There are many treatment approaches available when seeing a psychologist. As part of my practice I adopt an integrative approach where different techniques and ideas are used depending on what comes up in session.
There are many psychology treatments available when seeing a psychologist. As part of my practice I adopt an integrative approach where different techniques and ideas are used depending on what comes up in session.
Often unhelpful thoughts (e.g. I am no good, I am unlovable) and beliefs contribute to emotional patterns such as anxiety, sadness, and anger. CBT involves identifying and challenging these unhelpful thoughts and beliefs. If we consistently have negative thoughts about ourselves, performance, other people, and/or the world then we may become stumped with issues such as depression, anxiety, and anger. For example, if we constantly have thoughts that other people are against us then we might habitually feel angered, frustrated, or threatened. These beliefs translate in to rules and assumptions we then make about the world. I am not good enough, therefore there is no point in trying. CBT also aims to reduce problem behaviours such as avoidance and withdrawal.
Through our experiences we develop certain behaviours, coping strategies, and defence mechanisms. We develop these defences to try and push vulnerable or painful feelings and conflicts out of our conscious awareness. Psychodynamic therapy is a process that helps us to become aware of our defences and metabolize our unprocessed feelings. For example, in an abusive environment we might learn that it is safer to dissociate, suppress, and block feelings of anger and frustration. As a consequence we might develop greater levels of anxiety and panic in situations of conflict rather than express our needs in a safe and healthy way. Although, this is a simplistic example, there are numerous ways that our anxiety and defences constrict and limit us.
A large part of why people attend for therapy is because of difficulties with relating. Often these difficulties stem from early and development experiences of connection/disconnection. These formative experiences influence defence patterns and how we might either dis-engage from relationships, be preoccupied by a relationship, or feel terrified by connection. Attachment-informed therapy aims to identify your particular style of attachment and work towards building greater security and comfort in your relational space.
Schema therapy is an integrative approach that explores problematic and dysfunctional patterns in thinking, feeling, and experiencing the world and relationships. These patterns often develop as a consequence of early needs not being met. These needs might be for connection, autonomy, play and spontaneity, limits and assertion. These patterns are often reinforced and reiterated throughout a person’s life, impacting their functioning. Common schema patterns include abandonment/instability, emotional-deprivation, self-sacrifice, subjugation, impaired limits/grandiosity, emotional inhibition and unrelenting standards/hyper-criticalness. These patterns are often perpetuated by specific coping mechanism (e.g. avoidance, over-compensating, and/or surrender) and modes (e.g detached protector, lonely child) of experiencing the world. Situations might trigger our underlying schemas and set off a cascade of reactions. Schema therapy is an effective therapy for recognising these components of the psyche. Furthermore, it is effective for assisting people to foster greater secure adult and child modes.
Excessive over-thinking in the form of worry, rumination, and judgement often lead to a range of psychological problems. During the day we often get caught up in this over-thinking in our attempt to analyse our way out of a problem. This over-thinking then leads on to experiential avoidance and an unwillingness to accept uncertainty or challenges in life. We end up in an internal battle with our minds. Acceptance and commitment therapy is a wonderful treatment that teaches us to let go of and defuse from this over-thinking. In addition, ACT includes ways to operate from our values in life without being derailed by worry, self-criticism, and other bundles of thought
Contained within our emotional experience is often a wealth of meaning. Furthermore, each emotion can come with a specific set of sensations, motivations, and functions. For example, shame often makes us feel over-exposed, like there is something unworthy or wrong with ourselves. As a result we might want to hide away or cover our face. Emotion focused therapy involves focusing on and processing emotional and somatic experiences. EFT helps people to move past unhealthy patterns of emotional experience by accessing, understanding, and processing blocked emotions such as sadness or anger.
Often in life we get distracted by a number of thoughts or memories about the past or worry about the future. These tendencies of the mind can distract us from living a more fulfilling life in the here and now. Mindfulness is the art of learning to pay attention to the present moment – Jon Kabat-Zinn. It is the practice of staying grounded in the present moment and experience rather than being distracted by our stream of thoughts. By practicing mindfulness we can gradually learn to let go of unhelpful thoughts and feelings and to engage more fully in life.
Internal Family Systems
Internal family systems therapy is aimed at recognising different parts of the psyche involved in our struggles. These parts sometimes include managers, fire-fighters, and exiles. Managers and fire-fighters are coping mechanisms that often develop to deal with stress or anxiety, to remain in control, or to mitigate disasters and chaos. Exiles are the parts of ourselves that get banished or squashed depending on life experiences. For example, an exiled part might be vulnerable, sad, emotional, or strong and assertive. IFS aims to recognise, and bring compassion to these experiences so that the exiled parts can be integrated and our true Self can be accessed. The idea being that this Self is where calm, courage, compassion, confidence, and connection reside.
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