The Real Fuel Crisis: What Contributes To Your Psychological Difficulties?

“The petrol light’s on”…

An unwelcomed thought at the best of times but very real this week. The media’s coverage of potential fuel shortages has created a frenzy and ground the nation to a standstill. Hour long queues have formed for a substance which is responsible for transporting us to our desired destination. At Pocket, this situation got us wondering about a more important fuel crisis.

Clients who visit our psychologists for consultations often believe that they’re constantly at a standstill in their lives. A single psychological difficulty is preventing them from reaching a desired goal or state of mind.

When people are struggling with something, psychologists ask what is fuelling the psychological difficulty? The process of exploring, understanding and adjusting the fuel sources is at the heart of what we do. We call this ‘formulation’ and often use this as an alternative to a diagnosis.


A client and psychologist work together to understand the difficulty and any significant events, relationships or environments which could have contributed to its development and maintenance. In short, it’s a hypothesis based on psychological theories with consideration of the client’s personal interpretation of their experiences.

Our therapeutic work has shown that many of us are not aware of what fuels their psychological difficulty, whether it be anxiety, relationship problems or work stress. We can get sucked into unhelpful patterns without awareness; rather like panic buying fuel! At Pocket, we think that this is the real fuel crisis and the media should be covering it!

So, here are six common fuels to psychological difficulties:

  • Early childhood experiences (i.e. bullying)
  • Troubling family dynamics (i.e. problems in communication)
  • Unrelenting high standards (i.e. perfectionism and self-criticism)
  • An absence of compassion and nurture towards ourselves
  • Lack of perceived control and sense of hopelessness
  • Rigidity (i.e. a non-flexible response to change)

If you would like some help to discover what fuels your psychological difficulty, we offer one-off adult consultations. Sometimes, one session is all it takes to reduce the fuel supply. However, we also provide follow-up sessions for those who feel they need support to manage the change process. And of course we can help families discover their fuel supply too!

As always, take care.

Pocket Family Psychologist.

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"Dr Andrea Shortland’s session for MediaCom on a children’s mental health was incredibly informative"

“Dr Andrea Shortland’s session for MediaCom on a children’s mental health was incredibly informative. During the second period of lockdown and home-schooling; parents and children found themselves again in a period of upheaval and transition. Many parents and carers were extremely worried about their children’s mental health and their own ability to be present and engaged whilst also playing the role of teacher and care giver. Dr Shortland gave attendees an insight into how many parents were feeling; tips on supporting children and helping them cope whilst studying from home and also managing their mental health. She also helped us realise the importance of taking care of ourselves in order to effectively support our children. It was such a useful session that we realise it was also pertinent for not only children’s mental health but also adults! We will be holding another session with Dr Andrea and MediaCom soon.”

Avelon Thompson, MediaCom (following a parenting workshop)