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Mental Health

Jun 24 2024

Therapy with Dr. Sonia Ovy

Sonia Ovy is a licensed psychotherapist and entrepreneur specialising in relationship therapy, family counselling, career/business counselling, trauma, and grief.

Many of Sonia’s clients are people navigating career, financial, or relationship challenges who may be struggling with high levels of anxiety, self-doubt, or stress. She also employs faith-based approaches to therapy for clients upon request.

Here, I asked Sonia more about her work with clients as one of the top therapists in Nigeria and her guiding principles in life and therapy.

Please introduce yourself. (Mention your years of experience, areas of specialisation, and specific interests.) 

I’m Doctor Sonia Ovy, a psychotherapist and entrepreneur. I’ve been in practice for 6 years—going on 7 years, and my interests are creating awareness and advocacy for women and youth in the diaspora.

I help people curb their trauma, anxiety, and depression. I’m also certified in relationship and marital therapy.

What initially drew you to pursue a career in therapy, and how has that motivation evolved over your seven years of experience? 

I was in the line of arbitration before—that’s international law. In dealing with clients and people with regulatory cases, I discovered that, one way or another, people wanted to feel the ease that comes with therapy. So, it was therapeutic to counsel people when handling their cases and, by extension, I decided therapy was a path I wanted to explore.

Therapy wasn’t a thing in Africa then—people weren’t as aware as today, so I had to seek various ways of getting certifications and academic qualifications. Coincidentally, I was in the counselling department at my church, so it was like a hobby I decided to capitalise on and get good at.

So far, the journey has been incredible. It doesn’t feel like seven years; it feels like yesterday.

Can you describe your experience working as a therapist on 

My experience as a therapist on has been very impeccable. I’ve had the opportunity to hold sessions with people seeking to prioritise their behavioural and cognitive functioning, which is the essential framework of the mental health awareness I’m passionate about.

What are some of the most common mental health issues you see in your practice? 

The common mental health issue I see in my practice is trauma—trauma bonding and various trauma responses which a lot of people aren’t aware of. They see these traits as normal, but in therapy, I guide them towards seeing the need to understand their behavioural patterns and cognitive distortions that may result from how they feel, think, and act.

Overall, I can conclude that the most common mental health issues I see are trauma, grief, addiction, and anxiety.

What do you think are the most important things that people should know about therapy? 

People need to understand that caring for your mental health is the same as prioritising your health. If your physical health is poor, you’ll fall ill. In the same vein, if your mental health isn’t well taken care of, it’ll directly affect your emotional well-being, behavioural patterns, and day-to-day life.

Also, people need to know that mental health in itself is not mental illness, but it’s vital to prioritise your mental health needs

How do you balance practical advice with emotional support in your counselling sessions when dealing with clients facing financial turmoil

One of the ethics of therapy, psychotherapy, and counselling is that you’re excluded from the situation. You are not your clients. Even if you’ve had the same experiences, you must be neutral.

So, I use practical approaches such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, solution-based therapy and other scientific techniques when a client is facing financial turmoil. I don’t enforce my personal beliefs, but I work with my client to arrive at a viable conclusion based on their needs and thought processes.

For example, when a client feels like not having a lot of money makes them less than human, I help them see the bright side. e.g., they may not have money, but they have good health, a great support system, and a good life.

We explore various alternatives through psychodynamics to ensure they get the emotional support they need. I also guide them towards seeing the value of their environment and the essence of having suitable coping mechanisms.

Can you tell us more about your spiritual counselling services? 

As a counsellor, it’s important to recognise that people have diverse religious and spiritual beliefs. My ethics entail that I’m not discriminatory against people of different faiths. In light of that, faith-based counselling has to do with applying certain principles based on the client’s faith.

For example, in church—an environment where the Bible is used—I use biblical references to ensure that the client’s case is settled and resolved based on their belief in prayer, fasting, and commitment to God.

In relationship/marital therapy, how would you handle a situation where one partner is resistant to counselling while the other is eager to seek help? 

It’s understandable when a partner isn’t interested in therapy. In cases like this, I explore certain variations with the partner in question. I discuss with them and then we go about our regular counselling practices.

Most of the time, I’ve noticed that when there are visible changes in the behavioural patterns or a transformation in the cognitive process of one person, the other party tends to question the reason for the transformation.

For example, for couples that always quarrel due to arguments. When one party in therapy starts to argue less or quarrel less and becomes more productive or positive-minded, it either begs the question or gives room for the other party to ask questions and get more interested in knowing how to have a better relationship.

Reflecting on your years of experience, what key lessons or insights have impacted your approach to therapy?

One insight that has profoundly impacted my approach to therapy has been the ability to keep the relationship between clients as cordial as possible.

Sometimes, certain clients may want to exceed the boundaries of the therapist-patient relationship. In cases like that, I use professional ethics to maintain professional boundaries. I also make them see the need for utmost professionalism.

Another insight is ensuring that I don’t impose my opinions or decisions on my clients. My approach is usually exploratory with open-ended questions, so the client can participate in the therapeutic process. Clients do most of the talking and communicate without fear of bias or judgement.

At the end of the day, the alternatives being explored are challenged through their thought patterns, impressions, and subsequent resolutions, which make them understand that therapy is not advice but rather a process of getting them to make decisions without being imposed upon.

What advice would you give someone considering a career in therapy based on your journey and experiences?

My advice for anyone pursuing a career in therapy is to acquire adequate education and become very skilled in whatever they do. I also advise them to volunteer at organisations, interact with people, and test their limits/boundaries to understand their areas of speciality before going into full practice.

As much as having certifications and licence is essential, it’s also important to know that experiential knowledge is key. Practical knowledge will speed up their learning process, help them handle sessions better, and help them interface with clients better.


Through valuable insight, emotional support, and a commitment to maintaining professional ethics, Sonia Ovy helps clients navigate their struggles and find their paths to healing and growth—embodying the essence of effective therapy and making a profound impact in the lives of her clients.

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