Psychotherapy and Counselling in Angel, Islington, North London

My name is Elaine Lim. I am a psychotherapist and counsellor in training under supervision, operating from Angel, Islington, North London. My clients also come from surrounding areas such as Kings Cross, Clerkenwell, Old Street, Shoreditch, Dalston, Hackney, Highbury and Stoke Newington.

In my psychotherapy and counselling work with clients, I work with a broad range of issues including but not limited to:

  • Anxiety, stress and fear
  • Depression, a sense of hopelessness or ongoing sadness
  • Loneliness, and a yearning to “belong”
  • Anger and/or rage
  • Low self esteem and low self confidence
  • Negative thought patterns and self destructive behaviour
  • Lack of trust
  • Relationship difficulties and attachment issues
  • Challenges with communication
  • Bereavement, loss and separation; an inability to “let go”
  • Trauma and crisis
  • Obsessive and/or compulsive behaviour
  • Perfectionism
  • Desire for greater creative expression

  • Addiction and codependency
  • Lack of meaning or purpose in life
  • Lack of direction or focus
  • Feeling “stuck”
  • Struggles with life transitions
  • Overwhelming shame and/or guilt
  • Spiritual awakening
  • Lack of personal boundaries

I have called my website Ying Yang Therapy because, just as in the ancient Taoist concept of non-dualism, I believe that counselling and psychotherapy is a fundamental bringing together of two or more seemingly opposite or conflicting parts within us so that we may become whole.

My intention is that I provide a safe, non-judgmental listening ear to those in need. To this end, I am able to call upon my training and studies in both Eastern (yoga, meditation, tantra) as well as Western (astrology, tarot, plant medicines) spirituality and mysticism.

Together, we will work towards strengthening your connection to your innermost being, giving you tools to be able to access your own inner guidance and wisdom, such that over time you are gradually able to come into a more grounded and centred space within your being. I would also like to work with you on opening your heart to all the joy, beauty and abundance that is your birthright. My ultimate aim is that you should be able to step into being a conscious co-creator of your own reality and connect to your soul’s infinite creative potential, thereby empowering you to achieve your heart’s deepest desires in this life.

I am working towards a MA in Psychosynthesis Psychology/Psychotherapy awarded by The Institute of Psychosynthesis in affiliation with Middlesex University.

What are some common issues many of us face?

Stress and Anxiety

Many people living in cities experience some kind of stress and/or anxiety. Stress and anxiety share many similar characteristics, sometimes making it difficult to spot the differences between the two. Both can lead to sleepless nights, exhaustion, excessive worry, lack of focus, and irritability.

However, stress is generally shorter term and less severe as compared to anxiety. Stress can be either positive or negative (in other words, there are healthy or unhealthy amounts of stress). When stress kicks in and helps us pull off that deadline we thought was a lost cause, it’s a healthy amount of stress. Some people need some stress in order to motivate them to take action! However when stress results in insomnia, poor concentration or impaired ability to do the things we normally do, it’s gone overboard and has become unhealthy.

Anxiety, on the other hand, is a sustained mental health disorder that can be triggered by stress. It is what happens when we are worried, tense or afraid – especially about things which are about to happen, or that we think could happen in the future. Anxiety is what we feel when we perceive that we are under threat, except that it doesn’t fade into the background once the threat has gone away. Anxiety generally hangs around for a longer period of time, and can cause significant impairment in our social and work relationships as well as other important areas of our lives.

When is anxiety a problem?

Most people feel anxious at times. It’s usual to experience anxiety while coping with stressful events, especially if they could have a big impact on your life. Anxiety can become a mental health problem if it impacts on our ability to fully live our lives. For example, if:

  • The feelings of anxiety are very strong or last for a long time, and feel distressing or hard to control
  • Our fears or worries are out of proportion to the situation at hand
  • We find it hard to go about our everyday lives or do things we enjoy, as we actively avoid situations that might cause us to feel anxious
  • We experience panic attacks

‘You know that feeling you get in your chest when you’re balancing on the back legs of your chair and all of a sudden for just a split second you think you’re about to fall? Imagine that split second feeling frozen in time and lodged in your chest for, say, minutes hours or days, and imagine with it a sense of impending doom and dread too, but sometimes you don’t even know what it’s about. That’s what having a panic attack is like.’

Heart FM DJ Matt Wilkinson on his experience of anxiety and panic attacks

Depression

Depression is a low mood that lasts for a long time, and affects one’s everyday life. In its mildest form, depression can mean just being in low spirits. Certainly, it’s fairly common for someone to say “I feel depressed”. At this level, it doesn’t stop us from leading a normal life, but everything seems harder to do and less worthwhile. At its most severe, depression can be life-threatening because it can make a person feel suicidal.

‘It starts as sadness then I feel myself shutting down. Eventually, I just feel numb and empty.’

When does low mood become depression?

We all have times when we feel low, and are sad or miserable about our life circumstances. Sometimes we can identify a specific cause (such as a breakup or a bereavement), and at other times it’s more difficult to pinpoint the exact cause. Usually these feelings pass in due course.

But if these feelings are interfering with our lives and don’t go away after a couple of weeks, or they come back over and over again for a prolonged period, it could be a sign that we’re depressed.

What are the symptoms of depression?

  • Feeling upset or tearful
  • Feelings of hopelessness and despair
  • Feeling worthless, having low self confidence and self esteem
  • Feeling empty and numb
  • Being isolated and unable to relate to others
  • Finding no pleasure in life or things we usually enjoy
  • Feeling suicidal

Which could result in:

  • Avoiding social events and activities
  • Difficulty remembering or focusing on things
  • Difficulty thinking clearly or making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping, or sleeping too much
  • Feeling tired and having a lack of energy all the time
  • Smoking, drinking or doing more drugs than usual
  • Having no appetite and losing weight, or eating too much and gaining weight
  • Self-harming or suicidal behaviour

Treatments for Depression

There are many talking therapies for depression such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (‘CBT’) or psychodynamic psychotherapy. However it is important to note that the talking therapies as well as self-care (see below) routes may not work for everyone and some people may benefit from being put onto antidepressant medication, either on its own or in combination with a talking therapy. This is a decision that they should come to after discussing with their GP.

Moreover if you find yourself thinking about suicide and are worried you might act on these thoughts, it is very important to know that you should call an ambulance, go straight to A&E or call the Samaritans to talk for free on 116 123.

What self-care techniques can we use to cope with stress anxiety or depression?

Learning to cope with stress anxiety or depression is a matter of learning what works for us. It’s important to build our own toolkit so that we have more than one strategy we can implement when stress anxiety or depression kicks in.

  • Deep breathing: The best thing we can do when we feel stressed or anxious is to engage in deep breathing. For example, we can inhale for a count of four, hold for four, and exhale for four, and repeat for as long as is needed.
  • Get grounded: If we are feeling anxious, we should try to feel our feet on the ground. If we’re sitting, we can also feel how our sitbones come into contact with the chair beneath us. Feel how our weight is supported by the ground and/or chair beneath us.
  • Reconnect with nature: Spending time in nature has been proven scientifically to help with anxiety and depression. Many of us would benefit from disconnecting from our digital worlds and reconnecting with nature for at least a short time each day. Take any opportunity to go for a walk outside (preferably somewhere with trees and grass!) and try to notice our surroundings using all of our senses.

  • Look after our physical health: This can make a big difference to how we feel! For example when we get enough sleep, we are less likely to be depressed or anxious. When we eat regularly and keep our blood sugar stable, this may also help to improve our mood and energy levels. Exercise (especially if its cardiovascular in nature) releases endorphins in our brains. Making exercise a daily habit can help us to cope with stressful events much better and may help with depression. Avoiding recreational drugs and alcohol is also sensible – while in the short term we might be tempted to use them to help us cope with our issues, in the long term they could make us feel worse and may even prevent us from dealing with underlying problems.
  • Keep a journal: Journaling helps us to become mindful of our inner world, and we become more aware of what is going on for us. Keeping a mood diary can help us to keep track of any changes in our moods, and can also help us to notice if any activities, places or people make us feel better or worse. Identifying the difficulties we are facing at the moment also helps us to let go of them easier – a process known as ‘disidentification’ in Psychosynthesis.
  • Practice meditation and mindfulness: There are plenty of meditation and mindfulness based apps we can download onto our phones, but for me the best way of practising mindfulness is just to slow down and notice, observe and become aware of everything that is going on in the present moment. Afterall, Buddha’s word for meditation is to ‘watch’. Yoga and other mindfulness based practices can also help in this regard.
  • Talk to someone we trust or join a peer support group: Many people find that just having someone listen to their experiences can help them feel better. On the other hand, peer support brings together people who’ve had similar experiences to support one other. Many people find it helpful to share ideas about how to cope, connect with others and feel less alone.

How can Psychotherapy and Counselling help with Stress, Anxiety and Depression?

Just as no two people are affected the exact same way by stress anxiety and depression, there is no “one size fits all” treatment. What works for one person might not work for another. The best way to treat stress anxiety or depression is to become as informed as possible about the treatment options. There are many types of talking therapies available. Some types such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) teach practical techniques to reframe negative thinking and change behaviours.

Psychotherapy and counselling on the other hand can help you develop an increased awareness of what you feel, why you feel that way, what your triggers are and how you might change your reaction to them. Psychodynamic therapy (which is closer to what I practice) is particularly focused on resolving internal psychological conflicts that are thought to be rooted in childhood. Long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy may be useful if there is a lifelong history and pattern of inadequate ways of coping (maladaptive coping mechanisms) therefore resulting in negative or self-injurious thought patterns and behaviour.