Yesterday evening I took part in a talk with Shaunna-Marie on her BBC Radio Oxford show ’Asking for a Friend’.
We talked about therapy, soulmates and approaches to finding a romantic relationship. It was great fun and a really positive experience. If you'd like to know what was said you can hear the whole clip here (click the image to start).
Or on BBC iplayer here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p07cqwch
I wrote an Instagram post earlier today around endings. I'd found a graphic that I really liked about unfollowing people in real life, and as with most things, it allowed me to go off on this existential tangent about how we all cope with endings.
When I was training to become a therapist, we would often talk about endings in terms of the significance of therapy and sessions - especially when we had worked with a client for a long period of time and knew that the work would soon be complete. I was taught how important it is to plan an ending, which at the time seemed totally weird to me. All of the endings in my life that I could think of had until then been sad, unexpected or traumatic. I could only think of break-ups, or friendships which had ended dramatically, and the big one... the end of my first marriage.
At the time, the idea of planning an ending seemed like an oxymoron, so it's fair to say that this piece of training was challenging for me. In understanding how endings could be healthy, positive, how they could include reflection that meant that I could solidify my feelings and understanding of a situation or my counselling work, I was able to take away the good from an ending.
Sometimes, if I'm feeling particularly daring (and these days, I usually am) in my free 30-minute informal online sessions I will say to my clients:
''My goal, really, is that we get to a point where we never see each other again!'' Oh, how we laugh. Or I do, at least.
But I really mean it. I think that the ending that we plan, the ending that we have chosen (even if in painful circumstances, like ending a marriage) is the best type of ending. One where we have reflected, decided and go on to take action, probably changing the course of our lives forever, that's the idea after all!
Even if we haven't chosen an ending, if it is of someone else's choice and we don't want it, we still can't do very much about it. If someone who has been a part of a couple says ''I want to break up'' they don't need the other party's agreement. From that moment they are separate.
A couple needs two in agreement to begin and one in dissent to end.
What we can choose at that moment, is how we respond to the ending. If we fight it, cling to the pain of it, deny that it's happening, then the likelihood is that it's going to take longer to heal from. If we can work towards accepting, acknowledging, turning towards ourselves and our own needs rather than someone else for distraction via a rebound, or a place to escape to - a place to avoid - then we will soon feel better for it.
By acknowledging that endings can be good, they can be the thing that welcomes change and new opportunities into our lives, then we can get to a place where we no longer fear them.
If you'd like to talk about your own endings in therapy with me - and eventually get to the point where we plan our own (ROFL) you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or book a FREE 30-minute informal online session here.
Thanks for reading,
I'm often asked ''How often should I be going to therapy?'' or ''Do I need therapy weekly for it to work?''
I've put together my answers to this question and some advice on finding the right therapist for you in the video above.
I hope that you find it useful.
Hi all, I hope you enjoyed my vlog earlier this week. It is undeniably cringeworthy to watch yourself back afterwards and very tempting to redo any talk you might give or message that you're trying to convey. But I feel very strongly that this isn't really what my work is about. I'm sure I could reshoot without me sniffing with hayfever, or saying "erm" but I wouldn't want to. This is who I am, its not perfect, but its real and to me that's far more important than perfection.
So unburdened of the responsibility to reshoot my vlog, I'm able to bring you this week's links. I hope you find them interesting.
1) Being A Student With Mental Illness - RedSilverMountains blog
2) Things I wish I had known prior to any diagnosis! - No Magic Wand UK blog
3) Autism & Depression - Autism Practical Magic Blog
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 email@example.com 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)
Laura is an online talking therapist and writer specialising in working with millennials and the LGBTQI+ community.