Abbotsford Institute

Dedicated to the well being of our clients

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- anxiety

- bullying

- eating disorders

  1. -addictions

- phobias

- low self esteem

- sexual identity

  1. -abuse

  2. -anger management

  3. -bereavement

  4. -depression

  5. -existential crisis

  6. -relationship difficulties

  7. -concerns about sexuality

  8. -trauma

  9. -difficulties experienced by children

        and teenagers


What is common to both is the emphasis on a helping relationship with a trained and experienced practitioner, where you can talk about things that are worrying you. The practitioner doesn’t tell you what you should do, but rather encourages you to share your thoughts, feelings, experiences, hopes and fears, so that you can feel stronger and clearer in yourself.

Traditionally some practitioners may have seen counselling as referring to work that is shorter in duration, and working with more ‘surface’ issues, whereas psychotherapy might have been seen as longer term, and dealing with more pervasive or long standing issues. These days this does not necessarily follow as some counsellors are trained to do long-term and depth work, and some psychotherapists favour types of brief intervention. (See section on “Approaches to Therapy’ for different styles of working). What all approaches have in common is respect and acceptance for the person coming for help.

Some people will find that one-to-one, or individual work is best, but sometimes help as a couple, family, or in a group setting will be of more immediate value.


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Humanistic Psychotherapy

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

This can be both supportive, and ‘uncovering’. This means simply that we are interested in early experiences in our family of origin, and how these experiences can influence us, both consciously and unconsciously in our relationships and throughout our lives. Sometimes a crisis later in life - the sudden loss of a partner or a job can throw us into turmoil and reveal deep insecurities. Sometimes we know that we are our own worst enemies, setting harsh and unrealistic standards, judging ourselves mercilessly and crippling our creativity. Sometimes we go from relationship to relationship, oblivious to patterns relating to partner choice and the roles we take.

Through ‘free association’, dreams, and the stories that unweave as we talk in therapy, we can begin to access those parts of ourselves which hold us back and cause us to repeat patterns without awareness. Attention to ‘transference’ in the relationship - how we can relate to the therapists ‘as if’ they were an important figure from our early life, also provides useful insights. Over time, our aim is to work through these issues and lead happier and more productive lives.

Group Therapy

We spend much of our lives in groups - family, school, and later, work. Our patterns of behaviour, ways of thinking, self-image and identity can become established in early life, and re-enforced through later experiences in groups.

A therapeutic group provides a place for learning to talk about things that worry us, so that we can receive support, challenge and encouragement. As we come to realise that we are not alone in our fear and anxieties, the group can provide a place to discover how we are seen by other, and to try out new ways of relating.

Group therapy can be of help if you suffer from depression, anxiety, emotional difficulties, low confidence, or feel that life lacks meaning. It can also be of value if you feel isolated, have difficulty initiating or maintaining relationships, or find them problematic. Perhaps things seem fine at home, but you are overwhelmed by pressures or conflicts at work, and feel unable to cope with stress levels. You may simply feel ‘stuck’ and want to change aspects of yourself or your life.

A group meets once a week for an hour and a half, and each person works at their own pace, bringing their own concerns, though an adequate time commitment is required to get the most value from the group. The setting is confidential so that you will be encouraged to speak honestly about your thoughts and feelings. Over time, with the help of the group, you can come to see yourself differently, understand yourself better, and make changes in your life.

As preparation, you would meet with the group therapist individually for a while, so that you can find out more, and together decide if a group would be helpful.