My work as a therapist is based on an “integrative” approach which assumes that there are many ways in which human psychology can be explored and understood – no one theory holds ‘the’ answer. Therefore, my counselling interventions are tailored to individual needs and personal circumstances, drawing on a range of theories including person-centred, psychodynamic, and cognitive-behavioural models.
I see counselling as a process that helps people make choices or reach decisions about how to handle their concerns. You will be encouraged to talk about what is troubling you and I will listen to what you have to say. I will not provide advice or tell you what to do. Instead, the aim of counselling is to help you become clearer about both the extent and the effect of the problems/issues you bring, and to help you recognise possible solutions – ones that will work for you.
Part of the counselling work will involve you considering what you are thinking, feeling, and doing (or not doing), and how thoughts, emotions, and behaviour all interact together.
Usually, making links with your past is helpful for understanding current difficulties or patterns of relating to yourself and others.
It is not unusual to be challenged in the process in a supportive way in order to increase your self-awareness.
Counselling is not a substitute for medical advice or psychiatric diagnosis/care.
Counselling is a type of talking therapy which is particularly useful if you want to explore your feelings or make sense of your experiences. For that reason, people often find counselling useful when coping with loss, relationship problems, or a breakup. It can be a great opportunity to learn more about yourself. Counselling is not about giving you advice or telling you what to do; rather it provides a safe and regular space for you to talk about and explore difficult feelings. It is an effective method of personal development. Most of the individuals I work with have approximately 6 – 12 weekly counselling sessions.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a scientifically-valieded form of psychotherapy that is effective for many different problems and conditions. It is particularly effective for helping people overcome anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Unlike other types of talking therapies, CBT does not require you to spend years in therapy trying to uncover the root of your problem. Rather, it takes a solution-focused approach to help you solve problems and learn new skills. In this sense, it can be thought of as a talking AND doing therapy. You will learn specific skills and strategies to improve your mood, reduce anxiety, and feel more confident.
Many of the people who come for help have CBT to overcome problems with social anxiety, low self-esteem, sexual issues, and/or depression. The number of CBT sessions depends on your individual needs and the extent of the problem. Typically, individuals have between 12 – 16 sessions. The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) provides national guidance and advice on the number of CBT sessions usually required to treat depression and anxiety conditions based on research evidence. I work to this guidance in my CBT practice.
Psychotherapy differs from counselling in that it is open-ended and tends to be long-term. In order words, some people have therapy for a few months or a few years. Having longer-term therapy enables us to explore your life experiences at a greater depth. It gives you a regular space to think and talk about yourself and your relationships with others. This usually includes talking about your past and how your growing up experiences affect how you are thinking, feeling and behaving right now. Psychotherapy can help you to understand why you chose particular partners, why you feel the way you feel, why you do what you do – even if it doesn’t make sense or doesn’t seem in your best interests – and it can help you understand how the unconscious part of your mind affects your motivations. Like counselling, longer-term therapy is an effective method of personal development and growth. However, unlike counselling and CBT, psychotherapy can work better if you have complicated or long-standing problems.
Which therapy is right for me?
That really depends on the problem(s) and your individual needs. I believe that people need different types of help at different points in their lives, and therefore, no one approach to therapy is best all of the time. Having an initial appointment provides an opportunity to discuss your needs and to consider what type of therapy might be best for you at this time.