Michael Desmond BABCP PG Dip CBT. Psychology BSc. Psychotherapy BSc

Michael Desmond BABCP PG Dip CBT. Psychology BSc. Psychotherapy BSc

South Benfleet

01268 793 570 / 0744 637 1134

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South Benfleet

01268 793 570 / 0744 637 1134

About me

Hello and thank you for visiting my profile.

I am a Cognitive Behaviour Therapist. I hope that your questions are answered here. if not please call or message for a no obligation chat.

I understand that arranging your first therapy session can be daunting and finding the right therapist a little confusing. In your first session we would agree on issues such as confidentiality and timekeeping to begin with. We would then explore your problem; when did it start? What makes it worse or better? What thoughts do you have? What emotions do you experience and so on. My role is to offer empathy, meaning that I would do my very best to understand your problem from your perspective. We would then set your goal; what you want to achieve in therapy? I do not offer solutions, but rather guided discovery, in order that you can overcome your problem, grow and live authentically.  If you have any questions or require more information feel free to call, text or e-mail for a no oblgation chat.

What is CBT?

Cognitions are thoughts and beliefs, the little voice in our heads, the assumptions we hold about ouselves, the World and our place in it.

Behaviour is anything we do that is observable from moving around to the way we communicate.

Think of yourself as consisting of four systems that interact with eachother to make 'you': Thoughts / Behaviour / Emotions and Physical Sensation. CBT is based on the idea that emotional difficulties like Depression and physical symptoms experienced during Panic Attacks for example result from unhelpful patterns of thinking and behaving. So, in therapy we address these unhelpful patterns. The way we think and the way we behave are under our control and can therefore be changed. If we change these two aspects of ourselves then, it is likely that there will be change in the other syestems, emotions for example. See what to expect from CBT below for more details and an example. Do not hesitate to call or message should you have any questions.

About me

I was awarded a first class honours degree in psychology in 2006 and went on to complete a second degree in counselling and psychotherapy. Following this I gaine a Postgraduate Diploma in CBT. My  career began in the voluntary sector working with the bereaved in a hospice and with clients battling addiction in an agency specialising in drug and alcohol work. I now work with withion the NHS and run a small private practice based in a detached garden office, pictured below, at my home in South Benfleet. I am a member of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy and am fully insured.

I offer help with

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Low Self-esteem
Social Anxiety Disorder (extreme shyness)
Generalised Anxiety Disorder (Constant worry)
Panic Attacks
Relationship Issues
Seperation and Divorce
Addiction  (Drugs / Gambling)

Some of these are generic tems that describe a wide variety of problems. Please call with no obligation to discuss your specific problem(s).

What to expect from Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

Some clients arrive with a story to tell while others are non-plussed by for example, the sudden and seemingly inexplicable onset of panic attacks. Rest assured that the sessions are yours, you can express yourself in any way that you choose. We will build up an assessment of your issue which will include:
  Past events as well as what is going on presently.
  Things that make the problem worse or better. Maintainers and Modifiers.
  Your present coping strategies. Are these in fact helpful in the long term?
  Situations that effect the intensity and duration of your problem.
  What is your support network?
  What are your goals?
  What thoughts do you have?
  What assumptions do you hold?
  What do you do when you experience your problem?

We will address these areas and more. The assessment will give you an understanding and from this we will set goals and decide on a treatment plan.

The way we think and behave evolve over our lifetime as a result of the interation of experience and genetics; in born personality traits. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is based on the idea of freedom and choice: Thoughts and beliefs are not facts, though that can feel that way. Likewise, behaviour is not set in stone. We have control of these two aspects of ourselves. So, if we questioned the rationality of our thoughts, practiced new ways of thinking about or appraising situations and behaved in accordance with this rational view, would we FEEL different? Would emotions stabilise? Would self-esteem increase? And so on......

The aim of CBT then is:

To unpack the cognitive style (how and why we think the way we do).
Look at how this interacts with behaviour.
Sort the helpful from the unhelpful.
Experiment with new beliefs and behaviours.
Monitor the result of these 'experiments'.
When the blend is right, maintain this.
Think about spacing your sessions out.
Recognise that you have 'become your own therapist'
Plan ending.

A simple way to illustrate how the interaction of thinking and behaving can lead to distress is panic attacks.

Please note: Anyone experiencing physical symptoms should seek medical advice to ensure that there is no physical problem before seeking counselling

Imagine that a train passenger begins to feel hot and becomes aware that their heart rate has increased. This leads to anxiety and the belief that something bad is about to happen. They get off the train at the next stop, sit on a bench and wait for the sensations to subside. They then get on the next train and complete the journey. Great! you may think, good for them. However, the belief and the behaviour are irrational and unhelpful respectfully and in fact maintain the problem as the behaviour (escape) confirms the irrational belief that if the person hadn't taken evasive action, something awful such a a heart attack may have happened. In fact, panic symptoms are a harmless physical response; 'fight or flight' that is in fact helpful in some situations. If the appraisal and behaviour go unchallenged, the vicous cycle of repeated panic will strengthen.

In an initial session with a panic sufferer I would use biological psychology to explain the panic or 'fight or flight' response which is normal and useful in some circumstances. If you experience real danger your body's response is to 'prepare for action'. A panic attack is distressing but it is only the triggering of this response in inappropriate circumstances. We would then look in detail at how the particular client's 'vicous cycle' had evolved; the onset and appraisal of the problem and also the client's coping strategies (looking for maintainers like gettting off the train). The client's history would also be examined; is there a history of anxiety generally? What was the nature of early relationships? and so on. We would build up a picture so that the client has a clearer understanding of why their panic has occured. In following sessions we would design behavioural experiments; incrementally changing behaviours such as maintainers or avoidance and monitor the results. We would also challenge unhelpful ' catastrophising' beliefs and assumptions around panic, anxiety and phisical sensations. As the client progressess sessions may be held fortnightly and then monthly. Thoughts and beliefs are not facts, it may take some time but vicous cycles can be broken.

              'It is not events that disturb us but what we make of those events'  Epictetus 1 AD

                                           Wise words for a slave turned philosopher.

Training, qualifications & experience

Psychology BSc (Hons) First Class
Counselling and Psychotherapy BSc (Hons) First Class
Postgraduate Diploma CBT (Distinction)

I am currently employed by the NHS and run a small private practice.

I have experience in treating the folowing:
Substance misuse
Social Anxiety
Post traumatic Stress Disorder
Excessive and uncontrolable worry (generalised Anxiety Disorder)
Panic Attacks

Member organisations


Photos & videos

  • My counselling room
  • My garden office


My fees are £50 per 50 minute session. Discounted rates are available to student counsellors.

Further information

I work from home in South Benfleet in a detached garden counselling room. There is ample free parking in my road.

Maps & Directions

South Benfleet, SS7

Type of session

Online counselling: No
Telephone counselling: No
Face to face counselling: Yes

Practical details

Sign language: No
Other languages: None


Weekday evenings and Saturday mornings.

Types of client

Older adults