What is Psychological Therapy?

Psychological therapy is a talking therapy that enables an individual to explore and overcome emotional, behavioural and relationship problems that lead to distress and suffering.

The talking therapy takes place in a private and confidential setting. Confidentiality, respect, acceptance and non-judgement are all central to therapeutic practice.

What difficulties can psychological therapy help with?

  • Anxiety - generalised anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, OCD
  • Depression and low mood (including perinatal and postnatal depression)
  • Grief, loss and bereavement
  • People who have experienced trauma/abuse (including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Dissociation)
  • Anger management problems
  • Low self esteem/low self worth
  • Relationship difficulties and people who struggle with relationships
  • Self harm
  • Psychosis

Types of Psychological Therapies

Compassion focused therapy

Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) has been developed to help individuals who experience high levels of shame and self-criticism which can be common characteristics of clients experiencing many emotional difficulties.CFT considers the impact of automatic and in-built emotional, behavioural and cognitive responses that have evolved in humans over thousands of years, as well as responses that have been learnt from early childhood. The key aims of CFT are to enable the individual to care for themselves with compassion using a warm, understanding, accepting and non-judgemental approach. The individual learns to become more aware of the unintended consequences that can result from the development of understandable protective behaviours. The client then learns to develop more helpful strategies to regulate the mind and body and manage distress.

Mindfulness & Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy

With its roots in Buddhist meditation, mindfulness practice entered the Western world in more recent years. It has been used in conjunction with Cognitive Therapy to help treat a variety of difficulties such as depression, anxiety and chronic pain. Cognitive behavioural strategies help the person to understand their difficulties and mindfulness focuses on awareness and acceptance of moment-by-momentthoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.A key element of mindfulness is to notice our experiences without judgement and to accept what is there, no matter what. Often we find our minds locked in the past or the future and we lose sight of what we are sensing right now, in this moment, which is the moment that we are really ever truly ‘in’. With present awareness, individuals can work towards tolerance and acceptance of their experiences and this in turn may alleviate distress.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies, along with commitment and behavior change strategies, to increase psychological flexibility. Psychological flexibility is about being in the present moment and committing to action that is based on important life values. Using metaphor, paradox, and experiential exercises, the individual feels more able to manage and tolerate difficult thoughts, feelings, memories, and physical sensations.

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)

EMDR is a recommended treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and is widely used with anxiety disorders, childhood abuse, dissociation and depression. When individuals are traumatised or experience difficult experiences, the natural processing of information breaks down or gets ‘blocked’. Memories remain unprocessed and stuck and can be re-lived as if the event is still happening. As such, all of the aspects of the experience (sight, hearing, sound, smell, feeling) can be re-experienced as they were at the time the event actually occurred. EMDR works to re-process and re-integrate the thoughts, feelings and memories by deliberately activating the natural information processing system we use everyday. This is achieved through ‘bilateral stimulation’ whereby the two hemispheres of the brain are activated so that information gets transferred and alternated between them. The client is asked to bring cognitive, sensory and emotional reactions to a distressing memory during bilateral stimulation (BS). BS can be in the form of following the hand movements of the therapist so that the clients’ eyes move from side to side and stimulate both sides of the brain. Alternative BS methods are optional. The client is encouraged to go with whatwhatever comes to mind, without judgement or analysis. Usually, links between old memories, body sensations and emotions, as well as rapid insights, occur during the processing.

The aim is to allow the individual to process the memory until the disturbing associations and reactions are no longer present.Sessions usually last up to 90 minutes and memories can be processed within this time, or within a couple of sessions.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT aims to change thinking patterns directly through discussion of how we think and through behavioural experimentation. The therapy is highly effective and is often brief (approx 10-12 sessions) and works collaboratively with the client to bring about symptom relief. The emphasis is more on the present and future than the past. The approach is National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) approved, particularly for people with anxiety problems (e.g. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Chronic Worry, Panic Disorder, Health Anxiety, Social Anxiety, PTSD) and also for Depression

Family and couples therapy

Sometimes difficulties can be experienced within the whole family system, or within couples or relationships. Therapy can focus on involving all people concerned who are experiencing problems and explore how to make these dynamics and relationships better.

Why work with a Clinical Psychologist?

Psychological therapy with a Clinical Psychologist can be more expensive than other forms of therapydue to the extensive amount of training that they are required to undertake. The following information may help you to decide whether you would like to work with a Clinical Psychologist:

  • Clinical Psychologists have been trained to Doctoral level via NHS placements.Clinical Psychologists are trained in a range of evidence-based therapeutic approaches often recommended by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) (See website).
  • Clinical Psychologists opt to specialise in a particular area, for example Adult Mental Health.
  • Clinical Psychologists are highly skilled at carrying out psychological assessment, developing psychological formulation and therapy and providing training, supervision and consultation.
  • Clinical Psychologists are required to maintain and update their knowledge and skills through Continuing Professional Development (CPD).
  • Clinical Psychologists receive regular supervision to ensure safe and evidence-based practice.
  • Clinical Psychologists are members of a regulated and professional governing body The Health &Care Professions Council (HCPC) and are bound by a strict code of Conduct and Ethics.
  • Clinical Psychologists can achieve chartered status with the British Psychological Society (BPS) which signifies the highest standard of knowledge and expertise, a commitment to professional development and high ethical standards of practice.
  • Clinical Psychologists may achieve the title Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society (AFBPsS) which is awarded in recognition of several years’ experience and contribution to the field of psychology.

For more information you can visit the following websites:

To find out more about how the role of Clinical Psychologists compares to others professions, the British Psychological Society provide a guide.