Clinical Psychology strand of anxiety depression, stress and PTSD
Our practice in this strand involves working with you to develop your personal mastery of change events when these events have caused you to feel anxious, depressed, stressed, phobic, and/ or in a state of post traumatic stress disorder [PTSD].
Examples of frame-breaking change-events that give rise to these debilitating emotions include loss, trauma, injury, depression, divorce, and redundancy.
But there are also small, incremental changes that we call frame-bending. Frame-bending change erodes our self-confidence and esteem and gives us a sense of hopeless helplessness.
Examples of frame-bending incremental change include a deteriorating relationship, getting older, feeling that we are not valued, and that our life is losing its purpose.
Change leads us to feel anxious and depressed. It can cause severe stress, phobias, and panic attacks. These negative emotions can lead us to behave in ways that we think may protect us from further stress and pain. But these protective behaviours are in fact maladaptive because they restrict our sphere of action, reduce our choices, and impair our autonomy.
The clinical problems that we will work with you to resolve include
- general anxiety
- relationship problems
- conflict resolution
- work problems
Figure 01 shows what happens to our thoughts, feelings and behaviour in the face of change
Figure 01: the impact of change on the individual’s thoughts, feelings and behaviour.
Figure 01 shows that when a change event occurs, we first register it and try to understand its meaning and implications. If, for example, we are about to lose some one very close to us, does that mean we may never see them again? Does it mean our friends will abandon us? Does it mean we will be left with financial problems?
Once we have registered the change-event, we begin to interpret it through the filter of our core beliefs. From these beliefs spring a shoal of random automatic thoughts that are involuntary, illogical, transient, and occur extremely rapidly in our stream of consciousness.
Our automatic thoughts then generate the debilitating feelings of depression, anxiety, and panic. These in turn lead us to behave in certain ways aimed to protect us from further pain by cutting us off from our negative core beliefs.
Some part of our self watches us throughout this process of change, as we proceed from its registration through to its interpretation to the feeling phase. This part of our self, that we will call watching-self, wants to protect us from harm and to make sure that we are safe. It writes a plan of action for us to take in the form of protective behaviours. It sets a pattern for the future that prescribes our thoughts, feelings and behaviour in the face of change.
However the plans of the watching-self are maladaptive. Not only do they fail to protect us from pain and harm, but they narrow our choices, reduce our sphere of action, impair our self-confidence and self-esteem, and erode our personal effectiveness.
Our task at is to enable the watching-self to write adaptive plans that will increase our choices, confirm our sense of being an autonomous agent in the theatre of our lives, and extend the range of our mastery over the special demands that our world places upon us, now, and in the future.