Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
CBT is an evidence-based psychological treatment that is recommended by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) and has been shown to be helpful for a wide range of problems, including depression, anxiety, panic, phobias, OCD, stress, post-traumatic stress, low self-esteem and anger.
CBT involves exploring the relationship between thoughts, feelings, behaviours/actions and bodily sensations. CBT is also about learning to identify and understand the impact of our ‘automatic thoughts’, as well as the ‘rules’ that we may carry around with us, and our deep-rooted beliefs about ourselves, others and the world around us. CBT helps to highlight how what we do impacts on how we think and feel and can identify the behaviour and thinking patterns that keep the problems going. Many people describe feeling overwhelmed or confused about their problems. CBT is useful for helping to break down problems into smaller parts. It involves completing tasks between sessions and is regarded as a highly collaborative type of therapy. I am a fully accredited (BABCP) practitioner of CBT as both therapist and supervisor.
Have you ever noticed just how much time you spend thinking about the past or the future? Thinking about things you've done, things you think you should have done, things you feel you ought to do, all those To Do lists, worrying about something that's yet to happen or perhaps wishing you could fast-forward or rewind time. Then there's that 'autopilot' feeling where we lose track of time, forget our surroundings, we're busy living our lives but don't really feel a part of it. Add to this the frantic, relentless pace of life and all of its demands. It's exhausting.
Mindfulness is about learning to pay attention to the here and now - the present moment - in an accepting, non-judgmental way. Through practicing mindfulness, you can learn to feel a greater sense of peace and contentment. Learning to feel more present in your life can help you to feel more in control and energised. It can also enrich the quality of your life, helping you feel like you're living rather than just existing, which can bring with it a renewed appreciation and understanding of your life and of what it is to be you.
Although its roots are in Eastern meditative practices, Mindfulness is increasingly used as a therapy in its own right (Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy) or practiced alongside other approaches (e.g. CBT). It is gaining much popularity and in recent years Mindfulness has received much endorsement from the media and high-profile celebrities. Some schools are now using it to help pupils focus and cope with exam stress, whilst corporate businesses have encouraged their employees to practice it to help cope with the demands of work.
Psychodynamic approaches are less about learning skills and strategies and more about having space to think out loud, to reflect on past and present experiences and try and develop a deeper understanding of oneself. This approach can help you understand how your past experiences have shaped who you are and how you have learnt to cope with and respond to the demands and stresses of life. It is generally accepted that consciousness operates beyond that which we are overtly aware of. In other words, some of our beliefs, thoughts, desires, wishes, and needs are embedded within our 'unconscious' mind. The aim of brief psychodynamic therapy is to identify and understand unconscious conflicts that are resulting in specific psychological difficulties, symptoms or relationship/interpersonal problems. Gaining greater insight into these difficulties can help you to begin making positive changes in your life and learn from previous experiences in order to break unhelpful patterns of behaviour. This approach may be particularly useful for people experiencing relationship or interpersonal difficulties, loss, poor self-worth or feeling uncertain about life direction or one's sense of self.
Do you feel that you're much harder on yourself than you are with other people? Do you expect much higher standards from yourself, or perhaps even demand 'perfection'? Or maybe you tend to speak to yourself in a harsh, critical way - things you'd never say to a friend who was in the same position, feeling the same way. Compassion-focused therapy is about learning to question and challenge the 'inner-bully', that ever-present internal critic that all too often makes you feel bad about yourself, who gets you to dwell on past mistakes or failures, kicking you whilst you're already down. Freeing yourself from this inner-bully can have a positive impact upon your psychological wellbeing, allowing you to develop a healthier, kinder relationship with yourself.
Mentalisation is about learning to keep mind in mind, to better understand our own inner world and the inner world of other people. Learning to mentalise more effectively helps us make sense of our thoughts, feelings, needs, desires and beliefs and how these impact on others. Equally, it is about learning how these internal processes in other people affect us. Our ability to mentalise is intuitive, but we run into difficulties when this ability goes 'offline' too often, usually because we are stressed or overwhelmed with strong emotions such as anger or anxiety. Problems in mentalising can result in interpersonal conflict, relationship problems, low self-esteem and feelings of confusion and hopelessness. Understanding mentalisation can also help us become more effective at getting our needs met and help us to make sense of other people's actions. I am an accredited pracitioner in Mentalisation-based treatment (MBT) as approved by the British Psychoanalytic Council.