What is psychotherapy? 'Psychotherapy' covers a range of psychological interventions. The overall aim is to investigate how and why we behave as we do, in order that we can make changes in our lives. Kathy works collaboratively with patients, providing evidence-based psychoanalytic psychotherapy, cognitive-behaviour therapy and mindfulness-based therapies. An assessment process lasting two or three sessions allows for consideration of difficulties and a discussion about what might be the most appropriate approach to change.

Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is based on the idea that we are often unaware of the sources of behaviours and feelings which prevent us from living a more fulfilled life. Because our habitual behaviours are impacted by factors in the unconscious part of our mind, advice or our conscious efforts to change them may not help. As well, our early experiences are very important in shaping the way our minds work and in the relationships we develop, both with ourselves and with others. An intensive therapeutic process enables us to explore and unlock these unconscious patterns and habits. The patient and therapist form an intimate therapeutic partnership to explore traces of unconscious patterns and assumptions in the patient's current life and in the therapeutic sessions themselves. Through this joint effort, over time, the patient gains insight into crippling life-patterns, and is able to make different and more creative choices about ways of relating and behaving. While this can be a challenging and at times painful process, the therapist tends to the therapeutic relationship, maintaining a space in which it is safe for the patient to talk about whatever comes into their thoughts. Continuity is important in psychotherapy to allow the therapeutic process to take place. The minimum frequency of sessions is therefore weekly. However, more frequent sessions allow the patient and therapist to work at greater depth and patients are quite often seen more frequently, if this is possible. It is difficult to say how long treatment will take; it can vary from months to several years.

Cognitive-behaviour therapy examines the ways in which our painful feelings and longer-term psychological difficulties are related to patterns of thinking. While often our feelings appear to be the direct result of a triggering event or environmental stress, a cognitive-behavioural approach suggests that feelings depend upon our thoughts about ourselves and difficult situations, and our appraisal of our ability to cope in those situations. Increasing our awareness of habitual patterns of thinking, and working to challenge and change these, can lead to symptom relief and behaviour change. In CBT, you are likely to be asked to complete homework tasks between sessions to make the most of therapy. While symptom relief can be obtained fairly quickly in some cases, longer-term treatment will be needed for deep-seated problems.

Mindfulness-based therapies such as Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction have been described as third-wave behaviour therapies. Rather than seeking to alter our thoughts and feelings, we bring a deliberate and non-judgemental awareness to our lives. Paradoxically, paying attention increases our ability to sit with and tolerate difficulties, brings new perspectives and enriches our quality of life. Mindfulness has been shown to be helpful with anxiety, in reducing depression relapse, for some physical health conditions and difficulties with emotion regulation. It requires a commitment to regular practice.