Anger is a normal human emotion. Everyone feels annoyed, frustrated, irritated, or even very angry from time to time. Anger may be expressed in various ways including shouting, yelling, sweating, physical aggression toward objects or other people. However, anger can also be subtle, brooding, silent anger, withdrawal, passive aggression. Anger can often be caused by frustrations such as things not going to plan, or not getting what you wanted. Often poor communication and misunderstandings can contribute to anger.
Sometimes triggers to the anger can be obvious but at other times it is not. Often anger is a secondary emotion, that is linked to protecting us from feelings of sadness, embarrassment, disappointment, rejected, tricked, regret, hurt, anxious, envious, helpless, scared to name a few.
If anger is not controlled then it can lead to a wide range of difficulties such as difficulties or conflicts in relationships with family, friends or colleagues. Uncontrolled anger can often lead to problems with the law.
I have worked with many individuals who experience uncontrolled anger, within general mental health settings, alcohol and substance misuse services, bereavement settings, psycho-oncology, relationships, school settings, and those who experience trauma including PTSD and CPTSD.
Anxiety can affect anyone at any stage of their life. Anxiety is linked to the bodies evolved and normal human response to keep ourselves safe from danger. For example, when there were cave men and women, our threat response would be triggered to keep us safe from predators such as lions or bears. However, as people have evolved then we have learned to trigger our threat response in areas that are not really ‘life’ threatening such as giving a presentation or anxious at work or avoiding going outside or avoiding people because of covid.
Anxiety in the workplace
Anxiety due to covid, not wanting to go outside
There are various types of anxiety, that all share the idea that there is a threat, a fear or a worry about what could potentially happen in the future. These types are generalised anxiety, (health anxiety), (OCD), (panic disorder), (specific phobia), and (social anxiety).
Across settings and with various populations I have worked with all these types of anxiety. Furthermore, often these types of anxiety will be present alongside another mental health problem, such as depression. As when we avoid situations or people, it can have an impact on our overall mood. Whatever, the anxiety you present to therapy with you can rest assured that there is a solution for it.
Attachment theory posits that attachment is a deep and enduring emotional bond that connects one person to another across time and space. Attachment dies not need to be reciprocal, for example one person may have an attachment to an individual and it is not shared in return.
Types of attachment for young people and adults come under the umbrellas of secure attachment and insecure attachment. Secure attachment with children is when their caregiver leaves them, but they’re able to compose themselves in the knowledge the caregiver will return. Secure attachment with adults generally sees the individual having a positive outlook on life, are comfortable with closeness, and seek physical and/or emotional intimacy with minimal fear of being rejected or overwhelmed.
Insecure attachment with children and adults is when where the bond is contaminated with fear. This can be expressed mainly as a reluctance in the relationship and other mixed emotions, such as dependence, rejection, and anxiety.
These attachment types can be formed in early childhood but can happen at any stage across the lifespan. Attachment styles may play out with other relations in our lives be it old or new acquaintances.
One of life certainties is that we will all die. However, when we experience the loss of a loved one it can be very difficult, emotionally, psychologically, and physically. Everyone will experience a bereavement in their own unique way hence they will grieve in their own unique way. Time often helps to ease some of the pain, but we may never get over the death of a loved one, and that is okay, as what we can do is learn to live with the loss if and when we are ready.
grieving in our own way, when we are ready
However, sometimes the grieving process remains stuck, and this is referred to as complicated grief. Since we lost the loved one, the individual has not been able to move on and at times accept the loved one is dead and is not coming back. Some examples of complicated grief may be when parents lose their child, or a sudden loss.
I have lost both parents at a young age, it was not easy, and I will never get over them dying, but I have learned to live with that loss. I have been able to use that trauma as a motivation to try to help others. I have worked in a specialised bereavement service, working with people from all walks of life. I can provide you with the support you need to try to grieve in a way that is right for you.
Depression, low mood can present in many different forms, it might be obvious to those around someone who is depressed but often those who are depressed cannot pinpoint or know why they are depressed. Sometimes those who are depressed will be carrying on with their day to day responsibilities, such as work, but when they come home, they take off the ‘false smiley face’ and the depression overwhelms them.
Therefore, when someone is depressed, those around them may not be aware. Furthermore, feelings isolation can be a symptom of depression, and if they are unable to speak openly with others or seek others out for support, then this can lead to further feelings of isolation, with the individual sometimes asking what the point is.
The two points above are examples of how depression may present or not. Often, we will never know if someone is depressed as they will be masking it or isolating themselves from others. Depression will be unique in many ways to the individual experiencing it. My experience of working with the various diagnoses of depression is that it can be lifted and does lift when the person is ready. Often medication is prescribed for depression and talking therapy can work alongside prescribed medications. It is important to remember that depression does not have to be fixed and rigid, it is often fluid in our lives, coming and going depending many factors.
Cancer can impact anyone, it does not matter your age, your gender, cancer does not discriminate. There are more than 100 types of cancer, with some being fatal. When receiving a diagnosis of cancer, it may feel unreal, like a shock. Other feedback is that when told of the diagnosis health professionals can come across cold and distant. However, often health professionals will take their time and be caring and supportive toward the individual.
Treatment for cancer can be extremely physically challenging to an individual’s body. Often there will be many symptoms such as pain, bruising, infection, sleep problems, and hair loss plus the potential for many more. If an individual is to lose their hair, in a way this can challenged their identity, and test their self-esteem.
Cancer does not only impact the person, it can have a significant psychological impact on friends, families, and loved ones. I offer psychotherapy to anyone impacted by cancer, that will allow the person to explore the changes, the transitions that are occurring. Sometimes that may be to support someone when they know they are going to lose a loved one.
By the time you are reading this you have likely successfully navigated through some life transitions, from being a baby to becoming a toddler, to going to primary school, then secondary school, and potentially into employment. You may be married, have children, lost loved ones, relationship dilemmas, or have moved to another country.
No matter what the circumstance, transitions, can throw up many obstacles and problems, that we try to navigate. However, sometimes we can struggle to navigate transitions, and this can be for a variety of reasons. Sometimes we do not know what to do, who to speak to, or where to go. If is as if we are stuck at crossroads.
Like you, I have also had to navigate various transitions and each time it can throw a curve ball. In my experience psychotherapy helps with transitions as it allows the person to openly explore what is best for them. Often other factors come into play when navigating transitions, such as other people in our lives, but also our own learned behaviours and thought processes. Sometimes these learned behaviours and thoughts processes help to maintain our ‘stuck-ness’ at the crossroads.
Self-esteem usually refers to how we view and think about ourselves and the values that we place on ourselves as a person. If the value that we place on ourselves is often negative, then this is having low self-esteem. Low self-esteem often incorporates some worries about what other people think of them, or worries that they are not good enough, a failure or flawed in some way. This style of thinking often leads to feeling low.
Low self-esteem is often the result of learned behaviour through our experiences. We are not born to be unhappy, to worry, or unrealistically criticise ourselves. Often low self-esteem can be the result of criticism from others for example, parents, family members, friends, teachers etc. Sometimes those criticising are doing it with good intent, without understanding the impact it may have. Other times, unfortunately people may just be nasty, and are criticising to put the individual down. From these criticisms we can often take them personally, and we replay them internally. This can be a cause of us developing low self-esteem.
Low self-esteem can impact anyone of any age. Low self-esteem is treated using psychotherapy, to allow you to develop an understanding of the origins of your low self-esteem, what has triggered it recently, what is maintaining this unhelpful cycle, and how the low self-esteem impacts your day to day. Once this information is ascertained I then agree an unique treatment plan for you.
Managing emotions can be difficult at times. Managing emotions is a skill like any other. To improve any skill, it is helpful to practice. Often talking openly about emotions, is not a skill that is practiced. Instead from a young age we are sometimes taught ‘don’t cry’, ‘just get on with it’, or ‘if you don’t behave you won’t get your surprise’. So, we can learn to keep our emotions in for the motivations of others. This can cause problems as then emotions are stacked up, they’re bottled up inside, and if we keep trying to fill ourselves up with more and more unprocessed or acknowledged emotions, then eventually we will burst. With children this can often be referred to as ‘temper tantrums’ or ‘meltdowns’.
As we get older, we stop using these labels, temper tantrums, or meltdowns. Instead we refer to someone who cannot control their emotions, as angry, sensitive, needy, moody, and so on. When other people experience these unmanaged emotions then it can have an impact on our lives. It can impact our relationships at home, our relationships at work or with friends. When an individual becomes emotionally charged, they can say things to others that they do not mean and may later regret.
Psychotherapy can help you to learn to manage your emotions. It will teach you various skills and techniques, that you can keep practicing to improve how you interact with yourself and with others. This will then help you to manage your emotions in areas of your life that have been challenging for you.
Neurodevelopmental disorders are impairments of the growth of the brain and/or central nervous system. Often with this type of diagnosis function will be affected in emotions, learning ability, self-control and memory. These impacts are often observed as the individual develops and grows.
ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is a disorder where the person may experience difficulties in focusing or may have so much energy that they are hyper, or they may make impulsive decisions without thinking through the consequences. ADHD frequency is biased toward males, but females are diagnosed with ADHD. ADHD is mainly diagnosed in young people, however, in more recent times adult ADHD is recognised. Often, I will hear clients say, that their thoughts are going 100 mph, that they have so much swirling around in their brains that it is extremely difficult to focus.
ASD – Autism Spectrum Disorder, is a disorder that affects communication and behaviour. ASD can develop at any age, but is generally recognised from around two years old, when developmental targets are not reached in comparison to their peers. Sometimes if someone has ASD then it can go undiagnosed, particularly if they are seen to be high functioning. I have worked with individuals who did not receive a diagnosis until later in their adult lives. Furthermore, as ASD is on a spectrum, in theory we are all on the spectrum somewhere. Communication with ASD can be problematic particularly at school age. If someone has ASD they may communicate in their own unique way. This can often lead to bullying and being excluded from the larger group, as those doing the excluding or bullying do not understand and are unaware.
FAS – Foetal alcohol syndrome is a condition in a child that results from alcohol exposure during the mother’s pregnancy. Brain damage is caused in the womb, and when the child grows older and develops physical impairments may be noticeable with the individual’s upper lip, their nose etc. This disorder in my experience can sometimes go unnoticed, with young people being excluding from school as this condition impacts their behaviour. They are slower at meeting their developmental goals, and then there can be a discrepancy between how they behave compared to their peers. Those who have FAS, can meet those developmental targets in time, they just might take a little longer.
I have worked with young people and adults who are diagnosed and undiagnosed with neurodevelopmental disorders. Psychotherapy can help them to understand more about them and how they can interact in this challenging world. I have also worked with friends and families of those diagnosed, to again help them to understand and interact in a helpful and meaningful way for all involved.
Personality disorders are conditions that affects how an individual thinks, feels, behaves, or relates to others. Personality disorders may be viewed as being toward the extremities of a spectrum. For example, we may all have been paranoid at some time in our lives, but that does not mean we would be diagnosed with paranoid personality disorder. However, if we were paranoid a lot of the time, across various contexts, then that would be more indicative of a diagnosis of paranoid personality disorder. There are three categories of personality disorders with an overall 10 diagnosed disorders. Type 1 is suspicious, that includes paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal, and antisocial personality disorders. Type 2 is emotional and impulsive, that includes borderline, histrionic, and narcissistic personality disorders. Type 3 is anxious, that includes avoidant, dependent, and obsessive compulsive personality disorders.
Some believe that personality disorders are there for the lifetime, however, in my clinical experience what I notice is that these disorders are more fluid and may not last a lifetime. For example, if someone is diagnosed with avoidant personality disorder. They may have had very difficult experiences with people hurting them physically and emotionally. So to protect themselves, they’ve developed extreme defensiveness as a means to coping. However, with the right support from friends, family and psychotherapy, they may be able to learn to be around other people again. My role when working with someone with a personality disorder to find out and agree what they want to change and agree away that we can work to make those changes.
Sometimes people come to therapy for the specific reason that they are struggling in a romantic relationship or a family relationship or a friend relationship. Other times relationship problems arise when the person has not attend therapy for that reason, for example they are in therapy for depression. People can struggle in any environment where we as individual’s are required to socialise with others. The kind of relationship is often boundaried by the context for example the work context. Often within psychotherapy, I hear ‘they just won’t listen’. This may be accurate, but what I also often find, is that the person in front of me, for whatever reason is struggling to also listen to the person they want to be listened to. Communication is a big part in any relationship be it with a work colleague, a friend, a family member, or our partner. If this communication breaks down, then it will not help.
If someone is having difficult in any kind of relationship, they can of course attend therapy by themselves and openly communicate to the therapist about it. However, it can sometimes be more beneficial if all parties attend therapy, for example a partner, or a brother, or a friend. If someone attend by themselves, I will work with them to identify what they are unhappy with, and what they would like to change. It is important to remember that ‘we can’t change others, we may want them to, we may ask them too, but ultimately it is their choice’. However, what we do have control over is how we can change.
Self-harm is when somebody intentionally damages or injures their body. Everyone who self-harms will have their own reasons for doing so, however, sometimes it may be to deflect from the painful emotions regarding something else going on in their life at that time. When the individual is cutting themselves, then they are distracted away from the other pain. A common tool that people use to self-harm is a razor, however, it could be anything.
Self-harm will not always be as direct as physically cutting oneself. Self-harm may take the form of other behaviours such as avoiding people, that can have an impact on mental health, avoiding worries or concerns that we have in life by distracting ourselves with other things, such as food, or watching television. Self-harm may take the form of misusing alcohol, or illicit substances. When we misuse alcohol, it can be a way of coping, to distract ourselves from the emotional pain of life. However, because alcohol is socially accepted, then this kind of self-harm may not be as obvious.
Psychotherapy can provide a safe space to explore what is going on for you, to explore feelings that you do not feel comfortable to explore elsewhere at this time. In my experience self-harm is often the result of other factors.
Self-identity is quite subjective and abstract in its definition. Self-identity is the perception or recognition of one’s characteristics as a particular individual, especially in relation to social context. This may take place throughout the lifespan, a clearer example of this is when we are in our teens, when at school and we are trying to identity with a personal image, how we want to dress and/or style our hair. We may also try being part of different groups, groups where we feel accepted and can contribute.
Individuals do not form an identity as a teenager, and it is then fixed for their lifetime, but rather overtime we are all capable of forming multiple identities. For example, I myself have an identity as a therapist, but I also have another identity as a husband, and another identity as a brother. As we progress through life these identities can change, they can integrate. Sometimes people come to therapy due to a life transition, where they are questioning who they are. An example of this may be when we are getting older, and maybe cannot do what we used to do in our more useful days, this is commonly known as a midlife crisis.
Psychotherapy can help navigate this life transition, where you may be able to connect with some of your old identity, or perhaps form part of a new identity.
Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. Stress can be normal for us all. We live with stress every day, when we are younger, we have the stress of going to school, doing exams, living at home, trying to communicate/relate with our parents or others. When we get older, we take on further responsibilities, we often get a job, have a family etc. The stresses just mentioned, we get used to, we also can get better at dealing with them, as in a way if we have done it before and it arises again then we have practiced it and can learn from our previous experiences. However, sometimes stress can be overwhelming, where we just want to scream/shout or run away, as there are just too many thing to try to deal with.
When we do become overwhelmed with stress it has an impact on our bodies in lots of different ways. Stress will affect our organs (heart, brain, liver etc), it can make us anxious, we can become depressed. If the stress levels are ongoing, we can feel aches and pians all over our body, and this can also lead to exhaustion as our bodies are constantly trying to keep us safe. Psychotherapy can help you identify your life stresses, and when we have identified these, then we can form a specific treatment plan, so that you can learn to manage your life stresses, or make the changes in your life necessary to help you manage life stresses.
Substance misuse is formally defined as the continued misuse of any mind-altering substance, be it legal or illegal, that severely affects a person’s physical & mental health, social situation and responsibilities. Often in my experience when substance misuse is spoke of, it is assumed it is illegal substances. However, this is not the case, and rather includes alcohol, and prescribed medication.
Another assumption I hear from people who do not partake in binge drinking or illegal drugs is that it is all bad, however, those who partake in binge drinking and/or illegal drugs, have some great times. Individuals are often part of a group, where everyone in the group is behaving in the same way, so there is an acceptance of everyone in the group.
Unfortunately, too much of anything is not good for us. With alcohol and illegal or prescribed substances, an individual can become psychologically and physically dependent. This can lead to lots of problems, such as loss of job, therefore loss of income. Families can break down; friendships can be lost. Sometimes individuals become so desperate for another fix, another hit, that they turn to theft, stealing from where they can, be it work, the family home, friends. If this continues people can end up homeless, begging on the streets.
Psychotherapy can help you identify, why you are misusing, often it started because it was good fun. However, in my experience I often find that substance misuse of any kind is being used to cope with life’s stresses. Psychotherapy can help you understand why you are misusing, and then teach you ways to manage and cope with life, instead of misusing substances.
In my experience this is a taboo subject. People do not like to talk about whether they have had suicidal thoughts or not. When I see clients and tell them that most people actually have suicidal thoughts at some stage of their lives, it comes as a surprise and a shock to them. When people are really depressed, they are often solely focused on themselves, not always, but often. Their head is buried in the sand, and they cannot take it out. They only have tunnel vision and cannot look left or right. In the moment when someone is having suicidal thoughts life can feel isolated, it is often described as a dark place with no light at the end of the tunnel.
When a person is in this dark place, thoughts of not wanting to be here, or no one will miss me if I am gone can be common. Often people will then think of plans of how they would commit suicide.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, then please do try to speak to someone about it, this could be a family member, or a friend, or a loved one. However, sometimes it is easier to speak with a stranger, so in the UK you can telephone the Samaritans on 116 123. Another option is to speak to a therapist about your thoughts. Psychotherapy can help you to better understand why you may be having these thoughts, and then can help you plan to make the changes that you want in your life. Psychotherapy will help you develop and learn new ways of coping, so that when life does become difficult, you will be better prepared to deal with life difficulties.
People experience trauma throughout their lives in many ways. No one in life is protected from the potential to experience trauma, and in some cases multiple traumas. In life people can experience emotional and psychological abuse from those perceived to be the closest to them.
It is also the case that those closest to us may cause physical and/or sexual abuse. The abuser may also intimidate/threaten the abused to keep what is happening to themselves or there will be greater consequences.
These experiences of abuse can cause the person to be traumatised, that then can lead to the individual developing defensive behaviours and ways of thinking, in an attempt to keep themselves safe. These defensive behaviours and thoughts can then develop over time, as in a way they are being practiced. Psychotherapy can help the individual to recognise these unhelpful behaviours, and via trauma focused therapy can help the individual lead a life they want to, without being held back by their extremely challenging pasts.
PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a mental health framework caused by a traumatic experience such as sexual, physical, psychological, or emotional abuse. PTSD can have severe consequences for an individual’s day to day functioning including experiencing anger, flashbacks of the event, emotional dissociation, nightmares, anger and so on. Psychotherapy can help individuals to no longer experience PTSD, to return to living a normal life. This type of trauma focused work does require reprocessing in many cases of the traumatic event. However, I have never worked with someone until we both agreed that they were ready to partake in this work. The beginning of this work is about developing trust in the therapeutic relationship and for myself to provide new coping strategies so that you are in a stable place to work through the trauma.
CPTSD – Complex PTSD, is often associated with multiple trauma(s), that have taken place in both your early life as a young person and as an adult. For example a military veteran who was physically abused by his father when he was of primary school age, then joins the military and experiences multiple combat trauma(s), such as losing close friends on the battlefield. The presentation of CPTSD includes all symptoms of PTSD plus other symptoms such as problems in relationships, negative self-identity, and an inability to manage their emotions.
If you believe you have adverse from trauma at any stage of your life, and/or are experiencing PTSD (CPTSD), then psychotherapy can help you to lead a normal life again. Sometimes this work will include extended sessions, which are focused on helping you process trauma(s), but also keeping you safe before you finish each of these sesisons.