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About Me

 

Welcome!

Let me tell you a bit about myself…

I was born in Guatemala City, Guatemala, where I lived for the first 25 years of my life. As you can probably tell by my name, it sounds very German! I am the descendant of a German great-grandfather who moved to Guatemala in the early 1900’s. So I have influence of both Latin American and German styles of thinking, feeling and being (you will see what I mean when you meet me and spend some time with me!).

The German/European influence is probably what brought me back to Europe in 2006. I have lived in the South of England, in many towns, doing many jobs, since then.

I am now settled  in Brighton and Hove, which I love – I have access to the countryside, the city, the sea, and a melting pot of cultures and activities. This is where I have started my journey into Counselling Private Practice, as well as delving deeper into my love of languages and teaching – Spanish, English, Psychology, Counselling/Psychotherapy.

I really enjoy everything that I do, and I never do anything or continue doing something that I don’t enjoy and might cause me unhappiness or frustration. Of course I will see it through to the end and complete what I’ve started.

I don’t think I will ever get unhappy or frustrated with Counselling or Teaching, there is always something new to learn from books, training, but more importantly from my clients themselves.

It is such an honour to be allowed into people’s worlds and be there for the realisations – sometimes good, sometimes not so good – about themselves, their upbringing, their experiences, and see lasting change happen – gradually – so they can continue a happier, healthier life, with a more robust approach to challenges and whatever else life might bring.

I hope this allowed you to get to know me a bit better…do contact me if you want to know more or are looking for a Counsellor, Supervisor, Spanish/English Teacher!

 

Spring cleaning

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The past couple of weeks – since the weather picked up and it seems spring is finally arriving – I have started clearing out some of my papers, clothes and clutter.

It made me feel good, removing things that I haven’t used, looked at or worn in a long time, and make room for, well, just to have room really! I haven’t replaced anything with anything else, which feels good.

I can’t see myself going minimalist at any point soon but I am minimising many of my things. It makes sense, both space wise and mental health wise.

Other things I’ve reviewed recently:

  • business plan for the next few months – simplified so I am not trying to be everything to everyone and do everything at once… that will never work and I will burn out or give up and I don’t want to do either!
  • Weekly schedule and the amount and length of tasks I assign myself for my life and businesses.
  • Getting ready for new GDPR legislation led to the ridding of paperwork from a few years ago, and things that I don’t really need anymore. Going electronic now with most of my business contracts and communications, so everything is encrypted and password protected and that feels much better.

Anyway, enough about me…


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Spring cleaning relates mainly to cleaning the house, dusting, getting rid of things we don’t use.

But…how can this impact our mental state?

Well, firstly, the fact that we have clutter lying around might be a sign that our mental health is not at its best.

Secondly, the clutter might be causing our mental health to suffer.

Either way, something needs to be done so our physical space matches our mental health in a positive way.


3Clutter might affect

  • Energy levels
  • Concentration levels
  • Motivation levels
  • And lead us to feel overwhelmed or unable to cope with everyday life and other demands
  • It might reminds us of the past, which might lead to depression, or
  • It might make us anxious about the future
  • Which means we are not living in the present.

 

 

 


5Clearing out will have these effects:

  • You will limit the fire hazards, dust and mould accumulating
  • You will be more likely to live in the present rather than in the past or the future.
  • You will feel proud of your surroundings
  • You will know where everything you need is, and have got rid of those things that you really didn’t need.
  • You will create space to, well, create more things in your life, in the here and now.

 

 


When I talk about getting depressed or anxious due to clutter, I am not diminishing anyone’s symptoms of depression or anxiety.

All I’m saying is have a look around, check what stuff is cluttering your physical space that might be having an impact on your mental health.

Some things we keep out of nostalgia, but that nostalgia might not be good for our mental health. It might keep us in the past and not able to see the good in the present and expecting positives in the future.

 See what you need to keep in your life and what you don’t.

4Get rid of stuff and then see how this feels within yourself.

Are you feeling better? Is there a “spring” in your step that wasn’t there before?

Is your energy and motivation coming back?


What has changed for you since decluttering?

Let me know, leave a message in the comments section at the bottom of the page, or the form below.


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Creando espacio para la compasión hacia ti mismo y hacia los demás

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Bienvenidos a la entrada de esta semana de “En Terapia”

Gracias a los que me escribieron acerca de lo que les gustaría que escribiera en futuros posts, así que esta semana el topico ha sido elegido por ustedes, mis lectores.

Continúen haciendo sus sugerencias, ya que esto me ayuda a saber qué material será útil para ustedes, mis lectores.


Vamos directo al grano…


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La compasión es una palabra que escuchamos seguido, pero ¿será que sabemos su significado real y el beneficio que nos da para nuestras vidas?

¿Qué es esto exactamente?

La compasión significa sufrir juntos. Es similar y cercano a la empatía, pero no es empatía. Tampoco es altruismo. La compasión nos lleva a tener empatía y a ser altruistas.

La compasión no es lástima ni compadecerse a uno mismo (“la desgracia soy yo”, “yo soy el único luchando con esto”, “hay pobre de ti”); ciertamente no es autoindulgencia (“me estoy sintiendo mal por mi así que me acurrucaré y veré televisión todo el día”).

La compasión tiene que ver con el entendimiento, darte a ti mismo – y a otros – un receso del juicio y de las altas expectativas, o de cualquier tipo de expectativas de hecho.

La compasión tiene beneficios físicos y mentales – la liberación de ciertas hormonas y neurotransmisores aumentan esa sensación de “bienestar” en nuestros cuerpos.


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Ser compasivos nos ayudará a ser más amables con nosotros mismos y con otros, y por lo tanto, cambiar nuestra perspectiva y pensamientos acerca de nosotros mismos hacia una forma más positiva y comprensiva, y así, aumentará o mantendrá nuestra salud mental en un buen lugar.

Somos humanos, no somos perfectos y no se debería esperar que lo fuésemos – ya sea por nosotros mismos o por otros. Honra, acepta y trabaja con esta falta de perfección. El ser humano viene con una lista de decepciones y una lista de “impredecibles”.

La naturaleza versus el cuidado viene a tomar un papel en la compasión, así como también otros comportamientos aprendidos o innatos.

¿Con qué nacimos?

¿Fuimos algunos de nosotros programados para ser más compasivos que otros?

¿Cómo afectó esto nuestra crianza?


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La forma en que fuimos criados podría permitirnos a acceder más fácilmente a nuestra autocompasión, o bien podría hacérnoslo muy difícil incluso para que sintamos una pequeña autocompasión y nos podría empujar a ser críticos en vez de compasivos.

Piensa en eso – ¿En qué lado de la moneda estás tú?

¿Estas más allá de ese espectro? ¿Ha cambiado algo desde que dejaste el hogar de tu familia?

¿Quién te ha influenciado para ser más compasivo contigo mismo y con otros?


Si se te dificulta apagar la voz crítica en tu cabeza, trata de pensar en ti como una tercera persona y observa cómo lo tratarías bajo circunstancias similares…

¿Serías más comprensivo y más amable y cuidadoso acerca de su situación difícil o lo juzgarías de manera crítica como lo haces contigo mismo?

¿Cambiaría tu opinión acerca de quiénes son ellos como una persona completa o seguiría siendo la misma a pesar de la situación actual?

¿Serías capaz de mostrar perdón por esa persona por lo que le haya pasado?


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Este tema es algo largo y variado… ¡siento que hay muchos temas unidos en esta entrada!

Aquí va otro…


¿Qué haces cuando estás luchando con emociones y situaciones difíciles?

Te dices a ti mismo que lo superes o buscas formas de procesarlo a tu propio paso en lugar de apresurarte a pasarlo porque nos han dicho o presionado para que no nos quedemos atorados en las cosas por mucho tiempo…

Ser amables y comprensivos acerca de dónde estamos en este momento en particular en nuestras vidas nos permitirá volver a pensar los pensamientos de juicio, crítica y castigo que podrían venir a nosotros a menudo… más seguido de lo que pensamos en perdonarnos a nosotros mismos o de permitirnos cometer el error y ser menos que perfectos.

Cuando somos compasivos con nosotros mismos y con otros, somos más conscientes del sufrimiento que existe.

Somos más capaces de aceptar lo que está pasando y de ponernos manos a la obra y procesarlo, para aliviarlo de una u otra manera, en lugar de hacerlo peor al juzgarnos o no perdonar o ser poco amables.


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La compasión nos lleva a tener una vida y relaciones más saludables y balanceadas.

Tener autocompasión significará que nuestra valía viene desde dentro de nosotros, y que no necesitamos que otros nos validen.

Nuestros límites – o la falta de ellos – y la forma en que nos tratamos a nosotros mismos, le mostrará a los demás cómo nos pueden tratar.

También, la forma en la que nos tratamos a nosotros mismos se verá reflejada en la forma en que tratamos a otros – ya sea si somos críticos o amables.


Espera la siguiente entrega sobre este tema de Compasión, el cual será posteado aquí en las siguientes semanas.


Traducción por Mayra Alarcón.


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World Autism Month

This month is World Autism Month, and to honour the amazing people that live with Autism Spectrum conditions, I am dedicating this post to them.

I first started working with people with disabilities — different abilities — back in 2004 when I worked as a volunteer, training people with physical disabilities so they could get into the workforce, in Guatemala.

This was very rewarding as I could use both my teaching (IT programmes) and counselling skills (support group), and get to speak to people and hear their experiences first hand.

Supporting people has been something I’ve always wanted to do, and this opportunity was great to start my journey in supporting people with disabilities.


Read more about my journey on my post in support of Common Hope,

and do give if you feel moved to, it’s a great cause!


Move forward to 2008, I started my journey into the world of Autism. I got hired to work as a supported living support worker for people that lived at home with their families.

This job gave me a chance to work with some amazing individuals, some of whom I still keep in touch now – a couple of them came to my Wedding, which was lovely!

I am now crossing over to working with people on the Spectrum not only as a support worker but also as a counsellor.


I’ve learned so much from every person on the Spectrum I’ve met and supported.

  • Taking time to self-care.

    • Something as simple as having a bath to help relax and ease pain and stress.
  • Finding creative and new ways to communicate.

    • Many of the people I’ve supported are non-verbal.
    • Learning Makaton and other communication skills has been part of the journey.
    • Reading non-verbal cues and paying attention to the small nuances and eye-gazes has become routine in my work. I love it.
  • Counselling people on the Spectrum – Aspergers mostly so far, is so rewarding.

    • It’s a chance to bring me – a neurotypical – a deeper understanding of how the “Aspie” mind works, and therefore how to best support someone work through their issues in therapy.


Meeting one’s needs and setting clear boundaries is something I am big on, and it is a great duty of care, responsibility and honour to be able to support people with this.

Part of working with ASD and other disabilities is helping the clients/service users to live in this world as it is – easier said than done!…

….but I also believe a great part of working with this group of people, and getting them out in the community (Social Inclusion) is getting us “neurotypicals” and the general public to understand and accept that there are people among us that deserve the same rights and their needs being met as everyone else.

Understanding and acceptance of difference is a great first step to take, to realise how wonderful each person with disabilities and ASDs is. Everyone is an individual, and this applies here as well.


We forget that we are all individuals. “They are all individuals”.

There is a lot to learn from people on the Spectrum and with other varied disabilities…

The struggles each one faces, and yet they are smiling and enjoying life as best they can.

Autism has its ups and downs, it’s not all smiles and fun.

There are meltdowns and medical emergencies (to say the least!).

There are frustrated, confused and sometimes depressed parents and carers.


The world of Autism is really incredible.

I wouldn’t change any of the people I’ve met, for anything in the world.

They are great as they are. They have a purpose as they are.


let’s embrace the differences each person on the Spectrum brings to society…

let’s embrace the greatness that is within those differently-functioning brains and bodies….

let’s learn from the way they are, the way they themselves embrace life and make the most of it…


Let’s accept and understand rather than stigmatise and isolate.


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Creating and Living a more compassionate life

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Welcome to this week’s In Therapy post.

Last week we spoke about what compassion is and what it might do for us to develop more self compassion as well as compassion for others.

This week I want to leave you with some helpful tips for developing that compassionate life.


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How can we start practicing compassion for self and others in our daily lives?

Here are some tips on how you can start and get into the habit of living a compassionate life:

  • Develop self-awareness and reflect on your day as it is happening.
    • A therapist might be able to help with this, or find a good self-help book on the topic and make it your own.
    • At the start of the day you can be thankful for what you’ve got, for waking up and having the job, family, friends, food, home that you have.
    • Throughout the day you can think about how something you did for someone might have changed the outlook of their day.
    • You could also think of something someone did for you that made you happier.
    • At the end of the day you could reflect on what went well and what could have been different in regards to self-compassion, compassion for others, or how others are compassionate towards you.

 

  • Change your thinking
    • You don’t have to be perfect
    • Others don’t have to be perfect
    • We are human, mistakes will happen.
      • Be understanding and kind when you and others make mistakes
      • Catch yourself being judgemental and critical and try your best to be more forgiving and kind.
        • Trying is key here. If you are upset with someone, don’t deny those feelings, but find ways to channel that emotion and work through it as well.
        • For more on working through different issues, read my posts on change and others on working through difficult emotions like anger

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  • Consider the person’s story.
        • Maybe they are going through something really difficult and that’s why they said or did that.
        • People don’t exist in a vacuum and we might only know a little bit of their story. Giving the benefit of the doubt – without denying our own emotions about it – is compassionate living.

 

  • Change those negative thoughts you have about yourself
    • Replace them with kindness, forgiveness, understanding.
    • Replace them with more positive ones that you know are true!

 

  • Remember: you are no alone in your suffering.

 

  • Letting others know they are not alone might also help them.

 

  • Us humans have more in common than we have differences.
    • We all suffer with sadness, anger, loss, and others throughout our lives.
    • We might deal with the in slightly different ways but the feelings are the same.

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  • Give to charities or work for one
    • We talked above about alleviating suffering.
    • Giving to charities that help others we can relate to or want to help is a good way of being and showing compassion to others.
    • I give to the A21 campaign which deals with human trafficking and rescues women from very dark situations. I am not working directly with these women (I would love to though!) but I am making a difference with what I send every month.

 

  • It doesn’t all have to be about charities – giving can also be about offering someone a helping hand, smiling at someone, buying lunch for a colleague, or just sitting next to someone who seems in need of company.

 

  • Find a therapist to work through this and develop self-compassion and compassion for others.

 

  • Re-evaluate your values
    • We talked about at the start about how our upbringing can affect how compassionate we can be. Is it time to think about these again?
    • Are the ones you grew up with not helpful to a happy and compassionate life?
    • Replace them with ones that match who you really are and how you want to treat yourself and others.

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  • Tell your inner critic to “shush”
    • If we understand our inner critic better, then we can talk to him/her and make them quieter.
    • We can use the inner critic to our advantage once we’ve got a handle on him/her. It can become our radar for when we need to re-evaluate our thoughts about ourselves and others.

 

  • Self-awareness and understanding of what we have internalised from our parents, teachers, or come up with ourselves growing up can help find our self-compassion.

 

  • Develop a growth mindset.

 

  • Face your challenges and grow from them.

 

  • Find meaning in what’s happening at any moment in time, especially the hard times.

 

  • Find the right levels of generosity – meet your needs first and then see how much of others’ needs you want to meet and how.
    • Keep yourself safe.
    • Set clear and healty boundaries.
    • Give back but also give back to yourself.
    • Have fun doing it.

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Some last thoughts…

  • Practice forgiveness.
  • Express gratitude.
  • Practice empathy.
  • Practice active listening.
  • Agree to disagree.
  • Practice acceptance.
  • Do kind things to self and others.
  • See the whole person not just the present behaviour.
    • People are not their behaviours.
  • Rely on your support system for compassion, understanding and kindness.

    Thoughts? Comments?

    Leave a message below!


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In Supervision: Ethics and Professional Standards- Our Commitment to our clients (part 3)

In Supervision


Welcome to this week’s instalment of In Supervision, where I will wrap up our commitments to clients’ mini-series.

Next week I’ll continue with the values and principles as stated in the Ethical framework, focusing on the ones I find the most important for my practice.


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Maintaining integrity, accountability and candour are major aspects of the counsellor’s commitment to their clients, to themselves and to the profession.

Counsellors should be as transparent about the work they do as possible.

This starts with a clear contract – and website – that lists all the boundaries and terms of the therapeutic relationship, such as:

  • Fees and how to pay them
  • Cancellation policies
  • Contact outside sessions
  • How the counsellor works
  • What to expect
  • And more…

You can have a look at my contract here

(Note: I’m currently updating it to meet the new GDPR legislation due in May 2018).


If the therapist doesn’t feel they can work with a particular client, they should be clear about this within themselves and with their supervisor, and find the best way to communicate this to the client and refer them on to someone that can help them better.

It is then the therapist’s responsibility to update their knowledge so next time they can see clients with similar issues.


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If a client is doing well in therapy and the counsellor doesn’t feel they need it anymore, it is their responsibility to explore this with the client – keeping someone in therapy because they are paying and not saying they want to end is not being ethical.

Some clients don’t realise that it’s their right to end therapy at any point – even when it’s stated in the contract and discussed in the first session – or some of their presenting issues might mean they are not able to voice the need to end.

They might be anxious about it or fear of letting the therapist down, for example.

It is the counsellor’s duty of care to explore all these issues and more with the client, to ensure that therapy is doing what it’s meant to do – to help and not to make hurt or worse.


I find that my blog, which I started last August (2017) really helps with being honest and presenting myself to clients and potential clients as transparently as possible.

They can read about how I work and what therapy will be and feel like with me.

Blogging opens so many doors for therapists, and as good as it is, we have to be aware of who is reading it and how they will be affected. Too much self-disclosure might be bad for our practice – there are places for us to work through our own issues.


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That leads me to the next point – being honest with ourselves about our need to dip back into therapy is important, because it allows us to “top up” our emotional and psychological needs through our own therapy.


*** I have written a blog post about what to do when your therapist tells you they are also in therapy *** 


Clients are sometimes surprised that I tell them I have my own therapist, but they soon realise that apart from it benefiting me, it benefits them too, and it models that there is no shame in saying you’re attending therapy.

I also let them know about supervision and how that is also for the benefit of their therapy and therapist.


Being human has been something clients have benefited from.

I am not your stereotypical psychodynamic counsellor with a blank screen posture.

I talk a lot, I ask questions, I interact and challenge my clients in a gentle way so they can work through their issues.

I acknowledge to them I’m a bit tired or getting better from a cold, I might get a tear in my eye from listening to their story or get really angry on their behalf.

All of this helps the therapeutic process, and if it doesn’t help then clients are good at telling me.


Honesty goes both ways in therapy!


Being accountable means a lot of things.

The first thing that comes to my mind is supervision.

 

Supervision is a space where we can be accountable for the work we do with clients. Where we keep in check whether we are being objective or being drawn in by the client’s issues and maybe colluding a bit with them. It is where we regroup and find ways to be different with our clients so they get what they came for – support and positive change over time.


part 3 in supervision our commitment to clients


Discussing risk is another important aspect, and one that trainee and those starting off in private practice might find more difficult to address. More experienced counsellors might still struggle with it but find that it comes more naturally for them to ask the questions because of their duty of care and knowledge of how important it has been for past clients. It also safeguards the therapeutic relationship and the therapist’s practice, to say the least.

Asking about potential risks includes asking the client if they’re suicidal, have had any suicidal thoughts or made any plans to end their lives. The answer to this question will lead the therapist to make some ethical and moral choices – do I contact someone for this client so they are not left on their own? Can I keep the client in my office a bit longer if I don’t have another client and will that help or hinder the process? Do I just suggest Samaritans and A&E services if they find themselves struggling between sessions? Do I offer more sessions? What to do next?

These questions can all be asked in supervision and also directly with the client. What do they want to do about their predicament? This can be about suicide risk or other risk – domestic abuse, for example.


Have you got anything to add in regards to being honest and keeping accountable as a therapist and supervisee?

Leave a comment below!


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¿Qué puede hacer la terapia por ti?

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Bienvenidos a la entrada de “En Terapia” de esta semana.

En entradas pasadas te he hablado acerca de cómo la terapia te puede ayudar con asuntos y situaciones específicas, así como también acerca de cómo lidiar con ciertas cosas que pasan en la vida – aceptar el cambio y los imperativos que la sociedad nos dicta.

Hoy te quiero hablar acerca de lo que la terapia puede hacer por ti en términos más generales.

Mientras estas en la clínica de terapia, tratando de averiguar cómo procesar tus sentimientos de ansiedad, depresión, dolor, y otros, otras cosas pasarán a la vez.


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Veamos algunos de los cambios que podrían suceder – orgánicamente – mientras tú trabajas en las razones principales que te trajeron a consultar a un terapeuta en este momento de tu vida.

  1. Compartir tus sentimientos y pensamientos con alguien imparcial, que no te juzga y que es un profesional, te podrá ayudar a procesar lo que sea que esté pasando en tu vida ahora mismo.

Tus amigos podrían tener buenas intenciones al ofrecerte consejos y soluciones que podrían funcionar bien para ellos, pero esto podría no funcionar igual de bien para ti.

Un terapeuta no te dirá qué o cómo hacer las cosas, en lugar de ello, te ayudarán a encontrar una solución que funcione bien para ti, tu personalidad, tus relaciones y tu vida en general.

Un problema compartido es un problema partido a la mitad.

Así dice el dicho… ¡Pero es cierto!


El alivio que noto en las caras de mis clientes cuando pueden revelar sus sentimientos y pensamientos difíciles, los cuales no habían sido capaces de expresarle a nadie más, es increíble.

El saber que hay alguien más allí, que te entiende y escucha sin emitir juicio es un gran alivio, y el inicio de procesar tu problema y curarte.


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  1. Aumento de autoconciencia y de entendimiento de ti mismo

Al hablar acerca de tus problemas actuales, y profundizar más a fondo en esos asuntos del pasado que pudieron haber contribuido con tus pensamientos y sentimientos acerca de tu vida ahora, serás capaz de entenderte mejor a ti mismo.

Serás capaz de entender por qué tu reaccionas de ciertas maneras y ya sea, cambiar eso o solo ser capaz de explicarte de dónde viene tu reacción.

Tú sabrás de mejor manera, qué es lo que te hace enojar y aprenderás a cómo mantenerte seguro en situaciones que estén fuera de tu zona de confort o agrado.

Saber cuál es tu responsabilidad y cuál es la de otros en situaciones específicas, te ayudará a liberar esas cargas que has llevado y que ni siquiera te pertenecen.


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  1. Aprender a poner límites claros para mantenerte seguro a ti mismo y a cumplir con tus necesidades.

Esto se vincula bien con las últimas dos oraciones acerca de saber lo que te hace enojar y separar lo que es tu responsabilidad y lo que no lo es.

Expresar tus necesidades y asegurarte que estas sean cumplidas – sin tener que pasar sobre otros por supuesto – es algo que me parece un resultado importante de la terapia.

Nos enseñan a cuidar de otros, y que cuidar de nosotros mismos es egoísta. ¿Pero cómo podemos cuidar a otros si no nos cuidamos a nosotros mismos primero?

Los límites te ayudarán a ser más feliz y a estar más cómodo al decir “no” cuando no quieres hacer algo – ¿Te apetece tener una noche en tu casa? Di que no saldrás sin culpa. Y la gente tratará de hacerte sentirte culpable, entonces será su problema, y no el tuyo, ¿Cierto?


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  1. Comprender qué es lo que está sucediendo en tu vida, porqué tú te comportas o piensas de determinadas formas – darle sentido a las cosas

Algunas veces podríamos pensar que reaccionamos de determinada forma “solo porque sí”, pero podrían existir algunas razones sobre el porqué entramos en relaciones con ciertas personas o porqué decimos ciertas cosas o reaccionamos de formas específicas.

Esto podría ser porque aprendimos este comportamiento de nuestros padres o de otros modelos adultos importantes en nuestras vidas. Podría ser porque era una reacción útil en el pasado, que te ayudó a procesar una situación determinada.

Existen razones para nuestros comportamientos, y la terapia ayuda a descubrirlos. No llegaremos al fondo de algunos, pero al menos estaremos al tanto de que nosotros los fabricamos.


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  1. Sanar heridas del pasado al darles sentido

La teoría psicoanalítica dice que los sentimientos y situaciones no procesadas del pasado, se quedarán en nosotros como si acabaran de suceder, a menos que los procesemos.

El ver a nuestros traumas o heridas de la niñez, con lo que sabemos, nos ayudará a procesar esos sentimientos que podríamos no haber entendido porque éramos muy jóvenes y nos pudieron haber dicho que no nos preocupáramos o que “creciéramos”.

Curar heridas del pasado nos liberará de espacio y energía para enfocarnos en el aquí y ahora y nos ayudará a curar heridas presentes y progresar en nuestra vida.


  1. Encontrar y utilizar tus fortalezas y recursos internos para hacer frente a la vida de una mejor manera

Todos nosotros tenemos fortalezas y recursos dentro de nosotros que nos pueden ayudar a hacer frente y a resolver los problemas.

Podría solo ser que los tenemos inactivos, ya sea, debido a nosotros mismos, o debido a que otras personas nos han dicho que no son lo suficientemente buenos o que no deberíamos utilizarlos.

La terapia – conmigo, en todo caso – incluirá encontrar dichos recursos internos y fortalezas y podrás ponerlos en práctica en la clínica y en la vida real.


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  1. La compasión con otros y un mejor entendimiento de ellos

La terapia no solo nos ayudará a entendernos a nosotros mismos de una mejor manera, sino que también nos ayudará a entender a otros y a darles el beneficio de la duda.

Pensar que alguien es desagradable con nosotros porque esta persona ha luchado en su vida, podría ayudarnos a ser más compasivos con ella – ¡lo cual no quiere decir que esta persona no nos vaya a molestar o a hacer enojar debido a su comportamiento! También podríamos practicar a poner límites y a mantenerlos a una distancia que nos parezca bien a nosotros.

  1. Mejorar las relaciones

Conocernos a nosotros mismos mejor, nos ayudará a expresar nuestras opiniones, necesidades y preferencias con aquellos alrededor de nosotros, y nos permitirá comunicarnos de una mejor manera en general.

Una mejor comunicación nos llevará a mejores interacciones y a la resolución de conflictos. Esto también será practicado durante la terapia, en la medida que las cosas vayan surgiendo en las sesiones.


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  1. Sentirse mejor

Por último, pero no por eso el menos importante: el principal fin de la terapia es ayudar a la gente a sentirse mejor en su propia piel, en sus relaciones, en sus trabajos, en su mundo.


¿Tienes alguna otra cosa que mencionar a esta lista?

¿Cuál ha sido tu experiencia en terapia? ¿Cuál de estas ha sido la que te ha impactado más en tu vida?


Deja un mensaje a continuación.

Hasta la próxima semana…


Traducción por Mayra Alarcón.


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Creating and Living a more Compassionate Life (part 1)

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Welcome to this week’s In Therapy post.

Thanks to those that messaged me about what they might want to see me write about, and here it is.

Do keep the feedback coming as it helps me know what material will be useful to you, my readers.


Let’s get right to it…


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Compassion is a word we hear often, but do we know its real meaning and benefits for our lives?

What is it exactly?

Compassion means to suffer together. It is similar and close to empathy, but it’s not empathy. It’s not altruism either.

Compassion leads us to have empathy and be altruistic.

Compassion is not pity or self-pity (“woe is me”, “I’m the only one struggling with this”, “aww poor you”); it certainly isn’t self-indulgence (“I’m feeling sorry for myself so will curl up in a ball and watch tv all day”).

Compassion is about understanding, giving yourself -and others – a break from judgement and high expectations, or any expectations really.

Forgiveness is a big part of compassion.

Practicing it will lead to increased happiness in your life and relationships.


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Compassion has physical and mental benefits – the release of certain hormones and neurotransmitters increases that “good” feeling in our bodies. (here is an article talking a bit more about this)

Being compassionate will allow us to be kinder to ourselves and others, and therefore change our perspective and thoughts about ourselves to more positive and understanding ones, hence increasing or keeping mental health in a good place.

We are human, we are not perfect and shouldn’t be expected to be – either by ourselves or by others.

Honour, accept and work with this lack of perfection.

Being human comes with a list of disappointments and a list of ‘unpredictables’.


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Nature versus nurture comes into play with compassion, as it does with other learned or innate behaviours.

What were we born with?

Were some of us wired to be more compassionate than others?

How was this affected by our upbringing?

The way we were brought up might allow us to more easily access our self-compassion, or it might make it really difficult for us to even feel a smidge of self-compassion and be critical instead.

Have a think – which side of that coin are you in?

are you more halfway down that spectrum? Has anything changed since you left your family home?

Who has influenced you to be more compassionate to self and others?


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If you find it difficult to turn off the critical voice in your mind, try to think about yourself as a third person and see how you would treat them under similar circumstances…

Would you be more understanding and kind and caring about their predicament or would you judge them critically like you do yourself?

Would your opinion of who they are as a whole person change or stay the same in spite of the current situation?

Would you be able to show forgiveness to them for what’s happened?


There are a lot of topics rolled into one in this post!

Here’s another one…


6What do you do when you are struggling with strong emotions and difficult situations?

Do you tell yourself to get on with it or do you find ways to work through it at your pace instead of rushing through it because we are told or pressured to not dwell on things for too long…

Being kind and understanding of where we are at this particular moment in our lives will allow us to re-think the judgement and the criticism and the punishing thoughts that might come more often than not…more often than thinking of forgiving ourselves or allowing ourselves to miss the mark and be less than perfect.

When we are compassionate with ourselves and others, we are more aware of the suffering that is happening.

We are more likely to embrace what is going on and work at it and work through it in a way that will allow growth and positive change in your life and the life of those you end up helping.

We can empathise with our and others’ suffering and want to do something about it, to relieve it in one way or another, instead of making it worse by judging or being unforgiving or unkind.


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Compassion leads to healthier and a more balanced life and relationships.

Having self-compassion will mean our self-worth comes from within ourselves and not needing others to validate our worth.

Our boundaries – or lack of them – and the way we treat ourselves will show others how they can treat us.

Also, the way we treat ourselves will be reflected in the way we treat others – whether we are critical or kind.

I’d choose the latter.


I hope you have enjoyed reading the first part of this Mini-Series on Compassion.

Let me know what you think. I would love to hear from you!


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In Supervision: Ethics and Professional Standards- Our Commitment to our clients (part 2)

In Supervision


Welcome to this week’s In supervision post, where I will continue to discuss our commitment to clients in light of the BACP Ethical Framework and how I work in the therapy and supervision space.


Let’s start with respect.

Respect is a basic quality to have in all relationships. It is particularly important in the therapeutic and supervisory profession for a variety of reasons.

Respect for clients will allow me to value the client’s individuality and autonomy, and therefore work towards the main goal of helping them regain the autonomy and self-worth that they might have lost and which might be one reason for them coming to us for therapy.

Respect also means that I will endeavour to keep their data and information they share confidential and private. I make sure my clients know that the only other person I will discuss them with is my supervisor and that this is for their benefit. Unless there are issues that require disclosing such as child protection issues, terrorism related disclosures by the client, amongst others – you can find these in my contract terms.


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In the therapeutic relationship, the therapist is the expert – in their field, in the counselling skills they’ve trained for – but the expert in themselves can only ever be the client. Therapy is a partnership and the therapist respects the client’s knowledge and expertise of themselves during the process, by asking questions and helping the client gain a different perspective on their story, feelings and thoughts. – of course there is more to it than that, but that’s the starting point.

Respecting the supervisee is also an important aspect – does the supervisee need more help as a trainee or have they moved from trainee to more competent practitioner and therefore need a more collegiate and collaborative type of supervision?

Being treated as a trainee after years of practice will hurt the supervisory relationship and the therapist might feel patronised. The supervisor airing their personal problems with the supervisee or supervisees is unethical and disrespectful at least.

Both supervisors and therapists/supervisees need to keep these things in check so the therapeutic or supervisory relationship doesn’t get contaminated with stuff that has nothing to do with either.

There needs to be an opportunity to discuss this in supervision, and sometimes maybe even with the client if the therapist feels it is plausible and therapeutic to clear the air and move therapy forward.

Respect, Trust and Partnership are very important for a good therapeutic and supervisory relationship to develop and for therapy to be effective.


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This leads to the next point, which relates to building appropriate relationships with our clients.

The ethical framework brings up the following points:

  • Communicating clearly what clients have a right to expect from us

Clear contracting is important to achieve this, as well as reviewing every so often.

Clients might come in more aware of their issues than thinking about contract terms or what the counsellor told them about cancellation policies and what therapy is and how it works.

Clients come looking for a solution to their distress.

It is our job to keep the work on track in regards to boundaries and our way of working (chosen modality, interventions, regular supervision, pacing to the client’s rhythm, being compassionate and empathetic…).

It is also our job to remind our clients of what they can expect from us and also what they can’t – contact outside of the sessions to be limited to rescheduling, for example.

A tutor of mine said that disappointing our clients early on is a good thing and it will happen at any point whether we like it or not.

Like the mother disappoints their baby when baby realises “mum is busy with other things and I’m not her only concern”, the therapist must do something similar. This is something that will happen unconsciously and without any planning or attempt by the therapist.

Therapists are human – we might say the wrong thing or yawn or forget a session or something else…

This might be a massive blow to the client and need repairing in the session, or this might help the client realise that making mistakes is actually OK.

Either way, communicating clearly will allow for growth, change and healing to happen for the client.


  • Communicating any benefits, costs and commitments that clients may reasonably expect

This links well with what I’ve already said above. Adding to this, some benefits will be the client will be able to speak up to meet their needs and set clear boundaries, the client can ask for letters of support but the therapist will charge for this additional service.

There are so many benefits that clients get from therapy that are only visible once the therapist points them out or after the therapy has progressed and we look back at previous achievements in therapy, or when therapy is over – the therapist might never know how they have impacted the client’s life.


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  • Respecting the boundaries between our work with clients and what lies outside that work

Boundaries are vital, and we are models for our clients and supervisees in how to keep these in order to safeguard both the therapist, the client and the therapeutic space.

Modelling good boundaries allows our clients to start testing these out in their personal and work relationships.

Contact outside the therapy room should be limited or non-existent. Sometimes this might be impossible – a client might go to a party you are also attending and you find out on the moment that you meet.

Discussing how to address this is important. – If I see you on the street or in town, do I nod at you or pretend you are a stranger and I don’t know you. If we met at a party, would you want me to leave or would you leave or do we just try to not cross each other’s paths. Or is it ok to talk and say hello and carry on like normal.


  • Not exploiting or abusing clients

Telling a client that you think they’re doing OK enough to stop therapy but that they can come back at any point in the future – life changes, things change and creep back up – is much better than keeping a client in therapy because they can’t manage to tell you they want to stop even though they know they can go it alone for now or for good.

This point is a huge topic and I won’t have space to talk about it fully in this post. But there are people out there, counsellors, that are unfortunately unethical and breaching the boundaries of the profession and the ethics of it all.

I do hope that it is a small number.

This is a reality in many businesses and services unfortunately, and all we can do is supervise and work to the best of our abilities, within the boundaries of our profession and to the best interest of our clients.

Whistleblowing is also an option.


  • Listening out for how clients experience our working together

As therapists and supervisors our first aim is to listen and to provide support in a way that our clients feel heard and safe to work through their distress and issues in the best way possible.

We need to be ready to ask whether something we said might have come out wrong and what does the client need from us to repair and move forward.

We also need to be brave enough to challenge and remind of the contract terms when necessary and be flexible also when necessary.


Questions or comments? Leave me a message and I’ll get back to you!


Next week I’m going to talk about these points:

  • How the therapist maintains integrity in their practice
  • And how the therapist can demonstrate accountability and candour.

    I hold a Certificate in Clinical Supervision from the University of Derby.I offer Clinical Supervision to qualified counsellors, and support during the course for trainee counsellors. (1


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In Therapy: What can therapy do for you?

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Welcome to this week’s In therapy post.

In past posts, I’ve talked about how therapy can help with specific issues and situations, as well as how to deal with certain things that happen in life – embracing change and societal imperatives.

Today I want to talk about what therapy can do for you in more general terms.


While you are in the therapy room trying to figure out how to work through your feelings of anxiety, depression, anger, grief, and others, other things will be happening at the same time.

These things might include learning to set boundaries, getting to know yourself a bit better or in a different light, and feeling better about your life.

Let’s look at a few of these changes that might happen – organically – while you work on your main reasons for consulting a therapist at this point in your life.


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  1. Sharing your feelings and thoughts with someone impartial, non-judgemental and professional might help process whatever is going on in your life right now.

Your friends might mean well by offering advice and solutions that might work well for them, but that might not work quite the same for you.

A therapist will not tell you what or how to do things, rather they will help you come up with a solution that will work well for you, your personality, your relationships and your life in general.

A problem shared is a problem halved.

So the saying goes…but it’s true!

The relief I see in clients’ faces once they can disclose difficult feelings and thoughts they might have not been able to express to anyone else is amazing.

Knowing that someone else is there, understanding and listening without judgement is a great relief, and the start of working through the problem and healing.


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  1. Increased self-awareness and understanding yourself better

By talking through your current problems, and delving deeper into the issues of the past that might have contributed to your thoughts and feelings about your life now, you will be able to understand yourself better.

You will be able to learn why you react in certain ways and either change that or just be able to explain where your reaction is coming from.

You will know what makes you tick a bit better and learn how to keep yourself safe in situations that are out of your liking or comfort zone.

Knowing what stuff is or was yours in certain situations and what is others’ responsibility, will help you release those burdens you’ve carried that don’t even belong to you.


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3. Learn to set clear boundaries to keep yourself safe and have your needs met

This links well with the last two sentences about knowing what makes you tick and separating what’s your responsibility from what isn’t.

Voicing what your needs are and ensuring they are met – without walking over others of course – is something that I find an important result of therapy.

We are taught to look after others, and that looking after ourselves is selfish. But how can we look after others if we don’t look after ourselves first?

Boundaries will help you be happier and more comfortable in saying “no” when you don’t want to do something – fancy a night in? say no to going out with no guilt. And if people try to guilt you, then it’s their problem not yours, right?


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  1. Understand what is going on in your life, why you behave or think in certain ways – make sense of things

Sometimes we might think that we react a certain way “just because”, but there might be reasons why we get into relationships with certain people or why we say certain things or react in particular ways.

It might be because we learned this behaviour from our parents or other significant adult models in our lives. it might be because it was a useful reaction in the past that helped you get through a particular situation.

There are reasons to our behaviours, and therapy helps uncover what they might be. Some we might not get to the bottom of, but at least we will be aware that we do them.


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  1. Healing past hurts by making sense of them

Psychoanalytic theory says that the unprocessed feelings and situations of the past will remain as if they happened to us recently, unless we process them.

Having a look back at our childhood traumas or hurts with what we know now, will help us process those feelings we might not have understood because we were too young or told to not worry or to “man up”.

Healing past hurts will free up space and energy to focus on the here-and-now and to heal present hurts and move forward in life.


  1. Find and use your inner strengths and resources to cope with life better

We all have strengths and resources within us to help us cope and solve our problems.

We might just have them dormant due to either ourselves or others telling us that they are not good enough or that we shouldn’t use them.

Therapy – with me anyway – will include finding those inner resources and strengths and putting them into practice in the room and in real life.


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  1. Compassion for others and more understanding of them

Therapy will allow us not only to understand ourselves better, but it will also help us understand others and give them the benefit or the doubt.

Thinking that someone is nasty to us because they have struggled in life might help us be more compassionate towards them – which doesn’t mean they won’t upset or anger us because of their behaviour! We can also practice our boundaries and keep them at a distance if we feel it’s better for us.

  1. Improve relationships

Knowing ourselves better will in turn help us voice our opinions, needs and preferences with those around us, and allow us to communicate better in general.

Better communication leads to better interactions and conflict resolution. This will also most likely be practiced in therapy as things arise throughout the sessions.


what can therapy do for you.png


  1. Feel better

Last but not least: the main aim of therapy is to help people feel better in their own skin, in their relationships, in their jobs, in their world.


Have you got any more to add to this list?

What has been your experience of therapy? Which one of these has been impacted the most in your life?

Leave me a message below.


Until next week…


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En Terapia: Aceptando el cambio

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Cambio…

…esa palabra ante la cual la mayoría de nosotros nos encojemos de brazos, o que simplemente no nos gusta, porque implica hacer ajustes para los cuales probablemente no estemos listos.

También podría significar estar incómodos por un tiempo, hasta que nos acostumbremos al nuevo ambiente y a todo lo que el cambio trae consigo.

Está bien sentirnos asustados, intranquilos o solo enojados por los cambios que acontecen en nuestras vidas.


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Algunos cambios vienen de repente – un accidente, por ejemplo – mientras que otros podríamos ser capaces de visualizarlos y prepararnos para su llegada – cambiarnos a un trabajo diferente o a otro país dentro de unos meses.

La forma en la que lidiamos con el cambio podría darnos cierto conocimiento sobre nuestro pasado – remoto o más reciente.

Nuestros padres podrían haber sido reacios al cambio, y nos pudieron haber enseñado que el cambio es malo y aterrador y que hay que evitarlo tanto como podamos, o bien, ellos podrían haber aceptado el cambio y habernos enseñado que estaba bien y que incluso es importante reconocer que vamos a pasar por cambios constantemente en nuestras vidas.

Sin importar de qué lado estemos, vamos a reaccionar de maneras similares a los modelos que tuvimos en el pasado.

Si no estamos felices sobre cómo nos hace sentir el cambio y queremos afrontarlo de una manera más positiva, o de una manera distinta por completo, existen formas de alcanzar esto.

Esto significará que vienen en camino más cambios – cambio de mentalidad, cambio de tu proceso de pensamiento, cuando las cosas no salen como deberían o se deben ajustar, cambio en la forma en que interactúas con ciertas personas y ciertas situaciones.


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El cambio trae cambio.

Algunas formas en las que nuestras vidas pueden cambiar, incluyen las siguientes:

  • Pérdida de salud
  • Fallecimiento de un ser querido
  • Empezar en tu primer trabajo, cambiar de trabajo, perder tu trabajo
  • Iniciar tu propio negocio
  • Un casamiento o divorcio
  • Tener hijos o decidir no tenerlos
  • Mudarse a una nueva casa o país
  • Dejar la escuela
  • Ir a la universidad
  • La lista continúa…

Ahora, por mucho que queramos deshacernos del cambio o pretender que no está sucediendo, esto estará acumulándose, o permanecerá como una carga, hasta que lidiemos con dicho cambio.

El cambio también nos lleva a tomar decisiones que de otra forma hubiésemos ignorado o no hubiésemos tomado.

En algunas ocasiones, el cambio es inevitable y debemos hacerle frente, o de otra manera, este podría ocasionarnos más daño que bien.


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Te dejo algunos consejos sobre cómo procesar el cambio. Si tienes más sugerencias, déjame un mensaje y las agregaré en la lista.

  • Haz una pausa y date tiempo para darte cuenta de lo que está cambiando.
  • ¡Reorganízate!
  • Date un tiempo para comprender lo que está sucediendo.
  • Date un tiempo para procesar todos los sentimientos y pensamientos que están surgiendo debido al cambio.
  • Haz un plan acerca de cómo vas a afrontar este cambio y a seguir adelante con tu vida.
  • Desglosa la situación en pasos más pequeños que sean más manejables, que te llevarán a aceptar el cambio y a procesar todo lo que el cambio trae consigo, de una manera más fácil.
  • Honra tus sentimientos, sin importar cuan difíciles sean. Procesarlos te ayudará a avanzar.
  • Recuérdate a ti mismo que esto es temporal. Esto pasará y tú aprenderás y crecerás gracias a ello.
  • Confía en tus instintos acerca de qué hacer en cada situación que trae cambios a tu vida.
  • Toma la responsabilidad por tu parte en el cambio/problema/oportunidad.
  • Reevalúa tus prioridades, cómo haces las cosas y cómo deseas vivir tu vida.

Creo que luego que atravesamos cada situación que nos cambia la vida, nosotros podemos crecer, o bien quedarnos atorados en ella.

Ambas opciones significarán que cambiamos como individuos. Depende de nosotros que el cambio sea positivo o que nos quedemos atorados.


La elección y el cambio vienen de la mano.

Algunas veces una viene antes de la otra, lo cual es más agradable para nosotros – elegir qué cambios de vida queremos hacer, nos da control y nos alienta a trabajar hacia nuestras metas.

En otras ocasiones el cambio se convierte en algo que no podemos controlar, pero a la vez podemos sacar el lado bueno para nosotros, tal vez no inmediatamente, pero sí eventualmente.

Todo depende de cómo procesamos cada situación.

Hasta la próxima semana.


Traducción por Mayra Alarcón.22830972_10154754698267237_1487302927_o22773476_10154754695032237_814551237_n

 

 

 

 


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