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Brief, Time-Limited Therapy That Can Work

1 year ago · · Comments Off on Brief, Time-Limited Therapy That Can Work

Brief, Time-Limited Therapy That Can Work

Time-limited therapy, also known as short-term or brief therapy, is a valuable form of therapy and can improve people’s lives. Arranged within a set period of time, usually up to ten sessions, this type of therapy can be more beneficial to some clients in certain circumstances than longer-term counselling.

Modern life can cause an onset of personal distress with people experiencing depression, stress, anxiety and other issues, whether because of relationships, work or family, and these can be further exacerbated by technology, environmental factors and social demands.

In some cases, a person may have one or two specific problems that they want to resolve and this is where time-limited therapy can assist. Short-term therapy works for couples as well as individuals and can address a range of issues such as stress, relationship problems, low self-esteem, anxiety and work or family problems. It can also help those who are going through transitions in their life or experiencing a personal crisis and finding it hard to cope.


The Difference Between Short-Term And Longer-Term Therapy

Time-limited therapy has a much tighter focus and targets a specific problem or psychological issue that is current and in the `here and now’. This type of therapy has focused goals and is a collaborative process between therapist and client. It is likely to involve some homework assignments for the client to research and practice between sessions. Since it is highly focused with specific goals to work towards, clients will understand more clearly their difficulties, the primary reasons for their difficulties and the changes that need to occur.

The therapy is very structured to achieve the best outcome in a short timescale. A psychotherapist will discuss and assess the problem in partnership with their client and identify and define the specific issue early on in counselling treatment. From here, initial insights and treatment strategies can be put in place to find a solution and make significant progress using practical steps for positive change. Clear goals are established within an agreed number of counselling sessions — complete with the client’s involvement and autonomy to make their own choices. Treatment can use a variety of psychotherapy techniques and tools to assist the process.

As with longer-term therapy, a mutually beneficial therapeutic alliance between psychotherapist and client will build a trusting and collaborative relationship from the outset, enabling the client to feel heard and acknowledged. Throughout the therapy, progress reviews will monitor the changes that are being made and identify where more or less focus can be applied using the most effective therapy techniques.

Relationship Dilemmas – What To Do If You Want change

2 years ago · · 3 comments

Relationship Dilemmas – What To Do If You Want change

One of the concerns couples often bring to therapy is the conflict that arises when a partner wants something to change in the relationship. Maybe its something to do with lifestyle, socialising, money, sex – whatever the issue many couples struggle to integrate change.

A major reason is that before the need for change becomes clear there is often a period of growing dissatisfaction. During this period couples often start to argue and both end up taking polar positions on the issue, often the issue itself becomes overshadowed by a power struggle.

“Avoid playing the blame game.”

It can be difficult for the dissatisfied partner to talk because they can feel awkward or guilty asking for change or maybe the conflict has become so difficult they fear raising the subject? And for the other partner they may also actively avoid the issue, nervous that they might not want to make the change or that the change is the start of other changes for which they are not yet ready.

A very common situation is where something that was merely slightly irritating in the early stages of a relationship appears to grow in importance. We all tend to be on our best behaviour in a new relationship, not wanting to be difficult but also having a significant amount of goodwill. As our relationships settle down our desire for our relationship to be one we experience as supportive and relaxing means that things we find irritating can start to damage our relationship.

“It can be helpful to see this as a sign of a maturing relationship”.

Here is a hypothetical but typical situation – M & T have been together for two years. M has been increasingly annoyed about the amount of time T spends with children from a previous relationship. Things came to a head recently when there was a confusion about dates, there was a wedding for one of M’s friends on the same day as T’s youngest was graduating from University. They argued about it, M revealed that this was the latest in a long list of upsetting times, T was angry that M should be upset. The issue was not resolved, M went to the wedding and T went to the graduation – they both felt hurt and something between them shifted. After a few more arguments and with growing sense of unhappiness they came to therapy.

Through therapy the first thing we did was de-escalate the conflict. Both M & T could see that disappointing though it was to have struggled with this issue it was a relatively common problem. They were also able to discuss how having this issue had led to them “catastrophising” in other words they had starting to wonder if the relationship had been a bad one from the start. Such thinking had badly affected the relationship so by speaking about this they were able to see that the growing conflict was merely a symptom of a need to improve their communications.

In the second stage of therapy M & T learnt how to speak about things when they were upset or importantly sensed that each other might be upset about something. M spoke about how sometimes it had felt difficult to say how it felt in a situation and had seen something in T’s reaction that meant the possibility of conversation had closed down. Meanwhile T spoke about how it was difficult to see M upset, had spotted the upset but had been fearful that they would end up arguing.

Following this M was now able to tell T that the worst thing about this was not that it prevented them finding a solution but that it raised a fear that T was not interested and that they could not communicate. Meanwhile T was able to say that M often appeared really angry and spoke in an aggressive way that meant it had to be M’s way. So they could easily see how they shared the fear that neither was interested in communicating but only getting their own way.

They were now able to see how the misunderstandings had occurred, they were relieved to hear that they both actually wanted the same thing – to be able to talk about things. When encouraged to make an agreement between them to deal with this going forwards M asked T to check out whether they needed to speak when such situations arose in future, meanwhile T stated clearly a desire to hear from M in those situations.

How To Feel Happy When You’re SAD!

2 years ago · · 2 comments

How To Feel Happy When You’re SAD!

October is here, and many of us will be wondering what happened to our summer! Officially, British Summer Time ends when the clocks go back on Sunday 29th October, marking the beginning of autumn.

You will have already noticed a shift in the weather, as temperatures have declined, the days are wetter and shorter (five hours of sunshine compared with eight during the summer months), presenting a number of issues that can affect our wellbeing.

As a nation we are often deprived of sunshine even in the summer months. Most of our vitamin D is produced through direct exposure to the sun, hence why it is also known as the ‘sunshine vitamin.’ Vitamin D is a steroid hormone precursor and thought originally to only play a role in the mineralisation of bones and teeth by maintaining the correct phosphorous/calcium ratio. But more recently, research has linked low levels of vitamin D with obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis, cancer and the third largest cause of morbidity here in the UK – Depression.

The lower the level of Vitamin D, the greater the risk of depression. The big question is still causality. Does one get depressed because of a deficiency of Vitamin D, or does depression lower the vitamin level itself? Depression affects one in four of us in the UK, yet previous conservative estimates suggested that Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects as few as 3% and 5% of us, with one in eight (12.5%) having the more mundane ‘winter blues’ – a much less well-defined change in mood. Yet according to more recent research commissioned by the weather channel and YouGov, a staggering 29% of adults experience symptoms of SAD.

For those not already aware, SAD is a mood disorder subset in which people, who have normal mental health throughout most of the year, can experience depressive symptoms at the same time each year, most commonly during the autumn/winter months. According to the expert in such matters, Dr Sarah Jarvis, to have genuine SAD, a person must have suffered depression two years running. Winter blues often involves lack of sleep, while SAD means people are permanently tired and spend longer in bed.

So what are the Symptoms of SAD? A persistent low mood. A loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities including sex. Irritability. Feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness. Feeling lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day. Sleeping for longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morning. Craving carbohydrates and gaining weight. For some people, these symptoms can be severe and have a significant impact on their day-to-day activities.


So Can We Do Anything To Help Ourselves?

There is a range of treatments available for SAD. Your GP will be able to recommend the most suitable for you. These include lifestyle measures including getting as much natural sunlight as possible, exercising regularly and managing your stress levels better. Light therapy, where a special lamp called a light box is used to simulate exposure to sunlight. Talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or counselling. Antidepressant medication: such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). St Johns Wort which is a natural herbal remedy thought to be effective for depressive symptoms including SAD.

Diet and nutrition including eating more oily fish, red meat, liver, egg yolk, fortified foods such as most fat spreads and some breakfast cereals. Taking Vitamin D supplement. Public Heath England (PHE) recommend that we all take a daily supplement containing 10mcg of Vitamin D between the months Oct / March. It is important for each of us to be able to differentiate the symptoms of SAD from the more chronic longer term and debilitating condition – depression. While symptoms may be similar, people suffering with SAD can take some comfort in the knowledge that life will feel easier to manage by adopting some simple therapies available, such a sitting in front of a light box for 20 minutes a day. I for one plug in mine over breakfast, my youngest daughter calls it our happy lamp!

The therapeutic benefits of sunshine are well known, dating back to 460BC when the Greek physician Hippocrates first advocated the healing properties in exposure to the sun. So if you’re lucky enough to be able to get away, then investing in some winter sunshine is another easy fix, as life can invariably take on a different complexion by escaping from the gloomy grey skies for a few days.

As a counsellor/psychotherapist in private practice, this time of year brings a steady stream of new clients who present with symptoms of depression, which include low mood, anxiety and in some instances, suicidal feelings. It is hugely rewarding to be able to help a client feel better and more in control of their life, by suggesting some simple changes to their lifestyle. So if you’re one of the many people who recognise that your mood and wellbeing can take a nosedive over the darker months ahead, please do take comfort in knowing you are not alone. Help is available. I for one will be heading off for a week of adventure on my first ever yoga & wellbeing retreat in sunny Marrakesh, but more of that later!