Frequently asked questions

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT, is a “talking therapy” concerned with how you think about yourself, about the world and other people, and how what you do affects your thoughts and feelings. It helps by breaking down your problems into five specific areas:

  • Situations (that trigger your distress)
  • Thoughts
  • Emotions
  • Physical feelings
  • Behaviours (our actions in response to the distress)
These areas are all interlinked. What we think about a situation will affect how we feel, both emotionally and physically, and how we ultimately act upon those feelings. For example, if we think a situation is dangerous it might make us feel fearful or anxious, it might give us physical symptoms, perhaps a racing heartbeat, feeling sweaty or tense, or having a churning feeling in the stomach. We may then feel an overwhelming desire to escape or avoid the situation altogether. CBT differs from other types of therapies; it focuses on identifying your specific problems, setting goals and looking at what prevents you from moving towards those goals. It is a collaborative therapy, reliant on building a good therapeutic relationship, so that together we can work to find solutions that suit you and tackle your difficulties. It is not about being told what you should do. CBT can help you to change the way you think ('Cognitive') and what you do ('Behaviour'). These changes can help you to feel better. Initially, it focuses on current problems and difficulties and, if it feels appropriate, can look at identifying the causes of your distress or symptoms in the past. Further information about CBT can be found at:

What is EMDR?

EMDR stands for 'Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing' and is a therapy that was first developed to treat trauma. It is recommended as a treatment for PTSD by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE). EMDR is a process in which distressing memories lose their intensity so that they become less overwhelming and upsetting and seem more like an “ordinary” memory. Any event that someone is exposed to (or witnesses) that provokes strong negative emotions or feelings of hopelessness has the potential to become a traumatic or distressing memory. Examples of these might be physically violent or abusive incidents or they could be emotionally distressing, such as being ridiculed, criticised or emotionally abused. Even if the event may not be considered “traumatic” in a classic sense, it can still be associated with a high level of distress - which the brain treats in exactly the same way. Emotions and physical reactions at the time of the traumatic event are associated with chemicals produced by the nervous system and the brain can sometimes react by storing the traumatic experience into memory in a different way to how it would an everyday event which is not distressing. The effect of EMDR therapy is believed to have a similar effect to that which we naturally experience during the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) part of our sleep. This is the part of our sleep cycle when your eyes move rapidly from side to side. EMDR helps to reduce the distress caused by any type of traumatic memory, whether associated with what you saw, heard, smelt, tasted, felt or thought. Further information about EMDR can be found at:

What you can expect from our first session

At our first session we will talk about the things that are troubling you and why you felt the need to come to therapy. I may ask you some questions about your background and history that may be relevent to how you are feeling now, in order to put things into context. We will establish some goals for what you would like to head towards in coming to see me and explore what we will do to try to achieve those targets.