Psychiatric Diagnosis: a brief guide and caution for the weary

The Medicalisation of Mental Distress Many people who experience distress, emotional and mental disturbance, anxiety, and a whole range of unpleasant or difficult experiences end up seeking medical help via the NHS or other healthcare settings. Psychiatry is a branch of medicine that attempts to systematise human distress in clusters of commonly observable and reportable…

Mental Distress and Suicide

Statistically, suicide is the highest cause of death in men between age 20 and 49.  This is not to diminish the female suicide rate, merely to present statistics.  And the suicide statistics are shocking, with greater numbers of men taking their own lives than are killed in road accidents, or by cancer and coronary heart…

Considering Starting Psychotherapy or Counselling?

Where to start The psychotherapy, counselling and psychology field can be very confusing if you are unfamiliar with how it all works and have no experience of seeking such help and don’t know where to start.  Here are a few points to consider: People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. They prefer…

Mental Health Feedback: help me help you

In a continual effort to expand my understanding of the needs of people who need help, I wanted to invite people to tell me something about their experiences of seeking help or being helped and what could be of greater helpf to them during times of need.  Your comments are valuable in developing my own…

Dissociative Identity Disorder

Still Like A House Fractured?  No, curiously I feel fractured but I see myself in the mirror and I’m whole, standing still like a house.  The mirror may be fractured, but my eyes still swivel like windows in this head, guided by a nose that acts as a weather vane.  I open and close my…

PTSD, cPTSD, and Dissociative Experiences

I wanted to write something about the relationship some of us have to traumatic experiences from our past.  It seems important that I write this from an intuitive, non-technical place.  For me, this is because intution – as opposed to fear – is what we need to develop regarding our power to manage our way…

On choosing a psychotherapist

When choosing the right psychotherapist it’s important to remember some basic facts about psychotherapy if you want it to work for you: Psychotherapy is founded upon a trustworthy, secure relationship.  The best evidence from the longest-term study supporting psychotherapy’s effectiveness in helping people make changes in their lives says that the quality of the therapeutic…

Depression Part 4: downhill or uphill?

There are simple reasons we end up depressed, getting deeper and deeper into a state of numbness or hopelessness or meaninglessness or apathy.  All of the characteristics of a depressed state are the result of going away from something.  That something could be a problem, difficulty or truth we are avoiding.  Or feelings.  Or people. …

Depression Part 2: a well-worn path

Depression is one of the most common afflictions of human beings and one of the main reasons why people seek some form of help.  Depression has been medicalised in the last hundred years and ‘treated’ as a disease.  In some cases there are, of course, biological or other physical reasons for depression, such as chronic…

The Outsider Part 2: living off-label

Whilst most of us long for kinship with others who will accept us, approve of us, validate our ideas and beliefs, some of us don’t. Many of us will adjust ourselves in order to fit in and secure such approval, or for the sake of ‘a quiet life’, even to the extent of compromising our…

Why is CBT still being promoted as a cure-all?

As a psychotherapist I continue to come across the ad nauseam promotion of CBT – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – both within the NHS and outside of it for what seems to be any and every ailment known to man, woman and child. This is partly due to the lasting momentum of a politically-motivated campaign of…

Personal Authenticity Part 3: the healing power of truth

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32 When it comes to healing ourselves from significant troubles, distresses, wounds, afflictions and traumas that we may have suffered, the one thing that I have found to be of primary importance is clearing any and all impediments to our seeing…

The Outsider Part 1: clarifying our place in society

If there’s one area of my work that I have a special interest in it’s working with people who feel like they don’t fit in or who find themselves rejected by the group. I wanted to start writing a series of posts on this subject because of the confusion and assumptions that we typically make…

Suffer the Little Children: abuse and its legacy for survivors

“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” – Carl Jung The term ‘child abuse’ opens a Pandora’s Box of definitions and meanings.  From words like neglect to domestic-, emotional-, physical- and sexual abuse; to bullying, genital mutilation, exploitation, trafficking, grooming – the list goes on.  These definitions describe…

Healing Minds: what works for you?

Often we are so socialised into looking to ‘professionals’ for their expertise that we forget that, prior to the boom in professions, we did a pretty good job of taking care of ourselves and one another.  Family, neighbours, community, aunts and uncles, grandparents: all of these community bonds have been eroded by massive shifts in…

Change Your World: Self-healing and Loving Kindness

Inspired by an article I read speaking about the benefits of pets to depressed people, I wanted to write a little bit about the therapeutic value of caring for other living things both as an aid to preventing and treating mental disturbance, particularly but not exclusively depression. “The greatness of a nation and its moral…

Existential Analysis: how I work with you

I first read Jean-Paul Sartre’s “Nausea” – a classic existential novel – when I was nineteen.  From a place of teenage angst it struck a chord with me as I recognised the overwhelming sensitivities I felt at the time and typically kept to myself.  Sartre speaks of experiencing the world in a felt way; a…

Narcissistic Abuse Part 1: the tools of manipulation

Normalisation of Narcissistic Behaviour Predatory narcissists are extremely damaged individuals who have gained a foothold and greater and greater influence in our society by virtue of our celebration of qualities towards which narcissists gravitate: celebrity worship, unquestioned obedience to authority figures, status obsessions, pre-occupation with appearances, the absence of depth of character and personal integrity,…

Self-healing: a shift from pain to compassion in five minutes

Periods of mental distress are often characterised by a hyper-focus on our own struggles to the exclusion of everything else.  In the midst of pain and suffering, loneliness and desperation we can end up so concentrated on the distressing aspects of our lives and on what is missing that we literally forget ourselves and what’s…

Advantages of private therapy

Some forms of counselling and psychotherapy may be available via your local NHS Trust or GP surgery. Some advantages of private psychotherapy and counselling are: You can normally get access to help and be seen without delay You have control over the therapist you work with and the therapeutic orientation of the work You can…

Existential Analysis and the differences between a psychotherapist, counsellor, psychologist, CBT therapist, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst!

This is a somewhat contentious area for many practitioners because, as with most fields of endeavour, everyone has their own territorial imperatives and personal definitions.  So with that disclaimer, here is my simple outline of the differences between each of these helping activities. Counsellor Counselling as a named profession was created by Carl Rogers –…

I feel like I’m going mad: is there something wrong with me?

Renowned Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing once said “madness is a sane response to an insane world”.  We live in a world that promotes ideas of normality and abnormality and many of us are busy trying to figure out which category we fall into, adjusting our words, thoughts and behaviours in accordance with accepted norms, lest…

Fees and Payment Alternatives

The normal means of paying for therapy sessions has traditionally been payment in cash at the end of each session.  This is my standard payment method as it is straighforward and time-efficient.  For this reason I don’t accept cheques or credit cards. However, times are changing, and as more people recognise that the central banking…