Apr 22, 2020 in Counseling
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Dr. Vasilios Silivistris is a Trainer, Clinical Psychotherapist, Counseling Practitioner, and Clinical Supervisor. He also has over 20 years of experience and is also a trained Life Coach. Dr. Silivistris wears many hats and is also an author, lecturer and presenter on LIVE radio. He is a member of the British Association for Counsellors and Psychotherapists (MBACP) and he works within the ethical framework for good practice, as laid down by the BACP. Let's get to know more about Dr. Vasilios Silivistris:
WikiExpert: One of your specialties is helping those who are suffering from anxiety and more than that, anxiety attacks. What is your number one approach to helping those who are suffering from this?
Dr. Vasilios Silivistris: Anxiety attacks or Panic attacks are one of the most frightening experiences where the person believes they are going to die.
Fast pacing heart, hyperventilating, cold sweats, and where the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism sets in.
The fight or flight is where the body feels threatened, firstly, the adrenal glands excrete adrenaline, the person develops tunnel vision, hearing is enhanced, no visceral feelings and the blood rushes to the limbs. As a Therapist, I would firstly look at the stress levels of the Client, when we are stressed, we lose resilience.
Any history of anxieties, and then the Clients’ workload. Anxiety affects the body and their breathing is the first indicator of anxiety and stress. An introduction to Mindfulness, a holistic approach to the mind, body and reality.
WikiExpert: Due to the COVID-19 being at large, this has left many feeling anxious, fearful and stressed. How do you advise these individuals? What are the steps that they should take to overcome these negative feelings?
Dr. Vasilios Silivistris: An unprecedented time where this Coronavirus has affected most of the world, a Global pandemic never experienced before.
My concerns are people who self-isolated, their underlying Mental Health Issues and dual diagnoses such as depression, eating disorders and stress. We as humans are social beings, we love to interact with others, saying good morning to the strangers as we go to work. Having a chat with an acquaintance at the local supermarket. Isolation or Cabin Fever can create fear, loneliness, helplessness and hopelessness. We are living through the unknown as we do not know how long this will last and what the outcome will be. I think for most people this will be life-changing. I encourage people to set down some routine in their lives, exercise daily, eating habits, connect with other people via the internet.
WikiExpert: In your article, “What is stress”, which was a great read, you gave points to different events that can occur in an individual's life such as divorce, grief, etc. How many points would you give to the stress that's related to the COVID-19?
Dr. Vasilios Silivistris: I would work together with the Client to look at making a daily plan such as, find a hobby, do things that you never have time to do such as read that book. Watch that series on TV you have wanted to. Be creative, paint, write poetry, contact friends/family members you have been meaning to call or video call. Exercise daily, eat healthy foods.
WikiExpert: There is quite a large number of people who have lost their loved ones due to the COVID-19, what are the steps that these individuals should take in order to overcome their grief and loss?
Dr. Vasilios Silivistris: Losing someone we love to the Coronavirus is such a traumatic time for many. From feeling unwell to then die a week later is such a tragedy as the death itself is dreadful.
The stages of grief, Denial, Isolation, Anger, Depression and finally, Acceptance without reservations. The process is not sequential, they interchange and often the bereaved experience ‘Ebbs and Flows, one minute feeling fine and in another moment feelings of despair. Initially, clients are experiencing an acute state of disbelief. However, after the initial stages, bereavement counseling will enable Clients to express their intense feeling with an empathetic Counselor. Bereavement counseling has no time limit and often the first year is the most difficult because of anniversaries, birthdays et cetera. As a Therapist, I would also look at the trauma of the suddenness of death which can develop into Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
WikiExpert: Many people are also in isolation during this time and it left many feeling depressed, lonely and missing their loved ones. How do you help them and what strategies do you use to help them cope with this?
Dr. Vasilios Silivistris: Isolation at times can be very stressful. We are social beings as mentioned before, we love interacting with others especially with our families and friends. It is important to keep to some routine daily, such as getting up at a specific time, getting dressed, brushing our teeth and going for a daily walk. Do things we never have time to do, find a hobby, start an Internet course. Create a ‘Google Box’ with friends and relatives. Watch a film at the same time and text each other. Be creative with our spare time.
WikiExpert: What is your number one strategy to help Clients with overcoming stress in general?
Dr. Vasilios Silivistris: Firstly, look at the issues that are stressful, it could be what type of work we do, our relationships, money issues, even boredom can be stressful. The four factors of Stress are Physiology, Emotional, Behavioural, and Cognitive. The first issue I always look at is the Clients’ breathing. When we are stressed, our breathing is affected. Stress affects the Central Nervous System and our Autonomic Nervous System which controls our breathing. Mindfulness is the key to breathing, our thoughts and behaviors.
WikiExpert: Please enlighten and inform us about what psychotherapy is and what does a typical online psychotherapy session look like?
Dr. Vasilios Silivistris: Psychotherapy is a branch of psychology. Most Counselors, Clinical Psychologists can practice psychotherapy. A Psychotherapist is a trained professional who assists those who are suffering from stress, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, negative behavior patterns, debilitating feelings, and various other mental conditions. Online psychotherapy differs from face to face where it is undertaken via the Internet. Telephone counseling is exclusively around listening skills and focusing on the voice and the tone of what is being said. Many people prefer to work online as it works very well where Clients have a social phobia or are agoraphobic.
WikiExpert: When should an individual seek online therapy and help from a professional?
Dr. Vasilios Silivistris: Clients with social phobias and agoraphobia, in addition, Clients who are bedridden and movement is restrictive. Online therapy is on the increase and after the pandemic is over, more and more people will use this service.
WikiExpert: What are the advantages of online therapy sessions nowadays?
Dr. Vasilios Silivistris: Especially since the pandemic and self-isolation, Clients can now access the Online services offered and have counseling in the comfort, privacy and safety of their homes.
WikiExpert: You also offer Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, tell us a little about how this works and what's involved in it?
Dr. Vasilios Silivistris: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a vicious cycle. CBT aims to help you deal with overwhelming problems in a more positive way by breaking them down into smaller parts. CBT is a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving. Its goal is to change patterns of thinking or behavior that are behind people's difficulties, and so change the way they feel.
WikiExpert: For individuals with more severe mental health conditions and issues such as bipolar, self-harm, PTSD, addiction, etc, what is the best form of therapy and how do you approach such situations?
Dr. Vasilios Silivistris: Apart from mental health issues such as bipolar type 1, self-harm depression, et cetera, Trauma/PTSD is the only disorder where the therapist normalizes the issues presented by the Client. Such as, ‘It is normal to feel this way after a traumatic event.’
Certain mental health issues are pathological such as bipolar type 1 where a combination of medication and therapy work well together. Schizophrenia is another pathology where both medication and therapy are encouraged.
WikiExpert: Among your many therapy and counseling services, relationship counseling is one of your main services. Please tell us about what types of relationship issues you help with?
‘The relationship is the Client, not the individual’ This is to look at how each person interacts with each other. As mentioned before, communication is the key and also observing behavior between the two parties. In addition, sexual intimacy is probably one of the main issues presented and a lot of underlying anger especially, amongst men. Other issues are financial, bringing up children, and work-related stress.
WikiExpert: Tell us a little about your relationship counseling services? What approach do you use? And do you work both partners all the time or do you also speak to them individually?
Dr. Vasilios Silivistris: As a UK trained ‘Couples Counselor and in ‘Marriage Guidance.’
Ideally, both partners attend the assessment however, in my experience, sometimes, one partner is reluctant to attend the session because they are in denial that there are any problems in the relationship. What often happens is eventually, both partners do attend. Normally the first assessment is to look at problems in the relationship and thereafter, I would invite individual sessions to look at the issues presented. Homework is given such as boundaries, writing down the pros and cons of the relationship.
Negotiating and making compromises too. Sessions with both partners are 90 minutes long and on an individual basis, it is an hour-long.
WikiExpert: How do you advise couples on improving their relationships? What are the foundations of a strong relationship and marriage?
Dr. Vasilios Silivistris: Communication is the key to a healthy relationship. Also when we communicate, talk with your partner rather down to them. Respond to situations rather than react. There is a huge difference between reacting and responding. A reaction is typically quick, without much thought, tense and aggressive. A response is thought out, calm and non-threatening. A reaction typically provokes more reactions perpetuating a long line of hatefulness with nothing accomplished. Try using the pause between stimulus and response to determine your next most effective course of action.
WikiExpert: What inspired you to become a Psychotherapist?
Dr. Vasilios Silivistris: I come from a Dental background and I started my training at 17. After 27 years in the profession (with a Ph.D.) and when I was 43, I had the opportunity to give up the dental sector and go back to school to train as a Counselor and then as a Psychotherapist.
After four years of attending college and university, I qualified as a Counselor and Psychotherapist. I am also a qualified supervisor. I have always been a good listener and most of my friends and family would approach me to talk about their problems. It was from this that I decided to pursue a career as a Mental Health Professional.
WikiExpert: What is the most challenging part of your career?
Dr. Vasilios Silivistris: Learning about the self, my difficulties, and my issues.
During my training and as a student and part of my training, we also had to have 40-hour sessions with a Counselor to look at issues in our lives. Since we are dealing with profound emotions and behaviors from Clients, at times, as Therapists, the issues presented by Clients can be so overwhelming and it is important for us to process this through with our own supervisors.
I was born in South Africa and my parents are Cypriot (Greek).
I spent my formative years in the UK where I attended school and tertiary education. In all, I have lived in the UK, South Africa and the beautiful island of Cyprus so you can say I am a multicultural diverse human being with different cultures embodied in my psyche.
Now, let's get to know more about Dr. Vasilios Silivistris:
WikiExpert: When you're not helping others, where can we find you? What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Dr. Vasilios Silivistris: I love being at home with my family and my gorgeous cat Ricky. I have also just finished writing my book after 8 years. I used to write articles for an English newspaper in Cyprus every month. My topics were Psychological, Emotional, Mental Health Issues and I have written around 90 articles. My book is purely for the public, it is not a book for academia. Eventually, I want to have the book translated into Greek. I love traveling and have traveled to many countries. Last year, I went to the United States, Greece, Cyprus, Spain and Jordan. I love being a tourist visiting museums, art galleries et cetera. Gone are the days where I would idyllically spend two weeks on a beach on one of the Greek islands.
WikiExpert: You're originally from South Africa but relocated, where are you currently residing?
Dr. Vasilios Silivistris: I am living in a quintessential small village by the sea in North Yorkshire and I love it. I love the sea, the fresh air and being able to take long walks on the beach. My family lives close by and we get together, we love to visit little seaside villages and towns in the area.
WikiExpert: What made you move away from South Africa?
Dr. Vasilios Silivistris: I love South Africa as it is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and I have traveled extensively globally, I also miss the vibrancy of the people and the scenic beauty of the country terribly. I have two sisters who still live in Johannesburg and many of my friends who have moved down to the stunningly beautiful city of Cape Town. I left South Africa because my home was broken into 5 times and on one occasion I was knifed but fortunately I suffered some lacerations on my arm.
After this, I became very Traumatised and suffered from PTSD. Subsequently, after the attacks, we decided as a family it was time to leave for our safety and moved to the United Kingdom where I grew up and went to school there.
WikiExpert: Do you have any plans for the future both personally and professionally?
Dr. Vasilios Silivistris: As mentioned before, I would like to finish and publish my book and I would like to continue lecturing students in Psychology.
I have done several LIVE radios as a guest and I would like to continue in this medium too.
WikiExpert: Name 3 things you can't live without?
Dr. Vasilios Silivistris: My family, my gorgeous cat Ricky, and watching LIVE tennis. I am a huge tennis fanatic and love the sport. I used to play league tennis but since turning 66 my body has told me to stop, unfortunately.
Lastly, as my mentor and the pioneer of Humanistic Psychology, the Psychotherapist Dr. Carl Rogers said, ‘We are Authors of our Lives’ and I am a great believer in his statement. In addition, we cannot change the world but we can change the way we view it.
Work through your issues today! Message Dr. Vasilios Silivistris for free to book a session.