Counselling in Cheshire - providing a service for Knutsford, Northwich, Tarpoley and Crewe

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Problems addressed

Problems that I work with include, but are not limited to:

  • Addictions
  • Adult Survivors of Sexual Abuse
  • Affairs and Betrayals
  • Anger Management
  • Anxiety
  • Bereavement and loss
  • Children's Issues
  • Hypochondriasis (Health Anxiety)
  • Low Self esteem

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Schema Therapy: Challenging Negative Life Beliefs.

Posted: 209 days ago

Do any of these emotional states sound familiar to you?
*Mistrust/Abuse
*Emotional Deprivation
*Abandonment/Instability
*Unrelenting Standards/Hypercriticalness
These mental states, made up of a combination of feelings, thoughts and memories, are internalized patterns or Schemas that have a powerful influence on our interpersonal relationships, how we define ourselves and how we relate to the world generally. They are, if you like, relationship templates described as Schemas in a psychological intervention known as Schema Therapy, developed by Young and colleagues (Young, 1990, 1999).
The term Schema has a long pedigree within psychology and can be thought of as a pattern or working model, existing subconsciously which is then projected onto reality to assist individuals explain reality, to filter our perception of it and to organize our responses to it. The important thing to note about these schemas is that they are faulty representations of the world we live in, especially our expectations of others, derived from distorted self-concepts laid down in early childhood.
An adult male comes to psychotherapy seeking help because in all his relationships he seems to attract people who end up exploiting and emotionally abusing him. It is a repetitive pattern or schema in his life that he is unable to break out of. That is what he has come to expect, and in therapy he makes the surprising discovery that subconsciously he seeks out abusive types to confirm that prediction. His self-concept is: I am a bad person, so I deserve abuse. This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. He further discovers that this pattern of behaviour is an internalized schema of which its core elements are Mistrust and Abuse. The expectation (based, let us suppose, on being abused by a parent as a child) is that others will hurt, abuse, manipulate or take advantage of me.
This is just one example of a maladaptive schema. The schema therapy model has identified 18 schemas, including such internalized patterns as Entitlement/Grandiosity, Approval Seeking/Recognition Seeking and Unrelenting Standards/Hypercriticalness.
These maladaptive schemas, distorting reality, laid down in childhood, can be challenged, altering in a positive and more realistic way our old habit of negatively evaluating ourselves, others and the world.
Identifying these schemas forms the initial phase of therapy. To assist in this, the client is asked to fill out several different questionnaires covering childhood memories, parenting experiences and defensive coping strategies. The responses to these questions help to map out the internalized schemas that determine outlook and behaviour.
Here is an example of treatment based on a schema therapy intervention.
A female client struggles with an Approval Seeking schema. She is excessively accommodating, often sacrificing her own needs, opinions, tastes in order to keep the other person happy. This is self-sacrifice in the extreme, with the person suppressing important aspects of themselves in order to gain love and approval – fuelled by a fear of rejection.

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Expressive Poetry for Grieving.

Posted: 932 days ago

I have experienced two losses this year, my sister in law in January and my wife’s sister in law in February, both passing away on the first day of the month. As I felt close to each of these family members, my sense of loss is painful, compounded by the close proximity in time of these deaths.

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Listening is an art.

Posted: 1418 days ago

‘The art of listening is almost equivalent to the art of speaking.’

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It Takes Two to Tangle: The Problems of 'Projection'

Posted: 1422 days ago

Our relationships with our partners are seldom straightforward as we would like, often being shaped by our own personal legacies. We often respond to partners as if they were someone else, creating conflicts through mistaken identities originating from the past. What we expected in these primary relationships was a safe zone of nurture, of validation, just for being who we are. Not an unreasonable expectation to have. What we wish for, however, in this realm of human attachment, can often be far removed from reality. Why is this?

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Art Therapy for Military Veterans with PTSD

Posted: 1428 days ago

As the art therapy group for military veterans came to a close, there was a strong sense of camaraderie among the members that had taken part. A theme had been given to the group, based on the simple idea of a ‘journey’. Each of the eight pieces of work that were generated – a mixture of sketches, paintings and clay pieces – expressed unique responses to the metaphor, capturing feelings and memories channeled in a creative way that would play an important part in their recovery from combat related PTSD (Post traumatic Stress Disorder).
As an art therapist I have used these themed groups with military veterans to great effect, witnessing at the individual level veterans coming to grips for the first time with symptoms that have held them ‘hostage’ for years, and at the collective group level a rallying together as ‘brothers and sisters in arms’ as they recognize in each other’s work a fragmented piece of themselves.

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Art Therapy with Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum in a School Setting.

Posted: 1431 days ago

I was recently giving an art therapy PowerPoint presentation to the governors of a special school I work at, and was struck by their surprised expressions in response to the students art work I was showing them. Their surprise was triggered, I suspect, by a couple of things: the imaginative quality of the work and a fresh glimpse into the worlds of those labelled ‘autistic’. Those who work with children and adolescents on the autism spectrum often witness only the externals – odd social behaviours and unusual ways of communicating. And for those who do not work in any professional capacity with them, the images they receive are of oddball characters like Doc Martin on TV or savants like artist Stephen Wiltshire. But is the so called autistic mind all that removed from the ‘neurotypical’ one? And if there is a difference, isn’t it true that those on the autism spectrum have something valuable to offer the world?

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How Birth Order Can Influence Our Behaviour and Relationships.

Posted: 2330 days ago

Although siblings can have the same parents bringing them up, it’s amazing how each child can turn out so different. One sibling may become academic and studious, whilst another takes on much more of an extrovert role, basking in the social limelight. Yet another sibling becomes the home bird, valuing the close filial network, but contrasts with that other child in the family who prefers to establish strong bonds with others out in the wider world. Within this family dynamic of parents and siblings, these nuclear relationships can impact our behaviour and attachments in all sorts of ways.

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Art Therapy and Post Traumatic Shock Disorder (P.T.S.D.)

Posted: 2597 days ago

As we remember in 2014 the centenary of the 1st World War, black and white film footage comes to mind, capturing the disturbing scenes of young men scrambling “over the top”, stumbling their way through a hail of machine gun fire and bursting shells. Many of those who survived had their lives blighted by shell shock, a psychological condition we now know as P.T.S.D (Post Traumatic Shock Disorder). For those soldiers who reacted to the stress of combat this way, the authorities often showed a pitiful lack of understanding of the condition, which at the time could even be misconstrued as cowardice.

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Four tasks of grief

Posted: 2619 days ago

A psychiatrist colleague of mine once said to me, ‘Grief is the rent that we pay for living.’ As well as gains, life is also about losses; loss of youth, loss of employment, loss of health and most painfully, the loss of loved ones. As Simon and Garfunkel once sang – ‘If I never would have loved, I never would have cried.’

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Spok and overcoming the impossible

Posted: 2797 days ago

The tagline on my business card reads, ‘There are always possibilities.’ This, supposedly, is a quote from Startrek’s Spok, who apparently used this phrase whenever the Enterprise crew found themselves in a tight jam. Being half-vulcan, half-human, Spok’s irrestible logic, as sharp as a steel trap, could most times see a way out of a problem, unlike the minds of those exasperating humans who would let irrationality and emotion cloud their judgement and narrow down their choices.

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