My guest for today on The Flashback Show is Dr Patapia Tzotzoli, a clinical psychologist offering sessions worldwide via online therapy and at her clinic in London. She was awarded the Mental Health Psychologist of the Year by Medical LiveWire in 2016. In 2017, she received the Mental Health Psychologist of the Year – UK & Best CBT Practice – UK by the Global Health and Pharma Magazine Awards. Over the last few years, Dr. Patapia has also conceived and has been developing an online support system designed for students in higher education to help them take care of their mental health and stay on top of their studies. For this project, she has been the recipient of the Lion’s Den award in entrepreneurship from King’s College London in 2011.
Please tell us something about yourself.
Guest: My name is Dr Patapia Tzotzoli and I am a clinical psychologist offering sessions worldwide via online therapy or at my clinic in London. I envision a world in which we understand and openly embrace mental health in our lives, because our relationship with our mental health determines the quality of our lives and the lives of others.
How was it for you growing up
Guest: I was born in Athens but my family moved to Rhodes when I was eight years old. I moved from the capital of Greece to an island and from a crowded busy suburb to a house surrounded by fields, mountains and a river. It suited me perfectly because I then had all the space in the world to run around and explore!
I had to travel to go to school in the nearby village. It was an old building and most of our teachers kept changing every year. Water leaked through the roof when it rained and although we weren’t allowed, we all drew or made notes on our wooden desks with our pencils. We could often hear our fighter jets accompanying Turkish planes out of our airspace, and occasionally we experienced small earthquakes whilst in class.
During our physical education class, the teacher would pass basketballs to us whilst holding a cigarette, and we would be excited to run and play for a whole hour by ourselves. My thirst to study and contribute to the world by helping others to breathe more easily was born in this setting.
What are your educational qualifications?
Guest: I did my bachelor degree in psychology, and then went on to get two masters; one from Oxford and the other from Cambridge University. Afterwards, I returned to London where I completed my clinical psychology doctorate at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, & Neuroscience, King’s College London.
What inspired you to become a psychologist?
Guest: Close by where I grew up there was a mental health institution. My father would often visit to play a game with the patients. His purpose was to lose so that he would send me to buy them refreshments. I remember how different they behaved during those few minutes of the game. Their faces would lighten up, they laughed out loud, and often they were winning fair and square! My observations were directly opposite to what “grown-ups” used to see in these “inmates.” Where everyone else saw sickness and misfortune that is best to be avoided, I saw life that worth embracing and celebrating!
Thirty years later, after four university degrees and various posts in different hospitals, I have the privilege to work privately with people and help them deal with their struggles so that they too can laugh out loud again.
What is the difference between a psychologist and psychiatrist?
Guest: These are two different professions with a similar client group. They differ in how they are trained to conceptualise and treat a client. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who prescribe medications as treatment, whilst psychologists use evidence-based talking therapies to help people with mental health difficulties understand their challenges and learn new more effective ways to manage them. In certain cases, they work together and can complement each other’s work well.
In your experience, how do you attend to cases like stress, sadness, lack of sleep, depression, etc.
Guest: At the beginning, we work together to assess the current symptoms and discuss previous experiences that could be relevant. When I have all the information I need, I put together all the pieces, which in psychological terms is called ‘formulation.’ I then discuss this with my client. This is a very important step because clients find most of their answers during this session and the exercise sets the stage for the next phase.
When we are in consonance about what is happening, we move on to the intervention phase after defining what goals we should be working on. This phase continues to have an element of talking but it is also very practical as we integrate homework and learning techniques that can be applied outside the sessions.
After we conclude our work together, there are a couple of follow up sessions in the subsequent months to review things and make any necessary adjustments to our original plan. This format allows clients to feel empowered and supported throughout the process, and they build confidence, as well as consolidating the new skills over time.
What type of treatments do you use and how effective are they?
Guest: Due to my training and continuing professional development, I am able to make use of different treatment models (e.g., cognitive behavioural therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, schema therapy) that I have been taught, which allows me to tailor each intervention to each specific client. Everyone has a unique story and they have different symptom presentations, so it is very important to be able to adapt to my clients’ needs. I believe this is the reason I have been successful with my clients to date.
Please tell us about your nominations and awards.
Guest: For my private psychological services, I was awarded the Mental Health Psychologist of the Year by Medical LiveWire in 2016. In 2017, I received the Mental Health Psychologist of the Year – UK & Best CBT Practice – UK by the Global Health and Pharma Magazine Awards.
In addition, over the last few years, I have also conceived and been developing an online support system designed for students in higher education to help them take care of their mental health and stay on top of their studies (www.iconcipio.com/). For this project, I have been the recipient of the Lion’s Den award in entrepreneurship from King’s College London in 2011, and I was shortlisted from over 2400 other applicants for the Falling Walls Lab 2016 competition in Berlin.
How can people contact you for your service
Guest: You can find out more about me and my services on this website:
I regularly update all my social media with blog articles, practical advice, and motivational messages, so anyone interested can have a continuous source of support by accessing my profiles on