What people say
What people say (and how therapy can work)
Female aged 24.
I reached out to Carla after years of struggling with low self esteem. As soon as we began speaking, I truly felt heard and that my problems did deserve to be fixed and for me to feel comfortable in my own skin. After working together for even four weeks, I began to see a change in the way that I perceived myself. Carla's continued patience, calm demeanor and overall style of therapy worked wonders for me and I feel like I am truly on the way to, not only be able to like myself, but eventually love myself for the person who I am. I no longer feel hopeless and low when I reflect on myself and look in the mirror and actually feel proud of the person who I am. I would absolutely, wholeheartedly recommend Carla to anyone else who is struggling with their self esteem and worth, as I wouldn't be on the path I am now without her help.
Once again, thank you so much for working with me over the past few weeks - you have been an absolute godsend and I can't wait to see what else my bright future holds for me.
The Situation was…
This time last year I was spiralling into the worst of my OCD. Stuck not only in the house but actually just imprisoned in my lounge. My house was built into safe zones and unsafe zones - where I refused to go. My nan’s area was off limits and I stayed away from her and needed her to stay away from me. No one could touch my things and I would not touch anyone else's.
People where not allowed to touch me - or even be in close proximity to me. I was washing my hands I can’t even remember how many times a day - but I was spending hours every day at my sink and when I wasn’t there I was in the shower and that would sometimes take up to 2 hours. I was struggling to eat or drink as I felt all the tableware, glasses and cutlery where contaminated - I was using plastic disposable cutlery and cups and paper cups for hot drinks. I wouldn’t touch surfaces or door handles and if I did by accident I would immediately wash my hands. I was having meltdowns 5+ times a day, because I couldn’t get clean. I had stopped using towels in the house and my mum had to double rinse my clothes so as to remove all washing powder.
I am no longer stuck inside the lounge, not only do I feel safe to enter every part of my home but I feel safe to leave it. I have been food shopping, I have mooched round the city centre and eaten while out a few times now. I have been to the hospital, to the Campbell centre to visit a friend and to the dentist.
I have watched TV with my nan in her bedroom, I have touched surfaces and door handles and picked stuff off the floor. I have done yoga and handstands (touching the floor), I have even done handstands on the stones at Willen Lake.
I use the household tableware, glasses and cutlery, I eat food prepared for me by my mum and have eaten food prepared by my Aunt at her house. I have even let my Aunt wipe down the restaurant table with cleaner (fear of cleaning fluid) before we ate and used the cutlery touched by a waitress.
I no longer wash my hands constantly and have even had food and drink without washing my hands first. I have cuddled and played with my brother and nephews- even playing acrobatics with xxxxx. Washing powder no longer bothers me and I am using face creams and suncream again. I have tried on clothes I bought at the shops without showering after.
Other people can touch my things without me thinking they were now contaminated. And I have touched other peoples phones (even people outside of my household). I haven’t had a meltdown like I was having for about 4 months. I am going round my friends house on Saturday for her birthday and I have my friends coming up for the day on the 26th.
he most amazing thing is that a lot of the things I do now without even thinking about it - whereas before I was exhausted from playing out contamination scenarios in my head coming to the conclusion each time that I was definitely now contaminated. I have even accidentally drank off milk a number of times now and not thought I was going to die from it. Even when I ate out the restaurant put way to much paprika on my avocado toast (paprika is form the deadly nightshade family and so too much can be toxic) I just scrapped a lot of it off and carried on eating the avocado on toast.
My Therapy Journey
When I first started therapy, the majority of my day was spent obsessing over my skin. If I was having a bad day /week/month it meant a lot of time just thinking about how terrible my skin was. I felt so unhappy and that this would take over my life. After 4 months of therapy I feel like a cloud has lifted. I spend so much more time laughing and feeling happy. My bad days/weeks/months have turned into a bad half an hour every now and then. I use the tools learned in my session to change the way I am thinking and the BDD doesn’t ruin my day like it used to. After years of suffering with BDD I feel like I have it under control and I can focus on everything else in my life and enjoy myself. I even went out with my friends the other day with the spot in the middle of my face completely uncovered. Here is a self portrait of me when I first started therapy and now.
"We approached Carla for help at a time when we both believed our marriage had irretrievably broken down. If fact, we had already instructed Family Law Solicitors and had endured 8 hours of unproductive mediation.
Neither of us began the process of relationship couple counselling with much hope, as we felt that too much damage had been done to our marriage and that we would never be able to stay together and be genuinely happy. It was most certainly a ‘last ditch attempt’ before proceeding with divorce.
Our major issues were based around the inability to resolve arguments, lack of love and affection towards each other, a total loss of trust and respect in our marriage; and the negative impact that living in a toxic relationship was having on our children.
Carla enabled us to initially identify key factors that had caused our complex issues and then encouraged us to set goals - both individually and as a couple. She also gave us guidance to understand why our beliefs, behaviours and reactions were impacting our marriage; and what techniques we could use to ensure that we can identify triggers and manage them moving forward.
By giving us focus and belief that we could resolve our problems using acceptance, understanding and genuine affection towards each other, we are now able to prioritise our marriage, articulate our feelings and thoughts to each other, and crucially communicate in a way that is positive and nurturing.
Undoubtedly, the counselling we received has saved our marriage. Thanks to Carla we have found immense happiness, understanding and the ability to leave the past in the past. Prior to meeting Carla, neither of us believed that this would be possible. The impact has also changed the dynamics of our home to the extent that our children now reflect on how awful homelife was for them, and the positive impact our sessions have also had on our family.
Carla is an incredible individual. Professional, calm, reflective, empathetic, non-judgemental and incredibly honest. We cannot ever thank Carla enough for helping us to strip back and then re-build our marriage, enabling us to look forward with positivity and excitement to our future together."
British / Arab
Dealing with trauma/ anxiety
I started my sessions with Carla in June 2020 and I have received weekly sessions for 5 months. Carla has been my life saver in a time of life which has been incredibly difficult. I was reluctant to have therapy but after my first session with Carla it knew it was the best decision I made.
Carla is incredibly experienced, I have never felt judged or felt uncomfortable in sharing my life with her. I have learned so much about myself and how to be my own therapist. She has equipped me with the tools to manage my anxiety and process my trauma, which have made a huge difference to the quality of my life and my families.
Carla is patient and caring and my favorite part of my sessions is when she challenges my thinking. I always looked forward to our sessions together.
“We argued constantly. We never laughed together. It was over. As a last ditch attempt to save the marriage for the children’s sake, we saw Carla. That was five years ago. We are still going strong!” - Catherine and Mark.
How therapy can work
Here are some examples from the clients I have supported. Their stories should give you a better idea of how enhanced CBT couples therapy and counselling can help, and the various directions the therapeutic journey can take.
Sample 1: male and female in constant crisis
This couple came to me unsure about whether they wanted to be in a relationship or not. Quite typically, emotions were running high, and the two were unable to function as a couple even on a day-to-day level. They couldn’t agree, for example, on who would put the bins out.
We began with crisis management, uncovering present here-and-now problems, and where they came from. We strategised new, functional ways of day-to-day living to stabilise the situation.
We processed hurt. For him, this meant violence, emotional and verbal abuse; for her, this was domestic violence, verbal and physical abuse.
I trained the couple in communication and taught them problem-solving skills.
In this way, the couple learned a lot about each other and gained a deep understanding of why the other had reacted in the way they did. We engaged in forgiveness and trust work.
The couple decided to stay together and built a relationship based on the couples’ needs. They still come see me for sessions every six months, to check in to a safe, neutral and non-judgmental environment.
Sample 2: gay males with HIV
A gay couple came to see me. One had contracted HIV and passed it to other. Their goal was to stay together but they needed help coming to terms with and managing their shared lifelong illness.
This was more of a general counselling approach rather than CBT. The men are still together and are living a fulfilled life.
Sample 3: male victim of domestic violence
This man came to consult me on his own. He was the victim of his wife’s physical, emotional and verbal domestic violence and had suffered in silence for years.
Despite having a high-profile, senior-management job in London and being viewed as a pinnacle of society, he was a victim of domestic violence. He was very well respected by all around him, and it was important for him to be seen as strong, capable and in control. However, as his home life was so very different from his public persona, he felt immense shame and embarrassment. His wife constantly belittled him, and also attacked him, both verbally and physically. He had no one to talk to.
Therapy had two strands. First, he needed an outlet to process his feelings and feel heard, with a neutral non-judgmental person. Secondly, he needed to understand how he had ended up in this difficult marriage, and to find practical strategies to manage life on a day-to-day basis. It was not an option for this client to leave the marriage at the present time.
After just eight weekly sessions, life was more manageable. He then attended sessions fortnightly for three months, monthly for a further six months, now I see him approximately once every eight months.
Sample 4: male has an affair; wife has depression and OCD
A married heterosexual couple came to see me. The husband had had an affair. The wife was unable to forgive or move on, although she wanted to. Both wanted to remain in the marriage but could not see how.
Therapy included helping them both to process and understand why the affair had happened, strategise a new more healthy relationship, forgive and rebuild trust so that they could move forward. The female was also suffering from depression and OCD. We worked simultaneously on the affair and the pathological illness (depression and OCD).
All is well now. They are still together.
Sample 5: male with depression has affair
A famous male sportsman consulted me. He wanted to access therapy on his own at first. He’d had an affair but also suffered from depression, which he was finding very difficult to acknowledge due to the positive mental attitude required in his field. But also, suffered shame and embarkment which stopped him telling others and accessing help, which in turn impeded his recovery.
We began by working on his depression. Later on, his partner joined him in the therapy sessions. They overcame the affair and remain together.
Sample 6: seperation and parenting appart
A couple, often in the public eye, had decided that they would separate but wanted help managing this very difficult period of time.
We worked with the practical issues surrounding separation and divorce as well as the expected and unexpected emotions this throws at the couple.
Both are managing parenting apart very well, and able to move on emotionally into more happy lives.