It can be hard to make sense of our overwhelming emotions and experiences alone, when we are finding it hard to cope, we often feel the need to speak with someone. We might initially reach out to a family member or friend, which can be all we need, however if we need the guarantee of confidentiality, an alternative perspective and a safe space that is solely for you, then therapy can be what we were looking for. For some of us, we have been experiencing emotional distress for a while and our pain is too much to manage alone. We may have tried a number of different approaches but there continues to be a missing piece. There are many circumstances that can cause stress and distress, lapse and relapse. These things include change and adjustment, previous emotional distress, grief and loss, traumatic experiences, relationship and/or interpersonal problems, physical health problems, cognitive deficits, poor coping causing addiction, dependence or other unhelpful strategies. Choosing to come to therapy is a courageous decision. For some reason people will approach a physical doctor if they have a physical ailment, however when we experience emotional struggles we find it hard to seek out the appropriate support from Doctors of Psychology, counsellors or psychotherapists. Attending therapy is a wise investment in your health and wellbeing.
At Blue Lotus we have almost 20 years experience in the field of psychology. Having completed a doctorate in Clinical Psychology in 2006, I have enjoyed a career in the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, alongside a thriving private clinic. Since qualifying, I have continued my professional development through engagement in additional education to enrich my therapeutic skills and experience. An investment in a psychological intervention with us, is an investment into your health and wellbeing for your future, this is difficult to quantify and measure. Psychological therapy can be expensive, at our clinic, you are utilising some of the Clinicians valuable assets, their knowledge, expertise, experience and wisdom. In addition to this, you engage with the clinician in a therapeutic relationship, which is widely regarded as the most important aspect of any therapy. We pride ourselves in the relationships we have with our clients, their families, and others who impact upon their lives. The relationship between you and your therapist, must be genuine, honest, transparent, and caring. A price cannot be placed upon the relationship, it is invaluable to your success. It is important to note that although you pay for each session, the clinician is reflecting upon and understanding your narrative beyond the session. Between sessions, the therapist identifies a formulation as a means of effectively understanding and communicating your distress, as well as considering effective strategies to implement change. This is in addition to any potential communication with other professionals who may be involved, for example, school teachers, SENCO, School Psychologist, Family Physician/GP, etc.
During a therapy session, you will sit alongside the clinician, not on a couch, and share your story. We try to make our offices as comfortable as possible, we want you to feel relaxed in this environment. All approaches are different, utilizing different therapeutic skills to develop an intervention that are personal to you, this means that no two sessions are identical. Using a structured framework we will reflect upon the previous week, discuss homework, understand the ongoing or historical issues in a context of the formulation to enable us to develop effective strategies that will help to reduce the stress/distress. There will be times when this basic structure is not applied depending upon what you bring to therapy. This is your time to be heard, to understand and to change.
The length of time and how often a person comes to therapy varies from one person to another. For some people, just a few sessions are enough, whilst for others, a longer intervention is required. Different people require different approaches, alongside more structured and formal interventions, we also offer coaching for those who respond to a more intense, practical, motivational approach to achieving their ambitions. Psychological therapy sessions are 50 minutes in duration, coaching has alternative durations per session. Usually clients attend weekly, unless they feel they require more frequent sessions. As progress is made, we usually change to bi-weekly then monthly. Our coaching course can include face to face or online contacts, message and/or email prompts as part of frequent contacts to encourage you to maintain on task and complete the goal. Coaching is adjusted to meet your needs. All of our interventions are individualised, no two are the same.
Online interventions are available for those who are unable to attend the clinic. Here in Shanghai, the distance between client and clinician can be in excess of an hour, as well as those people in different parts of China and beyond, sometimes the clinic is physically inaccessible. For others, the clinic can be psychologically inaccessible depending upon their experiences and their emotional distress. Each online session is 50 minutes in duration, just like face to face sessions in the clinic. We use effective video platforms to see each other whilst communicating. Research has shown that online sessions can be as effective as clinic sessions. We know that the therapeutic relationship has a significant impact upon clinical outcomes, therefore so long as we have a good relationship and you feel safe and comfortable, our outcomes should be comparable whether we see each other in person in the clinic or via online platforms.
There is no guarantee that when someone comes into therapy there will be a successful outcome, particularly if this is idealised, for example, I will be happy and fulfilled, I will forgive those who have wronged me and I will have good relationships with everyone, or I will maintain a healthy lifestyle and maintain a low body weight. Therapy will create change. You might reflect upon yourself and others in ways that you had not done previously, you may identify emotions and understand why and how these are expressed, you may learn different ways of understanding experiences and effectively manage the subsequent distress. The range of success is dependant upon a number of factors, a huge one is your readiness and willingness to attempt to do things differently. This is much harder than it sounds! We are creatures of habit, we get stuck in routines and ways of being, changing these and maintaining different approaches takes courage, curiosity, energy and determination. Successful outcomes are found in the “doing”. It is important that you are motivated to change, without this motivation, we can feel that we have failed when a desired outcome is not achieved. It may be that we need to reconsider our goals and ambitions to make them more achievable. Largely we set ourselves goals that unachievable and out of range in the first instance, we need to re-evaluate these goals, breaking them down into something more reasonable, to allow you to feel more confident and motivated to achieve your ambitions. Having a good therapeutic relationship is essential to good therapeutic outcomes. Effective relationships are ones in which the clinician can challenge your beliefs and encourage you to consider an alternative opinion, without you feeling threatened. When we are able to reflect in a safe environment, sharing our feelings with someone who can listen without judgement and guide us through our maze of overwhelming thoughts, emotions and behaviours, we can make real change and improve our psychological health and wellbeing. Utilising psychological theory to inform our practice is imperative to understanding distress and to guide our interventions.
All sessions are completely confidential unless there are particular concerns about your safety. If you are believed to be a risk to yourself or others, then we have a duty of care to protect you and keep you safe. If a crisis or risk situation occurs, we will discuss how to proceed and who to include in the safety plan together, before we reach out to others. As a Clinical Psychologist registered in the UK, there are a number of requirements that I must fulfil. Clinical Psychologists need to engage in regular clinical supervision as part of the requirements of the British Psychological Society (BPS). This involves talking to another qualified member of the same profession about the people they work with, this is also confidential and ensures that people receive the most appropriate therapeutic intervention for their particular needs. Here in Shanghai, although we have a population of 26 million people, we also have small, close ex-pat communities. With this in mind, when considering confidentiality, we have made a decision to maintain confidentiality into the community, unless you state otherwise. This means that if we see you outside of the clinic, we will not say hello or stop to talk unless initiated by you. We do not want anyone to be in a situation in which they feel that they have to explain how they know us, unless you make the first contact.