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Therapy Terms and Definitions


There are many different types of abuse. While the more commonly known forms include domestic violence, child abuse and emotional abuse, and behaviour towards someone that causes deliberate harm or upset can be considered abuse.


Addiction refers to a difficulty in controlling certain repetitive behaviours to the extent that they have harmful consequences. They are the result of powerful compulsions to use and do certain things excessively, often out of a need to escape from upsetting emotions or situations. These compulsions can trigger a self-perpetuating process, which can cause pain and suffering not only for those with the problem but for their loved ones too.

Affairs and Betrayals

Affairs and betrayals can severely strain any relationship. Whether it's infidelity, financial secrets, threats to leave, gambling or even drug/alcohol abuse, betrayals of any kind can break trust and greatly affect the well-being of everyone involved.

Anger Management

Feeling angry is a natural response to certain life experiences. It’s a basic emotion; occurring at times when we come under attack, feel deceived, insulted or frustrated. Anger management therapy aims to reduce the feelings anger creates by allowing individuals to explore possible causes, triggers and confront any underlying issues.

Antisocial Personality Disorder

The source of antisocial personality disorder is typically the result of a long, outstanding issue that could have occurred during the individual’s childhood. Educational, family, socio-economic and relationship problems can all contribute to the development of ASPD – all of which can be helped with counselling or therapy.


Anxiety is used to describe feelings of worry, fear and unease. Typically, it incorporates both the emotional and physical sensations we experience when worried or nervous. Anxiety is related to the ‘fight or flight’ response and, while unpleasant, this is a normal reaction when our body perceives a threat.


Bereavement is the time we spend adjusting to the loss. There is no right or wrong way to feel during the bereavement period - everyone copes in their own way.

Binge-eating Disorder (BED)

Binge-eating disorder is a type of eating disorder where people feel compelled to overeat in order to deal with difficult emotions. People may feel as though they can’t stop themselves from eating, no matter how much they want to.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder (previously known as manic depression) is a mental health condition characterised by dramatic shifts in mood, energy, behaviour and thinking. People with bipolar disorder will experience contrasting episodes of intense highs and lows - mania and depression. 

Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) also known as an emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD), is a type of personality disorder. You may be diagnosed with a personality disorder if you have difficulties with how you think and feel about yourself and other people, and as a result, are having problems living your life.


Bullying can be defined as repeated and unwanted behaviour with intent to hurt another person, physically or emotionally. It can take many forms, including verbal threats, physical assault, calling names, gossiping and cyberbullying.


For many, the main goal in life is to pursue a career that is meaningful and fulfilling. It can be highly rewarding to be in a role that you are passionate about and that reflects you as a person - where you can apply your skills and talents while growing at the same time. 

Child-related Issues

While many of us can seek support from friends and family, it’s not always possible. Even as adults, it can be scary to ask for help, especially for our own mental health. So, consider how daunting it can be for a child. A child experiencing a mental health problem, or experiencing something they don’t understand; how can they possibly know where to turn.

Dependent Personality Disorder

Dependent personality disorder is a mental health issue where sufferers exhibit an excessive need to be taken care of, resulting in needy and submissive behaviour. It is categorised as a Cluster C personality disorder, which also houses avoidant personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.


Unlike the occasional bout of feeling sad, depression affects your daily life, making it hard for you to find enjoyment in day-to-day activities. Some days you may find it impossible to get out of bed, while other days you may feel more able to go about your normal daily tasks.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence (also known as domestic abuse) can involve physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse. Usually, it happens with someone you are close to, either within a couple relationship or family setting. This type of abuse can affect anyone, regardless of ages, gender or social background.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are complex mental health conditions that affect people emotionally, physically and socially. They centre on a person's relationship with food, eating and themselves. In the UK, it is estimated that more than 700,000 people are affected by an eating disorder.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse, sometimes referred to as psychological abuse, is used to describe any type of behaviour that allows someone to gain power and control over another. There are many different types of emotional abuse, all of which gradually undermine the other person’s self-respect.

Family Issues

Our families go through lots of changes throughout our lives and, because of this, it’s normal to have problems with your family life from time to time.

But, it can be comforting to know that, whatever issues your family is facing, there is help and support available. Counselling can help you overcome difficult times together as a family.

Gender Dysphoria

Gender dysphoria, also known as gender identity disorder (GID) is when a person is born one gender but is unhappy living that way.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder

The word anxiety relates to a feeling of unease, worry or even fear. Most of us have experienced feelings of anxiety before - sitting an exam, attending a job interview or having a medical test can all instil feelings of anxiety that are perfectly normal. For some people feeling anxious is part of everyday life and controlling their anxiety is near impossible.


A hoarding disorder is where someone acquires an excessive number of items and stores them in a chaotic manner, usually resulting in unmanageable amounts of clutter. The items can be of little or no monetary value.

Learning Difficulties

A learning disability affects the way a person learns new things throughout their lifetime. Find out how a learning disability can affect someone and where you can find support.

Low Self-confidence

Self-confidence is about trusting your own judgement and feeling comfortable with your abilities and powers: it’s the means to realise your full potential and be the person you want to be

Low Self-esteem

When our self-esteem is low, we tend to see ourselves and our life in a more negative and critical light. We also feel less able to take on the challenges that life throws at us.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

The symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder include grandiose sense of importance, preoccupation with unlimited success, belief that one is special and unique, exploitative of others, lack of empathy, arrogance, and jealousy of others. These symptoms cause significant distress in a person's life.

Narcissistic Victim Syndrome

A person victimised by narcissistic abuse often presents oblivious and disconnected from their own emotional pain and mental anguish. They tend to be obsessed with her own failures, inadequacy, desperately seeking answers on how to solve the specific problems and flaws the narcissist has identified as causes for their misery. They are usually made to feel they are not doing anything right, walking on eggshells, feelings of not good enough, exhausted, question their sanity and can never meet the expectations of the Narcissist. The Victims mind is often spinning, preoccupied with trying to sort the confusion caused by the effects of the use of tactics such as gaslighting with intent to distort the victim's reality and impose their own. The victim wants to seek an explanation for why the narcissist is so miserable,  treats them the way they do, so insecure,  cannot communicate,  are completely misunderstood, and so on. The thinking patterns of a victim of narcissistic abuse are often filled with self-blame and self-condemnation. and confusion.

Obsessive-compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common mental health condition where a person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours.

Obsessive-compulsive Personality Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) is a personality disorder that’s characterized by extreme perfectionism, order, and neatness. People with OCPD will also feel a severe need to impose their own standards on their outside environment.

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder where you regularly have sudden attacks of panic or fear.

Everyone experiences feelings of anxiety and panic at certain times. It's a natural response to stressful or dangerous situations

Paranoid Personality Disorder

The paranoid personality-disordered person is suspicious of others—this individual thinks that others are out to threaten, betray, exploit, or harm. This disorder presents most often in young adulthood. People with paranoid personality disorder are not normally grounded in reality, nor do they admit that they have negative feelings about other people. They distrust people so much that they will not discuss how they feel, and harbour suspicions for lengthy periods of time.

Passive-aggressive Behaviour

Passive-aggressive behaviours are those that involve acting indirectly aggressive rather than directly aggressive. Passive-aggressive people regularly exhibit resistance to requests or demands from family and other individuals often by procrastinating, expressing sullenness, or acting stubborn.

Personality Disorders

A personality disorder is a condition that affects how you think, feel, behave or relate to other people.

There are different types of personality disorder with different symptoms. All personality disorders affect how you think, feel and behave.


A phobia is an overwhelming and debilitating fear of an object, place, situation, feeling or animal.

Phobias are more pronounced than fears. They develop when a person has an exaggerated or unrealistic sense of danger about a situation or object.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse If someone deliberately hurts or injures you or another person, it’s physical abuse. You might be told that it’s your fault, or that they’re punishing you. But nothing makes it okay for someone to hurt you. Abuse is never your fault.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition caused by a traumatic experience. Someone with PTSD often relives the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks, and may experience feelings of isolation, irritability and guilt. They may also have problems sleeping, such as insomnia, and find concentrating difficult. These symptoms are often severe and persistent enough to have a significant impact on a person's day-to-day life.

Postnatal depression

Postnatal depression is a type of depression that parents can have after having a baby.

Relationship Issues

Arguments and disagreements occur within all close relationships and are a normal part of dealing with differences in ideas, beliefs, and perspectives.  Relationship conflict and stress is very difficult to cope with on your own and can be very painful. There is no one, single cause for relationship problems, but a number of factors can play a part.

Schizoid Personality Disorder

Schizoid personality disorder is an uncommon condition in which people avoid social activities and consistently shy away from interaction with others. They also have a limited range of emotional expression.


Self-harm is when somebody intentionally damages or injures their body. It's usually a way of coping with or expressing overwhelming emotional distress.

Separation and Divorce

A legal separation is very similar to a divorce. It allows you to live apart whilst remaining married. Many couples chose to do this informally without going to the trouble of recording their separation with the court and paying court and legal fees.

Sex Problems 

A sexual problem, or sexual dysfunction, refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual or couple from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual activity. The sexual response cycle has four phases: excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse, also referred to as molestation, is abusive sexual behaviour by one person upon another. It is often perpetrated using force or by taking advantage of another. When force is immediate, of short duration, or infrequent, it is called sexual assault. The offender is referred to as a sexual abuser or (often pejoratively) molester. The term also covers any behaviour by an adult or older adolescent towards a child to stimulate any of the involved sexually. The use of a child, or other individuals younger than the age of consent, for sexual stimulation is referred to as child sexual abuse or statutory rape.


Sexuality has to do with the way you identify, how you experience sexual and romantic attraction (if you do), and your interest in and preferences around sexual and romantic relationships and behaviour.


Spirituality is a broad concept with room for many perspectives. In general, it includes a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves, and it typically involves a search for meaning in life.


Stress is often described as feeling overloaded, wound-up, tense and worried, and occurs when we face a situation we feel we can’t cope with. While stress is usually referred to as a negative experience, not all stress is bad. Some stress can be helpful, motivating us to get a task finished, or spurring us to perform well. However, if stress is ongoing or the stress response continues over a long period, the effects of stress can impact negatively on our physical and mental health.


Trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape or natural disaster. Immediately after the event, shock and denial are typical. Longer-term reactions include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships and even physical symptoms like headaches or nausea. While these feelings are normal, some people have difficulty moving on with their lives.

Work-related stress

Work-related stress is the response people may have when presented with work demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope.

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