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Emilia Yau, Psychodynamic Counsellor

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Emilia Yau

Psychodynamic Counsellor

Emilia was a corporate solicitor in our London office between 2006 and 2008, before leaving the law altogether to start a new career as a counsellor. Having worked in high-pressure environments, she has a particular interest in helping lawyers and business professionals overcome stress.

Can you tell us about your counselling practice?

I’m a qualified and accredited Psychodynamic Counsellor registered with the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists. Clients come to me experiencing issues like low self-esteem, anxiety, perfectionism and critical thoughts, right through to trauma and self-harm.

I like to think that I’m uniquely placed to offer counselling in these areas, having lived and breathed the life of a City lawyer with all its stresses and demands.

How do you approach therapy with your clients?

My emphasis is on helping clients feel more empowered in themselves, in spite of the outwardly successful image they may perhaps portray. This means working empathetically towards an understanding of one’s unique situation where greater awareness and support may bring about lasting change for the better.

What are the tell-tale signs of stress?

When we’re overwhelmed or anxious, we’re not thinking like our usual selves – and this can result in a change of behaviour.

Ask yourself these questions: Are you no longer feeling like yourself? Are your friends and family worried about you? Have you got physical symptoms of stress? The answers might signal that the nervous system is in a state of anxiety or flight/fight when we’re in a state of stress.

What does a good level of stress look like in one’s work life?

We all need a bit of stress, we all need a bit of anxiety to get the adrenaline going. That’s part of being equal to our challenges. And in bursts, that’s fine. But when prolonged over a period of time, and if it’s spilling into your personal life, that’s when it gets damaging.

You started your career as a lawyer. Was that always the dream?

No, I actually toyed with the idea of doing a psychology degree but chose law because I thought it would open up more avenues. I also wanted a subject that was intellectually rigorous.

How do you look back on your experience at Eversheds Sutherland?

It was very collegiate. There was more equality compared to the other law firms where I worked. I was a member of what was then the Financial Institutions team which had little hierarchy and where I was given a lot of autonomy. Plus, it was high-calibre work.

Were there any particular qualities you developed while at the firm?

For me it was about resilience. My time there helped me to know I could deal with any problem by viewing it as a process – and that there’s always a way forward by talking it through with colleagues. The firm had an open and collaborative feel which encouraged a growth of confidence within me.

Why did you make the switch from law to counselling?

I wanted to do something where could I achieve a sense of personal fulfilment. I had good experiences with law firms, particularly Eversheds Sutherland, but it got to a point where I started reflecting on what I wanted over the next 10 or 20 years.

I landed on doing something more connected to people and relationships, which led to retraining as a counsellor.

Can you tell us a bit about your life growing up?

My parents are Chinese and Portuguese. I speak Portuguese, which I had to learn because my grandparents on the Portugal side don’t speak any English. I spent my formative years in Hong Kong before we moved to Edinburgh, Scotland.

Being of mixed background, you tend to read into what’s going on around you a bit more. As a child, I was like a sponge picking up on the cultural nuances on either side of my parental lineage. I think on a subliminal level, that’s helped my approach to counselling as I work with people from all sorts of backgrounds and different walks of life.

If you would like to add Emilia to your network, you can connect with her via LinkedIn . You can also find out more about her counselling practice by contacting or visiting