I am a seasoned clinical psychologist. I have worked in wide range of clinical settings, from in-patient psychiatric hospitals and juvenile detention centres in London, with children and families in the care of child safety to private practice in community settings.
I have been trained in many models of therapy. Instead of providing an exhaustive list of all the training I’ve undertaken I will attempt to describe my current (and always evolving) approach to treating Generalised Anxiety, Social Anxiety, Panic Disorder, Phobic Disorders, Depression, Borderline Personality Disorder, Anger, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Complex PTSD (which includes dissociative features), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Attachment Disorders, Pervasive Developmental Disorders (including Asperger’s) and addiction disorders and so on.
It has been proven helpful in my clinical practice for clients to be furnished with a framework for understanding what is happening to them. That is, once an accurate diagnosis has been made it is helpful for the client to be given a neurobiological/psychological framework to understand what is going on in their brain and body – why, for example, they overreact to mild criticism, become easily overwhelmed, doubt their capacity to cope, respond with disproportionate anger to benign situations, feel unsafe when there is no obvious or immediate threat or danger, ‘shut down’ when painful emotions arise or when they feel overwhelming pressure to perform, lack motivation/energy following a series of defeats or having been rendered helpless, worry incessantly about being abandoned or rejected, engage in self-destructive/injurious behaviours for reasons that don’t seem obvious or forthcoming, resort to addictive behaviours to avoid being mindfully present with one’s own thoughts and feelings, feeling self-conscious about being different or defective in some way, or avoiding anything that can trigger or exacerbate one’s anxieties, experience intrusive and distressing flashback to an horrendous trauma. This is an important first step. Clients typically say with some relief: ‘at least I’m not crazy – there’s a reason for why I’m behaving or feeling this way.
For those who are interested in the aforementioned ‘neurobiological/psychological’ framework it is informed by the Polyvagal Theory, Structural Dissociation, Attachment Theory, Lacanian Psychoanalysis, Evolutionary Psychology and insights drawn from Nietzsche’s Philosophy. To be sure, the client does not need to be familiar with these theoretical positions.
Having a framework that explains one’s behaviour is enough for some clients to go on (to use the Wittgensteinian phrase). The next phase of treatment however entails tracing the origins of one’s symptoms, typically, to early attachment disruptions. In other words, it is necessary to identify the origins of one’s so-called Distorted Negative Self-Beliefs such as: ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘I’m worthless’, I’m a failure’, ‘I’m insignificant’, ‘I’m not safe’, ‘there’s something wrong with me’, ‘I’m helpless, ‘I can’t cope’……. etc.
The final phase in treatment entails the use of specific methods and techniques to help the brain and body to ‘metabolise’ past ‘traumas’ in the same way that the liver metabolises toxins in the blood. Just as it is the livers job to metabolise toxins in the blood, so it is the job of our brain to process our experiences, but when experiences are too intolerable or overbearing these experiences are dysfunctionally stored in the brain and, as such, are reexperienced in the present if they are not properly processed and integrated. This refers to both types of traumas, including attachment trauma.
Trauma with a capital ‘T’ refers to a singular event that is perceived as life-threatening and in which one felt helpless. Trauma with a small ‘t’ refers to attachment trauma in which, for example, the child felt alone perhaps because the mother had depression or a sibling had a disability and needed more attention, etc. Or one was bullied but had no one to go to for help or support. These attachment ‘traumas’ with a small ‘t’ profoundly shape our personality and not only that, but we tend to recreate these patterns in adult relationships.
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