Q. What problems can you help me with?
Many circumstances and events in life can create stressful and emotionally upsetting consequences. These can manifest themselves in a number of ways such as:
- Excessive worry
- Trauma reactions, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Problems controlling anger
- Problems with self esteem
People sometimes develop harmful ways of behaving that are attempts at solving problems:
- Substance misuse
- Self harm
- Sexually inappropriate behaviour
I have had 30 years of experience of seeing and helping people with these types of difficulties.
Q. What can I expect when I see you for the first time?
Two of the most important things about your first appointment are to understand better what is going on and then to work out if I can help you.
It can sometimes be difficult to work out why you are feeling or behaving in particular ways and so this first appointment will begin the process of making this clearer. We will talk about your current problems, your background, how you cope with your adversities and the skills you have developed in life. There may be important or upsetting events in your life that you do not wish to talk about, especially when we have just met. This is fine and you will be encouraged to discuss only those things you are comfortable with.
This first appointment will last about 75-90 minutes and if we decide that psychological therapy will benefit you and you want to return, further sessions will be around 50-60 minutes.
Q. What is psychological therapy like?
Psychological therapy is a collaborative and active process. There are many kinds of therapy and there may be particular names you are familiar with, but most involve reaching a shared understanding of your problems, exploring your emotional reactions, your thinking patterns and perhaps any unhelpful behavioural approaches that you are using to resolve problems. So you will be encouraged to talk about your problems, your background, your relationships, your thoughts and feelings and your strengths.
Since therapy can be viewed as a learning process, you may be asked to read material that will be helpful, keep some records of what’s happening in your life and carry out tasks aimed at helping you develop better ways of managing your life. Research has shown that doing all these things as part of your therapy improves your chances of progress.
Q. Does psychological therapy work?
Over the last number of years there has been much published research on the effectiveness of psychological therapies for common problems such as depression and anxiety. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) regularly publishes updates of the current evidence base for different types of psychological therapy. For example they have advice about depression and anxiety.
Not only do these point to the effectiveness of psychological approaches but also they often indicate that this type of therapy is the treatment of choice and should be used before or instead of pharmacological interventions.
Q. Can I be assured that my details will remain confidential?
I work to the Codes of Practice of the British Psychological Society (my professional organisation) and the Health Professions Council (my regulating organisation). Both of these have strict guidelines about the maintenance of client confidentially, that include rules about appropriate communication, storage and disclosure of information.
If you are referred to me by a health service professional it is best practice to communicate with that person about what is happening. I will discuss and agree with you the nature and content of that communication.
There are some limitations to the rules governing confidentially. These arise if you were to tell me about any actual or potential harm to children, any thoughts you had about causing harm to yourself or others and certain criminal offenses. I would explain these limitations and the actions I would be obliged to take in these circumstances.
Q. How do I know you are fully trained?
I have achieved qualifications both as a Clinical Psychologist and a Cognitive Therapist. I am a Chartered Clinical Psychologist and my details can be checked by searching the British Psychological Society website. Clinical Psychologists offering a service to the public are regulated by the Health Professions Council. The HPC keep a register of health professionals and set standards for training, professional skills, behaviour and health. My membership can be checked at the HPC website by typing in my surname under the Practitioner Psychologist heading.
Both organisations make recommendations about maintaining good standards of training and supervision. I am happy to forward you my CV which gives up to date details of both.
Q. What if you can’t help me?
It is always important that I am honest with you and so if I can’t help I will tell you. I know many psychologists and therapists working independently and if I believe someone else has the right skills to help you I will give you their contact details or, if you wished, make initial contact with them on your behalf. My extensive knowledge from 30 years of working in the NHS and liaising with Voluntary Sector organisations means that I can advise you of other services that you might find helpful.