Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT)
I have recently completed a two year practitioner training in CAT (accredited by ACAT) which has given me a thorough understanding of the theory and practice of this therapy. This was a wonderful training which has shaped my practice in new and exciting ways. CAT offers a creative, active way of working with most psychological difficulties, and each therapy using this approach is unique. CAT offers us a structure to guide us and keep us focused in our work, including clearly defining the specific difficulties you face in your life and how these difficulties may have emerged from your early experiences. In creating a shared understanding of how your experiences have shaped you and created particular ways of relating to yourself and others, you gain a new way of understanding yourself and the difficulties you face, often with a greater sense of self-compassion. From these new understandings, ways out of repetitive, difficult or unhelpful patterns of relating come in to focus. Usually within the therapy we will create a ‘map’ together, which is a visual representation of the patterns of behaviour, emotional experiencing and ways of relating that typify your experience. We use this map to guide us and keep us focused, as well as helping you to recognise patterns as they occur within your life. The therapy usually includes letters written to you, one at the start and one at the end, which aim to capture our shared understandings as well as reflections on the therapy process itself.
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR is a therapy originally developed specifically for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) but now used to treat a wide range of difficulties including phobias, OCD and complex PTSD. Traumatic memories are stored in the brain differently to normal memories, often causing them to intrude or pop into awareness in an uncontrolled and highly distressing way, or sometimes the memories are blocked from our day to day awareness but influence our behaviour in ways that can feel out of our control. EMDR works by targeting trauma memories while the therapist stimulates alternate sides of the brain (usually through eye movements, hence the name) – this enables the memories to be processed fully, reducing or eliminating the intrusions and allowing you to get on with your life.
EMDR can be in incredibly powerful approach. It can be used to help people experiencing a wide range of problems, not just trauma. As the approach requires minimal speaking compared to other therapies, it can be helpful for people whose difficult experiences occurred very early in life, before their memories were able to be stored and recalled verbally, as well as for people whose difficulties are experienced more on a somatic or bodily level. Talking therapies often focus purely on just that: talking. This can be at the expense of understanding the role of the body in trauma. Exploring and being open to what is occurring within the body as a result of traumatic experiences can support healing in a way that talking alone can miss. I have a keen interest in The Polyvagal Theory, and EMDR fits very well with this understanding of how trauma is stored within the human nervous system.
I have completed the full 3-part EMDR training in 2016 including supervised practice, as well as further two day training in adapting EMDR for children and young people (2019).
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
CBT focuses specifically on understanding your thoughts and behaviours and how these interact with your emotions and physical state, as well as the environment in which you live (which includes your relationships, work, living situation, and so on). CBT brings about change to the whole system by teaching you how to challenge negative or problematic thinking styles, and encouraging you to make changes to your behaviour. Sometimes treatment focuses more on the cognitive or thinking component, sometimes more directly on behaviour change, but usually a combination of the two.
This was the first therapy model I trained in many years ago, and underpins much of the therapeutic work I do with people. Many therapies have evolved from CBT: new ‘third wave’ CBT approaches (including DBT and ACT, see below) build upon the basic components of CBT but add in evidence-based improvements, such as the development of mindfulness as a core skill. Third wave CBT approaches tend to focus less on changing ‘problematic thoughts’ (which can leave people feeling worse, since the implication is that it’s their thoughts that are bad and must be changed) and more on developing an informed understanding of the pitfalls of the human mind, alongside strengthening key skills that help us to accept and work with our experiences rather than fighting against them.
I tend not to use pure CBT as a stand-alone approach, so if you’re seeking someone offering standard CBT, you may wish to explore the BABCP therapist register.
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)
DBT is a third wave variant of CBT aimed specifically at treating people experiencing intense emotional dysregulation, self-harming, suicidal urges and instability in sense of self and relationships. It is important to note that DBT is not an individual treatment – full-programme DBT is a whole team approach involving multiple elements including regular individual and group work – it is only available in its full form within specialist NHS services. If you believe full-programme DBT is what you need, please approach your GP to discuss your needs further.
Within individual therapy I tend to draw on DBT skills and theory, and weave it in to other approaches rather than offering it as a primary therapy.
The psychological approaches that underpin my practice and inform much of the therapeutic work I do, these include compassion focused therapy (CFT), attachment theory, systemic practice, and ideas from narrative therapy. I practice mindfulness regularly and often encourage the exploration and development of mindfulness practices with the people I work with.
I have experience in adapting these different approaches to work with children, adolescents and adults.
I often combine different approaches, but sometimes choose to work within one particular model. Decisions about which approach to take will be discussed with you.
If you are interested in finding out more, or have any questions, please get in touch.