Dr Leonie Jones

Applied Health Psychologist

C.Psychol., DHealthPsych, DSFH, HPD

Professional profile

I am a Chartered Psychologist specialising in Health Psychology.  I have over 10 years of professional clinical experience supported by over 10 years scientific knowledge in psychology.  I completed my professional training through the highly respected Professional Doctoral programme at the University of the West of England in Bristol, where I continue to be a part-time lecturer on the MSc and Doctoral Programmes in Health Psychology.

My professional expertise is in designing and successfully implementing evidence based clinical, health and wellbeing interventions for a range of individual clients which focus on behavioural and emotional change using Health Psychology, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Solution-Focused Brief Therapy, Clinical Solution-Focused Hypnotherapy, Mindfulness, and Motivational Interviewing. 

Each of my clients are individually assessed and provided with a personally tailored approach to meet their personal needs, using the most effective therapy for them based on the best scientific evidence.  I use a variety of therapeutic tools and behavioural techniques with clients to achieve the appropriate positive therapeutic outcomes. 

St Joseph’s Hospital, a private hospital in Newport, South Wales, is where I hold my private clinic.  I specialise in client behavioural change, with an emphasis on helping my clients improve their overall health and wellbeing through the development of a rational mind-set as well as achieving a balance in their mental, emotional and physical functioning.  My aim is to provide each client with a safe, supportive, empathetic, non-threatening environment where they can talk freely and without fear of judgement about the issues with which they require assistance. Therefore, a relationship between the client and myself which is built on ease, trust and confidentiality is important and key to the delivery of a successful therapeutic outcome.  Appointments to see me, can be made as self-referrals, medical referrals and/or corporate referrals.

I am registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) as a registered practitioner Health Psychologist and abide by the ethical principles and code of professional conduct adopted by HCPC and the British Psychology Society (last updated 26 January 2016) 

www.hcpcuk.org/assets/documents/10004EDFStandardsofconduct,performanceandethics.pdf

I live with my husband Selwyn and our beautiful dog Benji.   I have two lovely step-daughters and four beautiful grandchildren, which provides me with constant pleasure.  My hobbies include photography, and spending quality time with my family and friends.   I love learning and always appreciate spending time developing new skills.

At present I practice privately in St Joseph’s Hospital in Newport, where I specialises in behavioural change; giving emphasis on helping my patients improve their overall wellbeing, develop a rational mind-set, and achieve balance in mental, emotional and physical functioning. I offer psychological therapy to both individuals and groups with emotional, behavioural and chronic health issues.

I offer psychological therapy / health and wellness coaching and provide interventions across a variety of health-related issues to individuals.  These therapies assist in empowering individuals to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing.  These include: -

Clinical Depression:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), acknowledges that mood is related mindsets and thought patterns. The purpose of this therapy is to help you recognise harmful thoughts patterns that contribute to clinical depression, assess the reality of them and change them into positive ways of thinking.

Inappropriate behaviour comes from faulty thinking and when behaviour is changed, your mood will improve.

Clinical depression may affect the quality of your life in a number of ways such as:

  • a pervasive and persistent low mood
  • low self-esteem
  • a loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities
  • affecting sleep patterns
  • the ability to work
  • being more dependent on others
  • how you see yourself
  • feeling socially isolated

Through using psychological therapy as part of your wellbeing strategy, we can help you manage your depression by working with you to:

  • motivate you to improve your quality of life
  • set realistic goals
  • limit psychological distress
  • become more informed about your condition in order to cope better
  • maintain positive results

Health-related Depression

Depression is one of the most common complications of chronic illness and many people with health issues experience depression at some point in their lives. In fact, it is estimated that up to one-third of individuals with a serious medical condition experience symptoms of depression.

If you have a long-term health condition, CBT could help improve your mood as well as improving your self-care, thereby making your condition easier to manage and your life of better quality.

Chronic health conditions last a year or longer and may require on-going care and support and can include respiratory conditions, chronic pain, heart conditions, diabetes or digestive disorders amongst others.

A chronic condition may affect the quality of your life in a number of ways such as:

  • affecting sleep patterns
  • causing depression
  • the ability to work
  • being more dependent on others
  • accessing support and appropriate information
  • influencing mobility
  • how you see yourself e.g. body image
  • feeling socially isolated

Through using psychological therapy as part of your wellbeing strategy, we can help you manage your health-related depression by working with you to:

  • motivate you to improve your quality of life
  • set realistic goals
  • limit psychological distress
  • become more informed about your condition in order to cope better
  • maintain positive results

Anxiety and Panic Attacks

If you have a generalized anxiety disorder, you tend to worry about a number of things in your daily life. You may be very anxious about just getting through the day and tend to find difficult to control or stop worrying.

Symptoms may include:

  • Inability to relax
  • difficulty concentrating or “your mind goes blank”,
  • feeling muscular tension or aches and discomfort
  • having problem falling asleep or staying asleep
  • having difficulty sitting still, feeling restless
  • irritability, sweating, fatigue, headaches and nausea.

Cognitive behavioural therapy can help change an anxious mindset to one of increased positivity.

A panic disorder (or panic attack) is a sudden and repeated attack of fear that may last for several minutes. Panic attacks are characterized by a fear of disaster or of losing control even when there is no real danger. You may have a strong physical reaction during a panic attack such as a racing heart, sweating, breathing problems, weakness or dizziness, tingly or numb hands or chest pain.

Symptoms may include:

  • feeling your heart racing
  • sudden and repeated attacks of fear
  • a feeling of being out of control during a panic attack
  • a strong worry about when the next attack will happen
  • an avoidance of places or situations which may bring on a panic attack

Cognitive behavioural therapy can help change a panicky mindset to one of increased calmness.

If you have a social phobia, you may tend to be afraid of doing things in front of other people. More than just shyness, social phobia involves a combination of excessive self-consciousness, a fear of public humiliation and a fear of being judged by others.

Symptoms may include:

  • being very anxious about being with other people
  • worrying for days or weeks before an event where others will be
  • staying away from places where there are other people
  • having a hard time making and keeping friends
  • blushing, sweating, feeling nauseous or trembling around other people

Cognitive behavioural therapy can help improve social confidence.

Stress

Stress is an umbrella term used to describe a set of physical, emotional, mental and behavioural responses to a perceived threat. Stress isn’t caused by an event, but by our response to the event. The same event could happen to two people e.g. redundancy. One may respond with anxiety and fear while the other sees the opportunity as a positive challenge.

Sometimes our stress threshold becomes overwhelming and this can affect us physically (tension, headaches), emotionally (increased worrying), mentally or cognitively (we might think we can’t cope) and behaviourally (we might overeat when we’re too stressed).

As the UK faces a stress epidemic, I offer a multitude of effective treatments and behavioural therapy courses aiming to bring the nation’s stress levels down and alleviate anxiety and depression.

With psychological therapy you can get help by identify sources of stress and inappropriate coping mechanisms and learn new strategies for building stress resilience.

Pain Management with CBT

Chronic pain syndromes are quite common, and a lot of people suffer from them, especially as they age. Living with constant pain is frustrating for most of the patients who are affected. Pain in the musculoskeletal system can hinder an individual from fulfilling a lot of things in life. When an individual is suffering from back pain regularly and the doctors have tried all sorts of treatment to no avail, it can be quite discouraging. Such a person may only have the option of taking medication and sometimes those too may not be effective.

Psychological factors play a huge role in the perception of pain, thereby, contributing to the experience of patients. An individual who has to endure agonising pain day in day out will have a poor quality of life. Such a situation may lead to depression. The inability to carry on with normal activities and hobbies may also leave someone with low self-esteem. As this state progresses, an acute pain condition starts to affect everyone around the patient. These problems go beyond the physical and that is why experts recommend cognitive behaviour therapy as one option of pain management.

CBT focuses on developing coping mechanisms for chronic pain sufferers to help them deal with their situations better. With CBT, the psychologist teaches individuals how to approach and control their suffering. As much as the physical pain is still there, knowing how to brace oneself psychologically will reduce the awareness and consequently, the interference to the quality of life. CBT is about getting rid of negative thinking that is common when dealing with acute pain.

How it works:

There are several ways that cognitive behavioural therapy helps an individual deal with chronic pain. It is essential for a person with chronic pain syndrome to adopt a lifestyle that helps them manage their condition. Through CBT, a psychologist will recommend better sleep patterns. Lack of sleep exhausts the body, which contributes to acute pain. Through relaxation techniques, a patient can learn how to relax and get enough sleep to keep the body re-energised. Lifestyle changes can also include exercise regimens to reduce the pain.

CBT also involves the development of skills that one can use to manage their pain. Positive and rewarding activities go a long way in helping a patient cope with pain. One of the physiological effects that chronic pain brings is that people don’t engage in certain activities because of the acute pain. By learning life skills, a patient can focus on something else other than their pain. 

Psychological Therapy also aims at creating a problem-solving attitude in a patient. Instead of a person lamenting over their pain and how they have no control over the situations. When a patient is in a position to do something about their pain, it gives them a feeling of being in control. Helplessness can be a destructive feeling and only makes the pain worse.

Coping with Illness:

Coping with a long-term or chronic illness has as much of a psychological impact as it does a physical one. Indeed, this aspect is often overlooked when a treatment plan is formulated. However, both patient and medical staff should acknowledge that mental preparation can help the person to cope with the symptoms of their illness and the impact it has on their life

Long-term conditions are defined on the Department of Health website as “those conditions that cannot, at present, be cured, but can be controlled by medication and other therapies. The life of a person with a long-term condition is forever altered – there is no return to ‘normal’.” Having a long-term or incurable condition can limit the sufferer's ability to work, lead to social isolation, and depression over the changes they are facing to their lives.

When first diagnosed with a serious health problem, the patient can react by going into denial. They may feel as though acknowledging their condition makes it all too real and try to ignore it. However, ignoring the situation won't make it go away, and can even make symptoms worse if your lifestyle is incompatible with your illness. It's important to accept that the problem exists. By acknowledging the reality of your illness, you can start to come to terms with it and begin to find ways of managing it.

Long health conditions are health conditions that last a year or longer and may require on-going care and support and can include:

  • Autoimmune Disorders
  • Chronic pain
  • Chronic illness
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Cardiac condition
  • Diabetes
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Respiratory condition

A long-term condition may affect the quality of your life in a number of ways such as:

  • affecting sleep patterns
  • causing depression
  • the ability to work
  • being more dependent on others
  • accessing support and appropriate information
  • influencing mobility
  • how you see yourself e.g. body image
  • feeling socially isolated

Through using psychological therapy as part of your wellbeing strategy, we can work towards implementing a self-management programme to help you live with your condition.

I can help you manage your long-term condition by working with you to:

  • motivate you to improve your quality of life
  • set realistic goals
  • limit psychological distress
  • become more informed about your condition in order to cope better
  • maintain positive results

Weight Management

If you want to follow a program that suits with every diet, you find difficult to keep yourself away from binge eating and you lack self -discipline to follow a weight loss program, we are here to help you. You are not alone to this journey.

Cognitive behavioural therapy and Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can be used with great success in weight management for changing self-defeating eating habits and replacing them with positive, healthy behaviour.

How to Control your Mind about What You Eat:

Many people struggle with keeping their weight under control and it has been discovered that one of the main problems is the way that we think about food. Several people also develop eating disorders and other types of related issues due to lack of self-confidence and poor body image. Psychological Therapy for weight management helps to identify the thought patterns that are triggered when different individuals think about food, break unhealthy and destructive thought patterns and establish new thought patterns that individuals can use to change their eating patterns, become healthier and happier and lose weight at the same time.

Effective weight management is about healthy eating. However, more importantly it is about managing the stress and emotional distress behind why you may not be eating properly. For example, you might be using food as a displacement activity in order to avoid doing a task you don’t like; you may be over-eating in order to push down uncomfortable feelings about yourself; you may be putting on weight as a barrier against getting involved in a relationship. Sometimes we eat because we’re bored, anxious or angry.

I can help you attain not only your health weight, but also improve your mindsets, body image, love yourself and boost your self-esteem thereby making positive long-term differences to your wellbeing.

Self-esteem and Confidence

How Psychological Therapy Can Help Boost Self-Confidence:

Self-confidence is a very important part of an individual’s psychological character and allows people to trust their own judgement, follow their dreams and be secure in their abilities. This goes a long way to making be happy and healthy and able to lead full and productive lives. However, those who suffer from low confidence are often shy and withdrawn and may find it difficult to interact with other people. This can have a serious impact on all aspects of a person’s life and seriously diminish their quality of life. Fortunately, psychological therapy can help to boost self-confidence and people can use therapy to transform their lives for the better.

The Dangers of Low Self-Confidence:

People who suffer from low self-confidence are likely to feel like they are worthless and that they will fail at anything they try. As a result, they may have no direction or drive in life and be reluctant to try new things. This can lead to feelings of bitterness, especially regarding doing a job that the individual feels is beneath them as well as towards family and friends if they feel that they are not receiving the love and understanding that they deserve. In turn, these feelings can turn into depression if left unchecked and individuals who suffer from low self-confidence may become increasingly withdraw, which creates a downward spiral that is difficult to remedy without professional help.

Identifying Reasons for Low Self Image:

There are lots of potential reasons for low self-image such as traumas experienced in childhood like verbal and physical abuse, the inability to communicate due to a speech impediment or a long period of illness. People who were overweight or underweight during childhood may have been bullied as a result, which could have contributed to low self-image, while those who consistently scored badly on tests may be under the impression that they are stupid. Through a series of sessions, a psychologist can help individuals to uncover the roots of their low self-image so that they can work on these areas of their lives. Therapists provide a safe place where individuals can talk about their feelings openly and honestly and it is often the case that once these feelings are vocalised their hold on the individual is diminished. Once the issues have been identified, the therapist can then help the individual to work on them so that their can transform their lives for the better.

One of the key factors to overcoming low self-confidence is learning to appreciate yourself and your own unique traits and skills. We can help you to uncover and appreciate your main strengths and skills and learn how to develop them to make the person really shine. It is also important to establish a good body image and people who manage their thoughts and feelings are likely to find that their mood improves.

Life Skills

Communication Skills:

If you want to better understand someone or a situation, resolve differences and build trust and respect – you need effective communication skills. We can help you improve your personal or professional communication skills.

Would you like to:

  • improve your presentation skills?
  • contribute effectively to meetings?
  • enjoy easier communications with partner, family and friends?
  • feel more confident in how you come across to others?
  • be a more assertive person?
  • speak your mind with self-assurance?
  • manage conflict?
  • say no with authority?
  • give and receive feedback?
  • manage criticism?
  • negotiate resolutions?

We can help you improve your communication style with confidence so that you present yourself with poise and influence.

Time Management:

Managing your time productively means you achieve more in less time – in other words, you work smarter not harder.

You know you need time management if you:

  • feel constantly rushed and overwhelmed in your personal or professional life
  • feel confused about personal or professional goals in your life
  • tend to procrastinate
  • reactive
  • are easily distracted
  • take on too much and achieve little
  • feel constantly stressed and under pressure.

If you manage your time poorly, not only will you be ineffective, but you are also putting your wellbeing at risk. As a health psychologist, I can improve your effectiveness and state of mind in the minimal of time through improved concentration, realistic goal setting, knowing how to delegate, prioritizing tasks and using your high-energy time periods better.

Phobias

A phobia is an overwhelming fear of an object or situation that poses little real danger. Unlike the brief anxiety most people feel before taking an exam or giving a public speech, a phobia is long-lasting, causes intense physical and psychological reactions, and can affect your ability to function normally.

Common phobias include fear of enclosed spaces; animals e.g. spiders, heights, flying, water, storms, injections, bridges, and dental procedures.

Symptoms may include:

  • a feeling of uncontrollable anxiety when you're exposed to the source of your fear
  • the feeling that you must avoid what you fear
  • the inability to function normally because of your anxiety
  • physical reactions including sweating, rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can help you manage a phobia so that it is no longer debilitating.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder of the digestive system and gut that causes the bowel to be very sensitive. The condition causes recurring pain and discomfort in the abdomen and often, the nerves and muscles don't work as they should.

While there is no cure for irritable bowel syndrome, there are certain treatments and lifestyle changes that can help manage symptoms. One IBS treatment recognised by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is hypnotherapy.

According to some research, IBS is one of the most common disorders of the digestive system; it’s thought to affect one in five people during their lifetime. Studies have found that women are more likely than men to suffer from IBS and their symptoms may be more severe.

Many people living with irritable bowel syndrome find their symptoms to be an occasional nuisance, however, for other people, the condition can seriously affect their quality of life. While IBS can develop at any time.

Some individuals with irritable bowel syndrome experience constipation, others have diarrhoea, while some may suffer from both. The pain can range from mild to severe and may occur at a particular time of the day.

Symptoms may include:

Symptoms can vary from person to person and can be experienced at differing severities. In some people, the symptoms seem to be triggered by something they have had to eat or drink, stressful periods, or food poisoning.

Some of the more common symptoms include:

  • Pain and discomfort in the abdomen
  • Bloated abdomen
  • Gas
  • Indigestion
  • Feeling full
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Cramping 
  • Heartburn
  • Muscle pains

As IBS is a medical condition, it is important to consult your doctor first for information, advice and diagnosis. Unlike some medical conditions that have specific tests in order to confirm a diagnosis, this isn’t the case with IBS. The condition doesn’t cause any easily detectable abnormalities in your digestive system; everyone is affected by the condition differently, to varying severities.

Although there is no cure for IBS, there are things that can help manage the symptoms. Hypnotherapy, relaxation training, a controlled diet, medication and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) have all been found to help ease symptoms of IBS.

NICE Guidelines:

One IBS treatment recognised by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is Hypnotherapy.

NICE recommend that people living with IBS who do not respond to pharmacological treatments after 12 months consider a referral for psychological interventions, such as CBT, hypnotherapy and/or psychological therapy.

Hypnotherapy for IBS:

Hypnotherapy for IBS can help an individual learn relaxation techniques, as well as learning new ways to manage stress. Our state of mind can have an impact on our physical well-being. Therefore, the tension, stress and anxiety often caused by IBS may undermine the immune system and further compromise health.

Learning how to relax and manage stressful feelings can become useful life tools. Hypnosis can help to promote positive thinking and develop coping strategies. The hypnotherapist helps you recognise the problem and access your unconscious mind.

A number of clinical studies have found hypnotherapy for IBS to be an effective treatment, including a recent study published in The Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology journal.

Managing the Menopause

Menopause is the transitional period in a woman's life when her ovaries start producing less of the sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone. Menopause is declared when a woman ceases to have a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months, marking the end of her reproductive years. A woman who has her ovaries surgically removed immediately enters menopause. 

Natural menopause is a gradual process, beginning with perimenopause, or perimenopause, usually starting in a woman's 40s or even 30s. Perimenopause can last up to 10 years, as the menstrual cycle tapers off and menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings may begin. 

Other physical and psychological changes that may occur throughout menopause and the postmenopausal years include irregular heartbeat, headaches, insomnia, irritability, depression, and anxiety, along with cognitive symptoms like forgetfulness. Menopause is also associated with problems such as vaginal dryness, painful sexual intercourse, urine leakage, and joint pain.

I offer CBT or Clinical Hypnotherapy, both of which are evidence-based treatments that can be extremely beneficial for supporting you to take control of your menopausal symptoms.  Please note, I am not advocating that you do not use HRT, as this can be very effective.  But for women where HRT is not a viable option or where you choose not to take the pharmacological route, then both Hypnotherapy and CBT are beneficial and have a strong evidence base showing effectiveness of these alternative treatments.

Conditions and Treatments

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