He will discuss with you which approach or combination of approaches will be most
helpful. In general, when working with individuals, Dr Justin tends to integrate
acceptance and commitment therapy with cognitive-analytic therapy, or acceptance
and commitment therapy with cognitive-behavioural therapy. When working with couples,
Dr Justin practices emotionally focussed therapy. Sex therapy tends to utilise ideas
and techniques from a range of different therapy models.
Here is more information about the different styles of psychological therapy that
Dr Justin offers.
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
ACT is based on the principle that your attempts to control your ‘symptoms’ or distress
may actually be making your distress worse. This is because difficult and distressing
thoughts, emotions and physical sensations are as much a part of being human as your
enjoyable thoughts, emotions and sensations. Therefore, if they are a part of being
human, that means it is quite likely that it is not possible to get rid of them!
Therefore, if you can begin to accept (not ‘like’ or ‘want’) them for what they are,
you can begin to live with them and invest your energy in walking towards (instead
of being distracted from) what is important in your life. Put simply, ACT is about
working towards accepting yourself and committing yourself to your own values. Research
shows that when people live their life in this way their distress begins to reduce.
CAT explores your past and current relationships. It focusses on how coping strategies
to earlier life problems may now be used too rigidly or may be ineffective. Current
difficulties experienced may be made worse by habitual coping strategies. The focus
is on recognising how these coping procedures originated and how they can be adapted
and improved. The work is active and shared. Diagrams and written outlines are worked
out together to help recognise, challenge and revise old patterns that do not work
well. It is a semi-structured therapy.
CBT aims to help people change patterns of thinking or behaviour that are causing,
or contributing to, problems. Changing how you think and behave can change how you
feel emotionally. CBT tends to focus on why problems are maintained rather than why
they developed. Dr Justin and you will agree goals for treatment and you will be
asked to try things out between sessions. It is a structured therapy.
Dr Justin advocates a three session assessment which is made up of a joint session,
one individual session (the session is split in half so each person has time to talk
in private) and a second joint session*. During the first joint assessment session
you will both be asked to provide your view of the relationship, how the relationship
started and developed, and how the two of you engage with each other. In the individual
session you will be asked about your family of origin and previous romantic and/
or sexual relationships. In the final assessment session you will talk about what
hopes you have for the future of the relationship (e.g., to stay together or to separate)
and how these might be worked towards; Dr Justin will provide you with feedback on
how he sees the strengths and struggles in your relationship and on what he thinks
will be helpful for you. There are a number of possible outcomes from the couple
assessment: to engage in couple therapy; for one or both partners to engage in individual
therapy instead of, or in addition to, couple therapy; not to engage in any therapy.
If couple therapy is pursued the sessions will enable each partner to increasingly
talk about their concerns and feelings in a way that their partner is able to hear
them, validate them and address their needs. As emotional intimacy develops and partners
feel more connected they are usually well placed to work out their own problems or
to learn/ enhance skills such as problem solving. Depending on the nature of the
difficulty at the heart of the relationship and the type of support you are looking
for, Dr Justin may encourage you to complete tasks between sessions.
*A brief couple assessment can be carried out in one session, however, Dr Justin
believes that this does not allow enough time for each person in the relationship
to tell their story and for the complexities of the relationship to be understood
– this has the potential to undermine any subsequent therapy.
Sex therapy focusses on issues of sexuality within the context of relationships (with
self and others) whether the person is in a relationship or not and whether they
come to therapy alone or with someone else. The issues or difficulties faced are
often related to sexual ‘performance’ (i.e., desire, arousal, orgasm and pain). However,
sex therapy also includes working with people who want to explore sexual abuse and
assault experiences, sexual orientation and preferences (for example, kinky sex),
or the impact of ill health on sexual health and relationships. Sex therapy is an
integrative approach, drawing on ideas from systemic, cognitive, behavioural and
psychodynamic ideas. Clients are often are asked to try out specific techniques
or exercises at home.