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Psychologist Helen O’Connor

Expert Psychologist Helen O'Connor

Psychologist Specialising in Health Behaviour & Habit Change

I am a qualified and fully insured psychologist, chartered with the British Psychological Society and registered with the UK Health and Care Professions Council.

I started out as a sport and exercise psychologist. I am interested in human performance and motivation and remain connected to sport in areas such as image and performance enhancing drugs, athlete mental health, and child athlete welfare. However, my work and interests soon took me into new areas including health behaviour change – focusing on weight management, smoking cessation, problem drinking, addictions and substance use and abuse.

I have worked in NHS and public sector services, and currently work part-time in a drug and alcohol service in London as well as running a private practice. I have been a visiting lecturer at Chichester and Greenwich Universities.

I use a combination of psychological therapy tools – most commonly motivational interviewing (which can help people who are ambivalent become more committed to and motivated about making a change), and Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), which was the first cognitive behaviour therapy.

Supporting People to Reduce or Quit the Sauce

Privately, I provide support to adults who want to change their drinking (whether reducing and having more days off, taking a booze break, or stopping completely), usually via Skype or FaceTime (I have had clients from all over the world). Typically, the work extends across several sessions (usually tapered with longer intervals between sessions as clients become more confident in their habit change).

The work places a big emphasis on changing the learned habit of drinking in response to life’s ups and downs, as a social lubricant, or merely as punctuation to a day, and helping people become better at tolerating the discomfort (not pain!) of resisting the urge to drink.

Sometimes a single session is all someone needs to get reassurance about the extent of their ‘problem’, what they can do for themselves, and a clearer idea of what options are available to them to achieve their goals. A single impartial, professional and confidential discussion can help people feel more confident when approaching local healthcare professionals, services, or therapists about their goals and needs.

Although I work in other services with physically dependent drinkers, it would be unsafe for me to offer support to this group of clients in private practice as they usually require medical support (‘detox’) and benefit from regular face to face contact. However, I can still run through a standard assessment and screening questions with you, to help you understand whether you do have a physical dependency, which can help you decide your next steps. Similarly, people with enduring complex mental health difficulties would benefit more from working with a local practitioner or specialist service.

To speak confidentially about your concerns, to find out more about how working with a counsellor, therapist, psychologist or specialist addiction service can help you address your goals around alcohol, or just to get some practical recommendations about your options, drop me an email.

MONTH OFF BOOZE – A SOBER SPRINT – OUR 30-day ONLINE COURSE

I’m really proud of the online course Club Soda and I created in 2015. The material covers a wide range of psychological issues and topics that can help people with habit change – including reducing or stopping drinking. It also draws upon REBT which is the main therapeutic model I use in my practice (REBT is also the basis of the SMART Recovery programme). In many cases, the daily topic on the Sober Sprint is a very small slice of a bigger idea (such as procrastination, discomfort dodging etc.) but I hope that it provides some food for thought. Around 200 people have taken the course so far, and we’ve had some great feedback. Read more about the Sober Sprint programme.