Supporting You In Your Journey To Optimal Mental Well-Being
Supporting You In Your Journey To Optimal Mental Well-Being
The stresses and strains of this modern ‘civilised’ world can often leave us in a self-perpetuating cycle of negativity. By employing a pragmatic methodology that is specifically designed to help you break that cycle, we will help you take that next step forwards in your journey.
Simplicity is often fundamental to problem-solving, however when life becomes complicated it’s all too easy to lose objectivity and focus. We can offer you a sense of perspective that, not only provides you with insight into the cyclical nature of your thoughts, emotions, behaviours and physical sensations, but also gives you the practical solutions required in order to tackle it.
Our personalised programme is highly eclectic in its nature, offering a strong, patient led psychotherapeutic support which is heavily solution focused. The programme is led by our Mental Health Nurse Practitioner – Keith McCurdy – who has many years of experience in delivering solution focused therapies with clients in both the NHS and private sectors. As with most things in life, one size rarely fits all and so after getting to know you, Keith will use his experience to draw from various techniques to tailor make a program that is right for you and your goals.
Your first session will be 60-minutes long. This will include analysis and discussion of your pre-screening questionnaires, getting to know each other and jointly working on a plan of action moving forwards.
Subsequent sessions are generally 45-minutes long, starting with an initial refresh from your last session and then moving on to the next part of your programme. We recommend a minimum of six sessions, which are block-booked after your initial session.
All therapy sessions can be accommodated in clinic, or via telephone or Skype if preferred.
CBT is most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression, but it can also be useful for many other mental and physical health problems. It works on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a vicious cycle.
In addition to depression or anxiety disorders, CBT is often used to help people with Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Eating Disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder, Phobias, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Psychosis, Schizophrenia, Sleep Problems and Alcohol Misuse Problems. It is also sometimes useful in helping people with long-term health conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia.
We utilise the evidence based intervention tools recommended by NICE to track your progress and improvements, which will assist you in the process attaining optimal mental health.
We work with you in breaking your problems down into separate parts; such as thoughts, physical feelings and actions. You will analyse each of these areas together to work out the effect that they have on each other and on you, and then how to change any unhelpful thoughts and behaviours that occur as a result. You will be given support in making small practical changes in your daily life, and then discuss how you got on during your next session.
The eventual aim of therapy is to teach you to apply the skills that you have learnt during treatment to your everyday life, which should help you manage your problems and stop them having a continued negative impact on your life, even long after your course of treatment finishes.
Another key area we address is how to inoculate ourselves from the stressful world that we live in. Stress has an important symbiotic relationship with our health and, in particular, our hormonal system.
Stress Inoculation Therapy (SIT) is a psychotherapy method used to help a person prepare themselves in advance to handle stressful events successfully, and with a minimum of upset.
The term “inoculation” is used in SIT in the same context that it is used in physical terms. It is based on the concept that you are being “inoculated” or prepared to become “resistant” to the effects of your personal external stressors, in a manner similar to how a vaccination works to make a person resistant to the effects of particular diseases.
This begins with education about the general nature of stress. We go on to explore important concepts such as appraisal and cognitive distortion that often plays a key role in shaping our stress reactions. We will work with you to develop a clear understanding of the nature of the stressors that you face, and then help you to differentiate between the aspects of your personal stressors and stress reactions that are changeable, and aspects that cannot be changed, so that your coping mechanisms can be adjusted accordingly.
You are taught various coping skills that are individually tailored your personal strengths and vulnerabilities. These are taught on the basis of your unique needs and include a variety of emotion regulation, relaxation, cognitive appraisal, problem-solving, communication and socialisation skills, which you can take forwards and subtly begin to implement into everyday life.
This is your opportunity to really start practising your new coping skills. You may be encouraged to use a variety of simulation methods; including visualisation exercises, role playing of previously feared/stressful situations and simple repetitious behavioural practice, until these newly acquired skills become over-learned and easy to act out whenever required.
The Stages of Change model describes the different stages we go through when we want to change something in our everyday lives. This can be both the adoption of healthy behaviours, or cessation of unhealthy ones. We use this model as an effective aid in understanding and supporting you in making sustained changes, by developing a proactive and committed approach to changing a behaviour. This often requires a gradual progression of small steps toward a larger goal.
The earliest stage of change is known as precontemplation. During the precontemplation stage, people are not considering a change, they are often described as “in denial” due to claims that their behaviour is not a problem. If you are in this stage, you may feel resigned to your current state or believe that you have no control over your behaviour. In some cases, people in this stage do not understand that their behaviour is damaging or the consequences of their actions.
During this stage, you are more aware of the potential benefits of making a change, but the costs tend to stand out even more. This conflict creates a strong sense of ambivalence about changing. Because of this uncertainty, the contemplation stage can last for months or even years. Many people never make it past this phase because the change is viewed as a process of giving something up, rather than a means of gaining emotional, mental, or physical benefits.
During the preparation stage, you start making small changes to prepare for a larger life change. You are intent upon taking action soon and often report some steps in that direction. This stage is therefore a combination of behavioural actions and intentions. It is a relatively transitory stage that is characterised by the individual’s making a firm commitment to the change process.
During the fourth stage of change, you begin taking direct action in order to accomplish your goals. You are aware that a problem exists and actively modify your behaviour, experiences and environment in order to overcome the problem. Commitment is clear and a great deal of effort is expended towards making changes.
The maintenance phase involves successfully avoiding former behaviours and keeping up new behaviours. Sustained change has been made when a new pattern of behaviour has replaced the old. Behaviour is then firmly established and threat of relapse becomes less intense.