top of page



Vanessa van Lelyveld always welcomes a new client to an initial assessment session. This session gives you time to explain what you would like to achieve from therapy, and gives her an opportunity to explain which therapy (or therapies) will be the most effective in helping you to achieve your goals. She will discuss with you what you can expect from therapy and what you will need to do to achieve the best results.


At all times confidentiality is paramount. Respect for your individual values and beliefs are of great importance.


Vanessa van Lelyveld follows mostly a multi-dimensional approach (theories and tecniques borrowed from various psychological schools) but you will mainly experience techniques from a Positive therapy framework, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), and Humanistic framework. The initial assessment will determine which therapy (or therapies) you are going to benefit from most. A short explanation of the main approaches followed are below.





Positive Psychology seeks to create positive emotions, happiness, and well-being through the development of character strengths and virtues. It is a merger of philosophy, psychology, positive thinking, and the importance of attitude.  It asks and answers the age-old questions about the good life, success, happiness and meaning.  Positive Psychology is anchored in the study of how to be happy, how to achieve success, and how to create meaning and purpose for our lives.



"Positive psychology is an exciting new orientation in the field, going beyond psychology's traditional focus on illness and pathology to look at areas like well-being and fulfilment. While the larger question of optimal human functioning is hardly new...positive psychology offers a common language on this subject to professionals working in a variety of sub-disciplines and practices.  Applicable in many settings and relevant for individuals, groups, organizations, communities, and societies, positive psychology is a genuinely integrative approach to professional practice."  

Quoted from Positive Psychology in Practice


 The study of positive psychology was started because it has come to be realised that whilst psychology tells us how to relieve misery and suffering it does not necessarily help us to find what is best in life and how to enjoy it and become happier. That is the goal of positive psychology.


Research is increasingly finding that if we approach life with optimism then we are happier, healthier, more resilient and successful. Positive psychology has drawn on CBT principles and psychological research to find ways of helping people to learn to become more optimistic (when it will be helpful to them) and thus happier.





CBT is a therapy concerned with the relationship between thoughts/beliefs (cognitions) and behaviour. It suggests that the way you think about an event is responsible for how you feel about that event. CBT also suggests that the way you feel is dependent on what you do (behaviour). We know that different people have different reactions to the same event, so it is your interpretation of that event that leads to your particular emotional reaction. Therefore if one thinks differently about an event, or acts differently in response, then one would feel differently.


The aim of therapy is to develop an understanding of the problem and what thoughts and behaviours trigger and maintain the problem; then to develop skills and techniques for dealing with the thoughts and behaviours in realistic, rational and helpful ways.


The goal is to help you to become your own therapist, gradually reducing the need for the therapist. To develop a toolbox of skills and techniques to apply to old patterns of thinking and behaving, also to help you stay well by learning to deal with new issues or difficulties which may arise.


CBT is collaborative, meaning it is a joint venture between you and the therapist. The therapist brings expertise in the therapy and you bring knowledge of yourself and of the particular difficulty you have. The therapist does not make judgements, but works with you to achieve change.


What Happens in CBT Sessions?


The CBT approach focuses on the difficulties you are having in the here and now. Although it is important to examine how the problem originated the focus is on how it affects you currently.


At the beginning of CBT you may be asked to complete some self-report forms to enable the therapist to gather as much information as possible to learn quickly the nature and extent of your difficulties.


The therapy is structured and active, meaning that the sessions run to an agenda and involve work and homework on your part. This may involve keeping a diary of thoughts, feelings and behaviours, or conducting a task to test out the validity of a particular belief.


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is time-limited and brief, usually lasting between 6 and 20 sessions. Sessions may be weekly or fortnightly, usually lasting an hour. Towards the end, the sessions may taper off gradually.


Does CBT Work?


CBT is an approach based on evidence of its effectiveness. Evidence from NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) suggests that CBT is as effective as medication for treating depression and more effective than medication in preventing relapse. It has been identified as the treatment of choice for generalised anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and for depression. It has also been shown to be effective in the treatment of eating disorders, panic attacks, pain and childhood emotional disorders.





Person centred therapy was developed by psychologist Carl Rogers in the 1940s and 1950s. It's one of the most widely used models in mental health today. The person-centred approach views the client as the expert on their own experience, and as being fully capable of fulfilling their own potential for growth.


The aim for the therapist is to provide the ‘core conditions’ for growth and learning in the therapy - a comfortable, non-judgemental environment. The therapist must demonstrate congruence (genuineness), empathy, and unconditional positive regard with a non-directive approach. This enables clients to find their own solutions to their problems.


Person centred therapy as well as being used as a therapy in its own right is also used as the ‘bedrock’ for other therapeutic approaches such as CBT to build upon.

bottom of page