How can we help

Our team of highly skilled clinical psychologists use a variety of different techniques and models to help patients deal with their difficulties. Working closely with guidelines set out in The British Psychological Society and the Healthcare Professionals Council, we use models such as Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, Psychodynamic Therapy, Schema Therapy, Systemic Therapy, and Solution-Focussed Therapy.

We aim to create a safe, warm environment where you can think through your thoughts and feelings away from your everyday life, to help you to make sense of your difficulties so that you can manage them better.

Some of the difficulties that patients present with include:

  • Depression

    Depression is a widely experienced mental health difficulty, and can affect people in many different ways and cause a wide variety of symptoms. Some patients report feeling very low in spirits but are able to manage their daily life, whereas others find that that the feelings of sadness and hopelessness are so intense and debilitating that they are unable to continue in their daily routine. In some cases, people may find it a struggle to get out of bed. There can also be physical symptoms such as feeling constantly tired, having broken sleep or trouble sleeping at all, and having no appetite or sex drive. In its most severe form, some patients report feeling suicidal. Whereas depression can present at any time, some women find that they become depressed immediately following the birth of a child; this is called postnatal depression and can be debilitating and lead to difficulties forming an attachment between mother and baby.

    Clinical psychologists are trained to work with this problem using a variety of psychological models and techniques. We try to help the patient develop a more critical and deeper understanding of their thoughts and feelings, and encourage them to challenge maladaptive and unhelpful thought patters in a safe, protected environment. Some patients are given strategies or tasks to deal with the depression in a different way. Using a detailed assessment, the psychologist will address the individual difficulty, so that each patient can work towards their own particular goals.

  • Anxiety

    Anxiety is a general term for a group of disorders that can cause nervousness, fear, worry, and avoidance. Some people may report having “free floating anxiety” where they appear pervasively anxious in the apparent absence of any obvious danger. Others have a good awareness of what is making them feel this heightened state of anxiousness. In a state of anxiety, some people experience a panic attack. This consists of an intense feeling of apprehension or worry, and almost always occurs without any apparent warning. Indeed, people report feeling that they experience the panic attack “out of the blue”. Panic attacks can be extremely frightening and debilitating, and include very real physical symptoms including shortness of breath, chest pain, palpitations, a feeling of choking, racing heart, tingling in the hands and feet, faintness, hot and cold flushes, and sweating.

    Anxiety is also experienced by children at times. Children may report feeling anxious about friendships, examinations, or about not coping with something. They may have fears and very real concerns, which clinical psychologists can discuss with them and help them manage better.

    Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy is often the technique employed to deal with anxiety (although in some cases an alternative technique may be more effective), and the patient is encouraged to develop an understanding of what their anxiety is in response to, what the psychological underpinnings might be, and how they can develop strategies to manage the anxiety more effectively.

  • Phobias

    Similar to anxiety states, a phobia is an excessive and persistent fear of an object or situation that is not dangerous. Sometimes phobias develop because of unpleasant situations (e.g. bitten by dog), although this is not always the case and sometimes people can present with a phobia where there is no clear basis for the feeling. In most cases, phobias lead to avoidance of the fearful object/situation, and this can have a negative and problematic effect on a person’s life (for example, a phobia of flying, or of being around crowds). Other phobias can include a phobia of needles, spiders or transportation. In most cases, clinical psychologists use Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy to deal with phobias, although this may not be the most appropriate model in every case. A detailed assessment will enable the psychologist and patient to think through together what the most appropriate model might be in any given situation.

  • Eating Disorders

    Eating Disorders refers to a group of difficulties regarding eating, body image, body perception and body shape/weight. There are a range of psychological factors and life experiences that can contribute to the way that a person perceives and makes sense of their own body image and body shape. In some cases, extreme dissatisfaction with body image and/or body shape can be manifested in terms of behavioural control, where a person manipulates their own eating patterns in the attempt of creating a feeling of control. Types of eating disorders can include Anorexia Nervosa (where a person reduces their food intake significantly), Bulimia (where a person purges food intentionally) and Obesity (where a person eats significantly more food than is necessary to sustain them). Eating disorders can be extremely distressing to the individual as well as family member, and can feel overwhelming.

    Clinical psychologists are qualified to work with a patient to try and develop a better understanding of the origins of the disorder they experience, to explore the psychological mechanisms of the problem, and to help the patient develop skills to deal with the problem.

  • Bereavement

    Feelings of loss are not uncommon. Bereavement refers to the psychological processes of loss, which can sometimes be through death, and sometimes through an ending not characterised by death. Indeed, the loss of a partner/parent through divorce, or the loss of a type of life that was once familiar can both be part of a grieving process. Some people find that they can cope with bereavement alone. Others may find that the pain is significant, and in some cases it can be difficult to talk with family or friends about such painful feelings. Some patients tell us that they prefer to talk with someone outside of their family and friends about bereavement because they want to maintain a sense of “normal” relationship with those people in the daily life.

    Of course, a psychologist is unlikely to change the state of bereavement. However, what we offer is the opportunity to help patients explore their feelings in a safe environment, to think through why they feel the way they do, and to make sense of how they are managing their bereavement. We can discuss the stages and process of grieving, and try to help patients view the same issue from another angle in a more helpful manner, so that they can try and manage the same situation in a more positive way.

  • Stress

    Most people experience some form of stress at one point or another during their lives. Stress is a psychological, emotional response to pressure, and this pressure can originate from any number of sources. Stress can be experienced in school-aged children and teenagers as well as adults and often makes the person feel a sense of being “overloaded”. It is not uncommon for children/teenagers to feel stress around times of examinations. Adults sometimes report feeling stress from the pressures at work, or from arduous lifestyles or life events (such as divorce). Other people experience levels of stress as a result of too many high expectations placed on themselves (either by themselves, or others).

    Because stress can present in so many different forms and to such differing degrees, people manage it in a variety of different way, with varying levels of success. However, when the pressure of the stress is sufficiently debilitating that it begins to affect a person’s life, they may choose to seek help. An alternative reason for seeking help may be that a person’s usual coping mechanisms are no longer accessible or efficient. For example, a person who normally manages their stress levels by smoking, may find they are no longer able to cope with stressful situations as they used to be after they give up smoking.

    Clinical psychologists are trained to help patients deal with stress in two broad ways. First, they work with the patient to understand the psychological mechanisms and underlying triggers for the stress; second, they work with the patient to develop more useful behavioural coping strategies to manage stress more effectively.

  • Eating, toileting, or sleeping problems in young children

    Problems such as feeding, toileting and sleeping are extremely common in children under the age of 5 years old. Sometimes, the routine was not established effectively to begin with, and at other times for some reason the pattern learned by the child suddenly, and for no apparent reason, becomes unlearned. Some parents find that their child’s eating patterns are unhealthy or erratic, or that their child is refusing foods. Other parents report that their child will only eat at certain times, or under certain conditions. With regard to toileting problems, some children may present with bed-wetting at night, or incontinence during the day. Sleeping problems experienced in young children may include night terrors, a child refusing to sleep in their own bed (or to go to bed at bedtime), or a child waking during the night.

    We are trained to deal with these types of difficulties, and use behavioural methods to work with parents, in order to deal with these problems.

  • Behavioural difficulties in children

    Behavioural difficulties are not uncommon in children. In younger children they may present with defiant behaviour (such as refusing to do what a parent asks), or with “aggressive” behaviour (including swearing, shouting, or hitting/kicking/pushing a parent, sibling, teacher or other children). Older children may present with similar defiant or aggressive behaviour, although this may include elements of bullying, difficulties at school and/or home, and more extreme behaviours.

    Using a variety of models including cognitive-behavioural and solution-focussed therapy, clinical psychologists work with children (and their parents) to deal with these difficulties, by helping the child make sense of their behaviour, and by enabling them to develop alternative strategies and behaviours to cope more effectively with their feelings.

  • Relationship/couple difficulties

    Relationships (whether with a partner, child, parent, or non-family member) can be extremely rewarding, loving and fulfilling. However, when relationships experience difficulties, they can also have an extremely negative effect on individuals. Sometimes patients present with relationship difficulties that have been triggered by a particular event (for example, a child leaving for university, or a death in the family). At other times, patients may report that there has been no particular event or incident, and that their relationship with another person/people has always been problematic.

    Clinical psychologists are trained to use a variety of different models to help patients make sense of their relationships better. We try to work with the individual to explore their thoughts and feelings about the relationship, to identify triggers that lead to certain types of behaviours, and to encourage the patient to develop an understanding of what they realistically want to change.

  • Low self-esteem

    Feelings of low self-esteem are not at all uncommon, and present in people of all ages from young children, to older adults. The effects of having a sense of low self-esteem can be debilitating, depressing and frustrating. Individuals with low self-esteem may be self-critical, they may feel that they are useless at tasks, they may have no confidence, or feel a sense of not being good enough. Of course, these feelings can often lead to any number of everyday problems such as difficulties socialising, difficulties in the workplace, difficulties forming meaningful relationships, and also to more complicated problems such as depression, anxiety, substance misuse problems or eating disorders.

    If left alone, low self-esteem has the potential to fester and to render a person with any number of difficulties during their lifetime. Clinical psychologists are trained to work with patients to explore the origins and psychological mechanisms of the self-esteem issue. By doing this, they aim to help individuals critically evaluate their thoughts in a more realistic, balanced way, and to provide them an alternative way of viewing themselves.

  • Cognitive assessments for children

    Our team of clinical psychologists are trained to administer highly valid and reliable cognitive assessments with children. These assessments are a set of tasks (or “activities”) that the child is given during session with the psychologist, with the aim of determining the level of their overall abilities. In addition to providing an estimate of the child’s overall IQ level, there is a detailed breakdown of their particular strengths and weaknesses. With this, the psychologist will be able to feedback to the parent (and child where applicable) a detailed understanding of what the cause might be for the difficulties they are experiencing, and how this might be strengthened (if possible).

    Sometimes, parents choose to have their child assessed to establish a general level of their abilities (when thinking about transferring their child to a different school, for example). Other times, there may be a specific difficulty that a child is grappling with, and parents (or teachers) ask for a more detailed understanding so that they can better help the child deal with the problem.

    Following the assessment, there is a detailed report compiled, which is fed back to the parents (and child), in a common language, and recommendations are given. Parents are given the opportunity to ask questions, and will receive a copy of the report.