Many people experience difficult thoughts and feelings at one time or another throughout their lives; there is a strong evidence base from a wealth of clinical research which highlights the positive outcomes from engaging in psychological (talking) therapies, such as improving one’s mood and reducing anxiety, to help promote overall physical and mental wellbeing.
Clinical Psychologists are trained professionals who deliver psychological therapies with individuals, couples and groups to help address the difficulties that people are experiencing.
How does it work?
Psychological therapy involves an assessment, which is a discussion between client and therapist about why they are seeking psychological therapy at the current time, what their current concerns are, and how these may be linked to the wider context for that person. Therapist and client then work together to develop goals for therapy and agree an area to focus on and review how those goals are being met as sessions progress.
What conditions can it commonly help?
There are a number of areas that Clinical Psychologists can help with. Their Doctoral training covers a wide range of specialties, from childhood to later life, in some of which the individual therapist will then specialise. Therefore it is important for you to find a psychologist who practices in the area for which you are seeking support.
The areas Elizabeth offers therapy for include:
- Anxiety: including worry; social anxiety; phobias; obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD); post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); and panic attacks
- Stress management
- Depression: including low mood and low self esteem
- Adjustment difficulties: such as adjusting to living with a physical health condition; loss or change of role, e.g. job, parenting stage, or relationship breakdown
- Behaviour change and increasing motivation: Reducing emotional eating, increasing physical activity and smoking cessation
- Goal setting
- Sleep difficulties
What can I expect from a Psychological Therapy session?
There are also a number of different therapeutic techniques that Clinical Psychologists can draw upon. Your psychological therapist will work collaboratively with you to identify what your goals for therapy are, and which approach may be the most appropriate to help meet those goals at the current time.
Elizabeth draws upon a number of evidence based therapeutic techniques, including: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy; Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy; Acceptance and Commitment Therapy; Narrative Therapy; Motivational Interviewing; and Compassion Focused Therapy.
Each session lasts for 50 minutes Elizabeth uses a thorough assessment to guide the selection for the most appropriate approach in collaboration with each individual that she works with. The therapeutic approaches that Elizabeth draws upon are typically short term, e.g. up to 12 sessions, although the exact duration is decided collaboratively between therapist and client.
Will I be prescribed any medication?
Clinical Psychologists do not prescribe medication. If you think that you may benefit from an anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medication for instance, this is something that you should discuss with your GP, or appropriate medical healthcare provider.
What's the different between a Clinical Psychologist and a Counsellor or Psychotherapist?
Counselling and psychotherapy are often used interchangeably these days. The difference comes down to the level and direction of training. Counsellors often undergo training and personal development for 3 years, with Psychotherapists training for 7 years. Both forms of training are often based on psychological theories.
Like Counsellors and Psychotherapist, Clinical Psychologist’s are trained in working with individuals with severe and/or enduring mental health difficulties. A Clinical Psychologist’s training comprises a good first degree (3 years), interim supervised clinical experience as an assistant psychologist (often over several years) whilst gaining sufficient experience to seek an interview for a place on a Clinical Psychology Doctorate (formerly MSc) course. These courses are highly competitive and will only consider applicants with 2:1 degrees or above. Clinical Psychology training then continues post clinical qualification as a requirement of professional registration and in respect of specialisation in particular areas. In summary, qualification as a Clinical Psychologist takes a minimum of 7 years but realistically to reach specialist level a minimum of 9 years. Effectively career long training and evaluation is expected as a requirement of professional registration and the right to use the legally protected title of Clinical Psychologist is contingent upon this.
It is possible to be a counsellor, psychotherapist or psychologist (and use these terms) without the need for any post graduate training although some may highly trained. There are no legal restrictions around the title of “counsellor”, “psychotherapist” or “psychologist” so credentials should always be checked.
In practice Clinical Psychologists are trained as “scientist practitioners” and will therefore apply an analytical approach to initial assessment and formulation of a treatment plan based on a client’s presenting difficulties using scientific evidence based approaches. They are trained in many psychological approaches to a high level and are therefore able to tailor treatment to individual needs. Clinical Psychologists are also trained in using and analysing psychometric assessments to identify areas which may need intervention (for example HADS – hospital anxiety and depression scale, WAIS Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale – for assessing cognitive ability where there may be concerns relating to memory, etc.)