So, what's it like to work with me in therapy?

The focus is on skills for managing the most complex, chronic and severe personality and mood disorders — a powerful approach that's proven to work

This page will tell you the kinds of results my clients consistently achieve when they work with me, as well as giving you a sense of my guiding beliefs, my approach to clients and their problems, issues and concerns, and how my particular blend of psychotherapy treatments is different to most others in the fields of Axis I and Axis II disorders; in particular, mood and personality disorders like Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

Expected Results

When you work with me you can expect to see desirable and sustainable results:

Your emotions, patterns of thinking and behaviours, such as binge eating, or self-mutilation or self-harm, or substance dependence, will start to become things of the past

Suicidal thoughts and fantasies, as well as suicidal urges and acts will be significantly reduced, both in their intensity and frequency

You will notice you experience less anger and with less intensity, a reduction in paranoia, depression and anxiety. You'll start to 'fit in' to more social situations and environments, with far fewer interpersonal difficulties

You'll be less likely to react to triggers as intensely or as quickly as you do now, and in your crisis moments you'll be far more aware of what you're actually feeling. Consequently, your times of upset will become shorter (maybe a few hours rather than a few months), and less intense. You will become more emotionally resilient.

In the process, you will develop the ability not simply to survive, but to create a life worth living.

Guiding Beliefs and Values

I take inspiration for what I do from many disciplines, writers and practitioners in the field: from M. Scott Peck to Aaron T. Beck, to Jon Kabat-Zinn, to Carl Rogers, to Jeffrey Young (developer of Schema Therapy), as well as close colleagues I've worked with over the years.

I don't believe in you just coming to sessions, dredging up memories from the past and endlessly analysing issues…For me, therapy should provide a road map, or a toolbox

The therapeutic approach which, more than any other, informs how I work, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, was developed by Marsha Linehan at The Linehan Institute in the 1990s.

DBT gives the way I work with clients a more pragmatic and practical edge, based on the premise that, although you didn't originally create your emotional problems, the problems are still yours to fix.

I don't believe in you just coming to sessions, sitting around and sharing your feelings for an hour, dredging up memories from the past and endlessly analysing issues.

For me, therapy should provide a road map, or a toolbox.  It should be about tangible results, about setting and making progress towards achieving goals — whether the goal is wanting to stop crying all the time, or stopping the pain, or to stop harming yourself, returning to work, or saving a broken relationship.

I focus on developing skills to help you change the things that cause you immediate misery and distress —to regain control of your mind, your emotions and your behaviours.

A strong therapeutic bond built on mutual trust is the key to success in everything we do together in therapy.  As you'll see in some of the Case Studies, because of the intensity and severity of some of the problems my clients have, we often need to be very creative, and try things that are a little different.  For this to work successfully, we need to have built a strong, open and trusting therapeutic alliance.

I don't see Borderline or other symptoms as pathologies, but rather I view them as basic biological and psychological vulnerabilities. They are not symptoms to be cured, but a set of problems: problems that make your life unbearable, but problems with inherent solutions that you've just yet to understand — a skills deficit.

Consequently, I work very closely with clients to develop more effective ways to accomplish specific goals and equip them with the key skills they need to create their own life.


My Approach

I work in a very structured way. Every session begins with an agenda that we set together, and ends with an appraisal of how many of and how far the objectives have been achieved.

Homework is an essential part of the way I work. I feel this is the best way to consolidate and increase learning, as it encourages you to become your own therapist; an expert on yourself.

My consultation room in Chelmsford is a warm and safe environment, , and everything that's discussed there is treated in absolute confidence.

My work as a therapist is guided by and adheres to the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP)'s ethical principles of counselling and psychotherapy, and to the standards of conduct performance and ethics set down by the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP), of which I am proud to be an accredited member.

In many instances, I take self-referrals but, where possible, I prefer to see clients who have undergone a psychiatric assessment from a consultant psychiatrist. Only a psychiatrist is able to officially diagnose, to prescribe mood stabilisers or other medication.

Professor Jamie Hacker Hughes is an Essex-based, HCPC Registered Consultant Clinical Psychologist with a very clear understanding of borderline personality and other mood disorders, whom I thoroughly recommend. He is also President Elect of the British Psychological Society (BPS) for 2014/15 and will serve as its President in 2015/16.

I make myself available for phone-based / Skype-based coaching in moments of crisis. For example, if a client sends me an email, I will try to respond very quickly, with practical skills and advice. I am always approachable.

Therapy sessions with clients using the Skype VoIP service are also available for those who find it difficult to attend at my office on a regular basis. Please note that for this format of therapy, specific terms and conditions particularly apply.

What makes me different?

When you're looking around for a therapist these days, you're more likely to find someone who's a hypnotherapist, or NLP Master Practitioner, or Life Coach, or a Counsellor. You'll find many excellent CBT therapists working in Essex that can help you with depression and anxiety, and I've been treating clients with these disorders for a number of years using CBT.

What makes me different from most therapists, however, certainly in this location, is that I'm one of very few who specialise in highly complex mood and personality disorders, in particular Borderline Personality Disorder. BPD 'borders' on and often co-occurs with other mood disorders, such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar, or chemical dependency, and I have a great deal of experience of working with such co-morbid, chronic and severe emotional problems.

One of the things that people tell me is that I can always get to the heart of a problem very quickly. Getting to that level of awareness early on is beneficial to both client and therapist, and usually paves the way for significant progress and improvement towards your remission and your recovery.

So, now you have a better idea about the results that you can expect working with me, along with my approach and philosophy towards working with my clients. Next, go to my Treatment Strategies page to learn about the specific programmes I offer.

My complete range of Treatment Strategies

Psychotherapy and psychotherapeutic treatment plans for a range of psychological and emotional problems, from depression and anxiety to the most severe mood and personality disorders

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What is Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)?

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy integrates aspects of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy techniques with Eastern and Zen practices including Mindfulness

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Case Studies

People I've helped over the years (I've had to change their personal details in order to respect their privacy)

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