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It’s time for some Self-Care – Normal posting will resume in June

cropped-fullsizerender.jpgDear readers, and those following me on Social Media.

Due to some health issues I’m going to take some time away from my regular posting schedule, both via this blog and via social media.

Don’t worry, it’s not serious, but it does mean my energy levels are depleted some of the time, it varies week by week, some weeks I’m fine, others it’s awful!

That means that I am saving up the little energy I have to give 100+% to my counselling clients, supervisees and tutoring students. 

I am not happy about not being my usual self in regard to social media posting and blogging, as I love what I do here, so this is very frustrating and sad, but it is also necessary.


I talk about self-care – heck I wrote a book about it! – and I must be true to what I’ve learned and also practice what I preach. 

I do have an arsenal of posts that you can browse through while I get myself back on track.

I am in the process of freeing more time for myself, so in the near future (Bring on June and July!), I will have more time allocated solely to social media and blogging, which will be great!

Until then, I need to take it easy.


Feel free to ask me any questions or comment in this post, and others I’ve written in the past.

There’s series on therapy related topics (from your first therapy session, to anxiety, to spring cleaning!), relationships (more to be added in due course), autism (miniseries to continue in June), self-care (looking after yourself series), supervision content, and more!


Do have a browse in the categories or do a search and see what comes up, I might have written about it already!

If not, email me or contact me via the contact form and I’ll write one up in the second half of 2019.


I’ll probably do the odd post or re-post some of my oldies but goodies, but it will be much less than you’re probably seeing from me!

I know my readers and socials followers are lovely and understanding, so for that, I thank you, and I’ll see you soon!


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Autism/Aspergers – Working together in the therapy room (mini-series- pt.2)

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Hi, and welcome to this week’s post, part 2 in my series about working together in the therapy room with autistic clients.

In this post, I’ll discuss a few ways in which I might work slightly differently than with neurotypical clients, and how this will help those on the spectrum get their life back on track.

For these posts, I’d like to reference Katherine Paxton and Irene A. Estay’s book called Counselling people on the Autism Spectrum (chapter 3). 


If you missed part 1, read it here.

I’ve also written a few posts about what to expect on your first counselling session (read part 1 and part 2 here).

You can also click here for my other posts on Autism.


 

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I believe in the power of the therapeutic relationship, and having clear communication in how we are going to work in the room is important to start developing a relationship that will help the client understand what is going on for them and how to work through it with the help of their therapist.

In this post, I’ll talk about contracting, boundaries, how to approach each session, and how language can help or hinder the process.

 


Contracting and Boundaries

Contracting is an important aspect of any and every counselling relationship. I usually send my contract out and let the client read it on their own and during the session just ask if everything is clear and if they have any questions.

According to Attwood (2003, in Paxton and Estay), contracting with someone with Autism will need to be very concrete, both regarding the contract itself but also the issues and symptoms that will be dealt with.

Too broad and the focus will be lost. The process needs to be very specific.


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I find that with all my clients at different points of therapy, they might need a reminder of what was in the contract – one of the ones that comes up the most is late cancellations, but there might be others, like communication outside the therapeutic hour for things other than rescheduling or asking to confirm what time we are meeting next week.

This is no different with someone on the Spectrum – the only difference is the way it is said.

This will depend on where on the spectrum my client is – with some clients, I have pictorial contracts in the form of social stories (we will talk more about these in next week’s blog post), which are simple and short ways of defining what is going to happen, with whom, where and how.

I also have a summary of my contract, which might be too “busy” and a client might get over-sensoried or overwhelmed with too much information in the unabridged version.


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The how is another issue that all clients might struggle with.

 

The way of thinking, working and relating in the therapy room is very different from any other relationship.

The focus is on the client and not the therapist, who keeps self-disclosures to a minimum.

The first few sessions might be a learning about how the process works, why the therapist is asking this or that, which might require the therapist to be very concrete and clear on the purpose of each intervention and question:

how is this going to help the client, and why this seems to be a good question for the therapist to ask.


Some basic things that we need to get through to our clients on the first sessions, according to Paxton and Estay, are:

  • social ground rules for the therapeutic relationship
  • turn taking and sharing of information

    • what does the therapist need to know
  • contact outside of sessions and the purpose of this contact (usually for rescheduling or cancelling a session)

  • how the work requires a partnership between client and therapist – the client is not on their own, they have the support of their therapist to help them work through the issues that bring them to therapy at this point in time


Keeping it literal

I use metaphors in the therapy room.

Usually these metaphors come from something a client says and becomes something we can refer back to in future sessions.

 

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These metaphors are helpful as they are developed through the therapeutic relationship and the variety of interactions between client and therapist.

They are also helpful because they might point towards a certain pattern of behaviours or thoughts we might be working through with the client, which will help change the way they think about this and find better ways or new ways to be in the world.


Here is a difference when working with people with Autism: it might be tricky to understand that the therapist (or anyone else) is speaking using innuendo or double meaning.

This is why it is very important that the metaphor is developed with each individual client and not used at random – although sometimes this might also be helpful.

Another aspect of working with someone with Autism might be, as mentioned above, that emotions and feelings are not concrete entities.

Working might need to happen more at a thought level rather than a feeling level – reaching the feeling level through thinking about said feeling.

Also, if clients don’t see a specific thing as an issue (let’s say, in couples therapy), they might never mention it unless the partner or therapist bring it to their attention.


8Theory of mind is another aspect to take into account.

My autistic client might not understand that the way they speak to their partner is making them upset, or they might not see that a particular way of thinking is held only by them.

As I discussed in another post, people with Autism might have developed very intricate systems in order to practice empathy.

This might relate to very specific situations, which doesn’t mean the systems can’t be used to the therapy’s advantage.

As a therapist, it’s my job to challenge and provoke thought in my clients.

Challenging a particular system in a way that opens it up to other situations, behaviours, thoughts and interactions, will help the client develop their system of empathy (and other systems), which will help them develop more coping and relating mechanisms in their daily lives outside the therapy room.


Finally, processing times might differ from client to client, and this includes my Autistic clients.

Being respectful of this is key in my work with all clients, and being mindful that it might take a few tries and quite a few sessions for something to start clicking and making sense to my autistic client is very important.

Giving the client written notes of the sessions might help. As a firm believer in helping your client be autonomous, giving the client the choice of doing this themselves might be a good way to do this.

Some of my autistic clients bring their notebooks and write down what they feel is relevant for them to go back to during the week.

In future posts, we will talk about using creative techniques, such as diagrams, using the whiteboard and charts to find evidence for or against certain situations and ways the client might have worked through particular things.


I’m a big fan of celebrating all our wins, and this will be obvious in the work we do together.

I’m also a fan of working to the clients’ strengths, which in the case of autistic clients, might start with their ability to use visual thinking and concrete processing.


I hope you enjoyed this post.

Do leave your feedback at the bottom of this post and contact me if you want me to add anything or amend anything – I will not always get it right!


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Autism/Aspergers – Working together in the therapy room (mini-series- pt.1)

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Hi, and welcome to this week’s post, in which I’ll be focusing on a topic and group of people I’m very fond of and really enjoy working with.

I’ve written a few posts about what to expect on your first counselling session (read part 1 and part 2 here).

In this mini-series, I’d like to add a few things about how I might work with someone on the Autism Spectrum.


2I leave it as “Autism Spectrum” as it’s not a condition or a disorder, it’s a way of being, and this is the first thing I want my clients to understand — I get it, I get that you are individuals just like everyone else, and as such I’ll treat you like individuals and focus on those things that you want to work on, just like I do with everyone else, but taking into account the diverse ways of processing, thinking and being in the world you might come with.

The word “spectrum” also leads us to a broader aspect of Autism – everyone on the spectrum is different. I’ve never met two people on the spectrum that thought or behaved or had the same exact personality.

It’s the same as with everybody else, but it’s harder for some to understand because it’s something that’s just becoming more common place now to talk about, or to know a lot about for that matter!


(even professionals struggle with Autism, and this really needs to change!)


This is why I offer the service of counselling people on the Autism Spectrum, because I’ve learned through the years how to listen, how to talk or stop talking, how to work with people at different levels of the spectrum.

In my care job I have worked with people with severe to mild to high functioning autism, but the role there is very different of course.

In counselling I mostly see people with Aspergers or High-Functioning.

The topics I work on are very similar to the ones I work on with my other clients, but they might take a different meaning and way of working through them.

As you’ve read in my past posts about autism, for example, empathy is more of a structured process rather than a mainstream way of empathising, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there.


3Click here for my other posts on Autism.


For these posts, I’d like to reference Katherine Paxton and Irene A. Estay’s book called Counselling people on the Autism Spectrum (chapter 3). 


I’ll leave an outline of what I’ll be talking about in the next posts of this mini-series.

If you have any questions or further suggestions, do let me know and I’ll be happy to add them to my blog posts!


Mini-Series Topics:


  • Contracting
  • Boundaries
  • Focus of the sessions
  • Keeping it literal
  • processing time
  • what’s behaviour due to “autism” and what’s just “human” behaviour
  • alternative ways of working – writing, play, diagrams, social stories (Carol Gray)
  • cognitive restructuring
    • working on the thinking process – empathy by the therapist is key
    • working on social cues and rules
    • responsibility
    • choices
  • using metaphors
  • addressing “set-backs” in the process of therapy
  • goal setting
  • problem-solving approaches
  • transitions
  • anxiety, etc.
  • autonomy helps with self-esteem and with our place in the world
  • how we talk to ourselves has an impact on how we behave and think
  • setting the client up for success

See you in next week’s post!


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Creating A Supervision Model That Works For Your Practice – Live Event

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Last week I presented a talk with John Wilson from onlinevents.co.uk, which was all about supervision and how to create a model that works for you.

I spoke about the different theories that underpin my model – I use 5 main ones that  cover everything from contracting, to ethics, to the more personal and relational aspects of supervision.

It was great to see the response, and to have provided some food for thought and, for some of the attendees, some new theories to use within their supervision practice.

Being aware of the theories that can be helpful for supervision and for finding what we need to be getting is also important.

I’ll be talking about the individual aspects I believe should be involved in supervision at different points of the supervisory relationship.

I’ve written about these in my supervision series blog posts which are ready to read now, via the “In Supervision” category. There’s a link below.

What supervision theories underpin your practice?


Here’s a round-up post of all the models I base my supervision framework on.

Have a look at this file for more on what I spoke about in the live event


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If you missed the free live event, you can catch up here.

It’s an affordable membership and very good CPD throughout the year.

I highly recommend them!


In the last year, I’ve created lots of content that I hope will be informative and interesting, for your practice and the way you approach your supervisory relationship (as a therapist) or your work with supervisees (if you’re a supervisor too!).

I’ll leave links here to the different pages, which can all be found through my main website and main supervision page.


*** VIDEOS ON MY SUPERVISION MODEL AND SUPERVISION POINTS TO KEEP IN MIND ***

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Click here to watch videos of me  explaining my supervision model. 

Click here for videos on supervision points to keep in mind.

Online supervision Videos – how does it work?

You can also follow all of these on Youtube or on the link above.

Click here to read blog posts related to the videos!



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What to expect from Supervision – personal development

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As therapists, it is vital that we have a good support system in place for our professional and confidential work.

Personal therapy is one way in which we can get this support. Supervision is another, and it will be the focus of these posts.

In the next few months, I will talk a bit about 18 ways in which we should expect supervision to work for us.


I will discuss 18 things we should expect from our supervisory relationship in order to be accountable and working to a professional standard, for the sake of our practice, our profession, and most importantly, for the sake of our clients


Missed my previous posts?

Catch up here:

Containment and Holding Reflective Practice  * Autonomous Practice

Theoretical Grounding * Develop Self-Awareness * Working through tough times

Challenge how you work * Focusing on the Supervisee

Video: The Meaning of Supervision * Practice to a Safe Standard

Safe Space to Vent * Boundaries

Video: What’s effective supervisionSelf Care

A safe space to process *


Click here to visit my main supervision page.

Are you starting out in private practice?

Are you an experienced therapist looking for a new supervisory relationship?

To book supervision with me, do get in touch and I’ll be happy to set up an initial meeting.


As therapists, we know that we can (and sometimes might need to) access therapy for our personal development.

Supervision is seen as more of a professional development tool.

I hope that from past posts in this series, you can see the benefit of supervision on your personal development as well.

A brief summary, taking items from the previous posts, on how supervision can help with your personal development:

  • developing self-awarness helps us in the therapy room with clients, but it also allows us to work on our personal relationships. We can learn how to set boundaries and avoid resentments from and towards our loved ones, as well as learning how to meet our needs and not only everyone else’s. This is the self-care aspect of supervision.
  • As humans, we all need to feel contained and held at one point or the other. Practising allowing the supervisor to do this for us in our supervision sessions builds the ability to permit others to help us in our time of distress or need.
  • We might experience tough times in our lives that might require the support of more than one person – our therapist, our supervisor, our friends and family. All of this support will come in handy and help us get back on track and build our resilience to get back into the swing of things.
  • In supervision, the focus is mainly on you as a practitioner. Sometimes we might be introverted or not know how to ask for help or even be comfortable with the spotlight shining on us. The fact that supervision is a space where we talk about ourselves and ourselves with our clients is a great way to “normalise” the fact that we are also allowed in the spotlight at times.
  • We all have things we need to vent or get out of our systems. If we can’t do it in our supervision space, then we might need to reconsider our supervision arrangements!
  • Processing client material or situations in our work life is something to work on in Supervision. Sometimes the focus is on the clients, other times it’s on aspects of our work or life that need to be worked through in order to keep on top of things and be great practitioners.

Fancy watching a video intro to this post instead?

Feel free to share it with your colleagues, supervisees, supervisors and others.


The more we talk about what supervision should be about, what it should cover, and how it should support therapists in their private practice, the better equipped we all will be, and we will provide the a better service to our clients


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What to expect from Supervision – A safe space to process

new supervision blog post banner


As therapists, it is vital that we have a good support system in place for our professional and confidential work.

Personal therapy is one way in which we can get this support. Supervision is another, and it will be the focus of these posts.

In the next few months, I will talk a bit about 18 ways in which we should expect supervision to work for us.


I will discuss 18 things we should expect from our supervisory relationship in order to be accountable and working to a professional standard, for the sake of our practice, our profession, and most importantly, for the sake of our clients


Missed my previous posts?

Catch up here:

Containment and Holding Reflective Practice  * Autonomous Practice

Theoretical Grounding * Develop Self-Awareness * Working through tough times

Challenge how you work * Focusing on the Supervisee

Video: The Meaning of Supervision * Practice to a Safe Standard

Safe Space to Vent * Boundaries

Video: What’s effective supervisionSelf Care


Click here to visit my main supervision page.

Are you starting out in private practice?

Are you an experienced therapist looking for a new supervisory relationship?

To book supervision with me, do get in touch and I’ll be happy to set up an initial meeting.


There is something that happens in the therapy room that is replayed in the supervision room.

It’s called parallel process.

Of course, it doesn’t happen in the exact same way, but the general idea is the same.

Therapists are human too, and as such, we sometimes get overwhelmed by others’ stories.

If we get overwhelmed, surely we need to get support to work through the stuff that is causing us distress.

This is why the supervision space is so important!

We need to feel safe in order to talk about very deep stuff that might have been brought up by one or two of our clients.

It is important to do this, so we can continue to work with our clients and provide them with the support they need, without colluding or feeling stuck or unable to help them.

Processing emotions as they arise is key to keeping on top of the situations in the sessions, and it helps regroup and regain the strength and perspective to work with a particualar client or clients.

I find that working through issues in supervision renews my strength and gives me a new perspective of why I might have felt a certain way after a particular client session.

Figuring out what’s my stuff is also helpful, and I can then work through that and separate it from my client and the work we are doing in their sessions.

Do you feel safe to talk about these things in your supervisory relationship?



Feel free to share it with your colleagues, supervisees, supervisors and others.


The more we talk about what supervision should be about, what it should cover, and how it should support therapists in their private practice, the better equipped we all will be, and we will provide the a better service to our clients


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Ayanay brought together two great minds: Windy Dryden and Irvin D. Yalom, and I was there for the ride!

twitter - Ayanay Windy Dryden and Irvin D Yalom Blog Post


Hi, and welcome to this entry of my blog.

This is going to be a bit different, as something absolutely brilliant happened last Thursday evening.

It could be a once-in-a-lifetime thing for everyone involved, and for all of you out there that we can bring this video interview to.

Where to start?

This is too big for words, but I’ll do my best…


A few weeks ago, I joined Ayanay, and had a chat with one of the founders, Siobhain (Vonnie) Crosbie.

We used Zoom Meetings at my request. Vonnie was worried as she’d not used the technology before. (check out my content creation service page)

Luckily it all went well. We had a lovely chat and found lots of things in common!

I also had the chance to be coached/mentored by Ayanay’s co-founder, Dave Sleet, who was great support during a tricky week in regard to some work I’m doing.


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That was the start of what I believe to be, already, a great relationship.

It’s still early days but I’m seeing how wonderful it is already to be a part of this great enterprise, and bring my knowledge,experience and support to a very knowledgeable, experienced and supportive team!


Fastforward to last Wednesday evening (20th March 2019).

I get an urgent messenger call from Vonnie and Dave, asking if I could help with setting up a Zoom Meeting between – get this – Windy Dryden and Irvin D Yalom!

They were nervous that they wouldn’t fully grasp how to use the programme before Thursday evening, so they asked for my support.

As you can imagine, a lot was going through my mind and body at that point.

Happiness  – to have found these two great people to work with and get to know – Vonnie and Dave – and to be chatting to them once more on Wednesday night.

Humbled – to ba a part of such a great thing, and to be in the presence of Windy Dryden and Irvin D. Yalom!

Gratitude – to be “the one” asked to help with this; to be seen as an “expert” and someone able to help sort out a problem and bring the event to pass.

Awe and nerves – at the thought of being in the same virtual space as those two greats, which have been a part of my Psychology and Counselling studies.

Excitement  – at what we were going to achieve the next evening!

I couldn’t sleep that night, or the night after for that matter, but I was so happy and over the moon with it all!


Thursday evening was amazing!

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I will now handover to Vonnie and Dave to tell you a bit more about how they got Windy Dryden to talk at their recent retreat, as well as to agree to interview Irvin D. Yalom.

(((watch the whole interview here)))

They’ll also tell you about their journey of talking to Irvin D. Yalom and getting 3 dates to talk to him in April’s “An Audience with Irvin D. Yalom”.

Lastly, they’ll let you know a bit more about Ayanay and what it’s all about.

Over to you, Vonnie and Dave!


Wow What an Intro!

Thanks Karin, well I guest first off let’s get the name questions out the way.

Ayanay pronounced ‘A an A’. It is a word found in many ancient languages from all over the world and throughout human history.

It has always held a theme, wherever it has been used. Torchbearers, Teachers, Leaders, Mavericks.

Both of us have always fallen in to these groups, throughout our careers. Vonnie as a Therapist and Dave as a Coach.

Our Ayanay story is born, after Vonnie received a diagnosis of cancer in January 2018. The diagnosis, treatment and recovery meant Vonnie’s private psychotherapy practice (APS Psychotherapy & Counselling) went into suspended animation.

5This resulted in time to create and develop ideas, around how the Therapeutic industry can unite, grow, and develop, ultimately for the service of those that seek the support of Therapists, Counsellors and Coaches. (The Clients)

Ayanay work to provide the best possible package of support to the therapeutic community, through Elite Membership and Elevated Learning Retreats.

Not only to develop their own best practice, through increased awareness, but also to grow their business capacity through: facilitation of Elevated Learning Modules, Effective Networking, and Introductions to additional revenue streams.

This means members also have the opportunity to promote their own workshops and presentations and ultimately, to be paid for delivering them to Ayanay Elite Members.

We should highlight that in the world of Ayanay, Elite is NOT Superior, Elite pays respect to those that are self-aware, open, and client centred.


Our relationship with Windy Dryden…


Both of us, believe in the power of connectivity. Shaking someone’s hand, having a conversation, meeting a person face to face and supporting each other grow.

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So, when we were planning our 2nd Retreat, we were delighted to be approached by Windy Dryden, offering to support our fledgling endeavour.

The conversations that flowed from that point, lead to Windy becoming the guest speaker at the Retreat, which took place earlier this month, (March 2019).


The journey that linked Ayanay with Irvin D Yalom, was somewhat different.


Almost a month after Vonnie’s surgery, an attitude of Carpe Diem ruled.

And with nothing to lose, Ayanay reached out to Irvin and asked if he would like to be involved in some events with us, in the UK.

Following a nail biting 24 hours, with website hits showing Stanford University, Vonnie was invited to speak to Irvin directly.

With ever reducing travel and public speaking, it was decided that a live video link to the UK would be the best option…

…that would allow Ayanay to be supported by, quite possibly the greatest living psychological expert of our time.

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The sheer adrenaline and excitement felt at that time, can’t be put into words.

But this was topped earlier this week, when Irvin and Windy both agreed to support Ayanay again.

This time with a short interview.

Facilitating 2 of the greats is not something either of us had done before (No one else had either) so in the spirit of supporting our members, we reached out to Karin.

What an Interview it turned out to be…

…Irvin D Yalom, confirming that the 3 events in April would be his farewell addresses.

No Pressure.

And here we are.

Tickets are available from www.ayanay.co.uk

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