What is ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy)?
ACT (pronounced as the word ‘act’) teaches us how to handle difficult thoughts and emotions so that they have much less impact on us. It differs in a few ways from traditional CBT. It has been shown to help people cope with a wide variety of clinical problems, including depression, anxiety, stress, chronic pain, alcohol and drug misuse, psychotic symptoms and other problems. ACT can enable people to live a more satisfying life even when they have chronic problems or have experienced permanent changes in their life.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
CBT involves looking at unhelpful cycles of thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Clients learn to challenge problematic patterns of thinking and to change their behavioural responses so that they feel better. CBT has a strong evidence base and is recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Effectiveness (NICE) for treating a wide range of problems including depression, panic, generalised anxiety or worry, health anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR is a psychotherapy treatment that was originally designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories. The theory is that trauma memories do not get processed like other memories, and get ‘stuck’ in the part of the brain that activates a fear response. Side to side eye movements (or other bilateral stimulation) are used in sessions so that clients can begin to process a difficult memory and disturbing feelings. In successful EMDR therapy, the meaning of painful events is transformed on an emotional level. The client’s intellectual and emotional processing is accelerated to promote healing.
Psychological therapy is not just talking about problems.
ACT therapy and CBT therapy are structured and focused so that we stay on track and can measure our progress, and yet it is also flexible in terms of how often we meet and what we agree to work on.
I want to make the very most of your session time, so we start the work even before we meet.
How my treatment plan works
We arrange an initial appointment and I send you my pre-therapy forms. These help me to understand more about your situation and what you are struggling with, so that we make the most of your valuable session time.
When we meet, we explore the problems and start to set goals for therapy. This first session will give you a feel for how I work, then you can decide whether you would like to work with me. There is no obligation to book further sessions and you’re allowed to change your mind. I would also tell you if I don’t think I’m the right therapist to help you..
Assessment might take 3 sessions, sometimes more, although I start teaching people new skills early on in therapy. After this assessment stage, I will propose a treatment plan for us to discuss, and we agree an initial block of sessions to work towards your goals.
Further therapy and moving forward
You will need to commit some time and energy in the short to medium term. You will need to make room in your life to take on therapy as a project. Like so many other things in life, to see results, you will have to put in some work to make psychological changes. And I’ll be honest with you, sometimes this can be hard to do. If you wanted to start learning to play the guitar, I’m sure you wouldn’t expect to get much better very quickly if you didn’t get some practice in between your lessons. Therapy is kind of similar (but without the guitar).