People come to therapy for a variety of reasons, such as feelings of depression, low self-esteem and various forms of anxiety, as well as obsessions, compulsions, phobias, eating disorders, irritability or aggression and somatic complaints (such as unexplained aches and pains). Any of these difficulties can reach a point when they start getting in the way of you being able to live your life as you would like to.
Sometimes it is other people who notice changes in your behaviour, or relationships can become problematic.
These difficulties can also affect, and be affected by, other areas of your life such as your relationships, your work or your enjoyment of leisure activities. Particular life events, past or present, and life circumstances can make certain times of your life more difficult.
Therapy can help you identify what bothers you most and how you can tackle it to make improvements in your quality of life.
Adolescence and young adulthood can be an exciting time. However, it is also a time filled with personal questions and external pressures, as well as the gradual separation from the close family unit and developing independence. This can be a particularly stressful time for some young people and their families. Certain circumstances, like moving schools, the birth of a sibling, divorce or other family problems as well as a variety of upsetting personal experiences can make it more tricky than usual and psychological difficulties can appear, such as depression or anxiety. Young people’s relationships with their peer group as well as with their bodies, food, alcohol or drugs can also become problematic.
Young people can be seen on their own in therapy to help manage and overcome these problems, and rules of confidentiality apply. Parents, family or school can also be included if deemed appropriate and helpful.
Children & Parents
Being a parent can be stressful at the best of times. Young infants and children can sometimes show signs of emotional or behavioural difficulties, which make parenting even more difficult.
A child’s needs and abilities change and develop rapidly. Their family and their environment can have an enormous impact on their wellbeing and it is therefore important to consider their context and significant relationships. Therapy provides a space to identify a child’s needs and difficulties as well as highlight their strengths and resources in order to determine how best to support their psychological development and wellbeing within the context of their family.
Therapy sessions will usually include some talking with the parents but can also include play, drawing and other creative methods to help younger children express their thoughts and feelings. Depending on the child’s age and needs he or she could be seen alone or else the work could be done together, or indeed only with the parents.
Pregnancy & Babies
Sometimes even the prospect of becoming a parent can be fraught with difficult emotions and the early weeks and months after a baby’s birth are often exhausting. Whilst most people will experience this as stressful to some degree, some circumstances or life experiences can leave many feeling exceptionally vulnerable. Therapy can help parents-to-be and parents of infants work towards increased wellbeing and a better start for the infant’s early life when it feels particularly difficult.
Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT)
CBT is a model-driven, structured approach, which focuses on treating identified current problems. An understanding of the development and maintenance of psychological symptoms is achieved collaboratively by examining the interaction between thoughts, feelings and behaviour in the here-and-now. It also rests on an awareness of historical and environmental influences. Solutions are found in changing patterns of behaviour and thinking styles in order to improve emotional wellbeing.
This model lends itself to the development of self-help manuals and computerised programs, which can be found on the internet (see the self-help page).
Systemic theory was developed out of communication theories and later gave rise to family therapy. It focuses on locating problems between people, in the interaction, rather than within a person and places emphasis on the context and the various systems surrounding a problem, including family relationships, belief systems, wider social structures and cultural differences. It can be used as an approach with individuals as well as with families or organisations. Solutions are sought through identifying patterns of interactions and exploring different ways of relating to one another or indeed with the "problem".
Psychodynamic therapy is informed by developments in psychoanalytic thinking and has an intra-psychic focus, seeking to understand the influence of early experiences on our current patterns of relating and psychological functioning. Through seeking to understand the ways in which we respond to, and protect ourselves from, difficult emotional experiences, the influence of early relationship traumas can be examined and worked through in therapy.