Sarah Steventon - Psychotherapist For High Achievers Anxiety & Stress Expert Specialist in Extreme Pressure Environments Central London & Cotswolds

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Have you mastered your Psychological Capital?

Psychological Capital Group is headed up by Sarah Steventon.

Sarah, is a Psychotherapist, with a background in Neuroscience, and works with individuals who are required to make high stake decisions in high pressure situations.

The work Sarah does, not only improves the ability to manage stress and regulate emotions, it achieves peak brain performance.

These individuals generally work in sectors that face unusual levels of stress, such as banking, finance, private equity and professional sport.

The majority of high-achieving individuals know where they want to be, and what they want to achieve, so they don't require standard coaching methodologies - and this is certainly not just standard psychotherapy or coaching.

Our brains are continually adapting and changing - this is how we learn new skills. When we learn, we create new pathways in the brain.

With this powerful work we can replicate this natural process, to create a new chosen pathway, ie; a different response to the one you are currently experiening - so you can essentiallly choose how you want to feel in any given situation -  invaluable when you work in high pressure environments.

This means we can build confidence, remove ‘Imposter Syndrome’, create more self-belief, dissolve anxiety, or overcome self-limiting beliefs - essentially removing any blocks that get in the way of achieving future goals and ultimately your success - and we can do this at lightening speed. Tangible differences are immediate.

Hedge Fund Psychologist

It is a well known fact that the elite of the trading world have one thing in common - they are able to operate without experiencing the feeling of fear.

Some of the most successful traders of all time have said their unique ability to operate without the element of fear, is the standout difference that gives them their edge - and that it is this differential that sets them apart from everyone else.

Sarah is a specialist in completely removing fear, and anxiety. She is able to get you operating in that elite pace. You will immediately feel a sense of calm, that allows you to start making better decisions, gain clarity, and be rational in your risk management. 

All successful hedge funds work with a trading psychologist - just as no elite sports person would succeed or win without working without a performance coach.

Although Sarah has been nicknamed Wendy Rhoades by several of her clients, there are a couple of significant distinctions between how she operates and the character in the show. The main one being that although traditional psychology methods do of course feature in the work together, she also utilises a technique, backed by neuroscience, that enables her to do pretty mind blowing stuff.

The technique has the ability to remove, with precision, the issues that will be the cause of around 90% of your negative outcomes, and without doubt, the reason you generally make the decisions that you afterwards regret.

This style of work uses your brain's own neuroplasticity, a natural brain process, along with a unique style of psychology, which together form a therapy based on the latest breakthroughs in neuroscience to achieve the optimal mindset to perform in the space that ultimately gives you the edge.

Fear, in some degree, is experienced by everyone working the world of investment and risk, so anyone trading at banks, or hedge funds. Essentially anyone in the midst of potentially losing, or gaining, anything, from a significant amount of money, or in fact, just their reputation, will feel it at some time - and this is where this style of work can really make an impact. These feelings can and do impact negatively on how you operate and removing it is a game changer.

A traditional Performance Coach would only be working with you on a conscious level, so they would be looking at your behaviour and discussing how you feel, and how those feelings cause errors - however just discussing it, or being aware of these feelings, does not and cannot change how you feel.

An Investment coach is purely looking at the technical side of trading - again not helping to change how you feel.

How Sarah works is neither of the above .  It is a totally unique way of working.

Sarah is first and foremost a Psychotherapist, and in addition has studied neuroscience at King's College, London. The therapy she uses is totally different to traditional trading psychology. This style of working isn’t about giving advice or telling you how to do things differently – this is about creating the ultimate mindset so you operate at a level where you fully use your brain capacity and vastly improve cognition.

Most of Sarah's clients are already exceptional. They know what they are doing - they just need that ability to always operate in their 'smart' brain, as opposed to the making the all too often knee-jerk fear based decisions which lose Alpha.

'Fear' of missing out, 'Fear' of walking away too soon, 'Fear' of losing, 'Fear' of looking stupid, ' 'Fear' that you aren't as good as you believe you are, 'Fear' of letting people down - the common theme is pretty obvious.

Fear is the issue. It is fear that ultimately causes major losses - because fear will cause you to make decisions that are not always logical. Remove the fear - very simply, this makes the difference in someone becoming part of that elite set.

When fear strikes, and it does, even to the veterans, it causes you to act impulsively, because you feel you need to take action.
You might normally be the most measured, calm and collected individual, but then you’re hit with a ‘perceived threat’ (the market moving and not in the direction you need) and the fear kicks in.

Then what happens in the brain is the connection to your Prefrontal Cortex (your rational intellectual part of the brain) is hijacked - and when that happens, you don't have access to the area of the brain you really do need in this precise situation.

At this point, you are now making decisions purely based on emotion - and that is why in these specific instances, the moves you make might not be your greatest!

So how is it that some players seem to have the ability to stay calm - even when the proverbial hits the fan. They can just sit it out. They hold their nerve. They don't feel panic. There is no self-doubt - they back themselves 100%.

They have manged to create a mindset that is optimum for the role - a place that seems impossible. This work is the vehicle to help move someone into that space - the space of the elite.

The human brain is designed to respond to uncertainty and ambiguity, by trying to create some certainty. So if you get out of a position, when you were meaning to be holding it, you will get an instant feeling of ease, it feels instantly better, for a brief moment – until you think “what the hell did I do that for?"

This work can stop that fear… it can stop those feeling of fear.

When there is a ‘Perceived threat’ – the primitive brain, produces adrenaline; a helpful hormone when it comes to fear, as it helps keep you alive, but it also has the ability to suspend both logic and reason.

A valuable response in a dark alley, but not helpful during your current day. When fear strikes logic goes out the window, along with your intellect too.

You are now making decisions emotionally, and this happens prior to the input of your conscious logical brain.

The pressure of working in this sector is immense. Every day if you are constantly monitoring the market for example, you are essentially sending a signal to brain to say “watch out” - so you can feel like you are continually on high alert.

So if you can learn to operate in a calm state, you will have the upper hand, the ultimate psychological edge.

The trouble is, you cannot do this yourself, because the mechanism in your brain is too fast. It happens before you even know it is happening.

There are several areas of your brain involved in the early processing.

The Thalamus, Hypothalamus and Amygdala, are some of key structures involved in the process of 'threat detection'.

Your brain is always looking at data, ie; your surroundings and your situation, to check whether it is ‘safe’, ‘unsafe’ or ‘needs further checking/information’ ie; ‘Uncertain’

It does this by continually referring back to every single event that has ever taken place in your life, without you knowing or being aware, as this is all happening prior to your Cortex, the logical rational part of your brain, even receiving the data.

So when any data that is similar to any previous ‘emotionally charged’ data , the brain perceives this as another threat, and turns on the fight and flight response.

If that previous data is seen to be ‘unsafe’ this is where conflict arises. You think you know what you should do, but you feel you have to do something else, to go against that. You might just instantly make a rash decision, and then afterwards think “why did I do that?"

By removing fear, you learn to distinguish intuition from impulse, and you think more clearly.

Decisions are no longer driven by emotions such as fear of missing out, fear of regret, fear of losing what you have or more personal narratives, such as the need to be smart.

You start to make better decisions, even under extraordinary pressure – you are able to fully execute your strategy and achieve next-level success.

Many hedge funds have a Psychologist on retainer to help their employees with performance-related issues.

Many hedge fund Psychologists are only able to work with you on a conscious level - but if you want to make a change to how you feel, you have to do the work at a subconscious level. You have to change the feeling you have when the 'threat response' kicks in. This specialist work is able to address this level and make the fundamental change you need to operate at the next level up.

Mental health issues are becoming more prevalent in the financial services sector.

With instances of employee depression, anxiety and even suicide on the rise across the financial services industry, firms must be willing to provide far better psychological support to their workforce.

Financial sector firms – particularly banking institutions – have long been regarded as demanding environments.

Mental health conditions, and our awareness of how they affect working lives, have become increasingly widespread across the banking sector in recent years.

In the UK, 15.4 million working days were lost in 2018 as a result of stress, depression and anxiety, while 62 percent of financial-sector firms reported an increase in mental-health-related illness in the workplace last year, according to a 2018 survey by Aon Employee Benefits.

We often see individuals suffering from what’s known as a psychogenic condition – a physical manifestation of mental stress.

Such as debilitating stomach pains, or other physical ailments. When no clear physical causes presented themselves, we look at stress levels.

A pressurised working environment, of long hours and high-stress day-to-day life, can push anxiety levels through the roof. Dealing with this as early as possible can prevent this leading to reals problems.

The process

Sarah works with both individuals and organisations.

Working either in-house on a temporary basis, as a Corporate Therapist, giving the team access to sessions at a frequency that suits the need, or as a resource that they can approach as and when needed.

Organisations who want to gain the advantage, creating optimal human functioning to see consistent performance.

A Performance Psychologist, or Performance Coach as some organisations prefer to position it, can have a profound impact and enables individuals to function at their peak.

Talented people can only do their best when they feel their best.

It is the people that make the difference in any business and effect the bottom line.

Those who wish to book privately can see Sarah at her London office in Marylebone. Sarah also has a private office, based within Thyme, a wonderful bolt hole on the Southrop Manor Estate not far from Lechlade in the Cotswolds. The exclusive rural retreat with its idylic location, is set wthin the 150-acre estate in the Cotswolds. The snug within the private cottage where Sarah is based, allows for complete discretion. With its sumptuous sofa, and roaring open fire, the setting offers the height of privacy, along with the height of comfort.

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