Psychotherapy is a general term referring to the therapeutic interaction between a trained therapist and client. Therapy may address specific forms of diagnosable mental illness or everyday problems in managing interpersonal relationships or meeting personal goals. In my practice, I do not utilize just one therapeutic style. I draw from a number of different perspectives to help individuals look at the causes, influences and potential resolutions for their problems. I bring to my practice my years of university training and experience as a psychologist as well my additional training as a psychodynamic psychotherapist. All therapy aims to increase an individual’s sense of his or her own well-being.
How long does therapy take?
Because each person is unique, each therapeutic process and its time frame is unique as well.
Different Treatment Modes
Short-Term Evidence Based Therapy
Short-term psychotherapy is usually more specific in its concentration and may take between 10-20 sessions. This form of therapy is for individuals and couples who are experiencing a range of symptoms associated with emotional, behavioural or relationship difficulties. Specific methods include: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT); Interpersonal Psychotherapy and Systems Theory.
Longer-term therapy can continue anywhere between a couple of months to a number of years. Some individuals come to therapy not just to address problems per sae but to take the time to reflect on their lives in a manner that allows for personal evolution and growth. The relationship that is built between therapist and client is known to be an important factor in assisting individuals to reach their full potential and to cope better with problems in their life.
What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?
Cognitive therapy is a more structured approach and is based on developing positive and practical strategies to overcome negative thoughts and self-defeating behaviours. Interventions include problem solving and relaxation skills, mindfulness based stress reduction and encouragement to engage in positive and rewarding activities.
This type of approach focuses on the interpersonal context and on building interpersonal skills. There is more emphasis on interpersonal processes rather than changing specific thoughts and behaviours.
A systems-orientated approach focuses on patterns and dynamics within the contexts of families, groups or organisations.
Short-Term and Long-Term Psychodynamic Psychotherapy
Psychodynamic psychotherapy seeks to provide individuals with a deeper emotional understanding of their current problems and not simply an intellectual one. This form of talking treatment can be utilised on a short-term-basis but is more often longer-term and somewhat less structured.
The model that I particularly favour in my work is based on Heinz Kohut’s concept of Self Psychology. This empathic mode of understanding allows for a better fit with the actual experiences of the client. This methodology incorporates and extends into trauma theory, recent neurophysiology research, attachment and developmental theory and the concept of Intersubjectivity.
This therapy is based on the notion that at some stage in an individual’s life he or she may have experienced failure at the hands of significant others who have not responded ‘empathically enough’. This may have occurred particularly in childhood and resulted in a diminished sense of “self” and well-being. The outcome has been that individuals have found it harder to cope with life’s difficulties. Self Psychology provides a theoretical understanding for working towards the restoration of a stronger sense of self.
The Self Psychological approach places the subjective experience of the client at the very centre of its clinical and theoretical concerns. Throughout the course of therapy, the sense of being heard and understood allows the individual to experience and explore previously intolerable feelings and concerns. In turn, a growing capacity is developed to be emotionally accessible and responsive to others. This therapy is aimed at providing an opportunity for lasting change and a deeper level of self understanding, rather than a ‘quick-fix’ solution. Regular sessions are held on a weekly or twice weekly basis. Twice weekly sessions enable the therapy to reach a deeper level of intensity.
Who Would Benefit from a Self Psychology Approach?
The Self Psychology approach has proved successful in helping individuals who have suffered from trauma and/or who experience emotional difficulties including depression, relationship problems, eating disorders and drug and alcohol problems. This approach is also used to treat those who describe a sense of ‘emptiness’ or lack of meaning and vitality in their lives.
This form of intervention aims to assist executives and non-executives to build their skills in facilitating change and development. Evidence-based coaching refers to coaching that is purposefully grounded in the behavioural and social sciences and is unequivocally related to existing scientific knowledge. A combination of cognitive-behavioural, systemic and psychodynamic approaches are used.
Assessment and Diagnosis, Report Writing, Research and Analysis
The first step is an assessment for psychotherapy. This usually takes about two or three sessions. The purpose is to gather information about each individual’s background history and their current issues. It involves talking together to consider what may be causing distress and what outcome an individual may wish to achieve.
Report writing for courts or other intuitions is available if needed.