psychological therapy in Bristol

 

Psychological Therapy

The therapeutic process is person-centred, which means it is guided by you. Together we would identify your areas of concern, experiences and strengths. The therapeutic goal will also be determined by you. It could include moving towards living your life in a way that you value and learning particular skills that will help to ease this process.

Common fears about seeing a psychologist

Many people are apprehensive about seeing a psychologist. Often people wonder if the psychologist will judge them to be mad or believe that the problems they are experiencing are 'all in their heads'. Psychologists do not believe these things about people. It is also common for people to confuse psychologists with psychiatrists. Psychiatrists are trained in medicine and specialise in psychiatry. Psychologists are not trained in medicine, but instead in using a range of psychological and therapeutic models to help to understand people's experiences. This includes the assessment and formulation of psychological difficulties with the person, family or group concerned to help create an understanding of how the issues developed, are being maintained and how it would be possible to change. Psychologists are also skilled at offering consultation and supervision to other professionals and organisations, providing teaching and carrying out psychological research. 

The process

To work together we would negotiate the best way in which to proceed. To give you a rough idea, an initial consultation would help us to establish whether I am going to be the most helpful therapist for you and for you to decide whether you could work with me. If we agree to work together we would normally meet on a weekly basis for about 50 minutes. The length of therapy will be negotiated and reviewed as we go. We would agree to meet for a number of sessions and review this as this period came to an end.

Therapeutic approaches

I work with people using an integrative approach. This means I draw on a number of different therapeutic models. How we work will be determined by the issues that you bring to therapy and how we start to understand your experiences. The kinds of approaches that I draw upon are summarised below. 


E.M.D.R. - Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing

EMDR is an acronym for Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing. You can read more about it here.

 Cognitive-behavioural and mindfulness-based therapies.

Cognitive-behavioural approaches are those that are based on our experiences in the here-and-now. This approach assumes that our experience is not only influenced by what is happening at the time, but also by the patterns of thinking and doing that we have learned and developed throughout our lives. Therefore, each of us learns to cope with the challenges in life in a particular way - based on our previous experiences in life. Sometimes distress can increase when we experience a particular event that challenges our usual way of coping. Sometimes distress comes and goes because our usual patterns of thinking and behaviour can trap us into having difficult feelings. 

Cognitive-behavioural approaches involve learning or enhancing coping skills and behaviours, so allowing people to explore their thoughts and beliefs. Often people learn about the transient nature of thoughts and feelings and this can have an effect on their beliefs about themselves, others and the world.

Mindfulness-based approaches originate in Buddhist thinking and are highly applicable to Western psychology. They allow people to learn about and practice the skill of meditation, awareness and acceptance of themselves, their thoughts, feelings and bodies. This practice helps to open up our thinking and allows people to make moment-to-moment choices based on a greater awareness of what is happening.  

Other therapeutic models. 

Psycho dynamic thinking pays more attention to what may be happening in the unconscious mind. Sometimes memories and thoughts are too painful to experience in consciousness so are pushed away. We may be aware of this because these thoughts and memories visit us uninvited through dreams or intrusive thoughts or images. Alternatively we may re-experience difficult memories and experiences when trigger events occur.

Attachment theory describes how our relational patterns and ability to self-care follow from our early experience with our caregivers. We may be aware that at times we do not feel safe in our relationships or have a sense of insecurity. Attachment experiences may affect the relationships that we have with others, food, drugs, ourselves. 


Systemic approaches consider relationship, family, group, organisational or community dynamics. Therefore, the issues of concern are not assumed to be located within the individual, but within the dynamics of the system. Systems, like individuals, develop experiential patterns. By exploring the dynamics of the system within a therapeutic environment, it is possible to understand and rewrite the system narrative, opening up solutions and possibility.

Psychotherapy can allow these relational and unconscious processes to play out and heal within the safety of an accepting and empathic therapeutic relationship.