Thanks for joining me for this week's list of links. I'm thrilled to say that this week I have a piece of my own writing to include as one of my reads (and of course, I'm going to recommend you take a look at it!) where I have been included within the expert section of Counselling Directory. It's a place that some of you may have originally found me - I have a listing here - but now also have an article on the benefits of online counselling here.
So here is my article, and two other things that caught my eye this week. I'll be writing more about the content of the other two links in my mid-week blog next Wednesday - so if you like what you read do check back then for more.
1) 5 great reasons to sign up for online counselling today - Laura Harley via Counselling Directory
2) Your brain on restriction - Caroline Dooner, author of "The fuck it diet"
3) False Pictures of Health - Christy Harrison, an anti-diet dietician
When I worked in face-to-face counselling from my office in Bristol I absolutely loved it. I loved my work, I loved meeting my clients and seeing them work through their issues. I loved the reward of seeing someone completely change their life for the better. It was fantastic.
When I included online counselling in my offerings I was initially a little sceptical as to whether I would still be able to witness my client's achievements in the same way. To feel their feelings as strongly as I had, to support them as well as I hope I had in the past.
The reality of working online through video, voice and email, could not have surprised me more. I have seen some of my most transformative work happen with my online clients. Many of us have never met in person, but so what if they don't know what the back of my head looks like? Or what chairs I might have chosen for my office? They get the same therapeutic support in a convenient, flexible, effective way delivering them 50 minutes of uninterrupted counselling once a week.
One of the things that my clients say to me, again and again, is that without an unfamiliar environment around them they are less distracted. That having their sessions at home, or even in a car parked somewhere quiet where they won't be disturbed, having a cup of tea that they made themselves, being able to be home with sleeping children or taking some time off when they're sick - whatever the reason might be that works particularly well for them - makes the experience even more valuable. They don't have to change their lives to fit therapy in, it fits neatly around them.
Plus, there's the idea that therapy doesn't have to be limited to the few counsellors who are available in our local area. Working online opens us up to a whole world of therapists who might have a specialism in the thing we particularly want to work on, or that might seem to fit our personality. It frees us from the idea of a little old lady espousing her wisdom from a comfy chair in a shed at the bottom of her garden. It makes it something modern, something that we can be doing with a busy work schedule, it means we don't have to travel in horrendous traffic or find a non-existent parking space (Bristol, I'm looking at you). There's no cost to get to an office either, as long as we have data or wifi, we can have our session.
So if online therapy is something that you've been considering, but you're worried that either it won't work for you or you don't feel confident with the technology, I would urge you to give it a try. There's nothing to lose, and potentially a world of change in your life to gain.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more, or you can book a free 10-minute call to discuss therapy options on my services page. I also offer a reduced price 30-minute introductory session to try out the software and see if it works for you with no commitment.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Not one to celebrate Easter I have never really understood the whole eggs, rabbits thing.
I don't have a religion and I'm not particularly interested in chocolate (which some of you might think therapy-worthy in itself!) so this weekend usually passes me by without any awareness, but this year it is a little different for me, being in France and observing the French in their traditions. It's much the same as in Britain, but the French don't take Good-Friday as a bank holiday, which is another good reason to be writing up my mental health links today.
I hope that everyone has a good, restful weekend. I shall be taking the next three days off completely and am looking forward to doing nothing at all, which is a true reason to celebrate as far as I'm concerned.
1) A guide to helping someone going through depression - from Abbey's Chronicles - a mental health blog by Abbey
2) The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Mindfulness Meditation - from Ingredients of Living - a mental health blog by Elayna Swift
3) A guide to growing as a person - from a blog by Lolita Bonita
A late post from me tonight. Not that I haven't spent the day glued to my computer, quite the opposite. I've been making some short videos to add to my site to introduce new clients to my face, voice and the medium of online counselling generally.
For some people, the idea of online therapy is a foreign one. They might only just be warming up to the idea that they could sit in a room with someone and talk face-to-face, let alone adding in the perceived complexity of using a video call. If this is you, allow me to reassure you that working online is easy, convenient and most important of all effective.
I was reading research just last week which confirmed that the online therapy tested was just as effective as face-to-face counselling sessions. The reasoning around this might be that we are less likely to be distracted during an online session, that we focus intently on the communication on-screen, and that we are more likely to attend sessions regularly, because of the flexibility it offers, and the absence of the need to travel and deal with the logistics of making it to an office. We can fit it around childcare, or eldercare arrangements, or shift work. For most, the practicality is the most attractive part, however, the reassurance that research provides in finding teletherapy to be so effective is more than a bonus!
So here are my short videos for the day:
The first is designed to welcome newcomers to my site and let them see what I look like and how I sound.
The second is more talking from me around the kind of sessions that are available with various options regarding ways of working, and a bit more of my personality and information on the therapy that I offer.
I'd be interested to know what you think! Leave me a comment to do get in touch via my new YouTube channel if you have some thoughts on things you might like me to talk about.
The sun has returned to France, and I welcome it gladly.
This week has been busy one for me with an old friend visiting, my car going completely kaput, news that a piece of my writing has been accepted for publishing, and some new clients starting work in various ways. A real mixed bag!
With all that going on, in order to find my weekly links I've taken to Twitter to ask for suggestions for mental health blogs and articles so that I can bring you a variety of quality reads for your Friday. I was overwhelmed by what a positive response I had, which you can check out here.
Here are three that I've selected for this week for your review, do let me (and the writers) know what you think.
1) The Recovery Writer: Documenting The Road To A Recovered Life - Finlay Games
2) Meditative Owl - Mental Health Blog
3) Self-love and other adventures - A blog by Anna Bithell
I was Scared to Recover from my Mental Illness (BEDA #6)
Sometimes we all have moments where we feel like the world is against us.
Only today I myself managed to get into a real grump after arriving late to my French class. A road had been closed unexpectedly and being the only route I knew to my teacher's house, I had to rely on the diversion signs. Except they were confusingly laid out, and I was now late. Suffice to say I was not in the mood for my teacher's very justified ribbing and classmate's teasing for being "en retard" when I arrived. Fortunately, my mental health is in a good place right now, and I was able to shake off this feeling soon after. I had managed to make it to class and was only a few minutes late. My lateness actually made me the centre of attention for a moment (which in short doses, I love) and I practised some extra phrases, which knowing me will no doubt be useful in my life going forward!
Had my mental health been in a less robust place (and I do not say this to gloat, a huge part of my job is to ensure that I am safe for my clients to be vulnerable with) perhaps I might have spent a little more time in that negative headspace. Maybe a lot more time. Maybe I would have eschewed contact with my classmates at our break time, and driven home fast and angrily. Even dangerously. Worse still, had an accident and been hurt.
All because of a road being closed on a Monday afternoon for a small French town to cut some branches off a tree.
This is an extreme example, but I hope a relatable one. The point I'm getting is that even the most innocuous event could be the final straw for one of us who is under pressure, or struggling with depression, or anxiety or addiction. We might not have got home safely but for a chain of events that we could potentially have halted by practising some positive mental health tools.
Anyone who has ever been part of a fellowship and twelve step program will already know the power that gratitude can have on our lives, even with most everything else staying the same. Gratitude is one of the tools that we can have in our toolbox that might get us out of a difficult headspace, to a healthier, calmer, safer one.
So how do I become grateful?
Well, gratitude is not complicated. It's a feeling that most of us will have been taught to recognise when we were children. The feeling of being truly grateful and thankful for something. It might be something that has happened to us, is happening to us, has not happened to us or that we are, were, or might be. It's broad.
We can be grateful that our children ate their dinner this evening without fuss, or we can be thankful for a friend sending us a message when they hadn't seen us on social media for a while and want to check in. We can be grateful that the bus arrived early so we got to our job interview on time, or we can be thankful for something that we brought about ourselves, for example creating a piece of art, or having the opportunity to exercise.
I would encourage you to inject some gratitude into your life, even if it feels like there isn't much for us to be thankful for right now. At some point, it's highly likely that there will have been something worthy of thanks, and it's all too easy for us to focus on the negative when we feel vulnerable. But we owe it to ourselves and our mental health to engage our logical brain at this moment. To list some things which have given us cause for gratitude.
Now we've come up with a few ideas, the big question is how to avoid chiché? (If we want to!)
Well, you may have heard of gratitude lists - a little notepad that someone might keep next to their bed and write a few things down in before going to sleep. That's fine, good. It works (it really does) but it might feel a bit tacky, or passé.
So get creative - how about using an app to track your gratitude? There are thousands of apps out there where we can track everything from our basal body temperature to our levels of psychosis on a daily basis. There are free-text fields all over these apps. Maybe there's one for you.
If you're a creative, why not set aside some time once a week (or more if you have space) to create a representation of your gratitude. Be that drawing, making music, crafting, building, it doesn't have to make sense to anyone but you.
If you do decide to try this and it works well for you, do let me know in the comments.
Another busy week of online counselling here in France. Week by week things move along in the business and I'm so pleased to be working on my therapy blog again. It's given me all kinds of ideas for counselling sessions for expats in light of the stress of Brexit, as well as offering my mental health MOT and one-off counselling sessions or blocks of sessions for a discounted rate. If you haven't seen them do check out my newly added services here www.harleycounselling.com/services.
I'm also going to be adding a resource page to my site soon where I'll be offering free counselling worksheets around issues like anxiety, self-esteem issues, relationships, depression, free couples therapy sheets and loads more so do check back soon to see if there's anything which might be useful.
In addition to this, I'm also going to be including some links to services which are useful - for example, Relate Couples Counselling, the BACP, MIND, Samaritans etc whom I know all have great quality content. I'm most interested however in the smaller sites, be they those of other therapists working privately who are looking to find more counselling clients or mental health websites or directories which would be useful to my blog readers. If you have any suggestions please do let me know in the comments.
Here's my links for this week, I hope you all have a great weekend. I have a lovely friend coming to visit next week so am really looking forward to the next few days but I'm sure I'll still make time to blog.
1) What therapy can help with - An A-Z of issues and concerns which may be helped by talking to a therapist - BACP
2) The Violation of Love Languages - Psychology Today
3) 'Chemsex' risk messages should target all, survey suggests - Reuters
Many are affected, so I'm now offering Brexit specific support
We live in interesting times.
Particularly interesting if we are British living in Britain or the EU, and EU citizens living in Britain.
Full disclosure - I am a British citizen living in the EU. It's not easy right now. But I'm sure that statement applies to us all.
Recent studies from research group Britain Thinks have shown that more than six in ten people believe the ongoing uncertainty of Brexit is bad for their mental health. As both a mental health professional and a person directly affected by the UK's impending departure from the EU I have no choice but to concur.
When I meet other British people living in France - it's often the first thing we talk about. When I meet French people and chat, they ask what I think of it - and a sad conversation generally follows. Seeing Britain from the outside and what Europeans think of it all has been eyeopening. Of course, every country is more focused on their own issues, but it still makes the news here. Mostly they can't understand how a country would want to leave a project that has provided the longest period of peacetime in living memory. And I wonder whether that is something to do with the impact the first and second world wars had here - the number of civilians who died and towns, even cities that were destroyed.
When I first moved to France I stayed near a village called Oradour-Sur-Glane while my house purchase was going through. There are signs on the motorway that depict ruins and I researched a little. Oradour-Sur-Glane is a village in which on 10th June 1944, 642 innocent French citizens were massacred by the Nazis during German occupation. The men were led into a barn and shot, the women and children burned alive in the church. It is a monstrous thing to read about let alone have lived near to or have lost family and friends in. After the war, the village was kept as a memorial to the dead and designated a martyred village.
I cannot begin to imagine how this kind of news might have affected me had I been a French person living where I do now in the 1940's. I'm sure that I would struggle to ever forget hearing about such a thing, much less get to the point where I decided that the EU, one of the projects after the end of the second world war, which had provided years of peace and prosperity for its member countries, was something that I wanted nothing to do with. So yes, many EU citizens think the UK is mad, and even the US have denounced the whole idea as stupid and damaging to the UK - The New York Times.
Whatever you think of it, remainer or leaver, it's getting difficult now to deny that the British government's handling of the whole thing is deeply unsettling at best, and traumatic at worst. The idea that people could lose the right to be with loved ones, friends, live in their homes, have their qualifications recognised and so lose their jobs, be rejected for jobs on the basis of Brexit uncertainty, have their businesses fail and generally be unable to live without suffering - with all of our usual mental health issues and life-strains - in countries which before had offered us so much freedom and opportunity is unbelievable.
And so I am getting more and more people contacting me asking for Brexit specific support. No, they're not asking me for my political opinion, they're asking for support for the mental health conditions which they might already live with and manage, while Brexit goes on in the background.
If you're affected by these issues or know someone who is, you can find more info at www.harleycounselling.com/services or book in here.
Brexit Anxiety Is A Very Real Issue Right Now: 'It's Causing People To Snap' - Huffington Post
Brexit Anxiety: Don't Worry, You're Not The Only One Who Has It - Refinery29
Brexit anxiety hitting 'fever pitch' for businesses - Evening Standard
How Brexit is fuelling stress and anxiety for vulnerable Brits in Europe - The Local.fr
Six in 10 Britons say Brexit uncertainty bad for mental health - The Guardian
Laura is an online talking therapist and writer specialising in working with millennials and the LGBTQI+ community.