Frequently Asked Questions
What is the cause of psychological distress?
In summary, over-reliance on defences creates suffering. When people encounter painful emotional states in themselves the natural reaction is to do something to reduce the pain. In psychological terms they employ what is known as a defence; defences act to suppress the painful emotional state so it is not in conscious awareness. Unfortunately this may not solve the problem in the long-term as the suppressed emotion remains and is not dealt with. Defences may then become chronic and rigidified and increase rather than decrease suffering. Continuous anxiety or agitation, withdrawal, depression, hostility, addictive behaviours, very frequently accompanied by self-criticism, are all examples of symptoms which result from the attempt to reduce pain by using defences against unwanted underlying painful feeling.
How can psychological therapy help?
Psychotherapy is a talking therapy in which the therapist, in alliance with the patient, facilitates a process by which unhelpful defences which are keeping the person stuck can be brought to light and then relinquished. This helps to free the individual from their symptoms and promotes a more attentive understanding and compassionate view of the self. This allows more satisfying relationships with others. You can find more details about the individual and couple therapy I offer on this website.
What form will psychotherapy or couple therapy take?
Sessions are usually offered on a once weekly basis. Couple counselling sessions are one hour. Individual psychotherapy sessions are between an hour and an hour and a half depending on need and availability. The first individual session, called a ‘trial therapy’ is usually longer. As well as regular weekly sessions I also offer ‘block therapy’ which is an agreed number of two to three hour sessions on consecutive days. This can be helpful for people living at some distance or who cannot attend on a weekly basis. It can be a stand-alone therapy, but a follow up session is usually advisable.
I trained as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist at the London Centre for Psychotherapy (now the British Psychotherapy Foundation) qualifying in 1995. I developed an interest in brief applications of psychoanalytic psychotherapy during my career as an NHS psychotherapist. After encountering Habib Davanloo’s Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP) in 2005 I decided to train in this method. Davanloo’s work showed me how it was possible to help a patient toward change more rapidly and effectively than with the traditional techniques in which I had been trained. I was part of the first ISDTP training group in the UK, now ISTDP-UK. I qualified in 2010 and I have been impressed and moved to see important changes in my patients happening over a shorter time-span than was possible before. I also have in interest in mindfulness meditation and I have an established meditation practice. During my 26 year NHS career I have worked with a wide range of severe and enduring mental health problems in a range of modalities including group therapy, family and couple therapy as well as individual psychotherapy. I was also a supervisor for other health professionals including trainee therapists and junior doctors. I left the NHS in 2013 to develop my private psychotherapy practice.