After initially training as a psychodynamic counsellor and later in CBT, I have continued to update and improve my practice through regular supervision and continuing professional development (CPD) events. I have also undergone my own personal therapy, which I feel allows me to understand the perspective of my clients better. At present, I am continuing my training with an MSc course in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
I have extensive experience of working with adult and adolescent clients, both short term and long term, within different mental health settings, including NHS, charity and private sector. Some of the issues that I have worked with are depression, low self-esteem, anxiety and phobias, eating disorders, body image and weight issues, living with a long-term health condition (HIV) and relationship issues.
As a female therapist, what drew me to work in the field of eating disorders, weight and body image issues, is their prevalence in today’s society, particularly among women.
I was becoming aware of a constant stream of images, of impossible standards of beauty, and of the messages by the media and the advertising industry, that our bodies, and ourselves, are either too much or not enough, but never good enough. I felt that they often played upon our deeper insecurities and echoed our negative core beliefs about ourselves which we carried from our childhood. I could recall my own dissatisfaction with my own reflection in the mirror and ultimately my unhappiness about whom I was as a person, which lasted for many years. It saddened me that generations of women and young girls, but increasingly men too, were made to feel like this, and some went to dangerous lengths in order to change and control their bodies.
When working with clients affected by an eating disorder or disordered eating, my aim is to help them understand the roots of their difficulties and how the problem developed, but most importantly to find ways of breaking the maintaining cycle that keeps the disorder going, through making changes in their beliefs and behaviour. For many clients, this would include working on managing emotions too and finding healthier ways of expressing their emotions and fulfilling their needs, rather than through food and various ways of controlling their body.
My work with every client is tailored specifically to their needs and goals. Generally speaking, my aim for a client would be to help them develop a healthier relationship with food and their body, so they begin to see themselves more realistically and more fully. To help them develop greater self-acceptance and compassion, and to build their self-worth, so that it is not dependent on their size and weight.
CBT is an effective form of psychotherapy which can be successfully used for a variety of emotional and behavioural difficulties. The basic idea behind CBT is that our emotional difficulties are not primarily rooted in what happens to us but how we see it (cognitions) and what we do as a result (our behaviour). Thus in CBT, we work with clients in a collaborative way, to make positive changes in client’s cognitions (thoughts and beliefs) and behaviour. It is structured and goal orientated, and it usually involves work between sessions to help clients practice, reinforce or test what was learned during the session with the therapist. Ultimately, the aim is to help a client become their own therapist, able to utilise on their own what was previously learned in therapy.
CBT is an evidence based method of psychotherapy, recommended by NICE guidelines as an effective treatment for depression and a variety of anxiety disorders. CBT is also effective in treating eating disorders, anger issues, stress, relationship difficulties and a variety of other problems.