A foundation for recovery and mental wellbeing.
What is Psychotherapy?
Psychologists are trained mental health professionals, usually registered by a local professional body to deliver psychotherapy to help with behaviour, relationships, Anxiety, Depression, ADHD and many more conditions. Psychologists can be experienced to help support a range of clients, or may focus on a particular area, e.g. children, adolescents, adults – or the conditions themselves such as ADHD, Anxiety etc. The goal of the Psychologist is to give you the insights and tools to help you manage and cope with stressful situations, grief or traumatic life events or help build upon social skills, relationships and behaviour.
Fortunately, the stigma around mental health and the need to see a psychologist has greatly improved over recent years. People actively seek out a psychologist, for the following reasons:
- They want someone to talk to, without judgement, who can professionally understand their experiences and beliefs
- They are seeking ways to help manage negative experiences or symptoms
- They want strategies and support in building better relationships with others
- They want to be able to understand personal thoughts and behaviours and how to manage these
- They want to build general resilience and overcome negative thoughts.
Types of Psychotherapy
Here you will learn more about the different models which can be used as a technique on its own, or together with other models or interventions, to help unpack and overcome psychological distress or behaviours in the individual.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a well-known and evidence-based technique proven to be effective for a range of mental health concerns including anxiety, depression and many behavioural difficulties across the lifespan. Fundamental to CBT is examining the interaction between an individual’s cognition (or thought processes), their behaviours (including avoidance behaviours), physiological responses, and mood.
A major first step in the CBT process is to switch focus from the event itself and examine closely what the individual’s underlying beliefs are surrounding an event. There is no such thing as a right or wrong belief in this regard, but they are uniquely a person’s own.
CBT can be an eye-opening experience for many people as they come to ‘discover’ things about the way they view the world, processes for which they may never have considered before.
Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT)
Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, often referred to as the word ‘ACT’, is a technique a qualified mental health professional may use to help “be okay” with intrusive thoughts or behaviours. It’s based on helping the person not to avoid or “run away” from the thought or perceived problem and not to feel guilty about it either.
Through Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, Individuals can learn to build resilience, often through mindfulness-based techniques, so their day-to-day life is no longer affected by what was once disruptive and unproductive thoughts and feelings.
In doing so, the goal is to ‘commit’ to accepting the thought or problem.
ACT can be used to help clients and patients experiencing Depression, Anxiety, OCD, Addictions and substance-abuse.
Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)
DBT can be used as part of group therapy, telehealth or in-person psychological counselling, in combination with mindfulness techniques, to help clients and patients relate to ‘living in the moment’, to cope with stress and improve relationships with others.
It is a technique used to help clients or patients with a wide range of issues, but in particularly, when they experience emotional dysregulation, such as in Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), eating and addiction disorders, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD.)
The goal is to develop and maintain a healthy strategies to cope with stress and triggers and not to ‘get caught up in’ negative thoughts or emotions.
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)
Interpersonal Therapy is a form of psychotherapy often used in children and adolescents, experiencing depressive symptoms tied to relationships within the family or close contacts. This form of therapy is delivered as a short-term program (usually 15 sessions) with a focus on how the client or patient interacts with others and the symptoms they experience. The goal is to focus on particularly interactions which may be causing negative symptoms and figure out how to adjust in these situations.
Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR is a well-researched and novel approach to help clients process and deal with past traumas within a psychotherapeutic session. EMDR is facilitated by a qualified mental health professional and can be safe and reassuring technique to help ‘unblock’ the mind to help process and deal with past traumatic experiences.
Through assistance tools, the client or patient is instructed to move their eyes along a horizonal line, repeatedly. Psychotherapy can continue while this is happening through guided steps.
The goal of narrative therapy is to help the client or patient identify their own personal skills and values to help assess behaviours and beliefs around negative events. Narrative therapy can be used in individual, family or relationship counselling, to help look objectively at external problems without fear or defence.
Further support & Skills Training in Psychotherapy
The following techniques are often integrated within a consultation to support the ongoing therapy.
Sleep Hygiene Awareness Strategies
Sleep plays a vital role in our ability to reconnect and strengthen neural pathways. This is why it is so important to pay attention to a person’s ‘sleep hygiene’ to see if a poor sleep routine may be contributing to negative symptoms, as well as to help the recovery process.
When we have a restorative and natural sleep (note: natural sleep is different to sedation experienced through other substances) the brain undergoes essential processing of the day’s events. We may all note feelings of moodiness and agitation when we have not had a good night’s sleep or we are experiencing jetlag, for example. For these reasons, insufficient sleep or a poor sleep routine may be causing or at the very least exacerbating the negative feelings and behaviours in people seeking psychological care.
Good sleep hygiene includes setting a regular bedtime and wake time each day, limiting exposure to blue light from devices in the evening, and being mindful of sleep disturbing substances like caffeine, alcohol, other sedatives and medications.
Mindfulness techniques incorporated with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is sometimes also referred to as ‘Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy’ or ‘MBCT’. Mindfulness techniques are used in the practice of meditation. Some people may misunderstand meditation as a ‘spiritual’ practice and therefore may not feel inclined to try it - but it can also be better thought of as training ourselves to simply be “aware” of intrusive thoughts or beliefs. This awareness can help aid high level of stress associated with anxiety, depression, addiction and other illness, by refocusing our attention on the ‘here and now’.
A trained mental health professional can help guide a client or patient through this method, to help understand the physiological processes and arousal states which underly the negative thoughts and feelings coming to the surface. In this regard, the technique relies on awareness of the body and its natural arousal states.
Anxiety Management Strategies
There are a range of functional and practical anxiety management techniques which can be beneficial to practice not only within your psychotherapeutic consultation, but outside in your day-to-day living. Everyone is different so it is the goal of the mental health professional to find a technique which appeals to you and fits in with your lifestyle, and, more importantly, make you feel better!
There are numerous breathing techniques which help to manage anxiety, other techniques may include identifying suitable spaces and moments for a personal ‘time out’ session. Strategy can be simple and physical like muscle relaxation techniques or a focus on healthy foods and foods to steer clear of.