Psychologists in Reading
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A reliable and effective provider of private cognitive behaviour therapy
The Berkshire Psychology Service provides an independent psychology counselling and psychotherapy service for the region. The benefits of being independent allow us to offer an assessment appointment with a consultant psychologist usually within the week of contact.The service offers assessment and evidence based treatment for a wide range of psychological difficulties. In addition we specialise in the cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) treatment of trauma and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) depression and a wide range of anxiety disorders. We have a specialist service to treat workplace stress and offer performance coaching in the form of brief tailored interventions. We offer EMDR interventions when needed. We also provide a full medico-legal report service.
When you are struggling with a psychological or workplace problem we can help you. In most cases we can help resolve psychological difficulties in relatively few sessions of CBT treatment which makes getting the help you need worth the effort. If you are searching for professional accredited Cognitive Behaviour Therapy then please contact us. There is more information about who we are and what we do within this website. Please take the time to view it. Your mental wellbeing is worth taking care of.
Dr David Purves is clinical Director of the Berkshire Psychology Service. We Provide an independent cognitive Behaviour Therapy Service for Berkshire. The service specialises in Rapid assessment and effective treatment. No waiting list and modern evidence based treatment tailored to you.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is a popular evidenced based treatment. In clinical trials CBT has proved highly effective at treating problems within the depressive disorders range, the anxiety disorders range, including panic, OCD, health anxiety, chronic worry, agoraphobia, phobia, Post traumatic stress disorder and stress based problems.
In most cases we can help resolve psychological difficulties in relatively few sessions of CBT treatment which makes getting the help you need worth the effort. If you are searching for professional, accredited Cognitive Behaviour Therapy then please contact us. There is more information about who we are and what we do in our website. Please take the time to view it. Your mental wellbeing is worth taking care of.
If you are thinking about undertaking face-face CBT therapy, I have created this short introduction to help orient you to the process of personal change.
All psychotherapy, counselling, or any kind of therapy really does is provide a little help in overcoming a problem or problems you have not been able to overcome yourself. There is no shame in that, and the benefits you are likely to gain from therapy are substantial. All you have to do is to open your mind to the possibility of an interesting and useful experience, and that is what you should receive. The most popular form of psychotherapy these days is Cognitive Behavior Therapy, or CBT therapy. CBT therapy is a great way of challenging and changing unhelpful thinking and behavior processes. It really works to ensure that things work out as you want them to, rather than some other outcome that you don't want to have.
When you first visit a good therapist, you will talk for a short while, chatting about what has been happening. However, quite quickly, a good therapist will start to make links between what you are experiencing and the psychological reasons for it. This process allows you to see why things are happening as they are. And, it yields options for making things different. CBT provides a framework for you to think differently about your experiences. You can learn to see things differently, and thereby, experience things differently. You will become more in control of your destiny than you may ever have imagined. CBT puts you back in touch with your power to make your life shape up and give you more of what you want. The process of changing your life is one of making a series of small steps that lead you gradually in the direction you want to go. The first step, therefore, is to determine where you are. You may experience stress, depression, separation anxiety, or other symptoms of anxiety, but that is only the consequence of the real problem. The art of good therapy is getting to the real problem and changing that. Then, the consequences of the realproblem, the symptoms of anxiety, depression, stress, or other disorders, will become less problematic, and eventually disappear. As an example, personally negative beliefs are usually an important component of the problems you struggle with, and can often be thought of as the causes of many other unpleasant experiences. To have those brought out in the open and available for challenge is a really good and progressive step for the early sessions of therapy. In therapy, you are very well placed to be able to challenge, change, and rectify negative beliefs, releasing you from your current problems.
Of course, there are many varied and substantial problems that can lower mood and create fear, stress, depression, separation anxiety, panic, and other uncomfortable symptoms. But, once again, it is the way that you interpret these symptoms that determines how much trouble they really are in your life. You have overcome many problems in your life so far, maybe even problems that seemed more substantial than those you face now. You are probably very good at problem solving. For some reason, though, the current problems may be defeating your personal problem-solving capacities. But, that is only temporary. Through the process of therapy, you will regain all and more of your problem-solving capabilities, and once again feel ready to take on and overcome life's regular hurdles. There is very little that needs remain a mystery after just 60 minutes of talking with a good therapist. I hope you find this information useful.
The damaging effects of traumatic events
A trauma is something that usually happens suddenly; but not always so, it can cause you to feel highly vulnerable, maybe you or someone you care about was in an accident or injured. You may have seen something traumatic, or heard about someone else being hurt or close to injury. Or, you may have heard about something that caused you to feel a lot of strong emotions linked to fear or dread.
Sometimes a trauma can result from a long sequence of unpleasant things such as emotional, physical or sexual abuse during childhood or early adulthood.
Post Traumatic Stress
One possible consequence of trauma is what has come to be called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). You can judge if you are likely to be suffering symptoms of PTSD by asking yourself these questions:
Do upsetting thoughts or memories about the event come into your mind against your will at least twice per week?
Do you have upsetting dreams about the event more than twice per week?
Do you ever act or feel as though it is happening again at least twice per week?
Are you upset by reminders of the event at least twice per week?
Do you have bodily reactions such as sweatiness, stomach churning or dizziness when reminded of the event at least twice per week?
Do you have difficulty falling or staying asleep at least twice per week?
Do you have irritability or outbursts of anger at least twice per week?
Do you have difficulty in concentrating at least twice per week?
Do you have heightened awareness of potential dangers to yourself or others at least twice per week?
Are you jumpy or more easily startled at something unexpected at least twice per week?
Derived from Brewin, Rose, Andrews, Green, Tata, McEvedy, Turner & Foa (2002)
These questions are only valid if the trauma was more than four weeks ago. If you can answer yes to six or more of these questions you may be suffering from symptoms of Post Trauma Stress. It may therefore be worth arranging to have a more formal assessment in the Berkshire Psychology Service by a professional who can also suggest useful treatments to you.
How does trauma affect you?
When something happens to you that causes the release into your blood stream of high levels of stress hormones this can interfere with how you remember that particular event. One obvious characteristic of PTSD is that, almost no matter how long ago something happened, the memory still feels fresh; as if it happened very recently. This means that your brain has not been able to file the memory with other memories from that time period.
When something happens that we call ‘traumatic' it is often recalled as the worst thing that has ever happened. And because the memory seems to defy the normal process of fading with time that most memories undergo, it leaves trauma sufferer feeling very physiologically aroused, or stressed. When the memory comes to mind it usually evokes many of the feelings that were present at the time of the original event.
People make every effort they can to avoid these painful memories from coming to mind. Or at least control them when they do come to mind. You may find that you are trying to push the memory out of mind, or avoid people, places or things that have the ability to trigger memories of the original event. These attempts at avoidance are only ever partially successful and are never a good enough solution to completely resolve the memory of the trauma.
Memories of trauma usually leave you feeling quite negative about yourself. Because you will be making efforts to avoid the full emotional force of the trauma, but are not completely successful, it can feel like you are losing control of your internal world. Some people believe they are going mad.
All of these experiences are common to trauma sufferers, but the good news is that trauma is something that can be successful resolved. So that it is no longer a problem.
Treatment for trauma and PTSD
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is relatively common among the population. Road traffic accidents are a leading source of PTSD.
The treatment of PTSD is well understood by psychologists and is usually very successful. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has published guidelines for the treatment of PTSD and the Berkshire Psychology Service adheres to these offering a very effective evidence based treatment program.
In the first instance we will set up a meeting with you to assess your current circumstances. Following that meeting you will have a detailed understanding of the trauma and the consequences it has upon you. This will allow you to understand what is happening and how we propose to resolve it.
Throughout the treatment program you will have full control of the process and you will understand everything that we do together. At the end of treatment you will feel that the trauma is now in the past and that you can move on with your life.
Normally counselling or psychotherapy that is not trauma focused does not resolve this problem. Specialist help is essential.
Anxiety comes from an over-estimation of threat and it is a normal human feeling. Anxiety becomes a real problem when it becomes too strong and it interferes with your routine activities.
Fear is the emotion you get when you are confronted by a threatening or frightening experience. Your body responds to a threat with what has been called the fight or flight response. This is a healthy response to a threat because it is the way your body prepares for action either to fight danger or run away from it as fast as possible. What happens when you perceive a situation is dangerous is that your body releases a number of hormones that prepare you for action. These are the same no matter what the threat. Therefore the physical symptoms of anxiety are simply your body's preparation to cope with a threat.
When the treat has passed
The fight or flight system is designed to help you escape from life or death situations. When the threat has passed or you realize that there was no threat, your body quickly returns to normal. These days however, you rarely have to face life or death situations. But you do face stresses that are hard to escape from. And these can inappropriately activate the fight or flight system. You then have all the emotions and physical sensations that go with severe threat without any actual threat to your life existing.
Why do I feel anxious?
There are a number of paths to feeling anxious and it is important to think about these because knowledge of how anxiety is caused helps to fight it.
Any thought you have that focuses on threat switches on the fight or flight system. This results in uncomfortable bodily sensations. These give rise to feelings of fear and trepidation. You now want to run away, to escape from the threat. None of this is pleasant and in more extreme circumstances it can lead to lots of problems in just living a normal life.
If you become used to feeling anxious you will start to become sensitized to the early sensations that make up the fight or flight response. When this happens even small indications of rising anxiety can trigger negative thoughts of danger and this starts the vicious cycle again.
The vicious cycle of anxiety
This vicious cycle makes you feel more anxious, uncomfortable and on edge. The longer term consequence of this experience is that you start to predict what will cause anxiety and a try to avoid these situations. Indeed, avoidance is the most common strategy for coping with anxiety.
It is natural to want to avoid something that feels dangerous. But this is faulty thinking because, the things you avoid are not normally real or immediate dangers; such things as other people, busy shops, crowds, talking to other people and eating out. The things that are avoided are actually necessary to a normal everyday existence.
Avoiding the mundane daily duties and obstacles makes life very hard to manage, with the result that a good mood is hard to maintain.
As you reduce your experiences to help you to manage anxiety and feel safer you place a self imposed boundary around yourself. Life gets harder and your range of experiences gets smaller. This is when anxiety becomes both an internal fear and a problem of living.
Fear is a natural response to danger. Unfortunately anxiety is an over-estimation of the likelihood of threat. Because your body cannot distinguish between a real or imagined danger the fight or flight response kicks in every time.
The sensations of anxiety are not dangerous in themselves; you cannot hurt yourself through feeling anxious. But, anxiety leads to avoidance of things you think may be threatening and this leads you to restrict your life.
Our Cognitive Behaviour Therapy treatment for anxiety gives you the tools to challenge and overcome the problems of anxiety. We have a proven treatment track record in treating all of the anxiety disorders.
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