Archive for the ‘counselling’ Category

Running a marathon

Monday, May 1st, 2017

No I didn’t run physically, but I was cheering on those who did.

Have you watched the programmes on BBC 1 Mind over Marathon?  A group of ten men and women who have been affected by life experiences which left them with various mental health issues have been training for the London Marathon. The triumph for each one was not the running on the day (some weren’t able to race) but the being part of an understanding group who supported one another, and yes, cheering on the runners is part of that.  It mattered to each of them that the others were all there with them.  It mattered that each person was listened to with attention and respect.   Each made progress and celebrated that progress.

Marathon running reminded me of the counselling journey – tough at times, a long process of progress and setbacks, done with the support of someone else running alongside for part of the way.  Each participant having a different experience and gaining something life-changing out of the process.



February Blues

Sunday, February 21st, 2016

Struggling to manage a grey wet Sunday afternoon? – how about revisiting an abandoned project? Just get the box or folder out – that’s all you need to do. Somehow you will find you have opened it, and started sorting through the contents. The process of sorting the material prompts fresh ideas about what you might do next – or perhaps you are ready to let go of the whole lot and enjoy the sense of freedom that brings. Bringing one small part of life under control has a ripple effect on other more complicated areas, and can generate energy – try it and see.

I’ve done it myself in bringing up my posts this afternoon; I discarded one and found this taking shape instead.

Let go of your bananas

Sunday, June 21st, 2015

There is a story attributed to an Indian folk tale that I came across on the internet recently.
This is a method used by trappers to catch a monkey for a zoo. The trapper builds a bamboo cage in the jungle then places a bunch of bananas inside, before locking the cage. A monkey comes along, sees the bananas and reaches through the bars of the cage to clutch them. He tries to withdraw his hand, but can’t because he is holding onto the bananas. He twists his hand and wrist around trying harder to pull it out of the cage, but no matter how hard he struggles, the only way to get free from the cage is to let go of the bananas. Freedom just requires him to loosen his grip. What is your ‘bunch of bananas’? What appears attractive but is preventing you from being free? How can you lay it down? Maybe releasing your grip and reviewing the situation is a first step.

Fatal Silence or shared silence?

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

A friend alerted me to a programme on BBC1 Panorama at 20.30 BST on 13 April 2015. Titled A Suicide in the Family, it looks at the culture of silence which makes it hard for men to be open about what’s troubling them, so they suffer in silence. Rugby players and others give brief interviews recalling the time they began to speak to another person about their lives. Simply talking, and sharing a listening silence, provided a glimpse of change of a different possibility. A son remembers his dad, a forty-something successful man, who walked out from his family and killed himself one day, unable to voice his troubles.
The BBC website at also lists various groups offering help:

Papyrus works with young people to prevent suicide. Its helpline is 0800 068 4141.

Yana (You Are Not Alone) offers help for those working in farming who are affected by stress or depression. Its number is 0300 323 0400.

Rethink Mental Illness has more than 200 mental health services and 150 support groups across England. Its number is 0300 5000 927.

Samaritans provides 24-hour emotional support for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or thoughts of suicide. Its number is 08457 90 90 90.

Questions about counselling

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

There may be times when there is something about your counselling experience that feels a bit odd, or you’d like to check it out to see whether it is usual practice.  Maybe you’d like to ask someone other than your counsellor, or simply talk it through with someone who has counselling experience but is quite independent of your own situation.  Well, now you can.  BACP has set up a service called Ask Kathleen for just those kinds of doubts and queries.  Kathleen has others in her team, so her email address is simply or you can phone her during office hours on 01455 883344.

Is anybody there?

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

I have just been alerted to a break in my contact details. I checked and found that the email link given on these pages is not working, so meanwhile please use to contact me.

I would not have known about this breakdown if someone hadn’t alerted me by phone to see why I was so slow in replying. The whole incident has set me thinking about how we communicate, and how we assume the person we are addressing has got the message, whether that is in comments at home, in relationships, at work amongst colleagues and customers….I wonder how many times each day we communicate with someone?

We can sometimes notice the change in facial expression of the person addressed, so we know the message has got across. Many times we simply assume their mobile is charged, their laptop is working, or even that they are listening to voicemails or snail mail is being delivered to the right place. In other words, we shift the responsibility to them to receive us.

It is worth remembering that the breakdown may be that our message has not reached them, rather than that they are ignoring us/failing to reply/misunderstanding. This is a message that I will now set about transmitting…..are you receiving me?

Black Dog days? This may shed some light…

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

Feeling low? Darkness and lack of daylight getting you down? Crowds or loneliness hurting you right now? Try this site from Let this animation with a dog shed light on it. I came across this link from a World Health Organisation site (a reminder that depression is felt by people world-wide).
There is animation and gentle humour.

Peace, light and hope be your experience as this season comes and goes:
a reminder that all things will pass, including your present state.


Monday, October 28th, 2013

I’m writing this on a morning of weather reports of storms, transport disruption and power lines down. Summer holidays and warm sandy beaches are distant memories. The idea of withdrawing into an inner world where I can do whatever I chose seems attractive, so I’ll tell you about one of the creative options I have available.

Imagine a large deep tray full of fine golden sand. You can do whatever you like with it – trickle it through your fingers and feel its soft dry flow; smooth it over and over; tilt it and pour it with fingers, funnels and jugs. Then you might want to try wetting it – a large bowl of warm water and jugs and funnels are nearby. You can pour and stir, make patterns with your hands, poke and mould, gather up and squash down.

A cupboard door stand open. Inside are drawers full of curious objects – natural, man-made, fantasy; stones, corals, shells; human and animal figures; vehicles for travelling through air, land and sea; coins and tiny containers; buildings blocks, pillars and arches; bridges, fences and gates. You pick up, sort through, put down… something will hold your attention and find a place in your sand.

You continue as long as you want, talking or in silence as feels right. Whatever you do is right for you in this moment. Nothing is ‘wrong’ or ‘a mistake’.

You will know when you have finished. Together we look at what you have created, and if you choose, you talk about what it means to you. I’ll give you a photograph to reflect on later.

You might want to explore a particular problem, starting with figures round a board room table; or explore a puzzling dream. Sand is one way to discover what might be going on under the surface.

Make it easier to choose

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

I read something the other day which surprised me. It suggested that if we have no choice, then we have to behave like a robot. If we have to choose between two alternatives, we are faced with a dilemma, but if we have three possibilities then we have a real choice.
Imagine each possibility in turn as if it was your only way forward. How do you feel?

The idea is that by repeatedly asking ourselves for another possibility, our minds will produce something extra which may well be the solution providing way forward from an apparently stuck place.

A good time to ask for another possibility is just before going to sleep. Then the ‘work’ is done for us by our unconscious mind, so that in the morning, when least expecting it, a new idea pops into our head. If this happens while in the shower make sure you hold onto the new thought long enough to be able to write it down, as the physical act of co-ordination in writing helps to firm up the idea and start the process of moving towards acting upon it.

If you want to read more about ways to make decisions try ‘Living Magically’ by Gill Edwards, especially in her chapter ‘listening to the whispers.

You need a break

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

You need a break – yes, it made me think of holidays, sunshine, being looked after, time off to do my own thing…. But the break I got was in my wrist bones, so I’ve spent the last month enjoying…sunshine, being looked after, time off to do my own thing!

I was talking to a friend today about meeting an 8 year old who had the opposite arm to me in plaster. Together we could achieve a lot that neither of us could manage as individuals. My friend, a business woman, reflected that recognising what we are able to do well (our strengths) can be used effectively in collaboration with others. We need to be able to recognise what we cannot do at present through lack of skill, lack of understanding or maturity, or lack of equipment, and find other people who can balance our abilities with their own. Successful families, successful business partnerships, successful enterprises all depend on sorting out what needs to be done to achieve a goal, then finding the person best suited for the task. Someone may be brilliant at starting up new ventures or going out and selling products or ideas, but dependent on others with a different style to do the regular steady and detailed back-room work. Each sort needs to value the attributes of the other for mutual success.