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Hello ........

I'm very pleased that you have landed on this site. Because for so many people, psychological therapy or counselling is the key ingredient to changing their compulsive or addictive behaviour and has often been the ‘missing link’ when they have tried to make changes. So often, these unwanted behaviours started out as 'solutions' to their anxiety, depression, low self-esteem or other problems, but are now causing major difficulties of their own. Whether you consider yourself to be addicted or not, if you are struggling with repetitive behaviours, then individual, specialist therapy provides a personalised intervention for your particular life and experiences. Perhaps you are just starting to notice that you don’t have quite as much control over your life as you’d thought. Or maybe you have tried a number of times to make changes but have found that you just slip back into the old patterns again or things go well until you hit a stressful period in your life. If you think now might be the time to take a closer look at what is maintaining these patterns, so that you can start to find real freedom from them, please have a look at the Meaningful Therapy pages to find out more about it. I hope you find the information on this website to be useful and inspiring and that you will get in touch if it seems like a 'good fit' for you.

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Alcohol Drugs  Cocaine  Heroin  Eating  Sex  Porn  Love  Grief  Gambling  Shopping  Exercise  Gaming  Self-harm  Social-media  Food  Nicotine  Opioids  Benzodiazepine   Work  Cocaine  Inhalants  Arguing  Marijuana  Methamphetamine  Barbiturates  Plastic-surgery  Smart-phones  Caffeine  Tattoos  Risky-activities  Vomiting Hoarding .......  

A Perspective on Addiction

Despite what you might have read, or even what you might believe, people struggling with addictions and compulsive behaviours are not diseased, weak-willed, self-indulgent or in denial. It is more accurate to say that addictions develop over time from a complex interplay of wide-ranging factors. These include neurobiology, personal history, social expectations, accessibility and the person’s social context. As human beings, we all have internal contradictions, such as saying that we want one thing but then doing something different. We also often unhelpfully criticise ourselves when we give in to our urges. Everyone looks for comfort when they're having a difficult time. Maybe a glass of wine when we get home after a hard day at work……. or scrolling through videos on our phone instead of facing a difficult conversation. Knowingly or not, we all soothe our emotions one way or another. When this pattern works well, it can bring balance back into our inner system and we stop at one occasional glass of wine or only scroll videos for five minutes before getting on with dealing with whatever is challenging. However, when the emotional discomfort is too great – either because of past experiences, a recent stressor, our self-esteem is challenged or because of the shame brought on by the behaviour itself - our ability to moderate and limit the distracting behaviour can be overwhelmed. Then we can develop more extreme or persistent versions of those behaviours. Having lost our ability to moderate our behaviour, we move into repetitive and enduring habits that then cause the ongoing harm that we now want to prevent. The original pleasure from alcohol, substances and other behaviours has often completely disappeared but the urge to use continues. When we try to limit or stop the unwanted behaviour, we are then faced with the emotions they were hiding from us or the intense urge that was disguising the emotion. Our neural brain circuitry changes with all addictive behaviours - not just with chemical substances. The circuitry most associated with 'desire' or 'wanting' also influences how we narrow our attention and look foward to things. In this way, we become focussed on our compulsive behaviour and increasingly pay less attention to other things we value such as important people and activities. It is the repetition - not disease - that leads to a change in the brain's wiring. In effect, we learn our compulsive behaviours - so with the right intervention, we can start to learn something new. You may feel that you carry out the behaviour because you just ‘like it too much’. However, if even a small part of you has some interest in changing your behaviour but finds it too difficult to just stop, that is a clear indication that there is more going on ‘behind the scenes’.

How Therapy Works

Good psychological therapy is effective with addictive behavours because it enables people to become aware of their, often hidden, motivations and intentions behind behaviours that have become harmful and self-destructive. Your therapist will encourage a genuinely self-caring approach to help your nervous system become calm and so enable the exploration that is needed without generating unnecessary anxiety or agitation. People should be enabled to find a curiosity and willingness to really know why their extreme behaviours started and what beliefs maintain them now. But understanding on its own is not sufficient. Most importantly, therapy should provide the means for people to revise and update their beliefs about themselves and their relationship to other people and to the world in general. In this way, if authentic and sincere, the person’s system no longer needs to use such drastic methods to distract or soothe and can let go of the compulsion to engage in the addictive behaviour. For a fuller explanation of this and of the particular approaches I use, please click on the Meaningful Therapy tab.

Personalised Therapy for addiction and compulsive behaviours

This site is unable to provide emergency mental health care.  If you are experiencing significant distress, please phone 111, contact your GP or attend the A&E department at your local hospital.

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