I work in close association with different specialist medical doctors and also with complementary practitioners.
Psychiatrists refer people to me for therapy, and I refer to them if I feel someone is very unwell and needs a psychiatric assessment or might need medication. Some people need to see a psychiatrist for the purpose of their insurance claim, and I can organise that. I also work with cardiologists, gynaecologists/obstetricians, gastroenterologists and general physicians who refer people to me, and I can refer to them if needed.
With regard to complementary practitioners, I have a wide network and work closely when it’s appropriate with nutritionists, homeopaths, osteopaths, reflexologists and massage therapists among others.
I believe that we are all a complex interaction of mind/body/spirit and I aim to think holistically about a person’s needs and recommend other practitioners when it is appropriate to do so.
As with all my work, it depends on the person’s specific issues and requirements, which I listen to and assess carefully. Most pregnant women benefit greatly from hypnotherapy, which is tailor-made to their particular needs and usually includes learning to relax deeply and to convert any fearful thoughts to positive messages and images. In this way women experience much less pain in labour, feel more in control of the process and recover more quickly. And so for most women who have hypnotherapy beforehand, childbirth is a much easier and more joyful experience.
Brief Solution-Focused Therapy (sometimes called Brief Strategic Therapy) is a very practical, pragmatic approach which aims to find solutions to difficulties and problems, rather than necessarily exploring their origins or underlying issues. It involves setting clear goals and working out ways to achieve them. This includes examining your current ways of dealing with difficulties, which may not be helpful to you, and drawing on your unique resources to change old habits into more effective strategies.
Mindfulness means paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, with qualities like compassion, curiosity and acceptance. Through learning to be mindful you discover how to live in the present moment in a relaxed way, rather than worrying about the past or the future. I can work with you on various mindfulness-based practices to help reduce your anxiety and stress, or depression.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT, helps you to change how you think (cognitive) and what you do (behaviour) with regard to the problem you want to deal with. It does this by focusing in the present on your specific thoughts and actions with regard to that situation or difficulty, and breaks down what might feel like an overwhelming problem into smaller, more manageable parts. We work together in various ways on challenging and changing your thoughts and behaviours. And because our thoughts and behaviour can’t be separated from our feelings and bodies – you feel better both emotionally and physically.
The word ‘psychotherapy’ covers a multitude of different ways of working with people. Traditionally it is used to imply a longer-term method which examines the often unconscious issues underlying here-and-now difficulties and problems a person is experiencing, and involves exploring childhood, earlier life events and repeated patterns of behaviour.
I usually use psychotherapy to inform my thinking and in tandem with other ways of working. If it seems more appropriate for you, or if you choose, to have long-term intensive psychotherapy, which can sometimes mean two or three sessions a week, then I can refer you to a colleague who works more specifically in that way.
Systemic family therapy is based on the premise that none of us lives in a vacuum, but rather in complex interactive relationships with other people. It focuses on the relationship and its context, as well as on the individuals concerned. This means that when I work with people who are experiencing any kind of relationship difficulty we look at both the personal issues and the bigger picture, and how they affect each other. I work with hetero- and homosexual couples, as well as family members and friends.
In the ways I’ve outlined above, hypnotherapy helps you to change your unwanted thoughts, attitudes and behaviour, so that you think and feel quite differently about nicotine cravings or eating junk food. It makes it very much easier to break the addiction.
If you’ve decided to stop smoking we’ll initially have a long (non-chargeable) ‘phone conversation to check how motivated you are – and I’ll help to boost your motivation. If you’re not 100% determined to become a non-smoker we won’t take things any further. But if you are, it takes only one 2-3 hour session, during which I combine cognitive psychology with hypnotherapy, for you to stop smoking forever! Over 95% of people stop, and never start again. Hypnotherapy is promoted by the World Health Organisation and the General Medical Council as the method of choice for smoking cessation.
If you want to lose weight we’ll meet over a longer period of time. It varies from person to person, but on average it might take about six to eight sessions for you to change your eating habits. We won’t be talking about diets, because as you know they don’t work, but we will talk about good nutrition and you’ll find you change your attitude to your health, lifestyle and self-esteem. And you’ll be thrilled at how easy it is for you to reach the size and shape you long for.
In hypnotherapy the client is in a light trance similar to daydreaming, or the kind of state you’re in for example when watching TV and your mind wanders off somewhere else for a while. In this deeply-relaxed state the active, analytical, worrying, critical part of your mind goes quiet for a while, allowing your unconscious to be accessible and receptive to beneficial suggestions, new perspectives and ideas, so that you can create new associations and patterns of thinking. These in turn lead to the changes in your emotions and behaviour that you want.
It’s important to point out that you, the client, are always aware and in control during hypnotherapy. Don’t be put off by what you’ve seen on TV!
I’m afraid that’s a “how long is a piece of string” question! It’s important for you to be clear that you will always be in control of the process and we’ll together monitor your progress as we go. People vary greatly in how many sessions they need or want with me. It ranges from, for example, one two-hour session to stop smoking, to some people who have chosen to continue to see me over a period of years, perhaps coming once every month or six weeks for a ‘top-up’ session.
I place a lot of emphasis on assessment. I will listen very attentively to what you tell me, and probably ask you lots of questions. The form the assessment takes will depend on what you have come for and on your needs and requirements. For example, if you want to stop smoking we’ll talk in detail about your smoking history and habits but probably won’t need to go into your family history in depth, which we might well do if you’ve come to see me because of long-term relationship difficulties.
Once we’ve explored what’s troubling you and have discussed what you’re hoping to achieve in therapy, we’ll talk together about the various options and approaches that I might use.
A person who has a first degree in psychology can call themselves a Psychologist without any further training. A Clinical Psychologist (my qualification) has a first degree in psychology and has completed at least a three-year postgraduate degree, which is both an academic and a clinical/practical training. Clinical psychologists work with a wide range of people experiencing all sorts of difficulties related to the mind and emotions, using different forms of talking therapy.
A Psychiatrist is a medical doctor who, after basic medical training, has specialised in Psychiatry (as opposed to, for example, orthopaedics or surgery). They assess people, prescribe medication when appropriate, admit severely unwell people to hospital and occasionally have to ‘section’ them under the Mental Health Act. On the whole, if a talking therapy is needed, they refer people to a Clinical Psychologist.