Psychological Assessment

The central aim of the assessment is to gain an understanding of your difficulties, and to find the best way forward for you.

I make the assessment process a therapeutic experience in itself, which means that I will help you to manage any symptoms that arise as we talk. This will help you to build the skills necessary to alleviate your difficulties right from the beginning.  

From the assessment we will begin to build a personal formulation of your difficulties. The aim of the formulation is to map out your difficulties in an understandable way by linking patterns of experience together.

The assessment is also an opportunity for you to assess me and my style of working with you. Ensuring that you feel in capable hands is an essential ingredient for effective therapy. To aid this, I work in an open and transparent manner, which means that there is purpose behind everything I ask or say, and if you would like to know more then all you need to do is ask.

A typical assessment session takes place over 90 minutes. Sometimes a longer assessment session of 2 to 3 hours is useful for clients wishing ISTDP treatment, but this is not essential and will depend upon your needs.

At the end of the assessment we will discuss whether therapy is right for you and arrange the best plan forward for your needs. If I do not believe psychological therapy or I are not best placed to help you, I will be open and honest with you about this.

  • Understand your difficulties
  • Therapeutic from the beginning
  • Learn to manage symptoms
  • Build skills
  • Make links
  • Create a personal formulation
  • An open and transparent process
  • 90 minute assessment typical
  • 3 hours for extended assessment
  • Establish whether therapy is right for you
  • Create the best plan forward

"Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action"

- William James

Psychological Therapy

  • Therapy tailored to meet your needs
  • Session length typically 60 or 90 minutes
  • Session frequency typically weekly or fortnightly
  • Open or fixed number of sessions
  • Progress regularly reviewed

There is a vast array of therapeutic approaches. In the process of reviewing which approach is best, it is important to recognise that each approach has a tendency to highlight particular concepts whilst ignoring or paying less attention to others. As such, each approach will have its strengths and limitations. I favour an approach known as Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP), which is a form of Experiential Dynamic therapy (EDT) that offers a flexible base for treating a wide range of difficulties.

At all times, I will use my knowledge, expertise and experience to tailor therapy to meet your needs. Together we will aim for transformation and resolution of your difficulties; beyond surviving your problems, towards a life well lived, with inner confidence, meaning, vitality and strength.

Sessions tend to be an hour, or an hour and a half, weekly or fortnightly, depending on your needs.  How long we work together is your choice and will depend on what you would like to achieve. We will evaluate your progress as we go. You are not obligated to attend any set number of sessions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP) was developed by Dr Habib Davanloo of McGill University in Canada. It is an actively researched psychotherapy with large evidence base of effectiveness for common and complex psychological problems. Due to it’s focus on the mind and body connection, it is particularly well placed in treating physical health problems associated with underlying psychological and emotional difficulties. There are a number of terms used to describe this phenomena. The main ones include: medically unexplained symptoms (MUS), functional disorders, dissociative disorders, and psychophysiologic disorders.  

The basic premise of ISTDP is that we develop psychological problems when we are unable to experience or express our true emotions. This is thought to be a learnt response whereby our previous experiences have taught us to bury our emotions in order to keep us safe from some of threat. This tends to range from social disapproval to forms of harm, humiliation or abandonment. In order to keep our emotions in check our body learns to perceive them as a threat causing anxiety to emerge when they are activated. In turn, our anxiety fuels defensive reactions to reduce or avoid the triggering of emotions. Such processes tend to be unconscious with unseen levels of anxiety and defensiveness causing physical health problems, and destructive behavioral patterns that ruin our relationships and cripple our ability to thrive and reach our potential.

The treatment process is individually tailored and aims to illuminate and overcome destructive defences, build anxiety tolerance, and release blocked emotional channels. When these feelings are felt, anxiety, physical symptoms and defences decrease, as the body learns that accept these emotions as a normal bodily experience.

More descriptions of ISTDP can be found by visiting:

Reaching Through Resistance

Psychgarden

The words ‘short-term’ refer to the way ISTDP aims to use the most efficient and effects means of treatment to ensure beneficial change as soon and as quickly as possible. Whilst this may mean that therapy could well be short-term in terms of time, it is not necessarily the case. The severity of symptoms and our personal differences mean that there is no set way or number of sessions that can prescribed to reach a goal that will also differ from individual to individual. Rapid change and relief is possible. It can also cause more harm than good to push for rapid change if the correct preparations have not occurred. This is particularly the case for severe levels of anxiety, as it is vital to build up the capacity to tolerate anxiety within the correct bodily channels before attempting to fully process emotionally laden material.

A psychological formulation is essentially the process of creating a map of your difficulties using psychological principles. This is typically formed within the framework of a particular model. For example, a basic cognitive behavioural formulation tends to identify how an external event triggers a series of negative thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

We will build a formulation using the principles most relevant to you and your difficulties. This can be as simple or complex as your needs require.

It is important to know that whilst the principles governing the formulation tend to be fairly robust, the content of the formulation tends to fluctuate, as the shape of your difficulties, understanding, and ability to choose alternative ways of being change.