Alongside her private work, Hayley manages the psychology service at The Grove drug centre in Haringey. She also has considerable experience as a psychologist in two NHS trusts. Together with her work in general adult mental health, she has particular specialisms in addictions and issues with food.
Nowadays we have so much more to compare ourselves to. Shiny images and happy stories all across the media, plus the glowing images of people in our circle, with fulfilled lives—to our eyes at least—that we struggle to match up to. Compare that to our hunter-gatherer pasts, when the only role models we had were of the people in our local band, a group of people very similar to ourselves and to whom our relationships were clear and unchanging.
And more than that, the modern world offers no end of immediately gratifying stimulation, all of it fine-tuned to act as a ‘super-stimulus’ to one or other of our senses. So much so that many of us lose whatever skill we had in delaying gratification, a skill essential to planning for a better future.
Therapy is a place for you to be completely true to yourself, giving you time to talk, cry, shout as well as to think and reflect. And it’s my job to gain your trust and so allow all that to happen, accepting you totally as you are with no cloud of judgement.
It’s definitely not about gazing back over your life and analysing every little thing that’s gone wrong for you in the past. Instead, our focus will be firmly on the future, on how you want to be, and how you want to feel, next week, next month, and next year.
I work predominantly within a cognitive behavioural approach, or CBT. The C is about understanding any ‘thinking styles’ which may be keeping us stuck in life, while the B emphasises any positive behavioural changes we need to learn, at the same time un-learning unhelpful behaviours that keep holding us back.
But making change implies taking action—actions you’ve been avoiding, or a novel approach we may formulate during therapy—and taking action inevitably entails anxiety. But it’s our relationship to that anxiety which matters, ‘observing’ and understanding it—as opposed to always being caught up in it—and seeing it as a transient emotion, knowing that what goes up always comes down.
I love my work as a therapist and I’m extremely passionate about what I do. The work is often challenging—for both therapist and client—but having experienced the process of therapy myself, I fully appreciate the extraordinary benefits it can have in our lives, present and future.
No-one deserves to be unhappy or afraid, and for me it’s endlessly gratifying to see my clients making positive and lasting changes in their lives, knowing where they want to be, and now confidently on a path to getting there.
Image credits The Barnes Foundation