeed you may wish to return to my cosy consulting room at any stage in the session. Battling inclement weather can be invigorating or intimidating, so I offer therapy inside and out.
The main thing is that the choice is yours and you feel at ease and supported during your session. The hour is yours, and I will endeavour to facilitate whatever you need in that time.
// Yes! Love this so much. Right, so we all know how important our mental health is, and I’m so damn glad that the stigma of seeking help has shifted over the past decade or so.
But even still – do you find there’s many women who hesitate to get help for themselves?
I imagine some would think perhaps they’re just too messed up or berate themselves for the thoughts or issues they have. Then others perhaps downplay their problems or think they’re not important, or even that old chestnut of ‘well someone else is worse off than me’. And actually, would there be others who perhaps don’t like sharing their emotions, or wonder if it’ll create more problems or things to do?
What are the most common reasons you see for people delaying in getting help?
And, what would you suggest to someone who is hesitating?
There is much suffering in the world, yet human beings are stoic, resilient and often stubborn in ways, to cope with our experiences.
We can judge ourselves so harshly and often have many reasons for not seeking professional mental health support. You may think you’re too ‘messed up’ or not ‘messed up enough’ but regardless of your circumstances, it’s important to feel heard and seen.
Once you find a professional you feel connected to, you’ve already done the hard yards.
I’m then here to take the weight of some of your burdens, by listening to your stories and journeying with you as you make small, helpful changes in your life.
Some people are concerned they won’t know where to start in therapy. You don’t need to worry about how the session will transpire because I will keep checking in to determine if our discussions are helpful. Unpacking your stories will be an easy process and you’ll leave your session with more clarity and feeling lighter.
Some clients fear that after they download to me, I may judge them or their loved ones harshly, or even give them unsolicited advice about choices they ‘should’ make. I can assure you, I won’t, as I encourage curiosity over judgement and believe that you are the expert in your life, no-one else.
I see people delay seeking therapy because ‘it’s not that bad, yet’. You can build on your coping skills before hitting a crisis so you’re equipped with helpful tools for more challenging times as they arise.
Therapy can also simply ENRICH YOUR LIFE leading you to experiences you never thought possible in love and life.
I am honoured to meet you where you are, adding to your rich self awareness whilst journeying with you toward your future goals. I work with many fellow SAWers providing confidential therapy that is always separate to our connection as peers. So if you know me through SAW and weren’t sure if we could work together, we certainly can 🙂
I encourage anyone who may have been hesitating to have therapy, to book a free phone chat with me first.
The main thing is that you find the mental health support you need, in a timely manner. Fortunately my wait times are minimal and you don’t need a referral to work with me.
Please don’t wait until you can’t ‘white knuckle it’ any more.
Being proactive with your mental health as a business owner is imperative.
We often preach self-care to our clients and customers but rarely incorporate meaningful work with a mental health professional into our schedules.
// Yes, this makes so much sense. I also feel that as women in business who are wearing all the hats, and doing all the things…that for many, taking care of themselves can get put on the backburner or get put into the ‘when I get this, this & this done’ category!
But, putting it into a business context – what benefits does it bring to your business and work by making time for downloading, debriefing and working with you?
Please don’t wait until you can’t ‘white knuckle it’ any more. Being proactive with your mental health as a business owner is imperative. We often preach self-care to our clients and customers but rarely incorporate meaningful work with a mental health professional into our schedules.
Many of us have great people in our life we generally debrief to, but some stories or concerns can be too private to share with family, business coaches or peers.
This is when it’s best to engage a neutral professional who doesn’t have a stake in your story (or who may worry about you or judge you) .
As a psychotherapist, I will work together with you as you develop a greater capacity to be in charge of your life, whilst becoming more empowered and self-directing.
This will benefit your business and your loved ones as it can help increase joy, meaning, purposefulness, insight and self-knowledge. The ripple effect of the positive changes you put into place now will be felt in each future transition in your business and life.
Building on your own capacity, helps expand personal and professional growth.
You deserve to be inspired whilst also feeling at peace in your mind and heart. x
// Now, give me a second while I get the party tooters out…because from all of SA Woman, we want to say a huge congratulations for launching your very own podcast – Compassionate Conversations!
Our Founder, Carly, felt very honoured to be your first guest!
Let us into the world of Compassionate Conversations – what topics will you be covering & who will you be speaking to?
Ha, ha, thanks so much!
Having compassionate conversations have been my jam ever since I was a child, and now I get to have them every day with people I connect with.
Recently I branched out and created a series of zoom interviews to share with my followers via Youtube.
I am thrilled to share these various compassionate conversations with influential people in my life. These people share similar philosophies with me. We focus on how perfectionism has, and does show up in our lives, and how we’ve intentionally embraced compassion to counteract the perfectionist within us.
We’ve covered topics such as body image, body positivity, burnout and recovery, business, humility, imperfection, motherhood, parenting, self confidence, unrealistic expectations, perfectionism, compassion, legacies to those we love, and grief and loss.
I’ve interviewed people across the globe whose intentions are to share love, acceptance and good will with others, whilst also taking care of themselves.
// Speaking of compassion – in a recent socials posts, you’ve spoken about your beautiful 12 year old self and stopping the body shaming & food shaming cycles. If you could go back and talk to your younger self – what would you tell her?
At first I’d like to give her a hug, and ask her if she’d like to talk.
I’m hoping she’ll enjoy be genuinely listened to and download all of her fears, including her new school and how her body is changing.
I’d then give her a wink and tell her that she’s going be be a.o.k. and that I have a couple of key tips for her:
- Trust your gut – hone your intuition because it’s strong and won’t ever steer you the wrong way.
- Forget everything you’ve been taught about what a ‘good’ body is. All bodies are good bodies. Celebrate yours for what it can do, and how it feels, rather than what it looks like.
- Don’t read the calorie counting book your mum has bought for you both. Instead trust in your own body’s cues and eat foods that make you feel well, not the ones that have less calories (or less carbs, fat, sugar, joy).
- Understand that food is not morally ‘good or ‘bad’, it is just food. If you check in on your body’s wants and needs, you will naturally nurture yourself. Also food is pleasure, and pleasure is not indulgent. Embrace the joy of cooking and eating wonderful food.
- Don’t listen to your friend who is on a watermelon diet, or the women and men around you who are all trying to lose weight. Do not diet as it WILL cause you mental distress and ultimately make you gain more weight. You are not the problem; diet culture is. Also don’t weigh yourself – that measurement means nothing.
- Notice when someone makes you feel ashamed of yourself – remember it’s about them, not about you. You can and will make mistakes but no one deserves to be shamed.
- Always remember that you are ENOUGH just as you are. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good in your tummy and heart. Reread #1 x
// You’re also the author of Perfectly Imperfect – talk about speaking my language! I know I won’t be the only person in our community to say they’ve battled perfectionism. (I’m also grateful to say it no longer has a place in my life!) What were the lessons you gained from birthing your book & what have those who’ve read it said about being perfectly imperfect?
I never set out to write a book, but it seems that Perfectly Imperfect was meant to be.
There’s a radical thing happening in the world today.
People are starting to accept themselves ‘flaws’ and all. The idea that you aren’t good enough unless you are a particular weight, have an adoring partner, have a perfect family, and live a perfect lifestyle is being challenged.
We’re realising that we all live our own versions of imperfect lives and that’s ok. Differences are being celebrated rather than just striving to be the same as everyone else. Perfectionism is being called out!
My book was written as private journal entries over the space of five years, when my girls were babies and my husband was often working away, flying in and flying out. It is full of my raw, real stories of living a perfectly imperfect life whilst finding meaning and being grateful.
Writing was a cathartic release for me, as it helped me to make sense of my lonely days, my identity, and of course how I felt about my ever changing body. It wasn’t written for anyone except me.
Fast forward a few years and I noticed my clients were asking how I began moving away from judging myself and my body, to believing in self compassion. I realised my journal entries had documented the beginning of my self-acceptance journey and I chose to collate them into a book to share with the public.
That’s how Perfectly Imperfect: Raw reflections on body image, mothering, love and loneliness (that you don’t usually share) was born.
It was, and can still be, really uncomfortable knowing someone has read ‘my diary’ but the discomfort subsides when I know my stories are helping others.
I’ve had incredible feedback from my readers such as this:
“Thank you for sharing your experiences, I hope others read this book and get a positive mindset from it like I am developing!”
“I really needed your book right now. Thank you. I will be passing it on to friends when I’m done.”
“I finished your book , It was tough for me, I cried at the end for lots of reasons!
Thank you for bearing your soul. Crying again now. You will help so many people.”
It’s the human experience to sometimes feel our life isn’t quite where we imagined it would be. We doubt ourselves and doubt if we will ever be ‘good enough’ in one way or another.
This book may show you that you are not alone. That everyone is ‘flawed’ and that’s ok. That you are worthy of love, respect, kindness, joy and peace within yourself regardless of how your life may be panning out, and that you are good enough, exactly as you are.
Our perfectionist streak can play havoc with our confidence, but I’m noticing more and more people evolving in their self awareness and acceptance.
I just love that we are challenging perfectionism more often in conversations and I can’t wait to see where it leads us.
To a wonky, empowered, imperfect but inspiring future no doubt!
// What I love about you Ailsa is that you walk your talk – pardon the pun! What do you find most important for yourself in terms of creating flow between all the areas of your life, taking care of yourself and filling your own cup?
Beautifully put Jess 😉
May I add that I endeavour to walk the talk but sometimes my wheels get a little wobbly too, and that’s when I know I need to tend to myself more.
Everyone finds different ways to fill their own cup but mine is to always check in on what my body, mind and spirit needs in any given moment.
Often it’s simple – a break from my screen, some more water, a stretch and some mindful breathing.
Other times my internal whispers start to roar, making my chest tight and my temper short – that’s when I know I need to honour my spirit to have time away from responsibility and time with fabulous friends.
Maybe you could ask yourself right now what you need, wait for the answer, and then honour it!
I also consciously try and be as compassionate with myself as possible.
I have become less apologetic for myself and my needs because I know that when I compassionately take care of myself, I take better care of others around me.
Self compassion is not indulgent, it’s smart and it’s self preservation.
For example when I feel I’m not being attentive enough to my family or business during school holidays I stop ruminating on unrealistic expectations of myself and book some extra sleep in time, giving thanks for the small pleasure that is a sleeping house (including fur babies) on a cold Spring morning.
This leads me to the most important practice I do numerous times, every day; I am grateful for my life, especially the micro moments.
Right now, I am grateful for my liquorice coloured rescue cat, curled up on my lap and my new water glass which is a beautiful shade of blue and the perfect weight in my hand. I seek out beauty and pleasure in small insignificant moments and this makes my heart happy, which in turn ripples out to those I love.
// In the past, you’ve hosted our SA Woman connection gatherings – in fact the first one I ever went to was where I first met you! What do you feel is the importance of woman in business making the time to stop, talk & connect in person rather than just online?
We can all hide behind our picture perfect screen presence, but when you share a space with others and realise that we are all perfectly imperfect people and business owners, you feel so much more connected with others.
I absolutely loved being a connector and hosting connection events with Anita Martin by the beach and Kathy Wooller in the Hills!
I met so many incredible women and learnt more about the wealth of knowledge and expertise that we have amongst our membership.
It also gave me the chance to genuinely connect with others who faced similar struggles and wins in business and life. No one is infallible and everyone is trying their best – being surrounded by real people, with real smiles is nothing short of inspirational.
Plus I like the hugs! x
// There’s no doubting that you are an absolute treasured part of our SA Woman membership. What do you love most about being part of the SAW community and what have you gained from it?
I absolutely treasure the connections and friendships I’ve made amongst the SAW community. From the moment I joined, I felt entrusted by the women I met, for simply being me and for my vision to support women’s mental health. That was so unexpected and heart warming.
SA Woman has given me nothing but confidence as I often work outside of the box, being a Walk and Talk Therapist and also a non-diet, Health At Every Size® mental health provider. I know that fellow SAW members support my slightly rebellious vision just as I support theirs.
Rebels with hearts of gold unite!
// Lastly, a question we do love to ask everyone – where are your favourite spots for a delish working lunch?
You can’t go past:
- Cobbs Hill Estate in Oakbank
- The Crafers Hotel
- Greenhill Wines Cellar Door and Café in Summertown
- Stirling Cellars and Patisserie (right across the road from my Stirling office)
…and for a beautiful ocean view
Oceanique Restaurant (West Beach) – where my next event is being held on the 29th Oct. Book your tix here!
See you there!
Thanks for chatting with us Ailsa!
Find out more about Ailsa Robson, Walk + Talk Therapist:
Buy your Tix: Beachside Group Walk + Talk
Book in: Free first phone chat with Ailsa
Facebook: Ailsa Robson, Walk + Talk Therapist
LinkedIn: Ailsa Robson