Pushing the ugly buttons in life.


Yesterday was my ironing day, for me its a job I actually don’t mind. I generally watch a film to help me get through the pile and yesterday I chose a Christmas one.

Why do I need to write about ironing. Well I always find it hugely therapeutic, as I watch the creases just disappear. If only our creases in life would vanish so easily.

Then as I was ironing and watching the film, a statement in the film struck me. ‘Life is life, it isn’t ugly, it isn’t pretty, it just is. So what is ugly? People, what is good? People. It’s your choice to make your mind up, whether you add to the Ugly or to the Joy in this world.’

This really made me think about our choices, about choosing to be positive or negative. How easy it is to let the negatives filter into our day, to affect our mood.

Why do negatives cause us so many mixed emotions? Why are Negatives so heavy on us that they outweigh the positive emotions.

We are in charge of these thinking patterns so why dont we just change our thinking to happiness and joy.

Being negative is draining, exhausting and has huge impacts on our lives and the people around us. It heightens our emotions, so if struggling with low moods being negative may increase this low mood, impacting on your life. The negatives get bigger and bigger, heavier and heavier. These emotions will eventually outweigh the positives and you feel swamped. So try to be positive, flip that negative thought or feeling into a positive and see how you feel and also how others react to you, I am sure you will see a difference.

Remember negativity breeds negativity whereas positivity attracts positivity. Take a small step to make a change.

Have a good day.

Counsellors in counselling, Is that ok?


Why not? As counsellors, we are expected to have around 30+ hours of personal therapy whilst in their training, this is to support our emotional journey.

Trainees may experience emotions which have been burried away or never been dealt with in the past. I know as a trainee I came across a few emotional skeletons in my closet within the process groups. Without personal therapy I would not have progressed through the emotional roller-coaster ride in the training world so well. The emotions could have become future triggers in my client counselling room if I had not taken the time to process them in therapy.

These triggers and emotions do need to be successfully worked through to ensure personal growth, change and closure.

Seeking counselling as a trainee allows us to experience the importance of counselling. The importance of a safe space to talk, to trust and to grow.

So why is it any different for a qualified counsellor to seek counselling, if we have a problem we still need to talk to somebody, to be open and to share. To ensure that this problem does not affect our work but also our life.

Like our clients, we have a past and a future with a here and now that often brings different and mixed emotions.

How would you feel if your counsellor was in counselling? Would this change how you saw your counsellor? Do counsellors need counselling?

Yes we do, its healthy, its a place to open up, to talk about ’emotional baggage’ in a confidential setting and a place to be heard. It also shows that we are working safely and are self-aware. I would, will and do go to counselling. I feel that it is important to share this so that people understand that life is hard sometimes but we can take control positively. I trust the system I work in and I believe in the system I work in.

We all have to handle and live with our thought and emotions. So as a counsellor I am still a real person, human and I have a life behind my counselling work which I am not afraid to disclose if it is acceptable and helpful to the client.

I hope this is helpful, this is written in the views of the author.

The ‘black dog’.


This post has been kindly written and sent to me to share with on my blog. Thank you for taking the time to share this. A post written by one, read by many, may help somebody.

Winston Churchill referred to his depression as his black dog, and there is the fantastic resource of “I had a black dog” https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/1845295897/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1509315433&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=i+had+a+black+dog&dpPl=1&dpID=41824d0JHWL&ref=plSrch

This weekend I’ve been looking after a friends black Labrador, he is a lovely dog but so many times I’ve been reminded of my mental health by things he has done.
Last night at bedtime I locked up downstairs and went up to bed, on my bed curled up was the black lab. How many times does my depression stop me going to bed? The fear of lying awake for hours, of thinking, thinking, and overthinking. It’s easier sometimes not to go but stay on the sofa. On this occasion I had to evict the black lab from my bed and then had him sitting giving me the big black eyes to allow him up. I need to sometimes evict the “Black dog” when I need to go to bed and not let the anxiety stop me from getting the sleep I so desperately need.
This morning having got some sleep, I woke and couldn’t move my legs, panic set in, why could I not feel them, what had happened. I managed to half sit up and realised it was the black lab lying at the foot of the bed but due to his size it was more like half the bed! How many times do I wake up and feel like I’ve had no sleep, that there is a weight just wanting to keep me in bed, that to face the day is a step too far.
Breakfast time, normally the black lab devours his food in seconds but this morning he took his time and it looked like a struggle. We are always told breakfast is most important meal of the day, but how often am I like the black lab struggling to eat my cereal, waking feeling sick and anxious, having to eat is too much.
Came out the shower to find the black lab back on the bed asleep, how often do I want to crawl back into bed during the day, when the anxiety is too much, when something goes wrong, I just want my duvet and bed.
Going for a walk with a black lab is great, well usually, when he’s obedient, when he doesn’t pull on his lead and when he doesn’t stop every 10seconds to mark his territory. We went somewhere new this morning to walk, new places to me are filled with anxiety, worry, not knowing where I am and who I may meet. Not for this black lab, desperate to investigate, to sniff, and find food. On this occasion the black lab was not representing my depression…
Until he was pulling on the lead wanting me to go one way but I wanted to go another, how often does my anxiety tell me to do one thing, not to go out, not to answer the phone but my head is telling me I should go out, I should socialise. I found myself saying to the black lab “if you would stop pulling, you would be happier and so would I”- do I need to say this to myself, “you might not want to go out but if you do it’s an evening with people away from your thoughts and it might be fun”. I need to not let my anxiety and depression stop me doing what is beneficial to me.
The black lab and I spent the rest of the afternoon on the sofa, chilling, crafting and watching tv. Yes at times he was restless, insisted on his tea at 5pm, barked every time a car door shut but for the main we were relaxed. Sometimes I need to listen to my black dog and accept that rest and relaxation is what I need.
So has the weekend been hard work and stressful, no it actually hasn’t. I’ve enjoyed observing myself and the black lab and how many times I could reflect on my own experience with the black dog of depression and anxiety.

Sunday turn everything off!


So it’s Sunday, what would it be like to Just turn your gadget off. Get out, go for a walk, look around, feel the air on your skin.

What would it be like to have some time to relax. Put your gadget down, stop! What are you missing? Look around, feel the air, listen. Just take in what is going on around you!

Why not just put your gadgets away for one day and see what happens for one day.

Will you talk, read, go outside, maybe do something artistic or crafty. Why not do some relaxation, be mindful and do some meditation. Have some time for YOU!

Do something different but put you gadgets away for the day. Take a day off and see what you are actually missing.

How much control do gadgets have over your life, how much of life are you missing?

Today my gadgets are going in a drawer and I am going to see the world. I will keep you posted. Have a good Sunday!

Therapists are human too!


Therapists come in all shapes and sizes, we are not all identical clones, we are human.

There are groups of therapists who share the same models of of counselling. But this is where the cloning stops, we are allowed to take on different training, skills and modalities. Yes there are the guidelines that we need to follow, the ethics and principles of our governing body. However when it comes to continued development I believe that there is no set rule to staying within a set guideline.

For instance I trained as an integrative counsellor so I continuously expand my model of counselling, increasing my skill set.

So who am I, I am Clare, I am the therapist, but I also have my own personality, my own history and my own life. These all impact my learning, my knowledge and my work.

I will not impact your sessions by bringing my emotional life into the room however it is important to remember that therapists are not cardboard cutouts, we are real. We have illnesses, we have a past and we have a here and now! We have had the training and are in regular supervision to know that we are self-aware. This means that when we are with our client we are there and present for the client.

Triggers in the counselling room can happen which is why it is important to be self-aware and in regular supervision. When you choose a therapist ensure that they are qualified, hold insurance and are a member of a governing body. This will help to ensure that the therapist is working safely and having regular supervision.

So does being ‘real’ help the client in the therapy room? Knowing that you have a therapist who is real and who you can trust?

This really has to be your choice, all therapists work differently. This is how I work in my therapy room with my clients, it may not suit one person it may suit another. However the way I work suits the clients that I see. You need to find the right therapist that works for you.

Hence why I offer a FREE initial consultation. I believe that it is essential to the client to take the time to meet me, visit my room and see how they really feel. It gives them time to go away and think about if I am the right therapist for them.

Long term therapy


Long term therapy

This week a discussion has challenged my thinking with regards to long term therapy. So, I decided I needed to do some more research into this to dig a little deeper to decide how I felt about it. This included doing a little research on this and talk to fellow counsellors to get some perspective on how they felt about long-term therapy.

When looking at short term therapy vs long-term therapy we are looking at two different types of therapy here. Short term or brief therapy of around six to twelve sessions are often suggested to help clients manage, resolve and change their issues / problems. This type of therapy works best with up to two goals or concerns. Often longer-term therapy is required if the issues are more in-depth, deep rooted and long term. (Which have not been helped by the 6-12 short term sessions.)

So how long should you be in therapy for? Well that really depends on you. Are you the quick fix sort of person who sorts out the issue, becomes symptom free and then your off until the next time or are you the sort of person who uses therapy as a fitness regime, you go to make yourself feel good, until life feels better, you can reach your potential, thus helping prevent problems in the future.

When looking at our friends across the water who are seeing the same therapist for years, is this right or wrong, ethical or unethical, especially if they are being helped by their therapist? Is this beneficial if it is keeping them in work, keeping them motivated and helping them to maintain a healthy lifestyle?

So, as we look further into this, thinking more about a client and their initial consultation, whether this is long or short-term counselling. What do we expect of a client who brings years of buried trauma and emotion into this session. Are they going to open up and talk to us straight away? Possibly not! We need to build trust, respect and the therapeutic relationship. Not all of our clients will find this easy, it can take weeks, months or even years for a client to gain trust in the therapeutic relationship. We must be patient and remember our clients have been on a journey that has lead them to us. So, each week of their therapy they are building a relationship and trust no matter how small.

So how can we ensure that we are keeping the therapy ethical and beneficial for our client? Really it is quite simple, do a stock check of the therapy sessions. Regular reviews are an important part of practice, these allow the therapist and client time to take stock of their sessions and how they are working together. It is a time for the therapist to get some feedback on the therapy to ensure it is going in the right direction. For instance:- How are you doing? How are you feeling about the session? How do you feel you are progressing?

Remember we are unique human beings, so the healing process will be different for us all. So, if we all progress at different paces then we will all need to have different goals. One person’s story is going to be different to another so why should their healing be any different. People all heal, grow and change at different paces. Somebody going through the grieving process living with depression may go to therapy, set goals and have between six to twelve sessions and find resolution. Whilst somebody else may be living with depression due to childhood abuse, struggling but achieving the smallest of goals after a year of therapy. Each client needs to be open to their goals, to challenge themselves but also to understand that everyone is different. If you are achieving, healing and challenging yourself in your therapy you are progressing.

In long term therapy it is important to watch out for the client becoming dependant on the therapist. But is it just in long-term therapy that we need to worry about dependency? After all a client can become dependent in short-term therapy after 4 – 6 sessions. To ensure that dependency is not taking place, the therapist must ensure their client still needs the therapy, there is independency, there is a quality to the therapy and that it is enhancing the client’s well-being. There needs to be a healthy relationship of good communication which includes trust, support, clear boundaries and regular reviews.

The BACP ethical framework highlight three of six core principles for counsellors to  follow :-

Autonomy – To respect a client’s right to be self-governing / to make their own decisions in the therapy.

Beneficence – A commitment to promoting the client’s wellbeing.

Non-maleficence – A commitment to avoiding harm to a client.

As written in (http://www.bacp.co.uk/ethical_framework/documents/GPiA004.pdf) Practitioners are expected to make clients their primary concern while working with them, and to work to professional standards by practising within the bounds of individual professional competence and by keeping skills and knowledge up to date. The Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions makes clear that we are committed to working to professional standards and that ‘we must be competent to deliver the services being offered to at least fundamental professional standards or better’ (Good Practice, point 13). Our commitment to clients is defined further in the Ethical Framework with commitments to building an appropriate relationship (Commitment 4), maintaining integrity (Commitment 5), and demonstrating accountability and candour (Commitment 6). Clients will expect to engage with their practitioner in surroundings that are safe and conducive to the counselling process, and to be actively involved in reviewing progress on a regular basis. The therapeutic relationship should last no longer than necessary, and clients must retain the right to end whenever they feel it right or necessary.

So now that you have read all the above, where do you stand on this? Are you a client? Therapists or family members? Maybe you are a medical practitioner with a client seeing a counsellor long-term. Is this therapy helping? Is the long-term therapy keeping them in work, helping them to maintaining their relationship, friendships, keeping them off medication or stabilising their medication? To the client, is this working for you, if you are not experiencing dependency, if you are trusting and progressing does it matter if you are having it for six sessions, one year or ten years? Remember it is your choice you can end at any time! Maybe if more people had the courage and confidence to achieve a healthy mind as they would a healthy body by going to the gym, the stigma which is carried with mental health could be reduced.

The contents of this post are the personal views of the writer.

A client blog


I was given permission to publish this blog post by a client, so thank you for taking the time to write and share. I am sure it will help others.

After reading

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-41125009 it got me thinking about mental health and why if so many of us suffer is it still such a taboo. For someone that has battled over the years to combat the “black dog” I’ve heard all the cliches:

  • but you look so well
  • stop feeling sorry for yourself
  • pull yourself together
  • snap out of it
  • there are others worse off
  • how can you be tired you’ve slept all day
  • you don’t need pills
  • we’ve spent a weekend with you and you are not depressed

Sometimes yes we do need those reminders to be told that we are spiralling, but until you have walked in someone’s shoes you can’t fully understand what that person is going through. You can empathise but for each of us it is our own journey, our own feelings, and I for one have told myself all of the above things at one point in time.

Why is it if a sixth of the population struggle with mental health that we still see it as bad and something to hide? We see initiatives like the I’m fine campaign, Heads Together all trying to get us to talk more. I believe there is still a fear, what will people think, will they understand, how does it affect my future, is it a sign of weakness?

It is scary that children now as young as 5 are showing signs of struggling with mental health, but then has that changed from when we were children? When I was at school there were no counsellors, no talking about feelings/emotions, but then we were unaware of the big wide world, we only watched Newsround, there was no internet to show us problems, we were unaware of struggles around us. It’s now only as an adult I can look back and see/understand where people were struggling – a neighbour that suffered from depression, one of our friend’s mums being an alcoholic, and many more. How do we help children today to talk, to understand what they are feeling and help them not to carry it into adulthood?

Do we see pills as the quick solution? Yes it’s easier to give someone pills than to fund counselling for them, but does it help long term? I was told at 24 that I would need to be on anti-depressants until I was married, no offer of counselling or support just pills. At that point I was not in a relationship, marriage seemed a long way in the future and this felt like a life sentence. But it’s important to say taking pills is not a sign of weakness either, I remember walking from the doctors to the chemist and feeling everyone knew what was wrong with me, having to hand the prescription over, and feeling the chemist was judging me for needing help, having to take the pills for the first time was horrid, I sat and looked at them for a good hour before I could take them, many tears were had, and hoping I would magically feel better before I needed to swallow them. The first ones I was given were prozac and I opened up the instructions to read them, and they were so well done, they explained depression, why you have been given them, that is was not a sign of weakness but strength and made me feel it was ok to need them.

I don’t think there are easy answers to any of the above but we need to keep talking about mental health, and making sure we are helping our future generations to know its ok to struggle but that there is help out there and it’s ok.

What will people think?


Why are we so concerned about what others think of us looking after our mental health?

If you were to hurt your back, would you visit a physiotherapist for your physical health, helping your pain and suffering? How many would answer Yes? Would it concern you what other people thought? Would you feel judged for needing help?Probably not.

So why do we worry about what people think if we need to visit a therapist for our mental health. We are still helping ourselves aren’t we?

Why don’t we treat our health issues the same way? Is it because we are worrying what others think of us attending a counselling service? You are not weak if you visit a therapist, you are self aware and ready to heal yourself.

Therapy is not a walk in the park, it can be hard work accepting and working through issues, very much like healing the muscles in your body. While physiotherapy is healing your body psychotherapy heals your mind. A mental massage.

With both therapies you are only healing your body, whether this is mentally or physically.

So surely it shouldnt matter what other people think, right?