SMART goals


Today has been a day of looking at SMART goals, looking at smart thinking and working out how to be a smart achiever.

This process began by personalizing ‘SMART’ goals for individuals, so that they were able to understand their desired outcome and make a plan to suit their goals.

By taking control of this process a client will be more willing to manage and accomplish their own set goals and assist their outcome.

Remember to make all SMART goals manageable, attainable and reachable. These goals are smart goals for a reason. Remember to manage your time, your thinking and your processing. Take control of your time and ensure this is reachable.

Remember this goal is your choice so you can take control.

One of those days


Picture this, I am walking down the stairs, no slippers on, rushing for work as usual last, with my arms full of dirty laundry, and as per something falls out on to the stairs. So it could have been a sock, a PJ top but no it was a soggy wet flannel! NICE!!! Yes you have guessed I stood on it with my nice stocking foot ‘squelch’. Hmm is this the start of my day or just one of those things you could be thinking. Well it depends how you look at life.
For me luckily I picked it up, realised I hadn’t fallen down the stairs, So it could have been worse. Things can be sorted if we decide to choose to take control. It was my choice to either scream and shout or laugh about it and I felt like doing both. However which takes more energy and which has the better outcome?
There are times I still do scream I won’t lie I am not a saintly counsellor.

I am real, I have feelings, emotions and I cry so how do I handle it? Because I am not a super hero, I don’t wear a cape and I don’t have a magic powers.

I think I can honestly say I handle it by talking! Since beginning my journey to becoming a counsellor I have had to learn to really talk and listen, not just a little chit chat with friends but be open. I have supervision and in that I am listened to and I can be me. I have realised that if I need somebody to talk to about my emotions I am happy pay a counsellor, but I have also learnt the value of talking openly to my family and friends!

Counselling has taught me so much about me. If you are struggling and need support don’t sit in silence thinking there is nobody to listen to you.

Don’t sit thinking nobody understands you, there is always somebody willing to listen, willing to help you. Sometimes you are stuck in a place and you just need a helping hand to get you up.

Through the eyes of a child.


I was sent this lovely piece of writing yesterday, which yes it did bring a tear to my eye, thank you for such a precious share. I have been given permission to share this with you all.

After I had wiped my tears, reading this made me think about how a child can see the importance of what I do as a counsellor. In a nutshell she is correct counsellors do listen to people and help them so why is there still a stigma to receive this help?

Why are there people still worrying what others will think if they find out that they are attending counselling?

Why are people being judged, being questioned and thinking it is not beneficial?

When actually as this child has pointed out a counsellor is there to listen and help people. Sometimes we need somebody to listen, somebody to talk to who doesn’t know us. It is amazing how open a person is with an impartial listener. Remember it is good to talk.



This time of year means different things for each and everyone. For some it means excitement, happiness, fun and celebrations. Whilst for others it means tiredness, loneliness, sadness and highlighting how they have felt over the last 12 months.

It may bring unexpected emotions, the Christmas blues, with feelings of stress and anxiety and unexpected highs or lows. Take a look around at your christmas party, at your neighbours and at your friends. Is there somebody who looks like they are struggling, somebody who may need a little support? Can you give them a little bit of your time, can you listen to them? Not many years ago we would have done this. We would have taken the time to enquire about a neighbour and a friend in need, or the elderly lady living down the road. We used to pick up the phone to check on our relatives and friends, checking on somebody who was struggling, or just sending a christmas wish to say that we cared.

When you are on your own at this time of the year is it because you choose to be, or is it because you have nowhere else to go? Sometimes there is a place to go but it is about accessing that help, supporting yourself and finding it. Once upon a time there was no room at the Inn, Joseph searched and searched and found a room for Mary in a stable, it wasn’t the best but they made do and they made the best out of what they had. Joseph wasn’t looking for a 5* hotel with a spa and jacuzzi, he was looking for somewhere to support Mary. Sometimes you need to take control to help yourself, you often have a choice.

Today, living in this throw away society, we always want the best and miss the importance of what is going on around us. But is the best needed?

Are you spending out of your budget trying to buy the top gift, trying to get the no.1 toy of the year? How many are spending on the ‘never never’ and then worrying when this will always catch up with you in your January pay packet. Who is this going to make happy?

I remember as a child we only had 3 channels on the television and longed for a remote control on a wire on a video player (which we never got), I had an apple and an orange in my stocking and one gift from Santa. We played board games on Christmas day and we all talked. It was amazing! We had toys and games, we didn’t have computer games to pull us away from the importance of family time! But we did talk to each other and we spent time with each other. What would it be like to spend an hour with each other playing a board game at Christmas. Learn something new about each other. I wonder if that lonely neighbour would enjoy being with you all, at your table enjoying too much noise and hustle and bustle, enjoying time on the sofa whilst you all have your heads in your gadgets. How will you get through December?

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 ( 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.

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?