There are a wide range of evidence based psychological approaches that can help address and manage the different psychological difficulties that people can present with. For example, the National Institute of Clinical Excellence recommends Cognitive Behavioural Therapy as the psychological treatment of choice for the treatment of anxiety and depression.
Obtaining a thorough understanding of the presenting difficulties by conducting a comprehensive psychological assessment and using a collaborative and person centred approach, can then inform the most appropriate type of psychological intervention.
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SFT is an innovative psychotherapy for individuals who may experience interpersonal difficulties, chronic depression, and other difficult individual and couples problems.
SFT integrates elements of cognitive therapy, behaviour therapy, object relations, and gestalt therapy into one unified, systematic approach to treatment. SFT has shown to be effective in helping people to change negative ("maladaptive") patterns which they have lived with for a long time, even when other methods and efforts they have tried before have been largely unsuccessful.
CBT in an effective, evidence based therapy combining cognitive and behavioural strategies. Cognitive therapy looks at how our thoughts can create our feelings and mood. Behavioural therapy pays close attention to the relationship between our problems, our behaviour and our thoughts. CBT may focus on what is going on in the present rather than the past, but often the therapy will also look at how thinking patterns may have begun in early childhood and the impact patterns of thinking may have on how we interpret the world as adults.
The National Institute of Clinical Excellence recommends CBT for the treatment of a wide range of psychological problems including depression and anxiety. See www.nice.org.uk for further information.
Mindfulness is a way of learning to relate directly to whatever is happening in your life, helping you to gain of your life, consciously and systematically working with your own stress, pain, illness, and the challenges and demands of everyday life. MBCT is designed to help people who suffer from depression and chronic unhappiness. It combines the ideas of cognitive therapy with meditative practices and attitudes based on the cultivation of mindfulness. The heart of this work lies in becoming acquainted with the modes of mind that often characterize mood disorders while simultaneously learning to develop a new relationship to them.
ACT is a unique empirically based psychological intervention that uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies, together with commitment and behavior change strategies, to increase psychological flexibility. ACT helps to unravel the ways that language entangles individuals into futile attempts to wage war against their own inner lives. Through metaphor, paradox, and experiential exercises clients learn how to make healthy contact with thoughts, feelings, memories, and physical sensations that have been feared and avoided. Clients gain the skills to recontextualize and accept these private events, develop greater clarity about personal values, and commit to needed behavior change.
Narrative therapy focuses on the stories of people's lives and is based on the idea that problems are manufactured in social, cultural and political contexts. Each person produces the meaning of their life from the stories that are available in these contexts.
Within a narrative therapy approach, the focus is not on 'experts' solving problems, it is on people discovering through conversations, the hopeful, preferred, and previously unrecognized and hidden possibilities contained within themselves and unseen story-lines.
Neuropsychological tests assess our relative cognitive strengths and weaknesses. A core part of neuropsychological assessment is the administration of tests for the formal assessment of cognitive functioning. Aspects of cognitive functioning that are assessed typically include orientation, new-learning/memory, intelligence, language, visuo-perception, and executive-functioning. However, clinical neuropsychological assessment is more than this and also focuses on a person's psychological, personal, interpersonal and wider contextual circumstances.
Assessment may be carried out for a variety of reasons, such as:
- Clinical evaluation to understand the pattern of cognitive strengths as well as any difficulties a person may have, and to aid decision making.
- Assessment of reported memory difficulties for example, suspected dementia, after having a road traffic accident,side effects of medication.
- Assessment of ADHD or Autistic spectrum disorders.
- Medico-legal assessment, to be used in a court of law as evidence in a legal claim or criminal investigation.
A test can be used as part of the selection process for job interviews, to assess children in schools, assess people with mental health issues or offenders in prisons.
Tests can include:
- verbal tests - such as verbal reasoning, analysis and word sort
- numerical tests - such as reasoning, analysis and sequential tests
- diagrammatic and spatial reasoning - testing your sense of logic and visual thinking and organisation skills
These are formal, structured exercises designed to measure psychological qualities such as reasoning ability and personality factors.
Personality assessments help to explore the ways in which you typically react to and deal with different situations. They allow a profile to be drawn up from your responses to a large number of questions or statements. The questions focus on factors such as how you relate to other people, your work style, your ability to deal with your own emotions and those of others, your motivation and determination and your general outlook.
Couples/family therapy is a branch of psychotherapy which tends to view change in terms of the systems of interaction between couples and family members.
Bringing people together in a safe and supportive atmosphere can often help to improve communication and allow a better understanding of each other. It is important to think about past events and their impact on the present and future.
Couples/family therapy works alongside individuals to create a way of working that seems most helpful to them. Individuals may seek help if they are experiencing intense upset and pain, or to address problems at an early stage or even to prevent difficulties arising.