I am a cognitive therapist with a private practice in Highgate, North London. Here are some answers to the most common questions my clients ask me – if you would like to arrange a session please contact my assistant, Dawn Cope, on 0208 318 5735, email firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact form to get in touch.
What happens in a session?
Before we meet, I will email you an intake form; this will help me understand what problems you are having, as well as providing important information about things like your health, family background, work and personal life. I will ask you to return this before the first session, so we can go through it together when we meet. The first one or two sessions are an assessment, which helps me understand in greater detail what your problems are and how I can help. It also helps clarify what you want from our work together. We can then focus on the issue that feels most pressing for you right now (becoming less anxious, for example, or tackling low mood).
In each subsequent session, which also lasts for an hour, we will continue working on this issue. It's often helpful to focus on a particular moment when you felt stressed, say, or anxious, and look at everything you experienced in that moment. What were you thinking and feeling? What symptoms were you experiencing in your body? How did you behave? We can then explore which of these were unhelpful, and how to adopt more helpful thoughts and behaviour in the future.
I will then give you homework to do every day before we next meet. If you're stressed, this might be breathing exercises or ways of being more assertive with your boss, say, or a difficult colleague. Or if you are suffering from low mood, it might be trying some small, manageable ways of becoming more active throughout the week, or solving one of the problems you face. What makes cognitive therapy so effective is that you will learn exactly what you need to do to make significant changes – and I will support and encourage you to stick to your plan.
Which problems can I help with?
People seek therapy for many different reasons, but most people I see are suffering from stress-related illness, depression or anxiety, because these are by far the most common psychological difficulties we all face. As a cognitive therapist, I can also help with problems including phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), mood swings and bipolar disorder, substance misuse and addiction, health anxiety, panic attacks and agoraphobia, anger management, trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), relationship difficulties and eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa.
Do I work with young people?
Yes, as well as working with adults, I provide CBT for adolescents from the age of 16. CBT is very effective at helping young people who are having problems – most commonly depression or anxiety, but also OCD, phobias, exam stress, school avoidance, low self-esteem, problems with bullying and behavioural difficulties. When working with young people I always include their parents or other key family members, because a team approach is the best way to help them. For example, if a teenager is feeling anxious about school and so avoiding it, they will need lots of encouragement and support to start attending lessons again, even if it's difficult. Parents and other family members are key to helping young people confront and eventually overcome their fears.
Do I run workshops?
My company, Calm Self Workshops, runs one-day workshops for people struggling with stress, anxiety or depression. The workshops are held monthly in Muswell Hill, north London. The first of these workshops, Calming the Anxious Self, takes place on 13th September 2014 and will help people with worry and anxiety-related problems.
Do I offer sessions via Skype?
Yes, I offer Skype sessions for people living in other parts of London and the UK, Europe and throughout the world. CBT works very well via Skype, so the format of therapy is very similar to face-to-face work. There are some logistical differences, of course, but these are easily overcome with modern technology like scanners and email. Payment can be made after the session – I will send you a PayPal invoice which can be paid using a PayPal or bank account, or with a credit/debit card.
Please note: to make the most of therapy via Skype, you need to have a fast broadband connection. If not, the quality of sessions will be affected and therapy might not be possible.
How long will it take?
That depends on the issue you're working on and a range of other factors. Some people find a short-term approach is enough, which typically takes between 10 and 20 sessions. Other people – especially those working on deeper issues – require a more long-term approach, which can be anything up to a year or more. I am happy to work both short and longer-term, depending on your particular situation and the issues you want to tackle.
How much does it cost?
All sessions, including the assessment, cost £80. Sessions are payable at the end of each hour by cash or cheque only. Please note that cancellations with less than 24 hours' notice are charged at the full fee.
When are sessions available?
You can book a session with me from 10am-7.30pm, Monday to Thursday; and 10am-6pm on Friday.
Is it confidential?
Yes, everything we discuss will remain completely confidential. I am an associate member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and abide by their Ethical Framework, which includes a commitment to confidentiality.