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My Services

I do have some experience of working with children but as I am not specifically trained to work in CBT with children I prefer to stick to Adults and Young People aged over 16.  I am trained to work with a range of disorders including Depression and Phobia and I have a particular interest and skills in working with the following areas:

  • Social Anxiety (Suggested Reading)

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

  • Low Self Esteem (Suggested Reading)

  • Panic attacks (and Limited Symptom Attacks)

  • Menopausal symptoms

  • Male and Paternal Mental Health

  • Boarding School Experienced - Individuals who have difficult experiences from being sent to Boarding and Private Schools (which may be described as `Boarding School Syndrome`) or their loved ones who feel this is an issue which could be affecting them.

  • Care Experienced individuals

  • Relationships difficulties

  • Loss, change and grief

  • Parenting and Attachment issues

  • Health Anxiety

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder

If you would like to enquire about my Counselling and CBT services please Contact me through Counselling Directory  Psychotherapist Alice McCann - Glasgow - Counselling Directory (counselling-directory.org.uk)

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Social Anxiety 

Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD – also known as Social Phobia) causes fear and anxiety in social situations including eating in front of others; going to work; chatting at a party and public speaking. It can happen in some but not all social situations e.g., a sufferer may enjoy chatting at a party yet when they must talk in public this triggers performance related social anxiety. CBT is recommended for the treatment of SAD and there are lots of exercises we can use to help alleviate a lot of these symptoms.

I suggest reading Gillian Butler's book 'Overcoming Social Anxiety'. 

Panic Attacks (and Limited Symptom attacks)

Panic is an anxiety disorder. Panic can be described as a discrete period of intense fear which seems to `come on` very quickly, almost `out of the blue`.

Symptoms can include `Rapid or pounding heartbeat`; `Feelings of unreality`; `Sweating`; `nausea’ and `Fear of losing control or going crazy`. There are 13 possible symptoms and to diagnose panic disorder there would need to be a feeling of a `sudden rush of panic` (which must peak within ten minutes) as well as at least 4 of these physical symptoms. ` Limited symptom attacks` describes situations where a sufferer experiences less than 4 of the 13 physical symptoms. They can be very unsettling despite having less symptoms.

CBT when used for Panic aims to reduce unhelpful cognitions and behaviours which when active cause the sufferer to misread situations as dangerous (which the body, mind and behaviour then react to) and eliminate avoidance. 

“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” - Leo Buscaglia

Low Self Esteem 

Dr Melanie Fennell a pioneering CBT Practitioner in the UK, believes that having low self-esteem (LSE) is the result of viewing and thinking negatively or critically of ourselves and putting an inaccurate low value on ourselves. 

By using Fennell`s CBT model for Low Self Esteem we can look at unhelpful ways of thinking and doing which we might have adapted to cope with negative self-beliefs e.g., I`m not good enough` to one which is more accurate and helpful.

Boarding School Syndrome / Experienced

Boarding School Syndrome is now being recognized as a specific psychological condition.

Psychoanalyst, Joy Schaverien first coined the term “Boarding School Syndrome” in 2011, after noticing common difficulties of former pupils among her patients which included problems with anger, depression, anxiety, a failure to sustain relationships, fear of abandonment and substance abuse. 

Nick Duffell, a psychotherapist and author of influential study, `The Making of Them` defines ex pupils as “boarding school survivors”. In his book `Trauma, Abandonment and Privilege: A guide to therapeutic work with boarding school survivors` he talks about the ways a child copes with being `sent away ‘. As an adult these ways of coping can include overworking and avoidance of intimacy. Nick describes the impact as `developmental trauma`.

In Britain, boarding education carries high social status, is considered a privilege, and is rife with parental expectation, which can make talking about the difficulties an individual has suffered as a result very difficult. It can be a taboo subject and sufferers can carry a lot of shame and guilt about having difficulties almost like they don`t have a right to complain or they have failed.

I have completed further training in this area which is not CBT based but can be effectively combined with what I have learned.

Menopausal Symptoms and CBT

The menopause is a natural part of ageing that usually occurs between 45 and 55 years and refers to the process where a woman’s body adjusts to reducing oestrogen levels resulting in her body subsequently stopping the production of eggs. This can be a relatively trouble-free process for some while for others can be problematic.

Perimenopause is where women begin to experience menopausal symptoms as hormonal levels begin to fluctuate but are having periods. Menopause is when a woman has not had a period for 12 months, meaning that a woman can no longer get pregnant naturally as her body stops producing eggs. Early Menopause is when women begin the menopause before they are aged 45 which affects one in 100 women. Medical treatments like Hysterectomy, Hormone and Cancer treatment often cause this.

Research shows that CBT focussed mostly on the difficulties caused by these changes including `hot flushes` and `night sweats` can help women. Some may wonder how a physical or medical issue can be helped by using CBT. Treatment includes acknowledging the difficulties often caused by changes in the `thermoregulatory system via the hypothalamus` (where the `thermo-neutral zone` is reduced causing extreme fluctuations in body temperature) by looking at how negative or unhelpful beliefs, predictions and behaviours can worsen symptoms.  

“Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don't belong.”― Mandy Hale

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition caused by very stressful, frightening, or distressing events. What someone experiences as `traumatic` is often subjective so what causes PTSD in one person is likely to be different to another person. Traumatic experiences are things which are unwanted and ones where a person has no or little control over and are normally life threatening or feel life threatening.

Any situation which a person finds traumatic can cause PTSD including:  serious road accidents; violent personal assaults, such as sexual assault, mugging or robbery; serious health problems and  childbirth experiences.

The way the brain copes with traumatic experiences is to put the body and mind into a straight of alert for survival. This means that the Amygdala (which functions like an alarm signalling danger, and responds in `fight, flight, fawn or freeze mode ‘to keep a person safe). This is normally effective as for example if we `freeze` during physical attack we are more likely not to `win` the battle but to avoid antagonising our attacker and so avoid further risk or injuries, unwanted contact or being killed. This is why many people with PTSD often later feel confused or angry about what they may perceive as not `fighting back` either physically, or by not reporting their experiences to the authorities or telling loved ones. Feelings of guilt, embarrassment and shame are also often present and may prevent people from seeking help. Often people decide to keep these experiences to themselves in the hope it will go away. 

Someone with PTSD often relives the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks, problems sleeping, such as insomnia, and find concentrating difficult. This is because the Amygdala was functioning well during the traumatic experience(s), but the part which process or stores memories, the Hippocampus wasn`t able to work too well. This is why those with PTSD often struggle to sleep or to stay asleep without awaking through the night, as this is when the brain tries to deal with these memories. Sensory stimulus like the smell of the same aftershave or music the person smelled or heard during the traumatic experiences will tend to `trigger` unwanted disturbing memories of the experience or just the feelings they felt and/ or the beliefs they had at the time e.g. `it must have been my fault otherwise it wouldn`t have happened`. I describe it as these beliefs and memories of thoughts, feelings and of the actual event (s) are all almost frozen in time, sitting there in the brain unprocessed (or in a  fragmented or disorganised way) until they are `triggered` by something in the present, but it feels like it is happening now as the feeling of being in danger returns.

These symptoms are often severe and persistent enough to have a significant impact on the person's day-to-day life. PTSD can develop immediately after someone experiences a disturbing event, or it can occur weeks, months or even years later. PTSD is estimated to affect about 1 in every 3 people who have a traumatic experience, but it's not clear exactly why some people develop the condition and others do not. I have treated clients for PTSD for traumatic events in their lives which occurred maybe 50 years ago and find that many clients are affected by experiences dating back several decades and it hasn`t gone away on its own.

People who repeatedly experience traumatic situations, such as severe neglect, abuse or violence, may be diagnosed with complex PTSD. Complex PTSD can cause similar symptoms to PTSD and may not develop until years after the event.It's often more severe if the trauma was experienced early in life, as this can affect a child's development.

PTSD can be successfully treated, even when it develops many years after a traumatic event.

Recommended treatment includes; talking therapies – such as trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR). Both therapies involve `exposure work` also known as `reliving`, which in CBT treatment means that traumatic experiences are recalled sometimes written down or talked through. We then rate emotions felt while recalling the experiences and look at what is different now, and how does the person think about it now, their beliefs about themselves etc. We use grounding techniques and work on having an awareness of physical responses to these memories and how we can remember it is `not happening now`. This all helps to process the memory(s) and can reduce PTSD symptoms. The later stage of PTSD treatment is about `reclaiming` where we look at what the experiences took from the person and how it affected them and what they would like to do in their life now that the symptoms have reduced.

I only treat clients for PTSD if I have assessed them for it using a PCL-5 which is a questionnaire used to rate symptoms and am always clear that as a Psychotherapist I cannot diagnose any disorder but can only say that an assessment like this would `suggest treating a particular disorder may be beneficial`. Having treatment for PTSD can be quite upsetting, tiring and emotional and I would only work on this if my client is fully aware of the treatment plan, has an agreed `safe space` and wants to work on this. It doesn`t work for everyone but in my experience so far it does work for most people and the benefits of this treatment seem significant.

EMDR is also recommended in NHS and NICE guidelines and is something I hope to train in, in future as it seems to be really beneficial as well but there is apparently less research done on it compared to CBT, so CBT tends to be recommended first for this reason and not because it is necessarily more effective.

I hope the information I have shared on this page is useful to people considering treatment. I would always recommend having a free 15 minute phone discussion with me (and other potential therapists you may have found in your search) before making any decisions about having treatment.

Relationship difficulties

Going through a separation, divorce, negotiating the modern world of dating, having a difficult time while in a relationship or entering a new relationship can all be really unsettling and challenging situations. These changes can often be scary and daunting but also exciting and positive. Relationship difficulties can make us feel insecure and change how we feel about ourselves and our identity. When relationships end, we can go through a lot of pain and this can bring up old painful feelings from the past.

Sometimes it can help just to see things from another perspective just to help work out the best way forward and using CBT can help.

Parenting issues

I have had extra training in issues around parenting which connects well with my CBT training. When children go through different stages of development like having `tantrums`; mood swings during adolescence etc this can trigger negative beliefs in parents.

 

People who don’t really know your child may give what I sometimes feel is unhelpful advice which can put unnecessary pressure on parents. When your child challenges you with their behaviour this can trigger unhelpful predictions for the future like `they will not succeed in anything of their life`. Often parents worry that their child `will end up like me` and that this is bad or that how they feel mentally and emotionally will be passed on to their child.

 

In my experience there are no perfect parents only `good enough parents` and a parent who is worrying about these things is probably doing much better than what they think. Sometimes we can devalue the attachment or bond that exists between Parents (or Care Givers) with unhelpful comments like `they`re just attention seeking` and `you`re making a rod for your own back` which can cause Parents to question the way they parent. CBT can help look at this from a different perspective that is more helpful.

Loss, change and grief

Often, we don`t acknowledge the impact of events in our lives. We may find it hard to speak about how we are affected by loss and grief when we lose someone significant for fear that we are a burden on others and `should be over it by now'. Sometimes it can be helpful to remember the person and acknowledge the void that has been left.

Losing a job, having a health issue which affects our usual abilities, relationship breakdowns are other examples of losses, which often happen at the same time. This can be very unsettling and may require the need to make changes to the way we live which can be daunting, but can also be really positive.

If you would like to talk about any of the services I offer, please get in touch using the link for my profile on Counselling Directory below. 

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