Feeling sad and anxious is difficult and psychotherapy can help because it gives you a space to feel and think differently. Deep sadness can become a normal state for people who can’t see a way forward. Low mood can become more frequent and it makes it difficult to be positive, open minded and purposeful.
Symptoms of depression include low energy, difficulty in sleeping, crying or wanting to cry a lot or feeling desperate, not having much appetite and lack of self care. Drugs and alcohol can become part of your life to help you to cope. It is not useful to give yourself a hard time about this.
Terrible things can have happened to us – long term neglect, abuse, sudden loss, death of loved ones and many other traumas. Our responses are to look after ourselves which may mean putting a wall around us or may be being antagonistic to others.
Talking with a psychotherapist either on your own or with a member of your family can help. As a systemic psychotherapist I can help you feel less sad, less alone and able to get a wider perspective. Change will probably feel risky. However, I would expect you to be in the driving seat and sometimes just a small conversation will be all you can cope with. That is fine.
At some point I will suggest talking more to see if there are people who may help with your stuckness.
Anxiety is often experienced alongside sadness or depression. It may seem normal to have many thoughts going round your head but if you have a lot of worry and do things in a rigid or compulsive way it is a lot to cope with.
There are various things you can do working with a psychotherapist to move to being more hopeful and positive. A useful psychotherapist will want to understand what you are going through and help you to consider at your pace if you want to live your life in a different way.
The psychotherapy I offer will include acceptance, understanding and making a plan of treatment. I encourage people to see their problems (and solutions) as not only to do with them but also to include people who have been or are close to them.
People I have worked with have said:
‘Being positive about yourself can start with feeling positive about other people.’
‘Being in control of the pace of talking was the most important for me’
‘Sitting in the sessions with my mum made a real difference’
‘We needed to talk about things as a family but it was easier to just try and sort it out on my own.’
If we are working 1-1 then I would expect some improvement in 6 sessions. If you bring a member of your family or a friend I would expect improvement more quickly.
Examples of work (not using real names)
When I first met Laura she was angry and crying a lot.
I listened to her describe what she was feeling. She found it difficult to put it into words. However, with a few attempts, some writing and drawing together I was able to get a good idea of what she was experiencing. She worked with me individually sometimes bringing her boyfriend into the sessions. Laura began to see what helped her to manage her anger. She and her family became more accepting of her sadness. Laura found things to do which gave her comfort. Her anxiety reduced and she felt happier.
Joe was interested in therapy and told me about his life which had involved a number of different relationships. We talked about what was important for him and the things that helped him to get by including use of substances. He had been depressed for many years. Recently things had become much worse. After a while we were able to make a plan which helped him to lead a healthier life both emotionally and physically.
There are many forms of discrimination which cause distress including racism, homophobia, transphobia and many forms of fear and aggression. There can be complex associated problems as well. I would expect to be able to help with developing practical responses to these oppressions as well to turn to resources that could lead to some relief.
Couple therapists help people, whether LGBTQ or straight, who feel their primary relationships are not meeting their emotional and practical needs. Sometimes ways of communicating and living alongside each other becomes frustrating, distressing or harmful. You may have been thinking that you want to live with more hope and more optimism.
I have considerable experience in working with couples facing distress at being stuck in the same situation. A confidential context can help couples to listen to each other again, to speak clearly without ambiguities and to focus on the resentments that often create problems. These changes lead to new possibilities.
If you have had an unexpected unpleasant event in your relationship or a trauma then it can be useful to talk in therapy. I can give you a safe space where you can consider how much you want to describe what happened and also how much you want to consider the consequences of the event or events. It may be soon after the problem or a year or many years that you decide that you want to talk about it.
Couples often go for long periods before they feel able to talk about their problems. There are some difficulties which may be common but still need a therapeutic relationship to address them such as communication issues or varying sexual desire and/or arousal. Parenting issues may be situated in an individual or in a couple but the solution is likely to be with parents coming to seek help together. The most common problems brought to couple therapy in my experience are arguing, affairs and also tone and content of communication.
The problems that can be the most difficult to bring are domestic violence and breakdown in relationships. The problems that people delay the longest are to do with sexual compatibility, sexual drive and physical problems. However, putting up with these problems is painful and if you can I would encourage you to do something about it.
I will give an example of a couple who came and worked with me. A man and a woman who came to see me and found therapy useful had communication problems and sexual problems. Their way of talking to each other was sometimes blunt or disrespectful or filled with anxiety and tension. In therapy they learnt how they had developed this style and then negotiated ways to show more empathy and prevent the escalation of disagreements into arguments. There were stresses regarding money and employment and some competition between them. I was able to help them with strategies to be able to stay positive about their situation and cooperative with each other.
Sexual problems often rest in lack of planning, insufficient trust or too high expectations. The man had problems with alcohol and premature ejaculation. We discussed the reasons each of these problems may have been happening. I then encouraged conversation and negotiation around romantic overtures. We integrated some behavioural changes, we emphasised looking after each other and we built realistic expectations. Their problems lessened considerably and they are happier in their relationship.
Family Therapy (also known as Systemic Psychotherapy)
Family therapists provide a service for people who live with or are connected to families. There may one parent, or two or more. I offer to work with heterosexual and same sex couples. Each family brings their particular issues which I respect. Family therapy can be a good way of helping individuals and families make best use of their abilities to cope with stressful life events.
Personality and relationships are shaped by what families and other significant people expect and permit. At times habits and ways of responding can lead to particular difficulties for one or more family members. Having a different sort of conversation in a confidential setting can be the first step.
Family therapy may occur with two or more people. Frequently issues of cooperation and communication are highlighted. This may be between children, teenagers, adults and older adults. Members of the extended network including friends, partner’s relatives, parents-in-law and other members of original/birth families. There may be issues regarding conception and assisted pregnancy. There may be developmental issues for the children and /or adults.
A recent example of a family I worked with will be described. The man and woman had a son who was not meeting the expectations of the father. There were issues with beliefs, communication and rigid behaviour. I was able to help by listening to all points of view, encouraging openness getting things clearer and helping untangle confusing situations. I focused on the existing strengths and worked with a spirit of optimism. Often in families there are strategies that have been brought in to help situations that need further discussion and reflection. I identify strengths in all members of the network and promote recognition of them.
I often offer individual sessions as they can help the family work to progress.
I will help by listening and empathising. I will consider ideas that are brought forth in the meetings without jumping to conclusions.
Each psychotherapist needs clinical supervision as an opportunity to reflect on their work and to consider dilemmas that arise. Reflection in an active, purposeful relationship provides a contained space for thinking, planning and professional development. Individual retrospective discussion is the most common arrangement. In our conversations we can explore processes that will assist self-supervision. There are a variety of other methods including writing and live supervision.
Please contact me to discuss individual arrangements.