Therapy is guided by you, but there are some approaches I use to help me understand you better.
Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS)
IFS is a relatively new approach to therapy, having been discovered and developed by Richard Schwartz in the 1980s and 1990s. Our minds are multiple. Ever had the experience of fighting with yourself over a difficult decision, or wondering why you sabotage yourself before a big job interview, or being unable to stop a harmful habit, not matter how much you know it is a 'bad idea'?
At the core of IFS is the belief that we all have a self, and that cannot be damaged. Around this self we have a multitude of parts, and they are essential, too. Perhaps in life we've needed different parts to help and protect us. Sometimes parts can become extreme or stuck in difficult roles. Extreme parts can make it hard for us to live without conflict, pain, or distress, or to have healthy relationships with ourselves and with other people.
Using IFS I work collaboratively with you to help you meet your inner world, and build relationships with your parts. IFS works with you and your parts. The more you are able to access self, the more choice and freedom you have to live in harmony, inside and out. IFS allows your to find the more vulnerable parts of yourself, that carry the pain of the past, to help you help those parts let go of their burdens.
IFS is a fast growing modality and widely respected and regarded as an effective intervention with issues from eating disorders, to chronic pain, to trauma and adverse childhood experiences (ACE). IFS is also an amazing tool for self discovery and growth. You can find out more here.
Let's say you have an inner critic who comments on everything you say and do. This critic makes it hard to be content. Whatever you do, the critic is there. Perhaps this part controls what you eat or what you do in life. Using IFS we might connect to that critical part to find out when it started doing this job for you and why. We might find that it was protecting you from a bigger, nastier, external critic when you were a child.
Once upon a time you needed this kind of protection, because the outside world was not safe, but that was a long time ago. Parts often work very hard, and don't see that the outside world has changed, using IFS we can update these parts, and help them to let go of their extreme roles, to live a more harmonious life.
Psychodynamic Psychotherapy & Counselling
Psychodynamic therapy seeks to help you to untangle the threads of you and your experience to allow you to understand yourself better.
Maybe you find yourself as an adult being desperately afraid of letting people down, feeling anxious and depressed, you cannot have a healthy relationship and you don’t understand why. Understanding that when you were a child you were taught that love was conditional on being good, and the people who cared for you showed you anger when you were less than perfect can allow you to heal this historic wound. Knowledge like this can be the key to unlocking the past from the present, helping you feel your feelings, and to help you foster a more healthy sense of yourself based in the here and now.
CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)
Our thoughts and behaviours influence each other, and our feelings. By changing what we do, or our relationship with the thoughts we have, we are able to change how we feel about a situation, a relationship, or ourselves.
Perhaps you find yourself unable to attend social events after experiencing a panic attack. You reason, because you feel afraid it must be dangerous. Through therapy we work to understand anxiety and the body's fight/flight/freeze mechanism to help you to overcome your fears and regain control.
CBT informed Psychodynamic Therapy
In my experience it is rarely the case that a problem we have exists only in the here and now, or only in the past. A combination of CBT and psychodynamic therapy can lend itself well to allowing you the insight into how a problem might have started, as well as the action to allow you to tackle it in the here and now. I believe this way of working, and think it gives the best, long lasting results.
Perhaps you are worried about becoming a parent, you are plagued by fears of letting your partner down and not being able to look after the baby. By working to understand how this connects to your own experiences of being a child you understand why you fear things, your parents were very afraid of you coming to harm. Together with this, we work on helping you get to grips with a pattern of avoiding stressful situations, to build up your sense of yourself as someone who is capable and stronger than they think. Armed with this new insight and a new confidence in managing difficult situations, you feel better equipped for the challenges ahead.