Psychological difficulties affect many people, regardless of their background

Over the course of my career as a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst I have worked with people from diverse backgrounds. Many years ago, as a student of psychology, I was fortunate to have the opportunity of working in a township with disadvantaged children. It showed me that psychological problems affect people regardless of their background. I have since worked with people from many different backgrounds and I have learned that people struggle with life whatever their economic or social status. Too often, people suffer in silence. We let shame or the fear of change stop us from seeking help when we need it. Twenty years of training has given me a framework to understand and help people who are troubled by conflict which prevents them from living a satisfying and rewarding life. I have always been interested in what holds people back from fulfilling their potential to be creative in their work, to find meaning in their lives and to experience sustaining and meaningful, intimate relationships.

What motivates you?

It is not so much what you do in life, it is more a question of how and why you do it. Take the case of a banker and a philanthropist. The banker may be motivated by earning a good living and he or she may be quite comfortable with that. On the other hand, the philanthropist who dedicates himself to various charitable activities might look like he is engaged in more meaningful activities from the outside, but in reality he may be motivated by feeling guilty about the money he has, or he may be worried about what other people think about him. He might be so preoccupied by leaving his mark on the world that he is unable to live his life now.

So many people feel they are hiding behind a mask, and that they are unable to be authentic and honest about who they truly are. I try to help people to understand their underlying motivations to do the things they do. This can be unsettling, but ultimately it relieves suffering. I am interested in what therapy works for whom and I am dedicated to evidence-based approaches, in other words therapies that have been tested in research studies and have been shown to be effective.

Everyone is unique

The people who come and see me do so because they are experiencing a wide variety of problems. They may feel low in mood or anxious. They may be frightened of a specific situation, such as speaking in public. Some people feel empty or don’t feel they know who they are. They may be lonely and find it difficult to connect with other people. They may experience problems in their relationships, or have particular sexual difficulties. Some find the pressure of performance too great, whilst others experience a high sex drive which causes them to worry. A person may be quickly roused to anger and other people in their lives are struggling to cope with them. One person may be excessively devoted to their work, whilst another finds it difficult to achieve their true potential because they keep sabotaging their progress in the workplace. Every person is unique. Everyone experiences the world differently and people react to events in different ways. I take careful account of the distinctiveness of each individual.

The first step

The first step in the process is to have a thorough assessment. Every person expresses their issues in their particular way and each problem needs careful and patient consideration. This involves talking about current difficulties. We will discuss your personal history and how this might be influencing how you are today. It does not mean that we will talk endlessly about childhood, but we do need to think about its effects. People seeking help often find the number and range of psychological therapies out there confusing. I am not an expert in all of them, but I do have knowledge of the main therapeutic modalities. My broad training in different psychological therapies enables me to consider the full range of evidence-based approaches to interventions and to refer you on if necessary.

Some people come for a one or two session consultation in order to make sense of a specific issue where they feel stuck. You might not wish to engage in a long-term treatment, but may need a short term intervention of say 6-12 sessions to focus on a particular matter that you need to resolve. Some people decide that they wish to have ongoing therapy, which may involve one or more sessions per week. Sometimes people want to go into more depth and commit themselves to very regular sessions.

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