I strongly believe in the healing power of the therapeutic relationship. That is, what happens between you and me in the room, during each session is very important to understand. It is important that together we establish a place of safety, where you can just be yourself, without judgement.
I am fascinated by the connection between food and mood – that is, how your diet and gut health affects your brain, nutrients, hormones, neurotransmitters, inflammation, sleep, and emotions. Therefore, I am passionate about treating the whole person, because your emotions and difficulties do not exist by themselves. We will talk about your diet, exercise, quality of sleep, work/study commitments, social interactions, alcohol and substance use, so that through knowledge and self-awareness you are empowered to make positive changes in your life.
Therapy is a collaborative process, and I will always encourage you to take responsibility for your own experience, thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Everybody is unique, therefore treatment approaches are tailored to each person as an individual, and the strategies I use therefore, differ between people. Some treatment will include skills training, such as learning how to be more assertive or setting realistic goals, while other treatment will focus on developing a deeper insight into how you relate to yourself and others around you. Together we will look for your strengths and use them in your healing journey.
Here are some of the techniques and strategies I use.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
Acceptance and commitment therapy (or ACT for short) is an evidence-based treatment that has been shown to be effective for many issues such as depression, anxiety, and work stress.
It gets its name from one of its core messages – accept what is out of your personal control and commit to taking action that improves your life.
The aim of ACT is very simple – to help you to create a rich and meaningful life while effectively handling the pain and stress that invariably goes with it.
ACT helps you to achieve this in two ways.
1. First it helps you to develop psychological skills to deal with the painful thoughts and feelings more effectively, in a way where they have much less impact and influence over you. We call this being mindful in the present moment.
2. And second, ACT helps you to identify and clarify what is really important and meaningful to you – your values – so that you can use these to guide and motivate you when making changes in your life.
It’s not about reducing, eliminating or controlling painful thoughts and feelings, rather accepting that they are part of life, so that their impact on your behaviour is reduced, so that you can get on with life.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT as it is commonly referred to, aims to examine the thoughts and feelings associated with problem behaviour. CBT strategies often include:
o Behavioural interventions
o Cognitive interventions
o Relaxation strategies
o Skills training – problem solving, social skills, goal setting, problem solving
This type of therapy combines a number of aspects from various other therapies into one model. It is used to help people recognise and break-through their self-defeating patterns of behaviour that are unhelpful, replacing them with more healthier ways of thinking and being. This type of approach is best used for exploration during longer term therapy.
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)
Interpersonal therapy is often used to assist in the treatment of depression and low mood. This is a short-term treatment which focuses on how the individual is functioning within interpersonal situations such as work, and social roles.
Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR)
Sometimes when a person has experienced something that is particularly distressing, all the thoughts, feelings, sights, sounds, and even smells are stored in the nervous system separately to other, less distressing memories, and so they become “trapped” somehow. Then, each time a reminder of the event comes along, the person is “triggered” with emotions coming up that seem uncontrollable.
EMDR works to unlock the trapped thoughts and feelings so that they can be processed properly by the brain. Recounting every detail of the distressing event in the therapy session is not necessary, and you are in control throughout the whole process.
EMDR is most commonly used to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) but may also be effective for other issues such as anxiety and phobias.
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)
DBT is a useful therapy to help people who have trouble regulating their emotions, have low tolerance for distress, as well as ineffective interpersonal relationships. It is often used for people diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) but the strategies taught can be easily transferred to other people needing skills training in these areas.
Skills taught include:
- mindfulness (to help accept reality as it is),
- emotional regulations skills (to respond rather than react to emotions when they occur, and then to make appropriate changes within themselves or the environment around them),
- interpersonal effectiveness (identifying needs and asking for them in an assertive rather than aggressive manner; learning how to say NO; accepting others saying NO; dealing with conflict; effective communication)
- distress tolerance (learning how to accept distressing emotions without trying to alter them or be different in any way)
Gestalt psychotherapy works through a framework of awareness and mindfulness. It aims to help the individual develop their own self-awareness so that they can understand what is going on for them in the here-and-now and make a behavioural choice based on that understanding, not what they assume to be true. For example, if an individual knows that something from their past has triggered an emotional response in the present moment, they are more able to step back from it and support themself at the time, rather than potential overwhelm. Or, for someone who experiences panic attacks, if they are more aware of how their body feels as anxiety starts, they are more able to start using practical strategies before it leads to a full-blown panic attack.
This is a useful strategy to help people when they feel ambivalent about making a decision to change. It explores barriers to change, as well as the potential gains from making the change. Motivational interviewing aims to increase and individual’s readiness to change by helping them through the stages of planning, making and maintaining the change.
Having knowledge is power, and it has been shown that by educating people who have a mental health condition, and their families, it helps to empower them to understand and better manage their condition.