Therapeutic approaches

At Wellspring Psychology, I am committed to providing safe, evidence-based psychological treatments for a wide range of mental health issues. Often, a blend of different approaches is helpful.

I predominantly use Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) but I also integrate other approaches so that therapy is tailored to meet your individual needs. I draw on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Compassion Focussed Therapy (CFT), Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).

Make a self-referral

It is usually helpful to start with a brief, no obligation, phone call (for which there is no charge) where we can discuss the problems you’re experiencing and consider the appropriateness of psychological therapy. If I think I can help with the issues you are bringing and it feels like a ‘good fit’ from your point of view, then I will offer you an initial assessment appointment (90 mins) to explore the issues in more detail and agree a treatment plan (based on your specific goals and budget).

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How I can help

Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT)

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy

The way we think about a situation can have a powerful impact on how we feel (emotionally and physically) and on how we respond (our behaviour/actions).

In CBT, we can work together to identify the thoughts and beliefs (cognitions) that are causing you distress and discover if there are other, more realistic and helpful ways of thinking and behaving. Understanding the impact of past events on your current difficulties is certainly an important aspect of CBT, but the main focus is on helping you make changes today that will improve your life tomorrow, rather than exploring your past.

Based on your specific goals, I will encourage you to harness your existing coping strategies as well as experiment with new ways of behaving. You will be supported to test out anxious predictions and discover which coping techniques work best for you. The ultimate aim of CBT is to help you ‘become your own therapist’ ie. to self-manage using your own repertoire of psychological resources.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends CBT as the treatment of choice for: depression, generalised anxiety, worry, panic disorder, social phobia, health anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, body dysmorphia, sleep problems and more. CBT can be used in conjunction with prescribed medication or by itself.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (pronounced ‘act’ not as the initials) gets its name from one of its core messages: accept what is out of your personal control and commit to action that improves and enriches your life.

The aim of ACT is to maximise your potential to lead a full and meaningful life. This does not mean a life free from pain and suffering – it means learning how to make room for difficult internal experiences to be there, whilst still doing things that bring you fulfilment and meaning. ACT does this by:

  • teaching you psychological skills to deal with your painful thoughts and feelings more effectively, so that they have much less negative impact and influence over you
  • helping you to clarify what matters most to you (your values)
  • using that knowledge to guide, inspire and motivate you to change your life for the better

Self acceptance and compassion are the overarching themes of my therapy with Esther. She has gently guided me though the emotional work necessary to move forward in my life and trust the intuitive centre of myself.

Katherine, Leamington Spa

Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT)

CFT is based on an evolutionary understanding of what it means to be human.

According to the CFT model, the human mind has evolved to be highly sensitive and quick to react to perceived threats (survival mode). Whilst being protective, this fast-acting threat system can also be a source of anxiety, depression and aggression. You may find that your threat system is easily triggered or that it is difficult to ‘switch off’ even after threatening situations have passed. Learning to develop kindness and compassion for yourself and others can be highly effective in calming down the threat system. CFT teaches you how to self-soothe, regulate your mood and increase feelings of safety, self-acceptance and wellbeing. CFT can be especially helpful if you struggle with shame and self-criticism or intense emotions such as anxiety and fear.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Many psychological problems originate from adverse or traumatic life events. EMDR consists of a structured, 8-stage, evidence-based protocol designed to treat the effects of trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

EMDR is based on the idea that the mind can heal itself naturally in the same way that the body does (e.g. if injured, the body will heal quickly if nothing is stuck in the wound – once cleaned, the wound can heal itself). Much of the time, your brain routinely processes new information without you being aware of it. Indeed, much of this natural processing occurs during sleep (especially Rapid Eye Movement sleep).

However, when you are traumatised by a sudden, frightening life event (e.g. a car accident) or by being repeatedly subjected to pain and distress (e.g. bullying, childhood abuse or domestic violence) your brain’s capacity to process information can become overwhelmed and ‘stuck’, making it difficult for you to move on from the experience. Even if the trauma occurred many years ago, the memory of it can still feel raw and present, as if it happened only recently or were still happening now. In EMDR, rapid eye movements (similar to those which occur during REM sleep) are recreated to activate the mind’s ‘adaptive information processing system’ (AIP) enabling your brain to process the traumatic memories in a natural way. Repeated ‘sets’ of eye movements are used during treatment until the traumatic memories lose their painful intensity. This is not hypnosis and you will be in complete control at all times. After treatment, you will still be able to remember what happened to you, but the memories will no longer be distressing. Unlike other forms of psychological therapy, EMDR does not require you to talk about the traumatic memories in detail (if at all) in order for you to heal/process them – this can be a tremendous relief if your experiences are difficult to put into words or if you carry a great deal of shame about them.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

MBCT combines mindfulness meditation with cognitive-behavioural therapy techniques in an 8-session format, with daily home-practices.

‘Mindfulness’ is a translation of a word that means awareness. It involves paying attention to what’s going on inside your mind and body, and what’s going on in the outside world as well. Much of the time our attention is caught up in our hopes or worries for the future (‘what if…?’) and our memories and regrets from the past (‘If only…’). This ‘mental time travel’ takes us out of the present moment. Mindfulness helps us to reconnect with our experience in this moment, without judgment or harsh criticism. Mindful awareness helps us see with greater clarity how we may approach each moment skilfully, taking more pleasure in the good things that often go unnoticed or unappreciated, and dealing more effectively with the difficulties we encounter.

MBCT is recommended by NICE for treatment of recurrent depression and research has shown it to be as effective as antidepressants for preventing depressive relapse. Research has also demonstrated the positive effects of MBCT for chronic fatigue, pain, stress, anxiety and panic.

None of us are immune to becoming unwell but we are also wired for recovery. With the help of psychological therapy, we can grow from setbacks and learn to develop our lives in healthy, meaningful ways around the difficulties we encounter.

Dr. Esther Riggs

Referrals from healthcare professionals and agencies

I am happy to accept referrals from healthcare professionals and agencies acting on behalf of clients. If you would like to discuss a possible referral, please email or phone me on 07793 006723.

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