Psychotherapy and Psychology

20 Nov '17

What is psychology?

Have you ever wondered?

Let’s see if we can clarify a bit around psychology: Very briefly, psychology is the scientific study of how people behave, think and feel. The Oxford English dictionary refers to science as “intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.” 

In scientific study we are building up a body of knowledge about our subject. If we apply this to psychology we are systematically using observations and experiments to build up knowledge on how people behave, think and feel. There are many areas in the field where this is applied, including areas such as memory, learning, relationships of various kinds, mental health, sport, business, reasoning, personality and so on.  

Does this apply to the psychologist down the road? Yes. The psychologist down the road who practices psychology is informed by the science of psychology to do various assessments and apply various treatments.

We will, in the next few months, discuss these topics in more detail. We will visit some concepts in psychology as well as various approaches in the field.

2 Dec '17








Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Most people who have contact with a psychologist will have contact with a psychologist who practices psychotherapy. These psychologists are scientists who use the science of psychology to assist people who are either in distress or who wish to develop in some or other way.

There are numerous different approaches to psychotherapy. It can be confusing and it is worth spending a bit of time discussing the main differences and commonalities between these different approaches.

Let’s start with the one you have probably heard a lot from in the last while if you follow developments in the field at all. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT.  (see full discussion here

3 Dec '17




Cognitive Behavioural Therapy - Beck approach

This is probably the most commonly used approach to CBT and has loads and loads of research support. Beck started developing it in the 1960s. In essence the approach links automatic thoughts and beliefs to symptoms. If your thoughts are irrational you will have problems in mood, anxiety and so on.  (see full discussion here)

4 Dec '17




Behaviour in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

There is a lot of emphasis in CBT on thinking and it’s possible to wonder whether behaviour comes into it at all. Behaviour plays an important role in CBT and the area we see it most closely is that of anxiety. Let’s take some typical examples. Specific phobias is an area where we can easily see the role of behaviour and how CBT utilises behaviour change to achieve a change in symptoms. (see full discussion here)

13 Dec '17



Panic Disorder and

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Panic Disorder is common and one of the disorders that do very well with exposure.

You may wonder what the difference is between panic attacks and panic disorder. In panic attacks people have a period of intense fear with a number of possible symptoms, such as trembling, a feeling of choking or smothering, feeling hot or cold, tingling or pins and needles in hands and feet, chest pain, (see full discussion here)

12 Jan '18



Generalised Anxiety Disorder

For many people, the first time they probably heard the term, was with the trail of Oscar Pistorius who was said to suffer from Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD). GAD is however common and the chances are you will know someone who has the problem. People with GAD feel keyed up or on edge. They tend to worry and often complain that they can’t switch off their thoughts. (see full discussion here)

29 Jan '18

Social Anxiety Disorder

(Social Phobia)

Have you ever been nervous about speaking to a large group of people? Many people relate to the feeling and indeed, public speaking is the most common problem people with social anxiety report. But we are not just talking a bit of nervousness at having to speak in front of others. Someone with Social Anxiety Disorder really fears it. (see full discussion here)

29 Jan '18


Separation Anxiety Disorder

When we hear the term Separation Anxiety Disorder we probably think of the four year old clutching her mother’s skirts and refusing to go to pre-school. We often think it is something that will pass. However, we now know that Separation Anxiety Disorder is common and can continue into adulthood. (see the full discussion here

20 Mar '18



Specific Phobias

Heard of claustrophobia, emetophobia, arachnophobia or anatidaephobia? And what about lepidopterophobia and paraskevidekatriaphobia or friggatriskaidekaphobia? There are many long lists with even longer names describing all sorts of things people fear irrationally. These include fear of natural events such as storms or lightening or the dark. (see the full discussion here)

12 Apr '18




We all feel depressed, despondent, hopeless on occasion. This feeling can come and go and generally although we don’t feel very good it doesn’t really affect our lives very much. This is not what we are talking about when we refer to clinical depression. In clinical depression we are talking about an illness that affects the sufferer’s whole body and their interaction with their world.  (see the full discussion here

8 Jul '18




Persistent Depressive Disorder

Ever thought you were born depressed?

You may have Persistent Depressive Disorder. A diagnosis of Persistent Depressive Disorder is made when someone has symptoms of depression that are always there. (see the full discussion here)