My Methods

My approach is integrative, which means that I use a number of therapeutic techniques – sometimes in isolation and sometimes combined. They are summarised below.

• Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)

There is often a strong connection between the way we think, how we feel and how we behave. CBT concentrates on ideas that are unhelpful and which may cause us to be depressed or anxious, and which may damage our self-confidence.
An important principle is that our emotions are determined by the way we interprete events, rather than the events themselves. For example, if you visit your doctor with a health issue that is worrying you and he deals with you in an abrupt way, perhaps looking at his watch often, you might assume that he is impatient because you have bothered him with a trivial complaint. As a result, you might feel silly and blame yourself. Your self-confidence will have been undermined. However, you might feel that he is a little short of patience because you are his first patient of the day, and he rushed into the surgery without time to prepare himself adequately. In that case you might feel a little angry with him and all the more confident that you have an issue worth discussing.

This illustrates that our feelings are not automatic reactions but are guided by our thoughts. Looking at such thought processes can help us develop ways of thinking that will help us face up to situations in a more positive way. We can view situations so that their cognition leads to positive feelings and behaviour that is more helpful to us.

Cognitive behaviour therapy generally takes place over a relatively short period – perhaps as few as 12 sessions.

• Psychodynamic counseling

This therapeutic method is closely related to Freudian psychoanalysis. It recognises that the psyche is a constant influence on the way we live and relate to others. Often our experience from earlier life – which could be as far back as early childhood – is remembered, consciously or sub-consciously, and repeated in future relationships.

The client is helped to make sense of the feelings and thoughts evoked by current situations and memories. The relationship with the self as well as with other individuals is considered. This involves exploration of the powerful influence of the unconscious; the importance of past experiences, and the use of defence mechanisms to block painful emotions.

• Person centred counseling

In this form of therapy, the therapist enables the client to “make contact” with and better understand his or her internal influences. The counsellor provides a safe and supportive environment for the process.

Clients are acknowledged as their own best resource for change and growth. But the relationship with the therapist is very important, and a good practitioner will engage in a relationship that is supportive rather than influential. The counsellor actively listens, comparing what is being revealed to previous disclosures. Mutual trust is also important. The client must have confidence and trust in the therapist, and the therapist must trust that the client is the person most qualified and able to set their goals and achieve them. Through this process it gradually becomes possible for a client to re-experience feelings. This enables the client to become fully aware of their true self, recognising links between past and present, and preparing the ground for problem resolution.

• Motivational interviewing

Motivational interviewing is useful because it confronts ambivalence to make changes and achieve goals, which can be a key stumbling block to therapeutic progress. Motivation is built up, strengthening commitment.

Motivational interviewing draws on strategies from person centered counselling, cognitive behaviour therapy, and systems theory. The therapist maintains a strong role of purpose and direction and chooses the right moments to intervene.

Motivational interviewing can be integrated with a broad range of other strategies.

• Multi-cultural therapy

This is not a therapeutic discipline in its own right but an increasingly important area of activity. Multicultural therapy encourages the treatment of culturally diverse individuals with dignity, respect and responsibility. Therapists need to subject their own judgement to critical scrutiny to help sensitise them against over-generalisation and stereotyping. One of the goals is to help the client feel free to express their uniqueness within their preferred cultural style. The process should help clients identify the self that may have been suppressed earlier in life and recognise how pressure from others and from society generally can force them to try to be someone other than their unique self.