As a clinical psychologist, I have listened to the life stories of hundreds of people. Every person is special, every journey unique.
At various stages and points in life there are obstacles or challenges that arise. We may feel anxious or low and this can have a negative effect on our day to day lives, influencing our thoughts and behaviors, our relationships with others, and of course our performance at work. We all have problems, that is just one of the facts life, but when those problems become too serious, too overwhelming or simply too distressing, It’s time to seek professional help, just acknowledging that your problem is bigger than you and more than you can successfully cope on your own, is the first step towards healthy functioning.
The terms "counseling" and "psychological therapy" are often used interchangeably but there are some key differences in theory and practice. Counseling is more suitable for people with non-clinical problems, whilst psychological therapy is recommended for people with clinical conditions.
Counseling is a talking therapy for people who do not have mental health problems, but may be faced with specific life stresses, difficult dilemmas, crises in their lives, relationship problems, or may wish to develop better ways of living. There is emphasis on mental health promotion rather than 'treating disorders'. Counseling emphasizes the individual's resources rather than psychopathology, with a focus on a reflective, experiential process. Here the individual's concerns are rephrased and clarified in order that he or she may develop a greater sense of well being and cope with life difficulties differently.
Non-clinical areas for counseling include
- Personal development & wellness
- Restoring self esteem
- Developing self confidence
- Growing after bereavement and loss
- Improving marital and personal relationships
- Coping with life difficulties and dilemmas
- Positive thinking
- Improving performance & growth
- Exploring new directions in life
- Improving communication skills
- Career and lifestyle planning
- Enhancing interpersonal and social skills
- Developing assertiveness and social skills
- Individually tailored agendas
Psychological therapies (or psychotherapies) are also talking therapies, which are recommended for the treatment of people with mental disorders (such as clinical anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc) and behavioral disturbances (such as aggression, impulsivity, substance misuse, etc). People tend to expect advice and guidance on how to change. In therapy, through the application of psychological theories and therapeutic techniques, people are helped to increase insight and understanding, alter maladaptive patterns of coping, relieve emotional disturbance, develop personality growth and learn ways to reduce the likelihood of relapse. Elements from a range of psychological therapies are combined, tailored to the individual's circumstances and needs.
Clinical Problems for psychological therapy include
- Addictions (drugs, alcohol, gambling)
- Anger, irritability and aggression
- Anxiety (all types, mild to severe)
- Behavioral problems in children
- Body image problems
- Compulsive and impulsive behaviors
- Depression (mild to severe)
- Eating disorders, bulimia, anorexia
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Panic disorder & agoraphobia
- Psychosomatic problems
- Self esteem problems
- Sexual and marital problems
- Stress reactions (including PTSD)
- Other Areas
The choice of psychological treatment depends on your individual needs. A treatment plan is devised to the specific needs and issues of each client. The progress made is periodically evaluated. Often people's difficulties need to be understood and formulated using more than one theoretical framework and I personally choose a variety of techniques from more than one therapy approach. The resulting therapy is pragmatic, tailored to the individual.
Choosing a psychologist is not an easy task, the kind of relationship you will have with your therapist will definitely affect the outcome of your therapy. Choose a therapist you are comfortable with and with whom you are able to communicate in a clear manner. Be attentive that he or she is conscientious, and above all ethical.
My client is my main concern. Together we build confidence, self esteem and the capacity to handle lives’ problems in a constructive way. Therapy is interactive. The client, is very much part of the solution, thereby allowing him or her to take control of his or her own life without having to come back knocking on the door of the therapist should any problem arise in the future. Dependency is not encouraged. An important indicator of a successful termination of therapy is the ability of a person to carry on without seeking the help of the professional on a continuous basis.
The length of therapy depends very much on the nature of the case and of course the seriousness and the willingness of the client to move forward.
For some, a single visit for some can give much insight to their lives. While for some others several sessions are really needed in order to fully grasp the techniques and tools of handling their problem. Some others would only be comfortable to visit me regularly, with some lapses between sessions. It all depends, as there are no set rules or times.
You have a right to expect absolute privacy and confidentiality in therapy. Knowing and trusting that anything you say will be safely contained in the therapeutic space is essential to meaningful therapy.
There are short and long term goals for therapy. The short term goal is intended to let every individual leave my clinic in a better mood and a more positive attitude than when they stepped in. The long term goals are intended to give a whole range of techniques, exercises and practices, which would be for a lifetime.