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1 month ago · · Comments Off on Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

Psychoanalytic or psychodynamic psychotherapy draws on theories and practices of analytical psychology and psychoanalysis. It is a therapeutic process which helps patients understand and resolve their problems by increasing awareness of their inner world and its influence over relationships both past and present. It differs from most other therapies in aiming for deep seated change in personality and emotional development.

1 month ago · · Comments Off on Choosing a Psychotherapist

Choosing a Psychotherapist

There is no hard and fast distinction between psychotherapy and counselling, but counselling tends to focus on more immediate, external difficulties. The work is often short term and at a lower frequency.

Counsellors tend to have a shorter and less intensive training. Psychotherapists are trained to graduate level and beyond and while working with whatever is troubling you now, as counsellors do, tend also to work at a deeper level. A good psychotherapist should be able to help you find connections between whatever is going on now and the underlying patterns, beliefs and expectations in your life which can then, over time, be better understood and resolved. They may notice the significance of something you had never really thought about before, and may be able to help you recognise and process any unspoken distress that is stored inside you.

The relationship with the therapist is a crucial element in therapy.

The therapist offers a confidential and private setting which facilitates a process where unconscious patterns can be explored, understood and changed.

Psychotherapists hold a position of great responsibility towards their patients, and should be registered with one of the reputable national bodies such as the British Psychoanalytic Council. This ensures that your psychotherapist has undergone and satisfactorily completed a lengthy clinical training (to at least Masters level) and that they are appropriately monitored, insured and supervised. It also means that they subscribe to a recognised Code of Ethics. This means that if you should at any time have a problem with your therapist, there is a body to whom you can appeal who will take your problem seriously and offer you a way forward.

  • Does the therapist provide a designated and private room and regular sessions?
  • Are you treated with respect, and listened to carefully and constructively?
  • Does your therapist maintain boundaries and respond thoughtfully to appropriate questions?

It can be a good idea to seek an initial assessment session with a couple of psychotherapists before making a decision. A reputable therapist will usually offer an initial exploratory session with no further obligation, so you can get your questions answered, and get a sense of whether the relationship will offer you the right ‘fit’.

Evolution of Psychotherapy

4 months ago · · Comments Off on Evolution of Psychotherapy

Evolution of Psychotherapy

Three takes on the experience of psychotherapy

Much of the talk about psychotherapy in Britain today is dominated by the idea that it is a medical intervention providing strategies for coping with psychological conditions that are defined by their symptoms. Alleviating painful symptoms is very valuable, and the speed of an approach that says “contain the symptom and the main part of the job is done” is appropriate for a public health system treating millions of people. But – although symptoms are alleviated, and lives saved – that is not the goal of psychotherapy.
A very different understanding of what it’s about comes from the German poet Rilke at beginning of the twentieth century:
“If you were in some prison the walls of which let none of the sounds of the world come to your senses—would you not then still have your childhood, that precious, kingly possession, that treasure-house of memories? Turn your attention there. Try to raise the submerged sensations of that ample past; your personality will grow more firm, your solitude will widen and will become a dusky dwelling past which the noise of others goes by far away.”
From the perspective of modern psychotherapy, Rilke is over-stating the importance of childhood, which, although very important, is one of several arenas for exploration, including your current relationships. But early in the twentieth centuries the focus was on childhood more directly, and the early psychotherapists would have read Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet. Freud knew him.
As medical doctors they naturally translated his call in health terms, and the ‘prison’ is a good image because it captures the idea of constricted space, disconnection from love, suffering and loss of freedom that frequently characterise conditions like depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and many others. As in modern Britain, this medicalisation of psychology did a lot of good, but the early therapists didn’t lose sight of the fact that looking inward is a poetic endeavour as well – the healthy, deepening personality as a worked-for and invested-in creation of the self.
Before we move onto the third of these perspectives on psychotherapy, it seems necessary to put our finger on a paradox: when we are imprisoned emotionally our relationships are impoverished, yet the treatment is to look inward. Following Rilke’s path down into ourselves, we gradually learn to re-connect to other people more creatively, freely and truly.
Finally, an animated film written and narrated by the popular philosopher Alain de Botton makes the point more clearly, “knowing how to live isn’t an instinct. Its a skill” that has to be learnt.

Online Counselling is the same, and different, but it works as well

6 months ago · · Comments Off on Online Counselling is the same, and different, but it works as well

Online Counselling is the same, and different, but it works as well

Psychotherapists and their patients have been working together by sitting in the same room since the beginning in Vienna more than one hundred years ago. Things have come a long way, and Freud wouldn’t recognise the gentle, if realistic, process of uncovering what the patient brings, not in the light of theories, but in the context of the client’s complex and subtle individual experience.
The Room, which was essentially the same for the last 100 years, has changed in the last 100 days, and this awful epidemic has shown that online counselling and psychotherapy – although different – work really surprisingly well.
In those days, if you wanted to find a good therapist you had to live near a great central European city – Vienna, Budapest, Berlin, Zurich; even in the 1920s there were only a handful of psychotherapists in London and a couple in Edinburgh.
There are still parts of the United Kingdom where it is very difficult to find a therapist who is well qualified and has been through enough work on themselves to tread the pathway downward into your own unconscious with you.
What has been unexpected during the Covid-19 outbreak was how possible it was for therapist and client to connect and co-operate in the way that is needed on their joint task – through Zoom.

Online Counselling and Online Therapy

Of course, online counselling, online therapy and online psychotherapy are different from working together in the room. The very private, neutral, and protected space of the consulting room can not be replicated online. Being there in the room together physically is emotionally containing. The journey to therapy is a ritual and time to think into and out of your session. These are some of the things that are lost with the move online.
But the outbreak has shown us that they are partly made up for by certain advantages: Working from your own home or office, somewhere you are responsible for the environment can also provide material, which otherwise we wouldn’t get, for us to use in understanding your inner world together. The physical distance allows different things to be said and experienced. And the convenience of having your therapy where you are is something helpful so long as the space is protected properly.
And some things are the same: The work is still an intensely personal and a shared endeavour. Consistency and privacy in the space you speak from is still important. Knowing that you are talking in complete confidence with me is still a necessary condition for the work.
You can always get in touch with me to talk about COVID 19 counselling, online counselling, and online therapy and how this can help during the current crisis.