Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) was developed by Francine Shapiro in the 1980s. EMDR was initially used for treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other trauma-related difficulties, and over time has built a significant evidence base of its effectiveness in treating trauma. In recent years EMDR has also been adapted and applied to a number of other mental health difficulties, such as phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression. Research into the effectiveness of EMDR in treating various mood disorders is constantly growing and suggesting that it is an effective treatment for a range of mental health difficulties.
Often, when experiencing traumatic events our natural healing mechanisms become overwhelmed, resulting in the memories of these events being stored in an unprocessed and emotionally-charged way. EMDR is proposed to work by unblocking the mind’s natural healing processes which allow us to overcome trauma and adversity, which in turn allows for processing of these traumatic memories to occur. Once processed, the emotional distress associated with the memory is lessened, and learning from this event can take place.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is a well-known form of psychological treatment that has been shown to be effective for a wide range of mental health difficulties. It is based on the theory that our thoughts and the way we interpret situations will affect our feelings and behaviour. The aim of therapy is to address unhelpful patterns in thinking and behaving that may be causing or maintaining psychological distress.
CBT is a highly evidenced based treatment and is recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) as an effective intervention for individuals experiencing anxiety and depressive disorders, schizophrenia and psychosis, bipolar affective disorder, drug and alcohol difficulties, and eating disorders. It is also helpful for anger management, low self-esteem, and in the management of chronic pain.
The focus of therapy is on alleviating psychological distress by helping people to understand the link between their current difficulties and associated thoughts, feelings and actions; to distinguish between helpful and unhelpful patterns in thinking and acting, and to consider alternative perspectives and more constructive ways of responding to situations. There is an emphasis on helping individuals to learn to be their own therapists, as the tools and strategies that are learnt over the course of therapy can often be applied to manage future difficulties.
CBT is time limited, structured and solution-focused. It involves a collaborative process, where the individual and therapist work together to achieve the goals of therapy.
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) was developed by Marsha Linehan in the 1980s as a treatment for individuals given a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (sometimes also called Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder). A key underlying principle of DBT is validation of a person’s current difficulty while also focussing on the skills required to help change the issue. The application of DBT has also developed a significant evidence base, suggesting that it is an effective treatment for the emotional dysregulation experienced by individuals diagnosed with personality disorders.
DBT is made up of four core modules. Mindfulness skills are taught to strengthen a person’s acceptance of their emotional experience. The skills involved in achieving mindfulness are employed to help develop a greater awareness of urges to respond to emotion experienced within the body. Distress Tolerance skills further strengthen a person’s ability to accept their current emotional distress and teaches alternative strategies for tolerating these uncomfortable feelings without acting in a way which would make the situation worse. Emotional Regulation encompasses the skills required to change our emotional responses through checking whether the emotion generated is appropriate to the issue we are facing and using skills to reduce the intensity of the emotions which we feel. Finally, Interpersonal Effectiveness covers the skills required to develop and maintain healthy relationships, while also asking for what we need from others and developing self-esteem.
Mindfulness is a state of being fully present in the moment, deliberately focusing our attention on our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and surroundings. It is the intentional awareness of our moment-to-moment experience, in a non-judgmental manner.
Mindfulness has been adapted as a psychological intervention that can be used to treat physical and mental health difficulties. Mindfulness has a growing research base, it is recommended by the Department of Health and is in the guidelines set by NICE guidelines. Practicing mindfulness may be beneficial to individuals experiencing recurrent depression, ruminative thinking, anxiety, addictions and chronic pain.
As a psychological intervention, mindfulness includes using a variety of techniques that help us to connect to our immediate experience with curiosity, acceptance and openness rather than withdrawing from or trying to change our experience. Mindfulness techniques can be practiced on a formal or informal basis and may include focusing on the breath, using our senses to connect to our surroundings, bringing awareness to our thoughts and feelings and letting go of judgmental and unhelpful thoughts. In essence, mindfulness allows us to gain more control of our lives by increasing self-awareness, attention control, and the capacity to distance ourselves from unhelpful thoughts and feelings. This gives us the freedom to choose how to respond effectively, rather than get caught up in the content of our thinking and react in unhelpful ways.
People who regularly practice mindfulness have experienced lasting physical and psychological benefits, such as an improvement in concentration, memory and energy levels; reduction of stress and emotional reactivity; increase in positive emotions and the ability to be more accepting and compassionate.
Systemic therapy is a recognised branch of family therapy which can be used as a treatment for individuals, couples, families, groups and organisations. Research has shown it to be an effective treatment for adults affected by mood difficulties such as depression and anxiety, relationship problems, adjustment to long term physical illness, psychosexual difficulties, and domestic violence.
Systemic therapy is based on the assumption that an individual’s problems cannot be fully understood without considering the relevance of other relationships (such as partner, family and other groups) which influence a person’s past and present. It also considers the importance of different beliefs, cultures, contexts and life experiences. Systemic therapy can be used as a standalone treatment or in conjunction with other psychological approaches such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
In Systemic therapy your therapist talks with you to help identify and explore patterns of beliefs and behaviours in roles and relationships which seem to have become set over time, to enable you to decide where change would be useful, and to facilitate the process of establishing more fulfilling relationships. You can come to appointments alone or with other important people in you life, sometimes in different combinations depending on the focus of the session.