Psychotherapy – helps with emotional, social or mental health problems.
This introduction was written by Sandra Figgess – a psychotherapist who works nearby. Kina Malmberg-Lovatt currently works as the psychotherapist at Summertown Clinic
Sessions with a trained psychotherapist offer an environment in which you can express your feelings and gain a deeper insight into your issues. Psychotherapy sessions are confidential, so you can talk about things you might not feel comfortable discussing with anyone else. The aim is to help you find better ways to cope, or to bring about changes in the way you think and behave that will improve your mental and emotional well-being.
The term ‘psychotherapy’ covers a range of approaches and methods. These range from one-to-one talking sessions to therapies that use techniques such as role-play or dance to help explore people’s emotions.
Psychotherapy can be short or long term. The number of sessions will depend on you, your therapist, the type of therapy and the depth and complexity of the issues you want to resolve. It is unusual for therapy to last for less than six sessions, and some types of therapy may last for two years or more.
Psychotherapy can benefit anyone with emotional, social or mental health problems, such as:
- anxiety or an inability to cope or concentrate
- problems dealing with stress or recovering from stressful situations
- lack of confidence or extreme shyness
- coping with the effects of abuse
- feelings of depression, sadness, grief or emptiness
- extreme mood swings
- difficulty making or sustaining relationships, or repeatedly becoming involved in unsatisfying or destructive relationships
- sexual problems
- difficulties coming to terms with losses such as bereavement, divorce or loss of employment
- eating disorders
- self harm
- obsessive behaviour
- panic attacks and phobia
- the long term effects of traumatic experiences
Your therapist will work with you to help you understand your problems and what lies behind them. Depending on what you want to achieve from the sessions, they might help you to find better ways to cope with your problems or help you to identify changes in your life to improve your emotional well being.
“Many of us, having worked for years with other methods, find that energy psychology appears to offer results that are more rapid, deep and gentle than we or our clients have hitherto experienced.”
Dr Phil Mollon, Psychoanalytic Energy Psychotherapy
Energy therapies bring together western psychotherapy with eastern ideas and methods about how energy moves in the body. This family of therapeutic approaches all involve you tapping or holding specific parts of your body (acupressure points and/or energy centres) while focusing your thoughts on negative experiences of feelings that need release.
Many people may not be helped sufficiently by talking therapies alone because patterns of distress are encoded in the body as well as the mind. This is especially true for those who have suffered trauma – whether through major single incident(s) or through a pattern of abuse such as bullying or rejection.The Energy Psychotherapies provide powerful tools for working with any painful experiences from the past which may continue to affect how you experience life now.
Many present day symptoms such as anxiety, depression, poor self-esteem, OCD, eating disorders, phobias and stress related physical conditions have their roots in unresolved distress from the past.
A Very Brief History of Energy Therapies
1964 George Goodheart, a Chiropractor, became interested in changes in muscle strength in his patients. He developed a new method called “Applied Kinesiology” which incorporated ideas from Chinese Medicine about meridians.
Dr John Diamond, a psychiatrist, was the first to move from the physical focus of Applied Kinesiology to its application in emotional and psychological issues.
1979 Roger Callahan, a clinical psychologist, cured a patient of a long-standing and severe water phobia by inviting her to tap on the end of her stomach meridian. He then developed a method called Thought Field Therapy (TFT) to extend this chance discovery to other patients.
Gary Craig was a student of Roger Callahan’s and developed a simple self help form of TFT which he called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).
There have now been many other adaptations and integrations of energy psychology ideas and practices into other forms of therapy. Among the most therapeutically sophisticated of these are Advanced Integrative Therapy (AIT) and Psychoanalytic Energy Psychotherapy (PEP).
Muscle Testing (MT)
Muscle Testing is widely (but not invariably) used in Energy therapies to assist with both diagnosis and treatment. It is based on the finding that muscles are stronger when responding to a true statement than a false one.
It is implicit in the use of Muscle Testing that there is an inherent knowledge and intelligence in the energy system. If the right question is asked, phrased in a manner that permits a yes-no answer, the system will obligingly provide the information. This is not a magical or mystical process. The system appears computer-like. Its answers are ‘digital’ in that there are only two responses, the muscle is either ‘on’ (strong) or ‘off’ (weak).
Muscle Testing is more art than science and can be distorted, like any form of communication, by error and misunderstanding and by lack of skill in the tester. However used sensitively and respectfully it can help to guide the work by providing working hypotheses on how to proceed and to track progress.
Muscle Therapy can be seen as a route to the unconscious mind and even to access information that is inherently beyond consciousness.
For more information on Energy Psychotherapies see www.energypsychotherapyworks.co.uk
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing is a relatively new form of psychotherapy which has been demonstrated by extensive research to be particularly effective for the relief of post traumatic stress. It is recommended by NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) as one of the treatments of choice for PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder). It is also recognised to be effective in treating more chronic problems such as anxiety, phobias and poor self confidence. EMDR works with eye movements but a variety of other ways of providing right/left alternating stimulation have also been found to be effective. Common alternatives to eye movements are earphones with right/left sound or small pads held in the hands which vibrate alternately right and left.
What is EMDR session like?The therapist works with you to identify a specific problem or event as the focus of the treatment session. You call to mind the disturbing event, recalling what was seen, felt and thought at the time as well as the feelings and sensations that are currently felt on recalling the event. The therapist then facilitates the directional movement of the eyes or other dual attention stimulation of the brain while you focus on the disturbing material. You are told to “just notice” what comes to mind without making any effort to control direction or content. Each person will process information in their own unique way – sometimes focused on the detail of what happened and sometimes more focused on body sensations or symbolic associations. Sets of eye movements are continued until the memory becomes less disturbing and is associated with more positive thoughts and beliefs such as “I did the best I could”. During EMDR you may experience intense emotions and powerful physical sensations, but by the end of the session most people report a great reduction in the level of disturbance.
How long does EMDR take?One or more sessions are required for the therapist to understand the nature of the problem and decide whether EMDR is an appropriate treatment. Time is also needed to ensure that the therapy can be contained and conducted safely. The type of problem, current life circumstances and your early history will all affect the number of sessions that will be needed.
How does EMDR work?The alternating left-right stimulation of the brain during EMDR, seems to stimulate the brain’s frozen or blocked information processing system. This may be by helping to connect the cognitive/thinking areas of the brain with the more primitive emotional/feeling areas. As this processing takes place, the distressing memories seem to lose their intensity, so that they are less disturbing and seem more like ‘ordinary’ memories. EMDR helps reduce the distress of all the different kinds of memories, whether it was what you saw, heard, smelt, tasted, felt or thought.
For further information on EMDR see http://www.emdrassociation.org.uk