Talking ‘Talking Therapy’ with Dr Áine Lombard, Counselling Psychologist

Introduction

There are a multitude of issues and concerns that may prompt any person, of any background, in any situation, to seek out a psychologist. These may include experiences of helplessness, feelings of distress, confusion, or stagnation personally or professionally. Often, people feel stuck and unable to address their difficulties alone; this helplessness is a universal human trait; however, it can be lessened through talking therapy. I draw on several different therapeutic approaches to provide an intervention that facilitates growth and helps clients to meet their goals; a general overview of each is detailed below along with some helpful links.

 

Person-Centred Therapy

Person-centred therapy is a non-directive therapeutic approach which is client-led, in the hope that through exploration clients may discover their own solutions to the difficulties that bring them to therapy. The therapist facilitates the session, listening to and understanding your thoughts and feelings without judgement, focusing on the present moment without direction. The aim of person-centred therapy is to encourage and support you in a process that facilitates self-discovery, self-acceptance, and provides a means toward healing and growth.For person-centred therapy to be effective, therapists provide certain conditions:

1) Unconditional positive regard: acceptance of the client in the here and now.

2) Empathy: understanding clients’ thoughts and feelings; to perceive the world as the client sees it (Rogers, 1951).

3) Congruence: being accessible to our clients through honesty and transparency; not adopting an ‘expert stance’.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Sometimes, because of adverse life experiences such as physical, sexual or emotional trauma/abuse -or simply a proclivity toward negative thinking- you can become stuck in unhelpful and damaging cycles of behaviour; which leave you feeling helpless and frustrated. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a psychotherapeutic approach which aims to modify these patterns and any unhelpful beliefs underlying them. 

In CBT, you will learn to recognise how you think, behave and feel. You will then be encouraged to consider alternative ways of thinking and behaving that are more in keeping with the reality of your situation.

Acceptance & Commitment Therapy 

Is what you’re doing working to make your life rich, full and meaningful? If the answer is yes, then you probably don’t need to change anything or attend therapy. However, if the answer is no, you may want to consider therapy and this therapeutic approach to maximise your potential for a rich, full and meaningful life.We will all experience frustration, disappointment, rejection, loss and failure at some point in our lives. We will all experience aging, illness and injury also. Unfortunately, we will all face our own death and the death of loved ones. And on a regular basis, we will experience painful feelings that we wish would ‘go away’ – anger, hurt, shame, fear and sadness to name a few. Acceptance and Commitment therapy (ACT) is a model of therapy that teaches people how to handle these painful experiences and the thoughts and feelings that accompany them in a more helpful way.  

Mindfulness How often do we move through our life on autopilot? How much time do we spend ‘in our head’?When this occurs, it’s easy for us to lose touch with the world around us, lost in thought, consumed with the next deadline, the next bill, the next confrontation.Becoming Mindful can help us to increase our awareness of the present moment and by extension the positives in the world around us. We can learn to realise our thoughts are simply ‘mental events’ and are not permanent; this allows us to detach ourselves from the cyclone of worry or anxiety that we would ordinarily become lost in.

Conclusion 

Given the social norms of heightened stress and anxiety which are commonplace in our modern-and at times-breathless culture, anyone can find themselves at the mercy of negative and damaging thoughts and feelings.  Melding the evidence-based approaches described above can produce a targeted, bespoke and individualised treatment package. This can lead to better psychological wellbeing and by extension an improved quality of life.

Dr Áine Lombard is a Counselling Psychologist and consults at Life Fit Wellness, in the NHS, and tutors at Glasgow Caledonian University.

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