You don’t have to have a mental illness or be psychologically unwell to see a psychologist. Psychologists like us help with all sorts of issues, big and small. We have an interest in a wide range of life adjustment issues and mental health difficulties. Our focus is on mental health wellness and we work to equip our clients with skills and insights so they can find workable solutions to their problems and better cope with the challenges of every-day life.
Our Psychologists are trained to provide a range of professional therapy and consulting services. All of us share a strong common interest in the practice of Schema Therapy, however we all commonly draw from other therapy models and are integrative in our therapeutic approach. We do not have a ‘one size fits all’ approach to dealing with a client’s issue.
Together, in collaboration with your therapist, your needs and requirements will be discussed and a general plan for therapy will be made. We are client-focused therapists who are interested in getting to know you and understanding what you might have tried in the past and what has been helpful and unhelpful. We also know that the ‘therapeutic alliance’ (the therapy relationship) is the most important factor and all our therapists know the importance of developing trust, having respect, being non-judgemental and also regularly checking the effectiveness of therapy.
Schema Therapy – a powerful therapy for lasting change
If you are stuck in a life trap, then Schema Therapy is likely to benefit you. The different components of Schema Therapy include cognitive interventions; behavioural pattern breaking; experiential interventions (such as guided imagery for re-parenting and re-scripting; gestalt-like chair work) and ‘here & now’ relational methods.
As well as identifying Schemas, this therapy also looks at operational ‘personas’ or parts of the self. These parts are called ‘modes’. People can ‘flip’ in and out of these modes or may be in a default mode for most of the time. There are core ‘child’ modes (eg, vulnerable child; angry child), learned ‘parent’ modes (which are negative ‘introjects’, akin to the inner critic concept); and various non-helpful coping modes which can either be avoidant (eg, the “detached self-soother” mode) or over-compensatory (such as the “self-aggrandizer” mode) Schema therapy is a medium to long-term therapy that is particularly effective for those who have problematic romantic/family relationships and/or personality styles that are interfering in their life; multiple episodes or recurrent depression; depression which is difficult to shift; reoccurring negative events or persistent low self-esteem. A schema is an enduring psychological vulnerability (like a personality trait) which is formed and reinforced initially in early life. Many schemas (eg, the abandonment schema) are formed very early in life and are created by exposure to certain parenting experiences and events which took place in early childhood. There are several schemas. For example, being a ‘self-sacrificer’ who can’t say “no”; being attracted to ‘unavailable’ partners over and over again; always expecting or anticipating that others will have control over what you do; expecting yourself to be perfect and not feeling good enough; feeling inferior to others; feeling inadequate and not able to stand on your own two feet; expecting loved ones to leave or disappoint you and not being able to trust people are all good examples of common schemas that many people have and that underlie mental health problems. We all have schemas and modes and we can all benefit from being aware of what ‘triggers’ us. Read more about Schemas and Schema therapy.
Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy is a short-term, structured therapy that has proven effectiveness in a variety of mental health problems. CBT teaches you to become more aware of your thinking style and the impact it has on your mood. There is also an emphasis on changing unhelpful behaviours so that you then have different experiences in your life that help you shape healthier beliefs.
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) – a skills-based therapy for emotion regulation, distress tolerance and more effective communication in relationships
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy is a relatively structured therapy that has proven effectiveness for many mental health problems, especially those that relate to emotional ups and downs (affective dysregulation or instability), the urge to self-harm, impulse control, cravings and addictions. It is a particularly good therapy for those with borderline personality traits. Part of DBT is working through the dialect between change and acceptance. That is, there are some problems that we can change (e.g., impulsive behaviours) and others that we need to accept (e.g., some life circumstances over which we have no control). DBT includes different skill-based modules such as mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance and emotional regulation. The more you practice DBT skills, the more helpful they will be.
Mindfulness – a core skill and way of life which leads to improved resilience, coping and positive mental states when practised regularly
Mindfulness is a process of the observation of one’s experience. Mindfulness can be taught as a way of managing (or an approach towards) difficult thoughts and emotions. It is the opposite of ‘numbing’ or ‘spacing out’. When you ‘space out’ you are not aware, when you are mindful, you are very aware. When we are being mindful we are aware of what is happening in the present moment, while it is happening. We are being fully present in quite an intentional way, to whatever it is that we are experiencing, whether it be a conversation we are having, drinking a cup of tea or simply taking notice of the experience of breathing. In essence, being mindful is the awareness of where our attention is at any given time, and the ability and practice of moving that attention back into the present moment. Mindfulness can be used both as a skill to be practiced within a form of meditation (e.g., mindfulness to breath), and as an approach to daily life. We cannot expect ourselves to be mindful all the time, but we don’t have to. As humans, we tend to be programmed to be ‘anti-mindful’ or to multi-task and be aware of many things at once to the point where we lose track of ourselves. Also, because we have a sophisticated brain that is wired for problem solving and planning, we tend to worry, particularly about things in the future. Excessive worry produces a lot of anxiety and emotional distress and can cause a great deal of suffering. When we are being mindful, theoretically it is actually difficult to be anxious (unless we are experiencing immediate threat), because we are not allowing our mind to wander off toward worrisome or distressing thoughts. By not ‘going with’ your worrying thoughts and not getting immersed in content about past or future stress, we find ourselves attending to the actual moment that is happening right now and thus gaining some respite from anxiety generated thought content.