Experience change with Ania Halls at Brain-based Psychotherapy
Welcome to my psychotherapy page
My name is Ania Halls and I am a Psychotherapist with background in Health Psychology. I offer confidential therapy for adults experiencing stress, anxiety, depression and trauma, based on the latest research in the field.
I have a range of qualifications, experience and training that create a unique mix of skills to draw upon. This includes a degree and a masters in Psychology, and a postgraduate Diploma in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). I have also trained in Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT), Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR), Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS) and Brainspotting (BSP). I am also influenced by the work of Peter Levine and Somatic Experiencing. These ways of working incorporate ideas about multiplicity of the mind; attachment theory; neuroplasticity of the brain; polyvagal theory and adaptive information processing. In other words, I pay attention to the mind, body and emotions (and spirit), as well as the newest developments in the field of neuroscience.
However, change cannot occur without the safety of a strong therapeutic relationship. Therefore at the core of my work, is making sure that my clients feel comfortable and accepted just as they are. From the safety of our therapeutic relationship (and based on your needs and personal preferences) we are then able to explore a variety of interventions designed to help you make sense of your experiences and to help you get 'unstuck' from your symptoms. Please read on if you would like to find out more about how I work.
Ania Halls, Psychotherapist
MSc, BSc Psychology, PgDip
BABCP, EMDRUK, IFSUK
Specialising in the Treatment of Anxiety,
Depression, Trauma and Attachment Injuries
Did you know there is a difference between talking therapies and right- brain therapies?
What is Brain-based Therapy?
Most of us don’t realise that psychotherapies can be broadly divided into right and left-brain psychotherapies. The main difference between these therapies is linked to how they engage the brain. Trauma disrupts both hemispheres - it inhibits the left thinking brain and it makes us fear and doubt our intuitive reactions (right brain). Both of these functions are important - we have to be able to plan, learn from experience, link cause and effect and anticipate how to deal with the future. And we have to be able to sense our gut reactions and our intuition when logic is not enough.
In my work with clients I believe it's vital to involve both brain hemispheres to allow for a deeper integration between how we think and feel, on both the conscious and subconscious level. This can provide clients with a more holistic mind-body experience and can be helpful to those that did not benefit from more traditional therapeutic approaches in the past.
If you would like to find out more about brain-based therapy please read the next section.
with psychological consequences'
Integrating both sides of the Brain
Talking therapies such as counselling and cognitive behavioural therapies (CBT) are classed as left-brain therapies. This is because they engage the left logical hemisphere of the brain. The left hemisphere is involved in regulation of emotion through rational thought, planning, analysing, problem solving etc. This part of the brain has the drive to tell our autobiographical stories through a sequence of events using language. Left-brain therapies can be highly effective for people who are experiencing mild to moderate difficulties, and are seeking to gain cognitive understanding of what is happening and wish to learn new life skills on a more conscious level.
If you opt for talking therapy, then cognitive approaches such as CBT and Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) can be particularly helpful in engaging the logical hemisphere. They offer a pragmatic framework that can help to explain how our thinking patterns and behaviours developed and how they contribute to our symptoms. Through becoming 'psychological detectives' the client and the therapist engage in a functional analysis of the presenting symptoms and look for alternative ways of interacting with their thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations as well as the world around them. Many of these techniques are mindfulness-based and aim to create more distance between our thoughts and emotions and therefore increasing our tolerance to negative affect. They also encourage curiosity and compassion towards different parts of ourselves and can help us understand how our early life experiences shaped our beliefs and rules for living. Click here if you would like to find out more about Cognitive Behavioural Therapies.
However, while talking therapies can help us feel good in a way of being seen and heard in our stories, and giving us practical tools for self-regulation, they do not reach deep enough into the right-brain and touch on the root of our traumas and how they are stored in our minds and bodies. This is particularly the case for those who have experienced multiple traumas and early relational injuries. Please read on if you would like to find out more about right-brain therapies.
On the other hand, the right hemisphere of the brain is involved in regulation through subconscious processing of emotions. This part of the brain communicates non-verbally through facial expression, body language, imagery, urges and bodily sensations. Verbal language does not reach this part of the brain. It is also the seat of impulses such as flight, fight and freeze, as well as creativity and intuition. It is also where trauma is stored. In fact, psychologists believe that trauma (and difficult experiences) are stored in neural networks as sensory fragments (i.e. fragments of visual images, smells, sounds, tastes, or touch, incompleted fight / flight / freeze impulses, core beliefs etc), which means the trauma memory is not stored like a story, but rather by how our five senses were experiencing the situation at the time it was occurring. It is these unprocessed networks within the right-brain that give us our psychological and somatic symptoms.
The therapies that speak the language of the right-brain include Eye Movement Desensitization (EMDR), Brainspotting (BSP), Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS), Somatic Experiencing, Coherence Therapy, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) and many more.
These approaches involve asking clients to focus on an issue that they find disturbing. This could be a past trauma memory or any current psychological or psychosomatic symptom they are bringing to therapy. It is not necessary to understand the origin of the symptom. By focusing on the issue, and simultaneously using specialised techniques, the therapist helps the clients to locate, hold in place, process/metabolise, and release information that is stuck in maladaptive survival networks within the brain. The result usually is that the client no longer feels activated when thinking about the issue and spontaneous new and more adaptive beliefs emerge as the information is finally linked up with the rest of your brain. This type of focused processing is typically far less activating than just talking about the issues and clients often find the experience positively intriguing - particularly because so much change can happen without our left logical brain fully understanding how we got there.
Would You like to Talk?
Getting in touch for the first time can seem scary, however, it can be the start of a life changing journey and a valuable investment towards your future. If you have any questions and/or would like to have a free 20-minute telephone consultation, then please feel free to contact me. As I am often busy in appointments, the best way to get hold of me is by email. Please briefly indicate what type of problem you are seeking treatment for and whether you have a specific type of therapy modality in mind (i.e. IFS or even a mixture). It's OK if you don't know - we can explore this together. Once you've made initial contact, the first session focuses on understanding your difficulties and yor therapy goals and agreeing on a good place to start. Depending on your needs and your personal preferences, we may choose a specific therapeutic modality to focus on or we may decide on a blend of approaches to help you find what might suit you best. The idea is for us to work together as 'psychological detectives', who work as a team to get you 'unstuck' from your symptoms. Please note that all appointments are conducted online. For mental health emergencies please contact your doctor.