Individual psychotherapy refers to the relationship between therapist and client, in which the desirable goals to be achieved can be set. Within the framework of therapeutic work, emotions, behaviours, traumas, beliefs and memories are explored, creating the necessary space for the client to express herself / himself in a confidential and safe environment.

Psychotherapy inevitably leads to more self-awareness, self-reliance, and personal development,

and so it is addressed to everyone, and not just to those who want to work on specific issues such as depression, anxiety, or interpersonal difficulties. Although in the centre, GIA TIN ITHAKI, it is possible to use short-term psychotherapeutic methods (brief psychotherapy), the duration and frequency of treatment depends exclusively on the personal needs, goals and therapeutic depth desired by the client. Treatment may therefore consist of many sessions or take a few years until the desirable outcome emerges.

Some of the basic psychotherapeutic approaches followed in our centre are the Client-Centred, Systemic, Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, Dialectical-Behaviour Therapy, EMDR Trauma Therapy, Play Therapy and others. However, we tend to work in an integrative way by combining different therapeutic approaches and techniques according to each individual’s request and needs.

Couples frequently encounter various problems in their marriage or in their relationship, leading to difficulties in resolving conflicts and / or drifting apart from each other. Such emotional deadlocks can lead to the creation of a parallel relationship, the existence of a third person, or even thoughts of separation. When crises cannot be resolved between the couple, then a route to follow is Couples Therapy, which is designed to help couples in crisis resolve their difficulties, if they want to stay together.

Couples Therapy can help in various problems that couples may face in the course of their relationship such as:

  • communication problems
  • lack of emotional expression
  • stagnation
  • differences in needs and desires
  • parenting of children
  • sexual difficulties
  • extramarital affairs
  • time management issues
  • influences from the extended family
  • thoughts of separation / divorce

In Couples Therapy, the main goals are to improve communication, accept and express emotions and differences in needs, restore balance and redefine the relationship in a way that makes both companions happy.

At our centre we offer psychotherapy for children and adolescents. Psychotherapy for these age groups involves therapeutic conversations, interactions and methods applied by the therapist directly to the child or her / his family. Psychotherapy helps children and their families understand and solve difficulties and problems, improve their attitudes and behaviours, and make the necessary positive changes in their lives.

Approaches, techniques and interventions vary according to the problem, age, needs and personal characteristics of each child or adolescent. In some cases, the combination of different therapeutic approaches may be more effective as well as the co-operation with other experts (e.g. doctors). For young children of pre-school and school age, we usually follow the Systemic model and parents receive parallel counselling (Parenting Counselling) for re-enforcement and to get feedback on the child’s progress. In some cases, Family Therapy may be chosen in which parents participate in sessions with the child.

Child psychotherapy may be urgently needed in the following cases:

  • behavioural problems
  • emotional problems
  • mood disorders (e.g., depression)
  • anxiety, anxiety disorders and phobias
  • nocturnal enuresis and encopresis
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • autism
  • Asperger’s syndrome
  • developmental delay
  • eating disorders
  • difficulties and problems in adolescence
  • low self-confidence or self-esteem
  • school bullying
  • mourning / loss
  • abuse
  • mental trauma
  • family problems
  • divorce / separation

In addition to the numerous classical methods, techniques and tools we use with children, we also offer Play Therapy and EMDR Trauma Therapy.

Play Therapy is a psychotherapeutic method used to help children communicate their inner experiences. For children, aged 3-12 in particular, play is considered to be the most natural means of communication and expression and may even be as important as food and sleep. Since playing is central and vital to the child’s full development, it also has healing properties.

Non-directive play therapy or otherwise Child-Centred Play Therapy used in our centre GIA TIN ITHAKI is an approach that doesn’t treat a child’s unwanted behaviour as pathological, but simultaneously is based on the belief that children have an internal motivation to achieve personal well-being.

Therapists who specialize in this psychotherapeutic approach are trained to trust the child’s ability to direct their own healing process without imposing on the child their own ideas about what the child needs to do or work on during the treatment. Any internal conflicts or external challenges faced by the child can always be symbolically expressed through play in the playroom session based on their own abilities and at their own pace.

This is because Play Therapy provides a completely safe environment, in which the child feels comfortable to trust the therapist. Thus, through the healing process the child expresses, processes and understands her / his experiences and feelings and even solves any difficulties that interfere with her / his normal development or cause problems in daily life.

The therapist is properly trained to enter the child’s inner world. Play Therapy is based on the belief that play is the language used by the child and toys in the field of Play Therapy are the words with which the child communicates to express needs and concerns as well as inner experiences or otherwise how she / he perceives the world.

Play Therapy is appropriate in the following cases:

  • managing anger and / or aggression
  • behavioural problems
  • communication problems
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • autism
  • Asperger’s syndrome
  • developmental delay
  • mood disorders (e.g., depression)
  • anxiety, anxiety disorders and phobias
  • nocturnal enuresis and encopresis
  • school bullying
  • weak performance at school
  • mourning / loss
  • divorce / separation
  • trauma / abuse (emotional, physical or sexual)

Play Therapy can be used as a technique in the context of integrative psychotherapy and in older ages, adolescents and adults.

Family Therapy is addressed to families experiencing difficulties such as frequent conflicts, problematic behaviours, psychological or psychosomatic symptoms of a family member. The main core of Family Therapy is the family itself as a living system, thus emphasizing the relationships of family members. The treatment is not based on ready-made solutions but, in cooperation with family members, it highlights the best solution for each situation.

Not all family members are obliged to participate in the therapy, just those that want to and those that believe they can contribute to achieving the goals. The main goals of the treatment are family adaptation, improving the way the family functions as a system, maintaining mental health, and seeking new ways of communicating and connecting members in a way that prevents symptoms from occurring.

At the centre GIA TIN ITHAKI, Parenting Counselling is a service that aims to give parents the necessary knowledge, skills, guidance and support they need within a positive environment of empathy and understanding without criticism or prejudice. In this way, parents are appropriately empowered to give their children the necessary care and discipline.

The role of being a parent is perhaps one of the most beautiful roles we adopt in our lives and, at the same time, one of the most demanding. Nobody is born for this difficult task and unfortunately children do not come to the world with a user’s manual! The responsibilities that burden parents are innumerable. While they have to take care of their children’s emotional, physical and material needs, they also have to meet their own personal needs.

Very often the multiple roles, tasks and requirements of modern life lead to mismanagement and burn-out. In turn, parents become more susceptible to problems that may affect the way they manage their parental role, in particular how they care for and attend to the emotional needs of their children and their proper parenting.

At our psychotherapy centre, we offer various therapeutic and counselling approaches for both children and parents themselves. With Parenting Counselling, we help parents gain a better understanding of their parenting approach, make major revisions where necessary, gain more self-awareness by addressing their own personal issues, and even restore disturbed harmony, balance and calmness in the family. Parenting Counselling can be done independently or in combination with the individual treatment of the child or adolescent.

Parenting Counselling can be extremely useful in the following cases:

  • managing anger and / or aggression
  • behavioural problems, disobedience, lack of proper boundaries
  • nocturnal enuresis and encopresis
  • toilet training
  • thumb / finger sucking or using pacifiers at advanced ages
  • separation anxiety
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • autism
  • Asperger’s Syndrome
  • developmental delay
  • mood disorders (e.g., depression)
  • stress, intense anxiety and phobias
  • eating disorders (e.g. anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa)
  • childhood anorexia
  • difficulties and problems in adolescence
  • low self-confidence or self-esteem
  • school bullying
  • weak performance at school
  • loss of a pet
  • adoption
  • Family tensions or other problems:
    • divorce / separation
    • bereavement / loss
    • health or mental health issues
    • addictions
    • mental trauma
    • abuse (emotional, physical or sexual)

This service aims to help people with Obesity, Emotional Eating, Binge Eating, Bulimia Nervosa and Anorexia Nervosa as well as to provide support and proper guidance to their families for a better treatment through counselling for parents, guardians and companions. Apart from Individual Therapy and Family Counselling, there is also the choice of support groups for people with eating disorders.

Obesity – Binge Eating

For people with Obesity and / or Binge Eating:

The goal is for these individuals to regain control of their nutrition, overcoming addiction to certain foods (e.g., chocolate, sugar, and caffeine products), and liberation from the obsession for food and weight control. The person learns to manage her / his personal problems, negative emotions, anxiety and other difficulties that lead to Binge Eating and Obesity so that weight loss is achieved in a less painful way.

During weight loss counselling, the client and counsellor deal with the following topics:

  • the healthier management and regulation of emotions that lead to comfort eating or binge eating (e.g., more effective management of anger, guilt, shame, pessimism, depression, mental trauma, anxiety, stress, fear, loneliness, etc.)
  • maladaptive thoughts and misbeliefs about weight loss and new body weight maintenance
  • food addictions (e.g., bread, sugar)
  • self-sabotage, psychological conflicts and barriers that can be subconsciously put forward by the person wanting to lose weight
  • improving body image
  • increasing readiness and motivation, and other key ingredients of successful weight loss and new body weight maintenance
  • proper nutritional guidance, including the basic principles of a healthy and balanced diet as a way of life
  • choosing the right nutritional intervention, if needed, according to the individual’s lifestyle and needs
  • setting realistic goals (smart targets)
  • supporting the adherence to an appropriate nutritional program, in cooperation with a nutritionist where necessary
  • sustaining the outcomes (during the final stage of treatment) and the prevention of problematic behaviours and unpleasant situations

 

Assistance, support and guidance are also provided to family members (parents, partners and children), where necessary, for an integrated approach.

Our centre also provides assistance, support and guidance to effectively treat Child Obesity in cooperation with other experts where necessary.

Bulimia Nervosa

What is Bulimia Nervosa?

Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder in which binge eating episodes often occur (at least twice a week) with the consumption of foods considered “fattening”, and therefore “forbidden”, by the person who is desperately trying to control their weight. Usually, during such an episode, large amounts of simple carbohydrates, snacks, sweets (e.g. bread, biscuits, chocolates, whole packets of breakfast cereals, many toasted breads with butter, potato chips, cakes, ice cream bowls) are consumed.

The person is eating impulsively and uncontrollably, much faster than normal while lacking the natural sense of hunger until the desire for food passes, stress is reduced, and often until she / he experiences an unbearable feeling of swelling.

After a bulimic episode the person feels guilt and disgust with herself / himself because of the excessive amount of food consumed. Subsequently she / he attempts to get rid of the consumed calories before they are absorbed by the body, through self-induced vomiting or by using laxatives, strenuous exercise and fasting for the next few days.

A description from a person with bulimia nervosa:

“It starts with thoughts of food I have forbidden myself to eat when I’m on a diet. It then changes into an intense desire to eat. At first, I feel relieved when I eat and I feel great. But then I can’t stop and I continue to eat shamefully to the point where I feel like my stomach is about to burst. After that I just feel guilty and angry with myself.” (Fairburn, 1995)

Physical and psychological impacts

Frequent purging and vomiting caused by the individual during bulimic episodes causes a disruption in the chemical balance of the body’s essential substances. For example, it may lead to an imbalance in electrolytes (necessary for the smooth functioning of the heart), including abnormal potassium levels with subsequent dehydration and irreversible damage to the heart, kidney and brain.

Fatigue, depression, aching muscles, light-headedness, sensitivity to cold, and gaining weight more easily are some of the consequences that occur due to blood sugar fluctuations as a result of eating too much simple carbohydrates (e.g., sugar, sweets etc.).

Other physical consequences of Bulimia Nervosa include:

  • irritation in the gastrointestinal tract that can even cause death
  • bloating in the salivary glands
  • tooth erosion
  • sore throat
  • severe bleeding of the oesophagus that may be caused by vomiting or by the means used to self-induce vomiting (e.g., finger)
  • stomach disorders
  • chronic bloating, constipation, and diarrhoea which persists for a long time even after the person stops using laxatives.

 

A common misconception by people with Bulimia is that laxatives prevent the absorption of calories consumed during Bulimia episodes, which they do not.

 

Read more about Bulimia here.

The treatment of Bulimia Nervosa

Excessive use of laxatives and self-induced vomiting occurring in Bulimia Nervosa, intended to compensate for Binge Eating episodes, have serious consequences for the health of the individual. These tactics, which at first are considered easy solutions to every Binge Eating episode, eventually end up becoming a real problem so the person is trapped in a prison from which she / he can’t escape. The objective of the specialised Bulimia Nervosa counselling and psychotherapy is to break free from the vicious cycle of the disorder and to adopt better defence mechanisms, a healthier lifestyle and way of thinking.

During treatment, the individual receives:

  • psycho-educationand correct explanation of the body’s functions (appetite, satiety, chemical imbalance that occurs because of bulimic episodes and the self-induced vomiting)
  • proper nutritional guidance, including acquisition of healthy behaviours towards the body and healthy eating habits
  • cognitivetherapy, for example, tracking negative thoughts, misconceptions and problematic attitudes in diet and eating habits, metabolism and the body, myths and realities
  • a strengthening of self-image
  • an improved body image, with the cultivation of positive thoughts and feelings towards the body
  • a strengthening of self-esteem and self-confidence
  • education on how to better cope with negative emotions
  • assertiveness training, with the person learning to enforce their rights and express their needs, if required
  • relaxation training and visualisation, with the person learning to relax the body and mind for the better treatment of stress, anxiety and negative thoughts and emotions
  • guidance during the stabilization phase
  • relapse prevention guidance

We may also collaborate with other specialists where necessary (e.g., doctors, nutritionists, etc.).

Anorexia Nervosa

What is Anorexia Nervosa?

The term Anorexia Nervosa means “appetite loss of nervous origins”. In fact, the person has not lost her / his appetite for food. On the contrary she / he may have a great appetite and be very hungry but refuses to eat due to a pathological fear of gaining weight, or even a fear of having normal weight and tries to keep body weight as low as possible. She / he tries to limit caloric intake, as much as possible, or spend as much energy as possible through exercise. She / he resorts to self-imposed starvation and avoids social gatherings that include food.

Physical effects of Anorexia Nervosa due to long-term fasting and the body’s complete exhaustion:

  • tendency to get sick frequently due to lowered resistance to illness
  • physical weakness
  • sensitivity to both heat and cold
  • bruises on the body with relative ease due to the deficiency of vitamins such asB12, C, K, and the lack of folic acid
  • insomnia
  • following excessive weight loss, the person may be covered with fine downy hair
  • impoverished blood circulation leading to discoloured rough skin, due to long-term starvation
  • cold hands and feet
  • digestive problems due to starvation
  • bloating and constipation
  • weak bones due to malnutrition
  • shrinkage of the reproductive organs in both men and women
  • lack of menstruation in women

Psychological effects of anorexia nervosa

Changes in brain chemistry due to excessive weight loss lead to changes in the person’s emotional world, including:

  • depression
  • irrational thoughts
  • lack of concentration

Read more about anorexia nervosa here.

The treatment of Anorexia Nervosa

An important requirement for treatment is to build a relationship of trust with the therapist, who will create an appropriate approach to care and support the individual and her / his family. In addition, there may be collaboration with other experts (e.g. physicians, nutritionists) to deal with problems under critical situations and crises.

The Counselling / Psychotherapy aims to restore the appropriate self-image, self-esteem and confidence. The individual learns to handle the problems and difficulties faced using healthier ways of coping. With the appropriate support, she / he escapes the vicious cycle of the eating disorder and re-gains a healthier and much improved life.

During treatment, the individual receives:

  • psycho-educationand correct explanation of the body’s functions (appetite, satiety, chemical imbalance that occurs because of self-induced vomiting)
  • proper nutritional guidance, including the acquisition of healthy behaviours towards the body and healthy eating habits
  • cognitivetherapy, including tracking negative thoughts, misconceptions and problematic attitudes in diet and eating habits, metabolism and the body; myths and realities
  • a strengthening of self-image
  • an improved body image, through the cultivation of positive thoughts and feelings towards the body
  • a strengthening of self-esteem and self-confidence
  • education on how to better cope with negative emotions
  • assertiveness training, where the person learns to enforce their rights and express their needs, if required
  • relaxation training and visualisation, where the person learns to relax the body and mind for the better treatment of stress, anxiety and negative thoughts and emotions
  • guidance during the stabilization phase
  • relapse prevention guidance

Counselling for parents, guardians and companions of people with eating disorders

Counselling for guardians and companions, as well as Family Counselling, is helpful when a close relative, or a person you care about, displays worrying eating behaviour, especially if she / he refuses any help, becomes distant and shuts herself / himself off. In this case, appropriate expert support is required. Getting help from our specialists in our counselling and psychotherapeutic centre is the best way to manage the situation as painlessly and effectively as possible.

Things to do if you suspect that a loved one is facing an eating disorder:

  • talk to the person about your concerns since she / he needs to learn that you are worried because you care
  • encourage the person to admit her / his problem
  • if the person denies your help, do not panic, as denial is a basic feature of eating disorders.
  • it is important that you are not let down by your beloved person’s negative attitude, as she / he may eventually agree to come with you to a meeting with a specialist
  • if the person persistently refuses your offer for expert help, then it is best that you educate yourself as much as possible (counselling you receive from our centre’s experts will enlighten you and guide you to learn how to better manage your loved one).
  • do not be re-assured when the person tells you that she / he has overcome the problem, that she / he will try harder or that he will get better because, even if she / he believes it, eating disorders are not cured from one moment to the next
  • be there whenever the person needs to talk to you and don’t be afraid to share your thoughts and feelings with her / him

What to do if the person admits that they have a problem and asks for help:

  • learn as much as you can about eating disorders
  • once the person accepts treatment, stay close and support her / him
  • listen to the person whenever she / he needs to talk to you and continue to share your thoughts and feelings with her / him
  • remove scales, diet books andcalorie counters which may fuel the problem and be cautious on the kind of food you bring home
  • avoid commenting on the body (e.g., shape, weight) either of the individual experiencing the eating disorder, on your body or others
  • do not criticize the amount of food others eat during meals
  • the person with an eating disorder experiences an emotional rollercoaster that is expressed through a problematic eating behaviour, so try to be close to the personality behind the disorder and express your love

Eating Disorder Support Groups

At the centre, GIA TIN ITHAKI, we also offer support groups for people with Eating Disorders.

What is a support group?

A support group is essentially a meeting of people on a systematic basis and for a specific period of time with the ultimate goal of providing and receiving support for the difficulties they commonly face. In eating disorder support groups, participants with the help of the group coordinator (a therapist specializing in eating disorders), offer each other help through active listening, empathy, support and feedback on eating disorder related issues.  Group members, always with the help of the coordinator, are enlightened on and receive psycho-education for eating disorders, exploring feelings, thoughts and perceptions of the body and their self-image, and treat their unhealthy eating behaviour, their relationship with food and more generally the relationship with oneself and with others in a safe and friendly environment. The eating disorders support group works in a complementary way and can be a highly effective source of help for people with eating disorders already receiving individual therapy.

Personal experience of individuals that have participated in such a group

“The group meetings were a great experience for me. I experienced feelings of joy, anguish, I often identified with the other girls and felt I was not alone. I also saw in other group members the same disappointment about what is happening to us. But through this experience my motivation has increased, I have been able to see things more clearly and was convinced that at some point I will finally find my real self and I will be able to give my life the meaning and the value it deserves.”

“I feel that the group members are my companions, who observe my every move of progress, give me valuable advice, unlimited support and special help, and urge me to always continue, despite the difficulties or disappointments I may feel. Many times I feel that the group sessions are revealing in a way that enhances the healing process for all members. I also feel a great sense of belonging, that someone really listens to me with compassion and understands me in a confidential, private and warm environment and this helps me to discover things about myself that may be forgotten or unknown.”

“It’s staggering how strong, both emotionally and mentally, I left at the end of each group session, ready to endure the daily trials and temptations. I feel proud that I can have this unconditional love and assistance through a discreet group of people facing similar difficulties with my own, because such an experience helps you get back on your feet, to take your life in your hands and finally smile!”

Addiction is any problematic relationship that can arise between a person and a substance (legal or illegal), behaviour or another person. At this point, even though the person may be aware of the devastating consequences caused by the addiction, she/ he is unable to overcome it.

A person can reach out to the psychotherapy centre, GIA TIN ITHAKI, for personal development and self-awareness, if he wants to overcome:

  • Legal addictive substances (e.g., smoking, alcohol, sedatives and sleeping pills).
  • Illegal addictive substances (e.g., cannabis, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogenic pills, etc.).
  • Addictive behaviours (e.g., gambling).
  • Addictive relationships.

The goal of the therapy is to find a new lifestyle, free of any kind of addiction. Our goal will be to develop new interests, to learn to deal with problems in healthier ways, to redefine relationships with others, to learn how to cope with various emotions, as well as manage free time.

If you think your relationship to any substance, person, activity or behaviour has become problematic or if you just worry about another person, do not hesitate to ask for help NOW!

At the centre, GIA TIN ITHAKI, Dialectical – Behaviour Therapy is offered either among other approaches or as a separate treatment. Dialectical – Behaviour Therapy is a relatively new treatment that was created by Marsha M. Linehan to help people suffering from emotional disorders and various dysfunctional behaviours.

People with mood swings; extremely low self-image; impulsive, unpredictable and highly destructive behaviour; and / or suicidal ideation; may benefit from this type of treatment. Dialectical – Behaviour Therapy is extremely useful because it helps individuals to eliminate anything that is dysfunctional in their everyday lives. For example, it helps people control dangerous impulsive behaviour and outbursts, identify and improve extreme thoughts and beliefs, and better manage their negative emotions.

In a nutshell, Dialectical – Behaviour Psychotherapy aims primarily to build interpersonal skills, regulate emotions, and access and enhance the personal inner powers that each person has in order to feel better about themselves and improve their quality of life.

The journey from diagnosis to treatment can be long and extremely difficult. Those who have experienced it know the huge mental and physical resources it requires. X-rays, surgeries, radiotherapy and chemotherapy test the limits of people living with cancer, and each follow-up examination is a reminder that cancer can return. Psychological therapy can provide support during this journey and help us to functionally reinvigorate our new reality by focusing on ourselves rather than the diagnosis. This means that we learn to balance our lives by claiming our right to mental relaxation, joy, and creativity. Psychological therapy helps bring into our lives the nurturing qualities of our own values, which cancer – as a disease – often overshadows.

Therapy teaches us what stress is and how it affects our lives. We first learn to recognize its various forms and the ways in which it affects our behaviour and feelings. We recognize what causes and feeds our stress and we use therapeutic tools to manage it properly. By gradually changing our way of thinking we begin to work with stress, in order to be less affected by it.

Relaxation training helps us reduce the physical effects of stress through breathing and visualisation, which, when they become a part of everyday life, they positively influence our thoughts, allowing us to maintain our mental clarity and tranquillity even in moments of difficulty.

In the Personal Development and Self-Awareness Centre, GIA TIN ITHAKI, among other relaxation techniques, we also offer Autogenic Relaxation training (Link).

Sleep is always a mirror of our mental world, with emotional difficulties frequently reflected in its quality either as a sleep disorder or as complex and debilitating dreams. Our daily strains can result in disturbed sleep that is continuously interrupted or can prevent us from falling asleep, even for a while. Apart from our emotional experiences, there are many other factors that could negatively affect our sleep, such as our diet and environment. Throughout therapy we explore all possible factors, creating an action plan with various approaches (e.g., relaxation training) to appropriately address them.

Read more about sleep.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep

Pain is multidimensional in nature and it extends beyond the sensory experience. It can affect our sleep, mood, thoughts as well as our emotions. Living with pain often causes many changes including changes in our routine and activities, limiting our choices and transforming simple everyday tasks into great challenges. All these changes lead to a sense of disorganisation and while we are dealing with one aspect of the problem, another appears.

Psychotherapy is one of our greatest allies in successful pain management because it can help us re-organise our life and set new goals and priorities so that we may once again focus on what we want instead of having the pain at the centre of our lives draining us of all vitality. Just as the pain has the capacity to negatively affect our mood, our improved mood through psychotherapy has the capacity to positively affect the pain.