Blog

Failure Schema

“I f***ed it up again”. Jeff* was frustrated. He had left his preparation for his job interview to the last minute and it had felt like a disaster. They asked me some pretty basic questions about my past work history, and I sounded like an idiot – such a loser. In reality, Jeff was a competent and highly regarded in...[ read more ]

Thinking Traps Part I: Jumping to Conclusions

This is the first of a series of posts on Thinking Traps, also called Cognitive Distortions or Stinky Thinking. Thinking Traps are common mistakes of reasoning and logic that seem to naturally occur in the human mind. A primary aim of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is to help people identify and challenge these unhelpful thoughts and thus change their mental...[ read more ]

Negative Automatic Thoughts

Inner Radio All the body’s organs work. The heart beats. The lungs breathe. The brain thinks. Only a dead brain is free of thoughts. The conscious mind is endlessly active. If we become aware enough, we can listen to these thoughts. They are usually like a constant stream of dialogue, an inner radio. This radio has different channels. Some channels...[ read more ]

Passive and Passive-Aggressive: The Subjugation Schema

Paul fumed about his wife – “she expects me to do everything, I can’t get a moment for myself”. Paul felt constantly under pressure, at home and at work. He felt himself surrounded by demanding people and fantasised about escaping, being alone. Despite Paul feeling like he was being pushed around, he never got into fights or arguments. “What’s the...[ read more ]

Nerves that fire together wire together

How does psychotherapy work? People who come to see a psychologist hope and expect that they will change from the process. I ask all new clients “what do you hope to get out of therapy?” Most people hope and expect that they will change perspective or habits or both. But what does this change mean? What is happening in the...[ read more ]

Smiling: Fake it till you make it, not till you hate it

Patrick* was a relentlessly chipper chap. His cheerfulness was infectious, he was great to be around. He was going through a tortuous, spiteful divorce. Despite the lack of contact with his kids, the financial shock and constant hostile interactions, Patrick always greeted with a smile and a joke. Patrick was depressed, but no one around him knew – his sadness...[ read more ]

Mindfulness/Mindlessness

Tuesday 09 April: I exit work and enter the lift alone. I reflexively pull out my mobile phone (rarely used for making actual phone calls) and open a news site. Scanning headlines, I see nothing of interest and, in frustration, check a different site before the elevator doors open on the ground floor. As I walk to my car, I...[ read more ]

Am I a Narcissist? – The Entitlement Schema

Karl*, a charming, extroverted 48-year-old finance manager was in big trouble. His wife had “suddenly” left with the kids, moving in with her sister. She had had enough of his lies and inconsistencies, mainly related to his cocaine use and “meetings” with other women. Simultaneously, Karl had become under investigation from work for using his company card for personal expenses. Coming...[ read more ]

Little Wounds, Limbic Scars and Holes in the Street

German researchers recruited 110 people who were in hospital for Major Depressive Disorder. They scanned their brains with an MRI machine and gave them a questionnaire about childhood maltreatment. Two years later, they contacted the participants and asked them whether they had experienced in any depressive episodes since first contact. The researchers found that people who had experienced childhood trauma...[ read more ]

Social Isolation / Alienation Schema

“I carry my loneliness on my back, like a turtle”. Jia* had a great job in fashion and a loving boyfriend but was depressed and socially anxious. She had difficulties talking in groups of three or more people, she never felt natural, she came across as distant and aloof. “I suppose I’m just a social coward, never showing my real...[ read more ]



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