At FUNVECA Clinical Psychology Center we offer psychological attention in response to demand from a person (the “patient”) who considers that he needs professional help to solve some kind of psychological problem (for example, he feels depressed and without strength, he is very anxious and he do not know how to calm down, he feels stressed by his work situation, he discusses too often with his partner, he has just been diagnosed with a serious illness and he feels dejected, he has been told that he has to change his lifestyle – diet, exercise, quitting smoking – because if he does not do it he could have more medical complications, etc.).

In the case of children/adolescents, it is usually parents, caregivers or legal guardians who request care for children because they observe changes in their behavior and habitual way of reacting or think that the children/adolescents need some kind of professional support (for instance, he has trouble performing at school, it is time to decide what he wants to study and he does not know what, he observes that he is very quiet and has virtually no friends, he has changed his mood and sees him very sad without apparent reason, etc.).

The psychological attention services we offer are framed in the cognitive behavioral approach of Psychology and the treatments are empirically validated, which means that they have scientific evidence on their effectiveness.

What is psychological attention?

Psychological attention is a therapeutic encounter between the psychologist and the patient, whose objective is to help the latter to solve some problem, situation or psychological disorder that he is currently facing. Generally, the patient has been dealing with this problematic situation or psychological disorder for some time, using all the strategies and resources at his disposal, without finding a solution, suffering an important psychological malaise and affecting his daily life and his environment (family, occupational, etc.).

Reasons to request psychological attention

The reasons for requesting psychological attention can be varied and in no case does it mean “to be crazy.” Basically, it is about going to a professional (in this case of Psychology) so that, together with him, he can analyze a problematic situation and understand how his actions and the conditions of his environment are contributing to this problem and of what way they could modify this situation or use strategies that allow a better adjustment if they cannot change them. This work approach is focused on problem solving and personal development of a set of skills and strategies that allow people to learn to relate better to themselves and their environment and, above all, that allow them to achieve their vital objectives.

Advantages of psychological attention

The most important advantage of receiving psychological attention (when being well taken advantage of by the patient) is that the person get to increase their ability to cope with difficult situations and their resistance to adversity, while reducing discomfort and psychological suffering and be one step closer to achieving their personal purposes.

Modalities of psychological attention

We offer two types of psychological care:

Individual psychological consultation is a therapeutic relationship, one by one, in which the psychologist uses his own knowledge and skills of his profession to help the patient. Sessions are usually held once a week and each session lasts between 45 and 60 minutes. An individual treatment can take between 12 and 20 sessions, but in the most severe cases (for example, a personality disorder) six months or more of continuous treatment may be required. It may also happen that the reason for consultation is an issue that requires timely advice and only about three or four sessions are needed.

How do individual consultations tend to be

The first sessions are assessments, that is, the therapist uses them to gather all the information necessary to better understand the patient. It begins with the expression of the reason for consultation by the patient and develops as an interview in which the therapist asks questions about their current situation and the development that the problem has had. In a complementary way, the patient can be asked to fill in questionnaires or make observations of their own performance in daily life and record them in some format (self-registering).

Once the assessment has been done, the therapist and patient share and discuss the approaches and hypotheses that the former has made regarding what may be happening to the patient and from there the therapeutic goals are defined.

Starting from the goals, an intervention plan is drawn up, which generally includes the use of different psychological strategies to achieve the proposed objectives. These strategies may change depending on the type of problem or psychological disorder the patient has, but some of them are, for example, relaxation, systematic desensitization, cognitive restructuring, behavioral planning of activities, training in specific skills (for example, social skills, coping), etc.

In order to assess the patient’s progress and the achievement of the therapeutic goals, it may be necessary to reapply some of the questionnaires used during the evaluation and thus compare how he was at the beginning and how he is at the present time. This issue may be fundamental for the patient because he receives another type of feedback regarding his therapeutic process.

Group psychological work generally involves a therapist (and a co-therapist if required) and several patients (between four and eight), who coincide in their reason for consultation, problem situation or psychological disorder. Normally, although each person experiences the situation they are going through in a particular way, given their personal characteristics and life history, many issues that are the subject of a psychological consultation can be shared with other people and working in groups can have very important benefits as compared with individual therapy.

Advantages of group therapy

One of the advantages of group therapy that is obvious is that patients realize that difficult situations “not only happen to me,” can happen to anyone. On the other hand, the opportunity is taken to know what others have done to try to solve their problems and what worked for them and what didn’t. Likewise, in the therapeutic process, group members become a model or sources of reinforcement during the learning of the skills and strategies to deal with the problem, allowing others to do so while helping others to do so. As you would expect, since in the process there may be relapses, being in a group the members can support each other and encourage each other. Last but not least, an advantage is that some psychological strategies can be learned more easily in a group, which is the case, for example, of social skills.

How is usually a group therapy

Group therapy has a structure or organization that is flexible and conforms to the characteristics of its members. Before starting, the therapists will have had an individual session with each patient to know their current situation (in addition to the interview, questionnaires and self-reports discussed in the individual modality can be used). Then, in the group, during the first session the rules for the functioning of the group are established (for example, confidentiality agreements, assistance, punctuality, forms of participation, number of planned sessions, etc.), members are introduced to the group, the current situation of the patients is shared and the goals pursued with the treatment are defined. According to the group’s psychological motive or theme, the therapist prepares the first sessions so that the topics can be addressed in such a way that the members can understand the nature of the problem and how the problem situation is being maintained, taking into account their own factors (for example, the relationship between their ways of thinking, their emotions and actions) and the patient contexts. Subsequent sessions focus on creating therapeutic learning situations, that is, training in skills and strategies to deal with the problem is initiated in a way in which psychological improvement can be obtained. The final session of the group is used to evaluate the therapeutic achievements and for this it may be necessary to fill in the questionnaires that were used at the beginning.

Group sessions can last between one hour and a half and two hours and a half and are carried out on a weekly basis. Usually, group treatments can last about 12 or 15 sessions, depending on the topic or reason for consultation, but in some cases less sessions may be required (for example, treatment of fear of public speaking).