Esther graduated with a First Class honours degree in Psychology, and trained as a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist at the Oxford Cognitive Therapy Centre (Oxford University). She has now been treating patients within the NHS for several years.
Previously Esther worked as a television producer for a number of years before returning to her Oxford roots in 2003 to develop a therapeutic community providing respite breaks for people with experience of long-term mental health difficulties. For a decade she worked with people with a range of conditions including depression, Alzheimer’s, attention deficit disorder, autism and schizophrenia.
She discovered Cognitive Behavioural Therapy as a technique for helping people learn how to make small changes to their thoughts (cognitions) and what they do (behaviours) which will impact in a helpful way on their lives. Until this point her work had been more about supporting a person where they were. While training, she realised that when a person is distressed, they can do something about it as long as they have the skills to help themselves. She recognises that everyone has the potential, and indeed the right, to lead a life with minimal distress however difficult their circumstances.
“It has been exciting to see people understand their situation, realise that they can do something about it, learn the skills to change things and put these skills effectively into action. The results are amazing as people go from being stuck in unhelpful patterns to flourishing and really living their lives”, Esther explained. A patient, at the end of treatment for depression described their feeling as: “now I’m actually living, before I was just existing and wishing I wasn’t”
In terms of her personal therapeutic style three things are striking. Firstly, Esther has a particular ability to engage clients early in treatment using an infectious and well-placed optimism and hopefulness. Secondly, she uses a wide range of resources, for example, video clips, books, films, poems etc. and these are used in addition to standard CBT resources. This wide range helps people make the link between treatment and real life while also helping people realize that they are not the only ones with difficulties. And finally, humour is a key tool, sessions have as much laughter as they do tears which brings us back to Esther’s ability to inspire hope and the idea that things may be bad now but they don’t have to be like this forever.
CBT is extremely useful and often highly effective in working with a wide range of difficulties including depression, generalized anxiety, panic, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety, anger related difficulties, low self-esteem, perfectionism and performance anxiety. Esther is particularly interested in the way self-criticism can cause ongoing distress. Esther works with traditional CBT while also using other related treatment approaches such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Mindfulness and Compassion Focused CBT. She is interested in developing her work with Childhood Trauma.
Esther lives with her family in Oxford.
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