Insight and Understanding
When people come for the first session they often ask: “What is wrong with me?, Why do I struggle? Why can I not sustain change?”. Often, people struggle in life because their early experience has created patterns of thinking, feeling, acting and relating that, whilst helpful in childhood to survive difficulties present in their environment, stop them from Thriving, i.e. reaching their full potential.
These patterns may be hard for an individual to identify because they feel so “natural”. They are “programs for behaviour” that are imprinted in us by our experience but remain largely unconscious.
That is where help of a therapist can be really beneficial: during the face-to-face Consultations we develop a joint understanding of your difficulties from a psychological perspective. In therapeutic work, this understanding is called a Formulation. Formulation is a bit like a compass to your life so far. It explains why you might be struggling with some areas of your life and suggests more helpful ways of guiding your life’s journey.
Formulation can feel very healing as it allows a person to remove some of the feelings of personal inadequacy (ie guilt and self-blame) by making them realise that sometimes choices they had in life were limited. It can also be incredibly empowering as it shows precisely what needs to change for a fuller life to be lived.
Towards the end of the face-to-face Consultation process, we agree an Action Plan for Change: we discuss what changes are wanted, which ones are needed and set realistic goals for the next 9 weeks of the Programme. We take into account your life-style, your preferred learning mode, the amount of time you have, your current skills and other resources as well as constraints. We take care to agree steps that are realistic, achievable and that will move you closer towards your goals.
Important as it is, on its own insight is not enough to bring a lasting change. We need to find a way to translate our new understanding into action – a way to practice what we preach. Now we know better, we need to find courage, motivation and strength to do better.
Recent neuro-psychotherapy research points to the enormous plasticity of the brain even in adulthood. It also suggests regular PRACTICES can remodel the brain – both in terms brain chemistry (ie hormones) as well as structure and size of elements of the brain. The goals of practices aimed at remodelling the brain will vary according to your needs. Examples include: regulating the dysregulated and often over-active biological stress response system (HPA axis); integrating lower regions of the brain with the higher and therefore creating a more coherent sense of self; activating frontal and pre-frontal cortex to bring on stream the “executive” part of the brain, which is responsible for self-control and moderating the states of excess; helping to integrate the cortex with the somatic feelings in the body thus reclaiming split-off self states of mind and decreasing their unconscious influence over a person’s life, memory reconsolidation practices to help with intrusive memories of traumatic events, etc.
On the level of everyday situations, and again depending on your goals, these practices will help you increase your ability to manage your moods and emotions, to know what you really feel and how to make wise use of that information for planning what to do; identify your real needs rather then false wants, give you better insight into self and others, increase your ability for making emotional connections and forming reciprocally supportive relationships with others; access vitality states of excitement, joy and play, increase your response repertoire rather then rigidly stick to familiar scripts, respond to everyday life more creatively, etc.
To support this process,, we will agree Practices you can on a regular basis so that you develop new HABITS that support the direction you wish your life to take. It takes 4-8 weeks to develop a habit and the Good Life Psychology Journal will help you embed these habits into your life by providing a Habit Tracker section. Practised regularly over a period of time, states become traits and create more permanent changes in your brain and nervous system, which translate to new patterns of reacting, relating and being in the world.
On your journey to change, you may also discover that you need to learn new SKILLS: in areas you wish to work on, eg relationships, communication, emotion management, assertiveness, problem solving etc and develop ways to practice these skills so that they firmly embed in your life. Learning and practising new skills so that they become habitual is another important element of change that will be supported by the Good Life Psychology Workbook.
In addition, to make to help you own the changes you are making, the Good Life Psychology Workbook will also support you in increasing your Psychological Knowledge – by providing references to psychological theories that you could investigate further to understand the principles on which your Workbook is based. This would improve your understanding of yourself, situations you may encounter in the future and enable you to continue being your own therapist long after our work together comes to an end.
In addition you will need support and encouragement on your journey. The Programme includes three 20-minute telephone/email sessions to help you stay on track and consider any issues that may crop up.
If the outline of the Programme appeals to you, please contact me to arrange a FREE, no obligation and absolutely no hard sell Telephone Consultation so we can talk about your needs and whether the Programme would be suitable for you and if not, what other services maybe recommend.