My approach to therapy

The heart of my practice is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), the gold-standard treatment for the most common psychological issues such as anxiety and depression. I also have specialist training in other proven modalities such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Schema Therapy and mindfulness-based approaches. One of the advantages of individual therapy is that you don't have to follow a manual – treatment can be tailored to your particular needs. You might need effective strategies to deal with an emotional problem, or you might just want a confidant  and port in a storm. Or someone to help you soundboard and hash out ideas. Or a coach and ally to help whip you into shape. I'd like to offer whatever it is you need to reach your potential and get back to loving life.

Duration of treatment

Most of the treatment modalities I use have been demonstrated to be effective over a short period of time, with an average length of around 10-12 weekly sessions. However, depending on your needs it can be useful to engage in therapy for shorter or longer periods. Each therapy session lasts for just under one hour. 

Common problems I treat

 

Anxiety and OCD

Anxiety can make going about everyday life a real struggle. And around 30% of people experience clinical levels of anxiety at some point in their lifetime. If you've been experiencing anxiety, you might be familiar with some of these symptoms:

  • Constantly worrying about things

  • Feeling restless or 'wired'

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Inability to relax

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Burn-out, exhaustion, break-down

  • Muscle tension, racing heart, dry mouth

  • Panic attacks

  • Avoiding important things, such as social events 

  • Feeling impatient

 

Anxiety also tends to have a big role to play in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), in which an unwanted thought (obsession) needs to neutralised with a behaviour (compulsion). A common example is worrying about burglars and needing to check the front door over and over again – even when you know it's locked. 

 

But while anxiety and OCD are relatively commonplace, this emphatically does not mean you should just grin and bear it. They are also, fortunately, among the most readily treatable mental disorders. Therapies such as CBT and ACT have great results in reducing anxiety, getting people out of their heads and back into life.

 

If you've been anxious, or caught up in obsessive thinking, don't put off engaging in therapy. Effective, evidence-based treatments are out there.

 

Depression 

Everyone feels down from time to time. But when this drags on longer than a few days, is unusually intense, or begins to merge into an overall sense of hopelessness, then it could be time to seek help.

 

You might find it an effort to do things you’d normally find easy, or notice you’re letting basic things slide – like leisure activities, seeing friends or exercising.  You might also feel guilty about not performing as you normally would, or even feel like you’re beyond caring.

 

In some cases, the causes of depression are obvious, but often we have no idea how we went from feeling OK about life to feeling sad and hopeless about the future.

If you’ve been experiencing depression you might have noticed some of these symptoms:

  • Lacking motivation and energy

  • Not enjoying things the way you used to

  • Not feeling good about yourself

  • Feeling sad, crying

  • Having thoughts of death or dying

  • Wondering what the point of anything is

  • Not feeling good about the future

  • Becoming easily irritable

  • Being more tired than usual

  • Sleeping or eating too little, or too much

  • Numbing feelings with alcohol, drugs, porn or sex

I’d like to hear how you got to where you are, then help you find a path through the negativity. Along the way we can put in place some new strategies to maintain emotional health and resilience.

 

Stress and Work Issues

Longer working hours, greater ​job demands, more complex tasks, the ability to be constantly on call, uncooperative colleagues...

 

High levels of stress are an everyday experience for most people. In a recent survey, the number of US adults who report regularly feeling the physiological symptoms of stress stood at a staggering 77%. And most of those same respondents cite their work as their number one cause of stress. 

Stress has been likened to water dripping into a bucket. A little bit of water is no big deal, but if left unattended, the bucket will overflow. So how do you switch off the tap? Psychology has a variety of methods on offer.

 

I recommend a holistic approach to stress. This might involve problem-solving how to maximise your resources while minimising the demands placed on you. Recognising which situations are triggering, and optimising your responses to them, can also be hugely beneficial.

 

Cognitive methods such as mindfulness and relaxation can also help, as can optimising diet and exercise. It's also crucial to be able to plan time away from stressors, such as recreational time with friends and family.

 

By tackling stress from a variety of angles, you not only reduce that gnawing feeling inside, but also boost your quality of life overall.

 

Child & Family Problems

Raising children can be one of life's most joyous experiences – but also be one of the most challenging. And parents can carry a weighty responsibility for their children's wellbeing. Sometimes even the best of us can find it hard to manage difficult behaviour. What do you do when your child...

  • just doesn't seem to listen?

  • or is scared of things you know won't hurt them?

  • or seems much sadder than usual?

  • or doesn't seem to fit in with other kids?

  • or can't seem to pay attention?

  • or shows behaviour that is simply out of control? 

No one gives you a guidebook to dealing with these all too common scenarios. And a loving parent's daily struggle to help their child flourish can take a heavy toll. 

 

This is where professional help can be useful. I have training in Systemic Family Therapy, an approach which examines all the myriad influences in a child's life, and puts the power back into the hands of the parents to make changes and solve problems.

 

It's an empowering approach that gets everyone involved, and that most parents really enjoy. It can also get terrific results, bringing families closer than ever before. 

 

Relationship Difficulties

We all feel the need to connect with others and to enjoy warm, intimate relationships. But single people and couples often need help understanding certain patterns in the way they connect with significant others, or how to achieve the relationship they yearn for. Relationship counselling can help make sense of things such as:

  • frequent arguments and conflicts

  • not feeling heard or appreciated

  • trouble finding a suitable partner

  • not being able to assert yourself

  • growing apart in a relationship

  • sexual problems

  • communication breakdowns

  • infidelity

  • differing views on child-rearing

  • not knowing whether to stay in relationship

  • coping with break-ups

 

For couples, a crucial step is to open the channels of communication and get all parties talking and listening in a free, non-judgemental way. Oftentimes, two people can love each other deeply without understanding each other deeply. A single person might also need help understanding what kind of relationship will really meet their needs – and how to find it. Relationships are crucial for emotional wellbeing, and need to given the care and attention they deserve. Therapy is one way of doing that. 

Anger Management

Anger has been called ‘the forgotten emotion’. It accounts for just as much personal and interpersonal harm as anxiety and depression, and yet no one seems to talk about it. People with problem anger often struggle to maintain harmonious relationships with those around them, and can end up feeling lonely and misunderstood. 

Of course, it’s only human to get angry from time to time. So when does anger actually become a problem? If anger is an issue for you, some of the following might seem familiar: 

  • Persistent conflicts in close relationships

  • Angry behaviour (e.g., shouting) even when it’s counterproductive

  • Struggling to negotiate or reach agreements without getting angry

  • Trouble maintaining relationships with colleagues

  • Persistent thoughts of being treated unfairly

  • Physical violence or breaking things

  • Holding grudges

  • Becoming especially angry or aggressive when drinking

  • Ignoring people or refusing to speak with them

  • Frequent thoughts of how to get back at people

Anger is often something that ​runs in a family. You might have had a parent who lost their cool a lot. And this might make it seem like an impossibility to be heard and respected without getting angry. Wouldn't that just make you a pushover? Unfortunately, the person who tends to be pushed around and abused by anger is the person experiencing it.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy for anger offers effective strategies for getting your needs met, while staying cool and collected. I'd like to show you that there is a way of being strong and assertive – without being angry. This way can also lead to happier relationships, as well as a happier and more harmonious inner world.

 

Recovering from Trauma

Sometimes bad things happen that seem impossible to just get over. Personal tragedies, natural disasters, violence and other disturbing events can shatter our emotional balance and leave us feeling helpless.

 

If you’ve experienced an event that’s left you feeling distressed and confused, you may have been traumatised. In some cases, such as those of individuals with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), you can feel pursued by a persistent sense of danger and painful memories. It might be time to seek help if you are experiencing some of the following:

 

  • Trouble functioning at home or work

  • Frightening memories, nightmares, or flashbacks

  • Panic, anxiety, or depression

  • Emotional numbness and disconnection from others

  • Difficulty forming close, satisfying relationships

  • Avoidance of anything that reminds you of the trauma

  • Using alcohol or drugs to feel better

 

At the moment, everything might just seem overwhelming. And it’s important to know that this is a natural response to trauma. While it can feel like you’ll never get over what happened, there are effective ways to heal and move on with life – whether the traumatic event happened last week or years ago.

 

A trained therapist can help you manage negative emotions, reduce painful memories, and gradually move past the trauma and back into normal life.

 

Improving Self-Worth

Feeling bad about yourself can colour your outlook on the whole world. People with low-self worth feel less able to tackle life’s challenges, stand up for themselves and feel comfortable in relationships, and are more susceptible to anxiety and depression. Low self-worth can often begin in childhood, where an upbringing that was harsh or invalidating leaves you with a sense that you just aren’t good enough. Or perhaps you have found it difficult to live up to other people's expectations – or your own expectations of yourself. If you have low self-worth, some of the following may seem familiar:

  • Feeling unlovable, awkward or incompetent

  • Feeling you need to be, or look, perfect to be accepted

  • Avoiding social situations with unfamiliar people

  • Being on the look out for signs of rejection

  • Avoiding new or challenging things

  • Drinking or taking drugs as a way of coping

  • Relentless inner-criticism, e.g., calling yourself ‘stupid’ or ‘ugly’

  • Not opening up in relationships

  • Difficulty asserting yourself and saying no

 

The risk of living with all these thoughts and behaviours is that you ultimately you feel overburdened, resentful and depressed. A trained therapist can help you re-examine the negative beliefs you have about yourself and unravel the coping strategies you have developed to deal with them. This can set you on a journey to being able to recognise your strengths, building positive relationships, being more assertive with others and kinder to yourself.

 

Drug and Alcohol Problems

No one plans to have an alcohol or drug problem. But using a substance to have fun or to feel better can often spiral into unhealthy patterns of use and withdrawal. And you can begin to wonder whether it might be making you feel worse overall. It can also be hard to know when you have a problem, because lots of perfectly healthy people like to drink or get high. If you suspect your use of drugs or alcohol might have taken you into dangerous territory, the following may apply:

 

  • You need to get buzzed to feel relaxed or confident

  • You drink or use more than you planned to

  • It’s causing problems at work or at home

  • You experience intense cravings and unpleasant withdrawals

  • You’re struggling to keep up major responsibilities

  • Your relationships are beginning to suffer

  • You sacrifice doing activities you used to enjoy

  • Your health is affected

  • Your friends and family are concerned about you

I can try and help you recognise the moods, thoughts and situations that fire up cravings, so you can take back control over your habits – whether you decide to use or not. It’s also crucial to deal with any underlying issues, such as anxiety, depression or trauma, that might be making alcohol or drugs seem like a welcome escape. I’d also like to reconnect you with the things that are meaningful and important to you, and help put them at the centre of your life.

 

Handling a Life Crisis

Even emotionally stable people can be thrown into chaos when confronted with the vicissitudes of life. Illness, relationship breakdowns, financial crises, the death of loved ones... Life has a way of disrupting our wellbeing no matter how much we plan against it. Or sometimes it can be several small stressors all happening at once, creating a perfect storm of misery. Of course, everyone goes through difficult times, but that's no reason to suffer needlessly.

In therapy, you can find someone who is unconnected to the crises unfolding around you, who will listen, understand, and try to help you find a way through the storm. And while therapy is unlikely to resolve everything that's going on in the world around you, it can change how you respond to events. The key word is resilience. This is the learned ability to adapt successfully to times of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or stress. Resilience is more than just being able to grin and bear it, it's being able to handle events calmly, and bounce back after they've happened. And it's a skill that you can acquire to help you deal with the curveballs, learn from them, and emerge stronger and happier.