The Soke is new kind of private mental health care service that offers psychiatry, psychology, psychotherapy and coaching under one roof, serving every age and pretty much every problem, so long as it’s not acute. We look after common issues such as depression, anxiety, couples & family therapies, child & adolescent specialties, coaching and corporate wellbeing services.
On the surface we look very different to what would traditionally be associated with a health organisation of any kind – we’ve gone to great lengths to create an environment that feels inviting and comfortable, somewhere that you’d actually like to visit. Under the surface, the way we operate is also quite unique: firstly, our practitioners are contracted for the day – not paid by the hour – which means they can concentrate on doing what’s best for the client rather than allow their personal interests to play a role in any decision-making process.
Secondly, we have a multi-disciplinary team who willingly collaborate to come up with the best solution to each problem before them. Thirdly, we’ve introduced a client services division – this is the team helping clients to determine who & what is best suited to their goals. Whilst we provide all sorts of care for those facing emotional or behavioural obstacles to their wellbeing, we’re also very much about preventative, proactive care. It’s common sense to look after yourself when you’re well, when you have the energy and inclination to build on your strengths and overcome any potential weaknesses, rather than wait until you’re broken and need to somehow find the motivation to respond.
How did you come up with the idea for the company?
I was working in the branding and communications industry when I decided to train as a psychotherapist, primarily motivated by the need to better understand the state of my own mental health. I was functioning very well as a “normal”, productive member of society, but knew that my rather fractured history – having lived through a war, been homeless, lost close family members to suicide and various other events – was going to come back and bite me on the backside at some point in the future unless I dealt with things whilst I could.
My subsequent foray into the mental health world was a real eye-opener, both from the provider and the receiver’s side. There wasn’t really much available to people like me, it was all very clinical, impersonal and lacking in any service element – I didn’t know where to find the information I needed and how to make choices. From a provider’s perspective, it was equally lonely. Most practitioners are self-employed, which makes the idea of collaboration and mutual support difficult to put into practice.
The Soke was designed to tackle all of these needs and shortcomings.
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How has The Soke evolved during the pandemic?
Whilst The Soke only launched a year ago, in October 2020, the idea behind it long preceded the pandemic and we never really had to make any changes to the model, or indeed the plans for our first centre, because of what was happening in the world. However, going forward – as we prepare for further expansion – the world looks very different to the way it did two years ago. For starters, the demand for our corporate services has led to the creation of our standalone corporate division – Soke Performance – singularly looking after the needs of organisations that, as a result of Covid, are increasingly recognising the role played by psychological wellbeing in the overall health of their company.
We’re also working quite extensively with schools & universities, helping them to respond to the needs of their students in a systemic way that incorporates also the wellbeing and education of parents as well as staff. Our experience is that children, adolescents and young people really bore the brunt of the lockdown and we need to make sure that they not only recover from the effects of the past 18 months but also develop the emotional tools to face any other twists and turns in the future.
What can we hope to see from The Soke in the future?
This is an exciting time for The Soke as we grow our existing services in South Kensington whilst searching for the perfect location for our second home, which will concentrate exclusively on the needs of families.
In the meantime, marking the launch of Soke Performance is a very carefully curated Founders Development Programme (FDP) that provides vital knowledge, understanding and skills to founders at the helms of fast-growth businesses.
Investors will always seek assurance from prospective founders that they’re not just capable of producing a good idea or product, but also have the skillset to nurture a promising and viable organisation to its full potential. To meet the needs and expectations of investors and founders together, The FDP combines psychology, therapy and coaching with the practical skills required to fulfill the role of a good leader, taking a company from the inception of a thought through to a sustainable future.