Making the most of your therapy

The therapeutic relationship is unlike any other relationship. The unique structure and premise of the therapist and client relationship is different to our other real world connections. It is therefore often quite useful to have an idea of what you want to gain from having therapy from the outset. This will help ensure you are making the most of your therapy.

In therapy sessions the focus is on the client. We are both there for you. My job is to help you increase your understanding of yourself and your situation. I will support you to establish the resources you already have and to utilise them in a more effective way. I will also support you to develop new coping strategies. Psychotherapy sessions will quite often be challenging and engaging in therapy is not always easy but I offer a supportive, non-judgemental environment in which to work.

Initially it may be useful to have an idea about your expectations of therapy and of me, as your therapist. I will invite you to set objectives for sessions on a short term as well as a longer term basis. There may be times at which this is clearer to you than others. Together we can develop a clear and realistic sense of what you hope to gain from sessions and from the broad therapeutic process. You will get the most from therapy if you have an idea of how it works and what you can expect. An assessment session is an ideal opportunity to ask any questions about this.

Active Participation and Reflection

Transactional Analysis (TA) therapy involves active participation of both client and therapist. I will invite you to consider the meaning of what is going on for you and how thing impact on you. I will work with you to set goals and agendas for sessions. You will be encouraged to let me know what is working, as well as what isn’t working for you in sessions. There may also be weeks in which you are invited to focus in on a certain issue between sessions. Sessions are 50 mins each week which leaves a lot of other time during the week to reflect!

Above all, remember that your sessions need to work for you. This is your path of self-discovery and I will endeavour to optimise how I work with you every step of the way.

Your Mental Health During Lockdown

For the last few months, the majority of us have been living with new limitations. This has come with a wide range of complex challenges to our mental health. Freedom of movement has been restricted and ‘social distancing’ is now not only a standard part of lexicon but a new way of life. Mental health during lockdown has come under the spotlight.

It is no surprise that the current Corona pandemic is having just as much effect on people’s mental health as it is their physical health. Increased levels of stress and anxiety are being widely reported and there is already concern for the longer term implications of our lockdown.

So what is going on?

The Lockdown Effect

For those with pre-existing medical or mental health issues, there may be a spike in stress and anxiety as well as a more intense general level of emotional distress. To a certain extent, feeling anxious about what is going on in the world is normal. Under these very unusual circumstances it is actually expected that we may be experiencing stress and anxiety. After all, the world has changed in (and I’m going to say it…..) unprecedented ways.

But what happens to us when healthy levels of stress tip into the unhealthy?

The Stress Response

When we are under stress our body releases adrenaline and cortisol into our bloodstream and our body equips itself for a fight or flight response. Our heart rate picks up and our energy levels pique. Our body is preparing itself for a potentially threatening or dangerous situation. In periodic and short spurts, cortisol is useful to us as it boosts immunity by limiting inflammation. Cortisol also equips us to deal with the situation by limiting any non-essential functions. Once the threat subsides, hormone levels usually return to normal.

Sometimes, however, this doesn’t happen. We may be exposed to enduring higher levels of cortisol which can wreak havoc on a variety of body processes. We may also end up feeling quite wired and constantly on edge.

The important thing to be aware of is that this can have an emotional and a physical impact on us. To mitigate the impact, we need to be able to regulate our stress and anxiety levels. Stress is known to cause an excess of cortisol in the body and this can make feelings of depression more likely. Not only this, the synapses in our brain shrink as a result of a cortisol overload and we are less able to think clearly or be anything like our best selves. Too much adrenaline in our bodies can also have an adverse effect on our immune system. At a time when we are all seeking to be as healthy as possible, this would be a pretty unwanted result!

Currently we’ve lost control over so much we often take for granted. We cannot control when we go shopping, when we see our family or when go out for a drink with our best mate. It can be hard to acknowledge just how much we have lost control of. On the other hand, there’s a real chance to recognise where we can regain a sense of control in our lives. Essentially, we are reminding ourselves of what we have always, and continue to be in charge of.

One thing that can be really useful, is to stick to a timetable. Ordinarily, setting a time to have lunch may seem a relatively trite thing to do when our time is more our own, but maintaining a sense of structure and routine to our day is really important to general mental health during lockdown. It may have been great to see the time gained from not travelling into work as a lie-in opportunity, but going forward time structuring and a sense of security and stability is a basic human need.

Planning your own day is within your control. You can implement your own structure and routine. Pick a regular time to still have breakfast, get up in time to start your work-from-home day at the designated time. If you are not working you may find it useful to still get up at the same time as usual. Have lunch at the same time. Put time into your day for self-care. Go to that online Body Pump class and have a virtual coffee with your fitness buddy after.

Establishing and sticking to times we set for ourselves is within our control. Acknowledging this and reflecting on this can be very grounding and empowering. It can also be a useful tool in getting through a very challenging time!


Information about Coronavirus Covid-19

No doubt, like myself, you may be following the news information that is continuously coming out about the spread of Coronavirus Covid-19. I understand that this is a primary concerning issue for many at the moment for clients as well as our wider community. It may also be an additional source of anxiety for some at the moment.

Currently I am advising those who may need the most up to date information on what is being advised to the relevant government sources, such as the NHS website.  Here you will find recommendations if you are worried about symptoms. It also covers advice for potential planned travel and other associated questions regarding generally staying safe and well. Another useful source of information is the Gov UK website for UK specific advice.

Over the coming weeks there may be times at which we are advised to self-isolate in our masses, or also individually. You may be self-isolating in order to protect yourself or other vulnerable family members you are close. Or perhaps you have tested positive yourself. This may have an impact on being able to attend regular face to face therapy sessions.

Over the coming week I will be exploring possibilities and options in individual sessions. This is with a view to establishing what psychotherapeutic support is needed and how we can work together to ensure it is done in the safest way possible. Considerations include the option to continue therapy via an online secure means. This could include the use of VSee, a video chat software used in the medical profession. Should this not be possible for whatever reason, we can discuss other viable options.

However therapy is delivered, all standard and expected Codes of Ethics and Professional Practice will be maintained.

I will endeavour to be in touch via the usual means should it be necessary to notify you of any changes.