In my approach to therapy I primarily draw on ideas from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – including recent developments within CBT – as well as from Systemic and Narrative Therapies.
Key to all these approaches is that we work collaboratively and openly. This means that the therapeutic conversations are an active process; together we work towards an understanding of the problem affecting your life. We also work on discovering ways to view or deal with the problem, which are more helpful and more in accordance with how you would like to live your life. The focus is on how you interpret and relate to your problem, your self, and the world around you.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a structured and goal-oriented approach to therapy. It is based on the idea that our thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and behaviours influence and reinforce each other. In CBT we work on understanding negative cycles of thinking, feeling and behaving, and on becoming aware of how thoughts and behaviours maintain – or ease – the emotional problems we are experiencing. We then work on developing more helpful ways of thinking and behaving in order to alleviate emotional difficulties (such as stress, anxiety or low mood).
Emphasis is placed on incorporating what you learn in the sessions (e.g. new perspectives or ways of thinking and doing) into your life, in order for them to be effective and relevant to the life you live. This means that I will sometimes ask you to try out new practices between the sessions. In CBT this is sometimes referred to as “homework”.
Practising mindfulness is about practising being in the moment rather than worrying about the future or ruminating on the past. Mindfulness has been defined as “the awareness that arises through paying attention on purpose in the present moment non-judgementally”. Mindfulness (meditation) practices are a way to develop this awareness. The aim is to avoid the automatic reactions (behavioural or emotional) to the often endless steam of worrying, ruminations, evaluations and judgements we have about ourselves and our lives. By changing the way you relate to your thoughts, emotions and physical sensations, you can create more flexibility in your choice of action.
Metacognitive therapy is based on the idea that psychological suffering is the result of paying excessive attention to certain unhelpful ways of thinking (e.g. worries, fears), as well as deploying unhelpful coping strategies. In this approach to therapy, rather than focusing on what you worry about, the focus is on learning to relate differently to your thoughts, to reduce the time you spend worrying, and to acquire more helpful strategies.
Systemic and Narrative therapies are both informed by social constructionism. The idea is that our understandings of the world and ourselves are socially constructed through language. In therapy we then create new and more preferred or empowering understandings
In Narrative Therapy the focus is on how we make sense of our experiences and our identity. When we experience problems in our lives these understandings (or stories) are limiting. Through conversation we aim to develop more richly described and preferred understandings of ourselves as a way to make us better able to deal with the problems, which interfere with our lives. Emphasis is placed on connecting with your values and on your skills and knowledge to live by them.
Systemic therapy focuses on the relationship between you and significant other people in a “system” you are a part of. This can be a family or a workplace. The focus is on the connections between you and how you influence each other, and on the positions and perspectives you have of “the system” (family or workplace). The aim is to develop more preferred relationship patterns.