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Frequently Asked Questions.

 Q. What is Family Therapy?

Family therapy is a type of psychotherapy that involves all members of a nuclear family or stepfamily and, in some cases, members of the extended family (e.g., grandparents). A therapist or team of therapists conducts multiple sessions to help families deal with important issues that may interfere with the functioning of the family and the home environment.

 Q. What is Focusing Oriented Therapy?

Focusing was developed by Eugene Gendlin a psychologist and philosopher at the University of Chicago, where he taught for over 30 years. Gendlin was also the founder and editor of the Clinical Division Journal, Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice.

In the mid 1960s, a philosophy student named Eugene Gendlin started asking some hard questions about the process of psychotherapy: “Why doesn’t therapy succeed more often?… When it does succeed, what is it that those patients and therapists do?

The Origins of Focusing-Oriented Therapy:

Gendlin’s ideas were ahead of their time. He arrived at the University of Chicago in the mid 1950s and was intrigued by the work of Carl Rogers who, at the time, was laying the foundation for what became the person-centred school of psychotherapy. Focusing-Oriented Therapy has retained many elements of person-centred therapy, notably the primacy of the client’s own experience, and the methods of reflective listening and empathy.

However, Gendlin diverged from Rogers in some important ways. Rogers’ emphasis was on the qualities of the therapist: he saw empathy, acceptance and genuineness as the keys to facilitating therapeutic success. He was disappointed by the results of the study with Gendlin that showed much of the onus for success lies with the client. Gendlin was intrigued and pursued ways to replicate what the successful clients were doing.

Focusing-oriented therapy: a way to deepen experiencing for more effective psychotherapy. Focusing-oriented therapy is psycotherapy that uses focusing as an integral part of its process.  Focusing-oriented therapy teaches one to find the right distance from a felt experience: not so far away that it is intellectualization, and not so close that one is immersed in the feelings, but just the right distance to be in contact with whatever comes. This makes it possible for focusers to work with anything that might come up for them, even if it at first appears difficult or frightening.

Q. What is CBT?

CBT is short for cognitive behavioural therapy. It is problem focussed and client and therapist work together on attaining agreed goals, e.g. overcoming depression, managing anxiety etc. Monitoring thoughts (cognitions) and behaviour is central to the therapy, as is forming potential strategies, which are then tested in practice by the client and jointly evaluated with the therapist. In this way therapy is progressively tailored to the individual.

Q. How is CBT different from other psychotherapy?

There are many types of therapist and many types of psychotherapy including CBT, psychoanalysis etc. CBT tends to be the most structured and time limited.

Q. Is CBT the same as counselling?

No. Again counselling, like psychotherapy, is a broad term which can involve a variety of different approaches.

Q. Psychologist v psychiatrist – are they the same?

No. They may work with the same client group (even in parallel) but psychiatrists are medical doctors who have specialised in mental health. Consequently they are very likely to prescribe medication such as anti-depressants which psychologists are rarely qualified to do.

Q. Can I still be helped by therapy if I’m taking anti-depressants?

Yes. It is quite common for psychiatrists and GPs to refer clients on such medication for psychological therapy.

Q. What are the best things to do when I feel depressed?

As depression is so common there are many cases where people are able to recover with just the support and help of family and friends. Sometimes maintaining a good level of meaningful activity can be enough. In many people though additional help such as therapy is necessary to help the individual get back to their usual lifestyle.

Q. What treatment will I be offered for my anxiety symptoms?

This will depend on the kind of anxiety problems you experience. A CBT approach will involve identifying the thoughts and behaviours which trigger and maintain anxiety. Typical courses of anxiety treatment involve the teaching of relaxation skills and how to apply them in both imaginary and real life situations. In this way a programme of graded desensitisation can be designed so the client is able to master their anxiety in easy steps.

Q. What is PTSD?

PTSD stands for post traumatic stress disorder. This frequently occurs in individuals who have had, or witnessed, a dangerous experience such as a road traffic accident or assault. Typical symptoms involve a combination of anxiety and depressive symptoms. Frequently sufferers also have problems related to negative memories such as flashbacks or nightmares.

Q. What is EMDR?

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing. Along with CBT it is one of the two treatments recommended by the National Institute of Clinical Effectiveness (NICE) for the treatment of PTSD. EMDR can be integrated into CBT treatment if negative memories are thought to be playing a role in maintaining problems such as anxiety or low self esteem. By employing a dual processing technique which requires the individual to attend to visual stimuli at the same time as thinking about the past, the individual is able to face the memory and integrate more positive beliefs about the past, present and future.
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Q. What are the signs of low self esteem?

The way we view ourselves affects what we expect from life, including work, relationships and friends. E.g. low confidence in our ability to do a new job may lead to anxiety about our performance, fear of evaluation, inability to accept criticism etc. Similarly negative beliefs about what we deserve or are worth may affect our confidence in finding a partner, or even keep us in a damaging or abusive relationship.

Q. How can therapy help me feel better about myself?

This is a fundamental goal of most therapy. In CBT while the ultimate focus is on current goals it is often useful to understand how beliefs, thinking patterns and behaviours have developed over time. In EMDR memories of the past are thought crucial to this process and are addressed directly in therapy.

Q. Can therapy help if I’m just under stress?

Yes, although stress can mean different things to people. Sometimes advice on managing time, establishing priorities or help in accessing support can alleviate stress. In other cases individuals maybe creating more stress in their attempts to alleviate it and may benefit from additional strategies such as relaxation training.

If you have a question which is not answered here please contact Dr. M.Altawil.