2nd March 2021 

About therapy

Psychological therapy is a journey taken by both client and therapist. It aims to increase the client's self understanding, so that they can relate to themselves and others in a more thoughtful and empowered way, and can take an active part in changing their lives.

People seek therapy for a multitude of reasons. Some are facing particular obstacles, for example, the loss of a loved one, the break down of a relationship, or problems at work. Others may be feeling a more diffuse sense of disillusion or unhappiness, a sense they are not where they want to be in life. Many people have felt weighed down for much of their lives by ideas and fears related to childhood and adolescent experiences.

When distressed, it is the human instinct to try to find a means of relief. However, some of our coping strategies become problems in themselves. For example, we may try to avoid our difficult feelings through excessive work or alcohol, or we may try to boost our self-esteem by trying too hard to please others. These attempts may actually exacerbate our problems and leave us more anxious, depressed or confused.

By providing a safe place to talk and think with a professional, therapy allows us to understand why we feel and behave in the way that we do, and it helps us face some of the thoughts, feelings and experiences that we may have been trying to escape. It also allows us to identify the vicious cycles that keep our problems going. Paths towards change then become evident and new ways of living in the world can be tried out with the support of the therapist.

Beyond tackling our more acute distress, therapy can also show us a richer way of living. Having a more intimate understanding of what is going on in our minds, leaves us in a more connected and integrated state. Then we are able to be kinder to ourselves and to relate more meaningfully to other people, to our work, and to all aspects of our lives.

"Talking therapy" is the umbrella term for many different types of therapy. Therapies differ along a variety of lines such as: the main focus of the work (for example, the relative emphasis on symptoms versus experiences that are outside of our awareness); the length of the treatment (from a month or so, to a number of years); and aspects of the role of client and therapist (for example, whether the client carries out tasks in-between sessions and how much explicit teaching is provided by the therapist).

The following are links to more information on the main therapies I tend to use: Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) and Psychodynamic psychotherapy.