Conditions we Treat
We have a wealth of experience and a developed speciality in treating the following conditions, amongst many others:
Alcohol and Drug ProblemsOveruse of alcohol and drugs can lead to physical, medical, social, and psychological problems such as anxiety and depression. Some people who drink excessive amounts of alcohol or use drugs can become 'dependent'. They start to have cravings and feel they cannot manage without it. In this case 'withdrawal' can lead to intense emotional and physical distress. Others may not be so dependent, but overuse of these substances can still cause problems within their relationships and working lives. Treatment for alcohol and drug use can be complex depending on the severity of the substance use and associated background emotional/psychological problems. Psychological therapy has proved successful in breaking the cycle of substance abuse and also helps to provide support to friends and family.
AngerAnger derives from a sense of frustration. It is a natural and productive survival mechanism that provides us with a physical and emotional surge of energy when we need it most - to protect and defend ourselves from threat of attack. Perceived attacks can be triggered by an insult, physical assault, injustice and unfairness. However, anger can become a problem when it becomes too intense, occurs too frequently or leads to aggressive behaviour. Psychological therapy teaches techniques to reduce aggression and to effectively manage anger.
AnxietyAnxiety is a very common and, sometimes, healthy reaction when we sense a threat or find ourselves in a worrying situation. Anxiety can become a problem when it interferes with our performance or everyday lives. We can start to feel an overwhelming sense of uneasiness, either generally, or in relation to a specific situation. At these times we may experience physical feelings of anxiety including an increased heart rate, difficulty breathing, shakes, and dizziness, tightness in the chest, nausea, muscular pain, and headaches. Anxiety is often also associated with worrying thoughts, difficulties in sleeping and concentration, and a loss of self-confidence. Psychological therapy can teach new ways to manage and reduce anxiety.
Bereavement, Grief and LossBereavement and Grief are normal processes that take place when people are faced with a sense of major personal loss and feel they have 'been robbed of something valued'. It often occurs when someone close to us, dies. However, people can experience the same process of grief if they experience other kinds of loss. Adjusting to this loss can be difficult and people can feel stuck along the way. Psychological therapy can help to facilitate this grief and assist with the adjustment process.
Bipolar DisorderBipolar disorder affects one's mood, energy, activity level, and day-to-day functioning. It is characterised by changes in mood that swing from one extreme to another: 'depression' and 'mania'. Unlike normal ups and downs, these 'mood swings' are usually intense and can last for several weeks or longer. The high and low periods of the illness can result in significant impairment, including damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even self-harm or suicide. During a depressive episode, one may experience overwhelming feelings of worthlessness, suicidal thoughts, guilt, anxiety and paranoia. Sleep patterns and appetite are often disrupted. It can be difficult to concentrate and normal tasks can become significantly more challenging. The manic phase is marked by a long period of happy, outgoing or 'high' mood. One may have lots of ambitious plans and ideas that are unrealistic, have increased energy, decreased need for sleep and a diminished appetite, behave impulsively and engage in high risk behaviors such as impulsive sex or spending sprees, talk quickly and have 'racing thoughts', and become easily annoyed, irritable, restless or angry. Bipolar disorder can be managed with psychological therapy, and people with this condition can lead full and productive lives.
Body Image Problems (including: BDD)Sometimes people feel uncomfortable in their bodies, whether they are over or underweight. They may dislike a particular body part or even feel that their body shape does not reflect who they are inside. This can lead to substantial emotional distress such as lack of confidence, or feeling ugly and worthless. Even those who take action through cosmetic surgery may find they are still not satisfied with the results, which can lead to further distress. Psychological therapy can help with body image problems, self-confidence and decisions about cosmetic surgery.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/MEPeople with Chronic Fatigue or ME feel utterly fatigued and lacking in energy. Despite these feelings of lethargy, they may suffer from sleep difficulties, poor concentration and generally feel physically and mentally drained. They may look well which can be frustrating to them and those around them, and feel completely misunderstood. People who suffer with these conditions have usually been stretching themselves to meet life's demands, and may have a tendency to set high expectations. They may feel stressed, use up a lot of energy and suddenly come down with a bad cold or flu. This condition is not simply a physical problem but also an emotional and psychological one. There is a very close relationship between the brain and the immune system. A way a person thinks and behaves has been scientifically proven to influence the effects of fatigue. Psychological therapy can help you address your ways of being, reduce fatigue and regain a sense of control over your life.
Depersonalisation DisorderDepersonalisation Disorder is more common than we think. People experiencing depersonalisation disorder may feel 'like a robot, different from everybody else, separate from themselves, as if their body is not theirs, half asleep or as if their head is full of cotton wool'. They may experience a sense of detachment from those and the world around them; as if the world is 2-dimensional, painted, flat or unnatural. Those experiencing depersonalisation disorder may also feel strange body sensations, or sense they have lost the ability to feel emotions. They may feel low or anxious and may have experienced episodes of anxiety in the past. Psychological therapy can help overcome feelings of depersonalisation, related anxiety and low mood.
DepressionThe most prominent feature of depression is a sad or low mood. Other possible signs may include: lethargy, trouble with sleep, change in appetite, difficulty concentrating and making decisions, loss of interest, and pessimistic thoughts. A depressive experience can be triggered by a series of difficult life events or a longstanding condition. Depression can range from mild mood fluctuations and episodes of low mood to severe clinical depression which can often have more marked physical symptoms. Depression is not easy to 'snap out of' but it is a treatable condition, and there are ways to free yourself from it with the help of psychological therapy.
Eating Problems (including: Anorexia, Bulimia and Binge Eating Disorder)People with Bulimia experience recurrent episodes of binge eating followed by self-induced vomiting. When bingeing, the person eats much more food than usual and feels that their eating is out of control. In between episodes of bingeing, they may feel anxious or worried that they will lose control again. Preoccupation with controlling weight gain and physical appearance are common features of Bulimia. They may often lack confidence, feel very low when they think they have failed; lost control or appear out of control to others. Bulimia can lead to physical and digestive problems. People with Anorexia believe they are very significantly overweight when they may be, in fact, underweight. They will go to great lengths to lose weight (not eating for long periods of time) and often feel intense emotional distress around weight gain and the way they look. Even when they lose weight they may not be satisfied. People with Binge Eating Disorder may experience recurrent episodes of binge eating. They may not compensate with excessive dieting, exercise, vomiting or fasting as those with Bulimia or Anorexia. However, they also may be preoccupied with weight gain and their physical appearance. They may be overweight and suffer from the misconception in society that they are 'lazy!' Binge eating disorder and/or obesity is a psychological condition and not simply resolved by more exercise. Psychological therapy can help sufferers of Anorexia, Bulimia and Binge Eating Disorder and help boost self-confidence and self-esteem.
Fear of FlyingFear of flying, or aerophobia, is a specific type of phobia that is fairly common, however many do not wish to disclose this fear due to embarrassment. Like other phobias (please see 'phobias'); aerophobia can interfere with daily activities and may lead to depression. This is especially true if one has a job that requires air travel, friends or family members living abroad, or if they have unfulfilled ambitions to travel. Symptoms of aerophobia can include shortness of breath, heart palpitations, dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and shaking. These symptoms can emerge at the mere thought of flying, upon entering an airport, when about to board the aircraft and during a flight. Sufferers may also spend an excessive amount of time worrying about the flight, sometimes weeks or months ahead of time. It is not uncommon for sufferers to use alcohol or other substances as a way to cope with or escape their anxiety. Psychotherapy can help clients adopt coping strategies using cognitive behavioral techniques and relaxation skills to dramatically reduce fears of flying and increase self-confidence.
GamblingGambling, a form of entertainment for many people, can also lead to addiction for others, along with significant financial, social and emotional problems. Problem gambling is an urge to gamble despite harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop. Problem gambling shares many features of other addictions. It is characterised by frequent thoughts about gambling, needing larger wins to experience the same 'buzz', restlessness or irritability with attempts to cease or reduce gambling, gambling to improve mood or escape problems, trying to win back losses with more gambling, lying and hiding the extent of gambling to others, loss of control, breaking the law to obtain gambling money or recover losses, strained relationships with loved ones and guilt. As with other addictions, psychological therapy can help you regain control of problem gambling and restore normal functioning and happiness.
Internet/Game AddictionAddictive internet use is a relatively new phenomenon that many are unaware of. Excessive internet use is often attributed to the desire to escape personal problems and emotional difficulties such as depression, stress and anxiety. Time online can take precedence over work and personal relationships in the real world. It is not uncommon for sufferers to isolate themselves, lose track of time or neglect basic needs such as eating or sleeping. Additionally, the anonymity of the internet allows for the creation of alter-egos (e.g., those found in chatrooms or 'virtual worlds' such as Second Life), a common form of escape that is often associated with low self-esteem and interpersonal difficulties. Sufferers may experience withdrawal symptoms when they are unable to go online, including increased moodiness, anxiety, irritability, depression and anger. Accompanying features of this problem include sleep deprivation, moderate physical complaints such as back ache, eye strain, wrist, hand or thumb pain. Psychotherapy can help curb the length of time spent online and address the underlying problems which may have contributed to excessive internet use.
Irritable Bowel SyndromeIBS is very common and can cause abdominal pain, diarrhoea and constipation. It is a malfunction in the way our digestive system works. There is a close link between the way our intestines work, the amount of stress we experience, and our diet. People with IBS may worry a lot, especially about their IBS symptoms and not being able to control them in public. This gives rise to a vicious cycle of worry which leads to more physical IBS symptoms, and even more worry. Psychological therapy provides advice on diet, exercise and suggests new ways to manage anxiety and stress, which all help to reduce IBS symptoms.
Coping with Medical Conditions, and Health-Related Problems (including: HIV, cancer, diabetes)Coping with a medical condition, its diagnosis and treatments can be very distressing. Illnesses such as HIV, cancer, diabetes and MS can have a profound effect on our lives, relationships and work. Medical conditions do not just affect the individual; friends and family members can also have a difficult time adjusting and coping. Psychological therapy can help to manage emotional distress, and facilitate complex decision-making and adjustment processes.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)OCD is an anxiety-related condition with two fundamental aspects: obsessive, intrusive thoughts about contamination, harm occurring or going against social norms; and the compulsive behaviours or rituals that accompany these thoughts. These behaviours may include: repeatedly washing ones hands, checking, hoarding, counting or other rituals. These thoughts and behaviours can become quite distressing and may end up dominating a person's life. People with OCD tend to avoid certain objects or situations that lead to anxiety. Psychological therapy presents ways to overcome this anxiety and other symptoms of OCD.
Pain ProblemsExperiencing physical pain is an, understandably, emotional time. Pain can reduce our quality of life and affect our relationships. It has been proven that the intensity of pain is influenced by a person's emotional and psychological state. Despite this, it is important to remember that the pain is very real and actually hurts, and is often the result of serious injury, disease, or body wear and tear. However, some people may experience chronic pain when no physical cause can be found. It is common to 'somatise' emotions, i.e. when physical symptoms develop through feelings of anxiety or stress. This is quite understandable as depression and anxiety, for instance, can be both emotional and physical experiences. Psychological therapy, sometimes along with medical treatment, can help to advise on ways to manage pain and, in many cases, stop the pain altogether.
Panic AttacksA panic attack is the sudden onset of intense anxiety or fear accompanied by the physical feelings of heart palpitations, chest pains, tingling sensations, sweating, dizziness and breathing difficulties. There is a sense of dread as if something catastrophic is about to happen. Common thoughts associated with a panic attack include: loss of control, embarrassing oneself, going mad or dying. Sometimes panic attacks can lead to a sense of 'detachment'. The frequency of panic attacks can vary, ranging from a 'one off' experience to a series of attacks over time. Psychological therapy provides techniques to cope with panic and to control the attacks.
Personality ProblemsOur personality influences our expectations, self-perceptions, values and attitudes, and predicts our reactions to people and problems. Personality is not just about who we are, but also how we are. In psychology, a personality disorder refers to the pattern of thoughts, feelings and behaviours, consistently experienced over a long period of time that affects how an individual perceives themselves and the world. A personality disorder is maladaptive because it creates psychological distress, life coping problems and relationship difficulties, rather than assisting with life adjustment and problem solving. Psychological therapy has been proven to help individuals manage their personality difficulties and provide support for friends and family members who may also find it difficult to cope.
PhobiasA phobia is an experience of anxiety that is isolated to a particular object or situation. It is very common to feel anxious in certain situations, but people with phobias feel they are unable to cope because they become 'too panicky'. They may avoid flying, taking the Underground, being alone or in crowded places, doing presentations and public speaking or being around certain animals such as snakes or spiders. They may also fear and avoid illnesses, needles or blood. Phobias can become a problem when they interfere with our enjoyment of everyday life or work performance. Psychological therapy can help to overcome phobias.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)PTSD is an anxiety-related condition triggered by exposure to an unusual, terrifying and traumatic experience that challenges and contradicts the fundamental beliefs of an individual. Events that may lead to PTSD include: witnessing an armed robbery; involvement in an assault; fighting; war or terrorism; a road traffic accident; train and plane crashes; and physical and sexual abuse. People with PTSD may experience intense anxiety, nightmares and flashbacks of the event, leading to a reduced quality of life. Psychological therapy can help people free themselves from PTSD.
Relationship and Family Difficulties and Couple Conflict'A relationship that needs to be worked on is not worth having!' This belief is one of many 'myths' that can lead to relationship distress. None of us are taught how to have a 'good relationship' yet relationships are hard work and they take effort and skill to maintain and nurture. When we experience trouble in relationships we start to lose confidence in them and ourselves which can lead to feelings of depression or anxiety. Sometimes a sense of pride, helplessness or anger prevents us from seeking help. Conflict and arguments in relationships often revolve around a 'blame culture', and we often feel that it is the other person that needs help. This is another 'myth' that only leads to more conflict. In a relationship, both parties have a 'shared responsibility' to make changes. Psychological therapy for couples and individuals can help those in relationships to gain an understanding of unhelpful patterns of behaviour and communication, and find alternative ways to deal with differences.
Sexual Problems and SexualitySexual problems refer to problems in sexual relationships with our partners, or problems with our individual sexual arousal. Sexual problems can be symptoms of emotional distress, for example, when we are feeling low or anxious, or as a result of trauma, or even a side effect of certain medications. Many people feel embarrassed and delay seeking help due to the intimate nature of their sexual problems. Psychological therapy can help couples to gain an understanding of the problem and to facilitate a sensitive and gradual return to the desired sex life. It can also help with individual sexual arousal problems such as erectile failure and premature ejaculation in men, or orgasmic failure and vaginismus in women. Psychological therapy can also help with issues arising from sexuality and when adjusting and coming to terms with sexual orientation.
Sleep ProblemsThere is no such thing as the ideal length of sleep as some people require ten hours while others considerably less. As we get older we require less sleep. There is no danger in losing a few nights sleep. Our bodies will take the sleep it needs. Insomnia and other sleep problems can be symptoms of emotional distress, say, when we are feeling low or anxious. Often our worries may keep us awake and, in time, we may worry about not getting enough sleep or not being able to fall asleep which keeps us awake even more! Our psychologists can work with you to identify the causes of your sleep problem. They can advise on diet, exercise and relaxation, and help you to regain the pattern of sleep you desire.
Self Esteem and Confidence ProblemsSelf esteem and confidence problems can affect people's work, relationships and daily life. People can feel depressed, anxious and worthless when their confidence is low and they tend to avoid conflict and difficult situations. Psychological therapy can help with assertiveness, boosting self confidence and self acceptance.
StressStress is the result of an imbalance between an individual's resources for coping and the demands being made on them. Symptoms of stress include: anxiety, irritability, feeling overwhelmed, poor concentration and sleeping difficulties. For many, there may be a particular trigger for their stress such as a significant change at work or at home; and might view this event as the 'straw that broke the camel's back'. Others may not need a trigger but simply sense that life's expectations are too demanding and overwhelming. Psychological therapy helps individuals to understand the cause of stress and provides ways to change behaviours that affect stress levels.
TrichotillomaniaTrichotillomania is more common than we think. It is the term used to describe the, often impulsive, habit of repeatedly pulling out body hair. It is often done with very minimal awareness and can be very difficult to stop. Individuals with Trichotillomania can experience great distress about their appearance, as their hair takes time to grow back. Usually, they will do more hair pulling when they feel stressed or anxious. Often, sufferers delay seeking help as they are embarrassed about their habit or think that they are the only ones with the condition. Psychological therapy can help break the habit of hair pulling.
Work-Related StressWork stress is the single most common source of stress in the developed world. The introduction of high-speed information technology, rising expectations and global competitiveness, loss of job security and reducing staff levels has increased work-related stress in recent years. In Britain, job stress is estimated to account for the loss of approximately 13 million working days per year. Stress is believed to trigger 70% of visits (40,000 per month) to doctors, and 85% of serious illnesses. Another study suggested that 60% of absences from work are caused by stress-related disorders. It is important to identify the source of stress in your job. Some people do not know exactly what this is and just feel demoralised or fed up. Our psychologists are experts in identifying the causes of work-related stress and the emotional, behavioural and physical symptoms of stress. They will help you to develop more productive coping strategies to alleviate work-related stress.