The Way I Work
I provide effective psychological services that promote success, happiness and health for professionals in the City of London. I work collaboratively with my clients to discover what is right for each individual. For a large part of my career, I designed and evaluated psychological interventions so I have years of practical and research experience to draw upon in finding what techniques work for each client. In my sessions the client is an active participant. Some clients have described this as feeling like they have a personal life trainer.
My main therapeutic framework is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) however I draw upon an array of psychological theories in my practice. I also use hypnosis and the Rewind Technique as adjuncts to CBT when appropriate. Mindfulness techniques and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) are also incorporated into my practice.
CBT focuses on the "here and now" however I believe that recognising how past experiences are related to the current issue is important. So I do ask questions about the past to help piece together what factors are part of the current issue. This helps to build a clearer picture of the client's issue but it is not the focus of the therapy.
The number of sessions required varies from person to person. After one to three sessions, goals can be formulated with the clients then I can give a better idea about the required amount of sessions.
Catherine uses a therapy called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT for short. This therapy is a way of talking about:
- How people think about themselves, the world and other people.
- How what people do affects their thoughts and feelings.
CBT can help people to change how they think ("Cognitive") and what they do ("Behaviour)". These changes can help them to feel better and gain more control.
CBT can help you to make sense of overwhelming problems by breaking them down into smaller parts. This makes it easier to see how they are connected and how they affect you. These parts are:
A Situation - a problem, event or difficult situation
From this can follow:
- Physical feelings
Each of these areas can affect the others. How you think about a problem can affect how you feel physically and emotionally. It can also alter what you do about it. In CBT you explore your options and identify which options are helpful and unhelpful ways of reacting to the situation. CBT aims to empower clients by ultimately teaching them to be their own therapist.
About Coaching Psychology
The practice of coaching psychology is a process for enhancing well-being and performance in personal and work life which is underpinned in established psychological theories and techniques. It uses psychological approaches in ways that are not 'clinical' or 'medically' focused.
Many of my clients have tried ‘self-help’ approaches to personal and professional development and found that they need further professional guidance. Sometimes the right kind of help provided at the right time can be life changing. Coaching psychology is a service that people access when they feel that professional support in building a happier, more successful or satisfying life would be of value to them.
Often people tend to fail their life goals, not because of insurmountable obstacles or lack of opportunities but because of something within them that holds them back from developing their full potential or something that sets them on a path of self-destruction.
Coaching helps clients to constructively explore the beliefs, assumptions, feelings and behaviours to help them reach their full potential. The next stage in the coaching process involves finding the best personalized techniques to help clients make changes and challenge some of their limiting beliefs and behaviours. Finally when the client feels they have made a shift and the new beliefs and behaviours become second-nature the coaching process is complete.
Coaching takes a different pace to therapy. Often there is no urgency for regular ongoing sessions, rather session frequency varies according to other factors influencing the coaching goals.
About Mindfulness and ACT
Mindfulness is a practice that encourages awareness through purposely paying attention to the present moment. It may sound simple but it is surprisingly hard to do. Modern life has become so busy and our minds have become in a constant state of alert which means it is easy to get caught in a state of over-thinking.
Psychology researchers and Neuroscientists are now turning their attention to the benefits of practicing mindfulness. It has been found that people who practice mindfulness experience changes in areas of the brain associated with decision-making, attention and empathy. It has also been shown to improve attention, job performance, productivity and satisfaction.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) helps the individual to accept what is out of their personal control and commit to action that improves and enriches their life.
ACT helps the individual get in contact with a transcendent sense of self known as "the observing self"—the you that is always there observing and experiencing and yet distinct from one's thoughts, feelings, sensations, and memories. ACT aims to help the individual clarify their personal values and to take action on them, bringing more vitality and meaning to their life in the process, increasing their psychological flexibility.
Dr Catherine Sykes
I am an experienced Chartered Psychologist, accredited CBT practitioner and a Coaching Psychologist. I am a member the BPS Special Group in Coaching Psychology and part of the Coaching Psychology Unit at City University, London. I have served on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Health Psychology for 13 years, this role allows me access to emerging research findings which I incorporate into my practice.
The majority of my clients are successful professionals who require a service that understands the culture in which they work. I strictly adhere to my professional code of ethics and offer high professional standards which mean that I have developed a solid reputation amongst professionals in the City of London.
Being in touch with new evidence is important to me. As well as being a practitioner, I am involved in research projects such as investigating the efficacy of brief mindfulness workshops in the workplace, the impact of CBT text messages and understanding how men engage with weight loss programmes.
I have published numerous peer-reviewed research articles and presented at international conferences. I have co-written a textbook on health psychology and several book chapters.
I am passionate about psychology and always keen to translate evidence from psychology into a language that is accessible to the public. I have been interviewed by numerous women’s magazines and London papers.
After having my daughter I became interested in the psychology of parenthood. After talking with numerous mothers, I realised that mothers often need a space to discuss their personal journey without judgement or a need to live up to expectations. I completed a post-graduate certificate in child psychology and developed a special interest in parenting.
Being a professional psychologist gives me great satisfaction. I do my very best to work with my clients to help them achieve their goals