Read our posts about therapy

What Do Therapists Wear?

What Do Therapists Wear?

What we wear says a lot about us. That can be unfortunate for therapists when trying to let their clients do the talking. It can affect how people see you, whether they trust you and how much they're prepared to open up. So how does a therapist choose the right outfit?The respected psychoanalyst and psychologist, Peter Hobson, says in his new book, Consultations in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, that he always puts on a tie to meet a potential patient as “symbolic acknowledgement that, however intimate, this is a meeting within a formal framework” and to underline that his...
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The Stressed Sex?

The Stressed Sex?

“Women become insane,” opined the Victorian psychiatrist G. Fielding Blandford, “during pregnancy, after parturition, during lactation; at the age when the catamenia (periods) first appear and when they disappear…” Back in the bad old days, it was accepted that women were inherently susceptible to mental illness, due to the imagined intimate connection between brain and reproductive system. For women, read madness. In these sun-lit days of supposed gender-equality, the idea that one sex is more prone to mental illness than the other has become taboo. Wanting...
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What is Trauma?

What is Trauma?

Trauma happens just as sure as life happens. We can be happily bumbling along one minute and the next, reeling from the shock of an unexpected event. Trauma is a deeply distressing experience that leaves you feeling overwhelmed, helpless, hopeless, angry and scared. Many people describe a huge sense of loss following a traumatic event. Trauma affects both the mind and body, resulting in a set of symptoms, that continue long after the event has ended. The effects of a traumatic experience can seep through families, friends, colleagues and neighbourhoods leaving a trail of...
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Case Histories: How a Gay Man Found His Thrills

Case Histories: How a Gay Man Found His Thrills

“Do you consider any of your behaviours to be high risk?” The question about high risk behaviours is deliberately open. It’s designed to encourage people to stop and think. But most don’t activate their mental Rolodex and reflect on their online gaming or shopping habit. They brace a little and shoot back, “What do you mean?” I offer up a list of potential areas of concern at that point. Your relationship with alcohol? With gambling? With pornography? Have you ever cut or scratched yourself? Do you take pleasure in driving above the speed limit? Edward chuckled when I...
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EMDR Explained

EMDR Explained

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing may sound like an occult magic trick, but in fact it is a form of psychotherapy developed by the American psychologist Francine Shapiro in 1989. She noticed that when feeling depressed, if she moved her eyes in different directions her level of distress reduced considerably. I was first drawn to the technique because of the controversy that surrounded it. When I found out more, I became intrigued by the techniques themselves, which seemed  to produce profound changes, although seemingly simplistic and rather inexplicable...
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Case Histories: The Housework Concealed a Deeper Mess

Case Histories: The Housework Concealed a Deeper Mess

People channel anxiety in a variety of ways. Worries find expression in eating, drinking and smoking, in counting and checking rituals, and in shopping and hoarding - to name just a few. I've worked with several clients who spend lots of time cleaning, vacuuming and ironing. Mostly women, the clients themselves rarely question these activities. It is more likely that they are seeking approval when they tell me that they don't go to bed at night until the whole house is vacuumed and underwear drawers are re-arranged. Whilst it isn't my job to make value...
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What Does a Therapist's Consulting Room Look Like?

What Does a Therapist's Consulting Room Look Like?

The use of promotional photographs of a therapist and/or their consulting room is a relatively recent development. Many argue that to be seen before a first meeting will affect the ‘transference’ of a client. Transference is the process by which the patient displaces on to their therapist feelings and ideas that derive from previous figures in their life; loosely speaking, it is the patient’s emotional attitude towards their therapist. Exploring the transference is central to the work and although the psychotherapist’s presentation of themselves as a ‘blank...
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What Twenty-Something Depression Feels Like

What Twenty-Something Depression Feels Like

Towards the end of July 2010 my boyfriend broke up with me. We'd been together for three months. At first it seemed like any other breakup - I felt sad, and cried, and missed him, but within the usual realms of a relationship ending. However, the signs were there that this break-up had hurt me more than I'd originally realised. I lost a lot of weight really quickly, without realising or trying. I ended up in tears one morning, after trying on outfits for university for two hours. I hated how I looked, and I was terrified of seeing him when I thought I looked ugly. The...
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Why My Relationship with My Brother Led Me to See a Therapist

Why My Relationship with My Brother Led Me to See a Therapist

Throughout my 20s and 30s I saw people going into therapy as a different species, inhabiting a different emotional terrain to mine. I might get into incomprehensible states about things, reel at what felt like rejection over the smallest things; give headspace to toxic, malign feelings about someone I thought  had treated me wrong. But if there was a problem, I should be able to sort it out myself. Shouldn’t I? The day eventually came when I knew I couldn’t sort it out myself. My brother and his wife were coming to visit with their first, new baby and I was hideously...
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Case Histories: the Anxious Mother

Case Histories: the Anxious Mother

Sophie was a single mother in her twenties. She came into counselling believing that it is normal to check and re-check windows and door locks dozens of times before retiring at night. She would leave a trail of obstacles such as roller skates and squeaky toys “in the path of intruders.” Sophie slept lightly and dreamt darkly. She left the bedroom door open so that she could keep a watchful eye on the top of the stairs. Sophie was in a relationship, but was not willing to allow her partner of three years to stay over at her place. Kieran was a gentle soul who would call...
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