Frequently Asked Questions
I’ve been feeling anxious and stressed and I’m worried I may be getting depressed...Anxiety is a normal human reaction. It helps us keep ourselves safe and quickens our reactions in case we need to leap out of real danger - such as a wild animal, or these days more likely a bus, bearing down on us.
Sometimes anxiety gets out of hand, perhaps because of difficult or traumatic events or maybe because some people are blessed with a vivid imagination. This can have a negative effect on our daily life, work, relationships and sleep.
It is well-known that in today’s society we all suffer from increasing stress. There are so many demands on our attention; we are frequently bombarded with more information in a month than previous generations faced in a lifetime. And that’s where I can help you. I can teach you simple techniques which will help you relax and step back from your problems so that you can use your creative mind to see new solutions and learn to draw on your own resources to solve your problems. From our very first meeting you will feel more equipped to deal with stressful situations.
How does effective brief therapy work? Like a spare brain...First I listen to your story and take care to understand your point of view. I won’t delve unnecessarily into past events unless they are affecting the way you are now. I don’t believe that therapy has to be unduly painful, so I will help you focus on getting your needs met and help you set goals for your life now and in the future. This will help you begin to feel better perhaps more quickly than you thought possible.
I will offer you my expertise and experience to help you step back, feel calmer about things, and explore ways of improving your situation. It's like having a spare brain to find ways of improving your life.
What can I expect from our first meeting?A friendly, accessible and human approach. In our very first session together I will teach you some simple relaxation techniques to help you feel calmer straight away. Deep breathing from the diaphragm corrects the balance of stress chemicals such as adrenalin in your blood, as well as lowering your heart rate and blood pressure - and makes you feel better fast.
As you begin to calm down you will be able to deal more effectively with people and events in your daily life. You will also find that you begin to sleep better, so that you wake up feeling more motivated. When you feel calmer it is easier to step back from difficult situations so that new ways forward will start to occur to you.
How soon will I begin to feel better?My aim is to help you start feeling better from our very first session; it takes courage to talk to a stranger about things that are important to you, but most people who come to me say that they soon felt comfortable, and have been able to make lasting changes after just a few sessions.
How long does the treatment last?The average number of one-hour sessions is four, but depending on your circumstances you may need as many as twelve, or as few as two. Together we decide after each session whether you want to come back for more, which means that your treatment will not be unduly time-consuming or expensive.
What if I’m stuck in a situation I can’t change?If you can’t alter your circumstances I will help you build your coping skills.
Often by making a small adjustment, other changes will inevitably follow. For example, if you are in a difficult relationship, it might be that by approaching things in a slightly different way you find you are able to break old patterns surprisingly quickly. This can kick start a series of positive changes which lead to tangible improvements in other areas of your life.
What are guided imagery and visualisation?Learning to use your imagination constructively is the most powerful tool you have to bring about changes in your life. While you are deeply relaxed I will help you to look at your situation from a broader perspective, guiding you to visualise different outcomes and options. You will be able to see yourself making the positive changes that you want for your life. This will mean that your goals will become achievable as you find that past obstacles seem to melt away and you notice a new feeling of motivation and determination.
At the start and end of each meeting I will help you to fill in a short questionnaire which will give us a reading of your current emotional state, and how useful you felt the session was. This provides a benchmark to measure your progress against when we next meet, and will help you to set goals. Precise and honest feedback also helps to ensure that the sessions focus on what is important to you. People are often surprised to see how quickly they can move forward.
How can I tell if I’m making progress?
I’m terrified of flying and even the idea of getting on a plane gives me a panic attack. Can you help me?Most probably, yes. The first thing to note is that you’re not alone! Some people are paralysed with fear at the thought of travelling by plane, on the underground, or on a motorway. Others feel unbearably claustrophobic in lifts or in crowds, and still others are frightened of open spaces, needles, snakes or spiders.
Fear is one of our ancient survival mechanisms and can be very useful. But sometimes is just gets out of balance, and that's where it is really worth getting help.
Using the rewind technique, I can guide you to overcome your phobia in a calm and comfortable way which does not involve hours and hours of gradually and painstakingly building up your tolerance. I will help you to relax deeply and then for example imagine running a 'film' of yourself backwards and forwards in your mind in the feared situations until you can watch the film without feeling agitated. I will then help you to notice how calm and relaxed you are able to feel in the situation that used to cause you to panic.
The beauty of this approach is that you don't have to reveal all the details to me, so it respects your privacy. Plus it's quick: I've helped many people free themselves from lifelong phobias in a handful of sessions (see 'Here's what people say' on the right of my web pages). This can sometimes happen after one session, or it can take a few separate sessions, depending on your situation. Because I can tailor this elegant approach to your needs and your own style, you'll be able to feel comfortable, relaxed and in control throughout.
Am I suffering from post-traumatic stress?Many people who go through a trauma find that with time they can put the bad memories behind them and get on with life; others (about 25% of us) find that they are left in a continually agitated state, suffering flashbacks, nightmares and difficulty sleeping. They may feel jittery and compelled to avoid certain everyday situations - places, noises, even smells - that remind them of the trauma. This can lead to loss of confidence, depression and isolation.
When this happens it is because the memories are trapped in an area of the emotional brain known as the amygdala, which is concerned with survival and tries its best to keep us safe all the time. This can trigger the flight, fight or freeze response: very useful if you need to dodge out of the way of a falling boulder or a hungry lion, as our ancestors found; not so helpful if, for example, you need to get back behind the wheel after a traffic accident, or if you keep inexplicably over-reacting whenever your partner or a colleague disagrees with you.
I have helped many people recover from trauma and rebuild their confidence using a unique trauma-focussed treatment, (see rewind above) which quickly and safely neutralises disturbing memories and allows them to be stored as normal memories. So that you can put the past behind you and get on with your life again.
This technique is also used to achieve positive outcomes when treating military post-traumatic stress (www.ptsdresolution.org) and to help speed recovery after accident and personal injury (www.hgp.eu).
You can watch a short video clip here of a soldier successfully treated for post-traumatic stress using the rewind technique.