Ibiza wellness: Meet the team: Camilla Simpson, Senior Therapist – Ibiza Calm

UK-born integrative therapist Camilla Simpson is an integral part of the professional team at Ibiza’s one and only licensed rehabilitation centre, Ibiza Calm. Born in Brighton, it was personal experience with counselling that led her to retrain as a therapist after 13 years spent in the hospitality and events industry and she is a wonderful example of practicing what she preaches, and preaching what she practices.

Not that it is anything like preaching in reality – Camilla’s style of therapy comes purely from a place of love. She holds a Masters in Addiction Psychology and Counselling from London Southbank University and has trained with the Oxford Cognitive Therapy Centre in addition to a psychotherapy degree from Regent’s College, London.

What attracted you to your current professional field?
Coming into this field has been like a calling to me. It was a kind of restoration. Having known people who have become addicted to things in the past, and having previously lived in quite a hedonistic way myself, I realised how much need there is out there. It’s a job which I find benefits a lot of people, and it’s a job where I feel as though I am able to help make a change. I find that really appealing.

What is your connection to Ibiza?
Funnily enough, it was as a result of my first holiday to Ibiza in 2007 that I initially had counselling. If I hadn’t come here in 2007 and partied in the way I did, I wouldn’t have had therapy in the first place and been put on this path. Eventually I started to think about what would it be like to go back to the place where my journey started and when I came back for a wedding in 2012, I had an inner sense that I was going to come back here full time. I said to a friend at the time that Ibiza would be an amazing place for a rehab centre, and she laughed at me and said don’t be ridiculous!

Why do you think Ibiza is a good location for a rehabilitation clinic?
In order to beat addiction, you need to expose to help and support to overcome it and there’s a side to Ibiza people don’t know about that is becoming more and more prevalent. It is an island that is beginning to get known for its restorative properties. It is possible to have light and dark in the same island.

How did you come to be involved with Ibiza Calm?
I was asked to come and work here by John McKeown, our treatment director, while I was working in a treatment centre in the UK. I’d known him for some time, but he didn’t know my history with Ibiza – it was a complete coincidence. 24 hours after I got the call from him offering me a job in Ibiza, I was on a plane and 48 hours later I had handed in my notice. I knew even before I got on the plane I was going to change my life. I arrived in November last year, and now I feel like Ibiza is my spiritual home.

What do you see as some of the main issues your clients are facing?
People come to us primarily for drug and alcohol problems, and sometimes mood disorders such as anxiety, depression and difficulties with self-image. A lot of time they will have relational problems, and that’s the underlying stuff. The addiction is the part that you see. We help address feelings of shame and guilt, which are common. It’s a very inclusive program. We don’t believe in shaming an addict, or someone who finds life difficult. We know for someone to heal and recover, it’s about including them and one of the biggest things people receive here is love. That’s when they start to realise they are so much more than their addiction.

How would you encourage someone who was considering treatment?
When the bad times start outweighing the good, you know the party’s over. Generally, every client knows that. They know when it’s time to change. But it has to be their own decision. We help get them to a place where they can change their own mindset. Coming into treatment can be really scary – I know it is. But no matter how awful you think your life has been, I can promise you, you are not alone. A problem shared is a problem halved and change is possible. It’s understandable to be scared but you don’t have to go through it alone.

What does your role entail at Ibiza Calm?
I do a mixture of group therapy and one-to-one therapy. I also oversee the running of the day to day program and make sure everyone is communicating with each other, plus making sure families are kept up to date. When people come to us, often they have so many difficulties at home and so they benefit from finding lifelong friends here and the second family we create within the boundary of safe environment. Confidentiality is the essence of what we do. What goes on in the therapy room stays in the therapy room.

How do you explain your treatment style with clients at Ibiza Calm?
Loving but firm. My style of training is called integrative. I integrate different models or theories, depending on what the client is presenting. For example, I might adopt some Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, followed by something artistic, or something to do with their background. Clients say I am challenging but I do it from a place of love.

What is one of the biggest challenges in your work?
Denial. It’s difficult when you see a client is really unwell and they need help but they won’t accept it, or they minimise the extent of their problem. Addicts are typically creative, highly sensitive, highly intelligent and deep thinkers and it can also be difficult when I see a client who doesn’t believe they are as good as everyone else sees them.

What is your favourite thing about your work?
The diversity. It’s a hugely privileged position to be in and it’s very exciting. It’s not boring at all. That in itself is appealing, but it always goes back to the restoration of someone. Seeing them from day one to day 28 – there are daily miracles happening here.

Where do you look for inspiration?
I actually get a lot of inspiration from the clients. They come in and show huge levels of courage and bravery and strength. They teach me a lot.

What is your own preferred method of ‘escaping’?
I love driving around the island or walking around in nature. Fresh air beautiful beaches, long walks…

What is it about the island you love most?
The physical light. It is unbelievably beautiful. I also think something very special about the island is that so many of us are looking for connection. We are all searching for meaning and Ibiza has these little glimpses into connection, meaning and purpose. I would call it a higher power. A power greater than itself.

Portrait photography by Maria Simon

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