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Practical Steps to Blogging – part 2


Hi, and welcome to part 2 of this mini-series on blogging!

Last week and this week I’ll be talking to wellbeing professionals, including coaches, counsellors, psychotherapists, and anyone that looks after the wellbeing of their clients in one way or another.

click on any of the images in this post to go to the workshop page

This week I’ll focus on the scheduling and timing aspects of blogging.


 Here are some top tips on scheduling and getting your writing done:


Make it easy for yourself

As human beings, we like to over-complicate ourselves.

I say simple is better! Review regularly how you’re doing and how your writing is helping or making things more difficult for you, and plan your next writing sessions accordingly.

I’ll talk a bit more about this in the workshops.

Consistency is key!

More than the length and the amount of posts it is all about showing up regularly for your audience!

Figure out what length your posts will have and how often they’ll appear on your feeds, and stick with it.

It’s ok to reassess, I’ve done that so many times I’ve lost track!

Pick your battles

Make sure you give yourself plenty of time writing and plenty of time to look after yourself

Ideal times to do each aspect of our work and personal lives is important.

During the workshops...

I’ll be delving in deeper in to the above aspects.

We’ll also be talking about what else to do with your blog post apart from writing it and posting it.

Plus! You’ll get a chance to ask questions and work together with like-minded colleagues who are starting or continuing their blog writing journey.


Getting your message out there can be fun (I particularly love writing!) and it’s a great way to get yourself known to your colleagues and potential clients.

There’s so much to learn from you. Let’s get that message out!


Until next week…


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Practical Steps to Blogging – part 1


Hi, and welcome to this week’s blog post!

Today and next week I’ll be talking to wellbeing professionals, including coaches, counsellors, psychotherapists, and anyone that looks after the wellbeing of their clients in one way or another.


There are a few reasons for me writing this blog post mini-series now.


1. Blogging revolutionised my practice, and I am eager to teach more people how to blog to revolutionise their practices by following practical, simple steps.

2. I’m presenting a series of workshops via onlinevents.co.uk, which launch with a two-part blogging workshop broken down in two days. This is the beginning of a series – still planning the following sections, but I can tell you that the next 2 (parts 3 and 4) are scheduled for December!

click here or any of the images in this post to go to the workshop page

3. I am a content creator and am now offering that as a service. Now, I don’t write blog posts for people, but I am offering helping out with outlines and other aspects of blogging as part of my Content Creation service.


This week I’ll talk a little bit about what to expect in the workshop, and some tips on how to start blogging. Next week I’ll focus on the scheduling and timing aspects of blogging.


 Here are some top tips to get you going:


Get your head around blogging

As with anything, having the right mindset before starting a task is important.

Don’t worry, your mindset will change as you start. Just get started and things will start making more sense!

Have a “thinking” session

Sitting down and coming up with things you want to write about is always a good idea.

Putting things down on paper will release those ideas into the real world and you will be able to see things more clearly, as you’ve made room in your mind for further thinking about these things.

There are lots more things to consider in a thinking session, but starting out with this will be a good starting point!

Practical aspects

When getting down to the nitty gritty of writing a blog post, considering the why, what, when, where, who and how are important.

Knowing exactly where you stand with your reasoning behind blogging will get you closer to becoming more at ease with writing and getting your message out.

During the workshops…

I’ll be delving in deeper in to the above aspects.

Plus! You’ll get a chance to ask questions and work together with like-minded colleagues who are starting or continuing their blog writing journey.


Getting your message out there can be fun (I particularly love writing!) and it’s a great way to get yourself known to your colleagues and potential clients.

There’s so much to learn from you. Let’s get that message out!


Until next week…


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Total Health Summit – 10th October



Experience “Total Health” by balancing body, mind, emotions, and spirit.


Total Health Summit™: Join us and explore tools and techniques to attain equanimity and unity of body, mind, emotions, and spirit.


Hi, and welcome to this week’s blog post!


This week I’d like to share with you about a project I’ve been collaborating with.

I’ve been talking about boundaries, meeting our needs and responsibility with Keith Engelhardt, the mastermind behind the Total Health Summit.

It’s been fun to record the interview with him and to interview a couple of colleagues!



So what’s this summit about?


The aim of this year’s online summit is to get more people to experience “total health” by balancing body, mind, emotions and spirit.


Achieve work/life balance and total health by:

Learning how to reduce stress.

Envision decreasing being overwhelmed by work or life.

Visualise learning how to find balance.


The varied knowledge and experience of each of the speakers will allow you to target different areas of your life: physical, mental, and spiritual.

The best part is that it is free to watch for a limited time!

The silver and gold passes are affordable and they come with yearly access community where you can continue to learn and share with like-minded people.


Find out who more about the speakers by clicking here.


Learning how to deal with stress, stressful situations and find balance in life is important, and there is more than one way to achieve it.

This is why I highly recommend tuning in on October 10th to the Total Total Health Summit.

I hope to see you there!


Counsellors Working with Neurodiversity – Facebook Group


Hi, and welcome to this week’s post.

I’ve been posting about Autism in my series, and I’d like to end this part of it with letting you know about a Facebook group that has been set up with the aim of supporting neurodiverse clients in the therapy room.


We created this group with the aim to bring counsellors to get together to discuss neurodiversity in a safe space.

Our goal is not only for therapists to know how to work with the neurodiverse population, but also to raise awareness of what neurodiversity and autism actually entails.


I watched a show yesterday and the guy was talking about diversity, but he said he like the word “representation” better.

It was very timely that I saw this, I think. He was talking about race but it applies here as well.

We want to represent the autistic and neurodiverse population in a positive and empowering manner.


It is because of the imbalance in information and inclusion of neurodiverse groups that we believe in working together, without creating an “us” and “them” environment.

With that in mind, in our group we use “I” statements when we are expressing ourselves, in order to keep away from it becoming polarised.

We encourage conversations, and using “I” statements, helps avoid confusion, misunderstandings, and provides a safe space to have all kinds of conversations, without the need to stop them or “close commenting”, which might happen but it’s been rare with the way we’re running the group.


We purposely sought out Lisa Cromar to be part of the group, as it would be silly to create a group for neurodiverse counsellors without having that voice in the group.

It brings that power balance back to just that – balance. We don’t know everything, we don’t have “insiders” experience as “NTs” which is why, behind the scenes, we ask Lisa to let us know if we’re on the right track or not.


We believe that, as admins, it’s important to keep communicating with each other.

We all have roles in the group, and communicating about each action that we need to take, is making it a safe place for us to admin but also a safe place for counsellors and psychotherapists to further the conversations and cause for the neurodiverse population.


As a group, we understand that there is completely justified anger from both autistic and neurotipicals about the treatment of autistic people – the misunderstandings, the backchat, the looks.

General discrimination and lack of knowledge doesn’t help either.
What we are trying to do with our lovely group is work as a team, a mutually respected team of NDs and NTs.


This is a safe space to feel and be equals. We are all counsellors after all and that unites us firstly.

We are united in the cause to support and remove barriers between society and neurodiversity – this of course will take time, but if we change our attitudes and channel our anger and discomfort in a joint endeavour, then that will bring us further than if we “divide and conquer”.


This group is all about empowerment – to state your opinion, to be supported (within the limitations of a facebook group – it’s not a support or therapy group, or supervision).



If this group is something that sounds like something you’d like to be a part of, feel free to join via this link.


Before I let you go for today, here’s a bit on all the admins of the group:


Lisa Cromar

Lisa is a Person-Centred (PC) counsellor who specialises in working with autistic clients, she provides counselling to members of Cheshire Autism Practical Support (ChAPS), a charity which supports autistic people and their families. Additionally, she provides autism awareness workshops training counsellors in how to make counselling more accessible to this client group, increasing counsellor confidence in working with this group which is currently known to be generally low. She has Aspergers and has children with Aspergers and autism.

Lisa is the author of the pioneering literature review: Exploring the Efficacy of  Person-Centred Counselling for Autistic People, published in the spring 2019 edition of The Person Centred Quarterly (PCQ) . Lisa’s eventual career goal is to assume responsibility for pioneering a version of person-centred counselling for autistic people.


Sarah Williams

I’m Sarah and I work in a person centred way, in simple terms this means that I listen with empathy, and I will always regard you and your experiences with compassion and understanding. My approach is real and genuine. I am a specialist trauma counsellor, with over eight years experience working with survivors of rape and sexual abuse. Since qualifying I have counselled adults with autism (sometimes referred to as Asperger’s syndrome)

https://www.indigocounselling.co.uk/


Heidi Brown

I am a Person Centred Counsellor working in Manchester city centre, who enjoys empowering people to make the best decisions for themselves.

I work alongside people as they unlock their potential.

I love to see people grow and develop.

My specialities are autism and work related stress.

Www.heidibrowncounselling.com

Karin Brauner


I was born in Guatemala City, Guatemala, where I lived for the first 25 years of my life. 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.

I have a private practice in Brighton and Hove and Online, working with Spanish and English speaking clients with a wide range of life difficulties.

My approach is psychodynamic at its base, but I adapt my therapeutic approach with each individual client, drawing from other modalities and work experience. I believe building good rapport and a good relationship with my clients will help both of us work together to gain insights and freedom from feelings that might be stuck in the past or left unprocessed or repressed.

You can find out more about Karin via the AboutMe page at the top of this blog.

Facebook Group Description

Welcome to ‘Counsellors working with Neurodiversity’. Set up as a resource and a meeting place for UK counsellors to share their knowledge, expertise, events, CPD courses and/or workshops. In the areas for example of Autism, Dyslexia, ADHD; although not exclusive to these aspects.

This group will not be discussing client work, please take it to supervision or contact www.k-brauner-counselling.co.uk/clinical-supervision. Admin will be monitoring strictly to ensure that confidentiality is protected. This rule is for client and counsellor protection alike.

Any posts that are deemed unsafe will be deleted. We hope that counsellors working with neurodiversity can come together here to help and support each other. With the aim of promoting the acceptance of cognitive difference, that seems to be stigmatised as negative within a more standardised model. If you join this group you are agreeing to the terms of use.

This Facebook group will use as default the term ‘autistic’ when describing a person with autism. A survey by the National Autistic Society (NAS) of 3470 which included 502 autistic adults found that the term ‘autistic’ was preferred by a large percentage of the autistic participants.

Please see below an extract from the NAS website which we support:-

‘The language we use is important because it embodies and can therefore help change attitudes towards autism. To reflect the findings of this research, the NAS has begun to gradually increase the use of the term ‘autistic’ – particularly when talking about and to adults in that group.’ We recognise, that there will be autistic people who prefer the term ‘person with autism,’ and it is obviously important to use each individual’s preference at those times.

For more information on the rationale behind this preference, please see links below:- https://www.autism.org.uk/about/what-is/describing.aspxhttps://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1362361315588200


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Autism/Aspergers – Working together in the therapy room (mini-series- pt.6)



Hi, and welcome to this week’s post, part 5 in my series about working together in the therapy room with autistic clients.

This week I’d like to talk about what goes on in therapy. There might be “set-backs”, there might be a need to set clear goals in order to set the client up for success, and using problem-solving approaches might help with this.


Read part 1, 2 , 3 , 4, 5 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.


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)


In the intro for this post I wrote “set-backs”.

This is something that I don’t consider the correct wording, but clients might use this language, so let’s go with it.

I trust in the work that we do in each session with my clients.

Sometimes therapy is counter-intuitive.

Clients might get worse before they get better, and riding that out might be tricky to understand or grasp.


Explaining – psychoeducating – an autistic client about the fact that this is going to happen and how it might look like, in general terms, might help keep the anxiety about these “set backs” to a low level.

Working through the anxiety of feeling like we took some steps forward and coming back for a future session thinking that the work has been undone is something I’m familiar with.

It happens with both autistic and non-autistic clients. It’s all part of the process.


Using visual aids or diagrams might help clients understand this and trust that what they’re doing is getting them ahead rather than falling behind.

I trust that, in the way we work in the room, once we have taken steps forward, we can never go back to square one.

There might be the chance of going back 3 steps but never the 10 we’ve already walked.

The change that happens is organic most of the time, and if it hasn’t “clicked” yet, then it just means we need to continue working until we have reached the full depths of the origin of the issue.


Therapy is like an archaeological dig or a police investigation. We are connecting the dots, putting things back together in order to get a clear picture and set goals to move forward.

Setting clear goals is something that I don’t do in an overt fashion with my clients, but it might actually be very helpful to focus the mind of an autistic client.


Using problem-solving approaches might be ideal to support an autistic client with what they want to work through.

There might be the need for some flexibility within the goal and how to reach it, following my usual way of working (free association) but having that goal will allow us to focus and possibly measure the changes as we go through the sessions.

Figuring out in therapy how to get from A to B, and what will be helpful to each individual client is important and is something that we learn together as client and therapist.


Until next week…


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Autism/Aspergers – Working together in the therapy room (mini-series- pt.5)



Hi, and welcome to this week’s post, part 5 in my series about working together in the therapy room with autistic clients.

This week I want to talk about transitions, anxiety, autonomy, self-esteem and self-talk.


Read part 1, 2 , 3 and 4 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.


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)


Transitions


I’ve been working with autistic adults and young people for 11 years now in the care sector, and 5 years with counselling clients.

Something that’s clear from this time, is that transitions can be hard!

Staff change-overs might cause distress as there might be more people walking around and therefore maybe more noise and uncertainty for that half hour.

It has been easily alleviated by staff coming in straight to the office, to keep the environment calm and familiar for the individuals.

A social story (mentioned in the previous blog post) might be used to inform the residents about who is leaving and who’s taking their place. This brings reassurance and calm to them.


In the therapy room, it might help to stick to the same time and day for sessions, as well as having a routine set for the hour.

I’d say the best way to do this is ask the client what would work best for them at the start of the session, during the session, and at the end of the session.

At the start of the session, the therapist might have arranged the cushions in a particular way, left some stimming objects (like a stress ball or playdough or something else) near the client’s chair which they can access if needed.

The client might bring their own, which is very welcome in my room as it will be helpful for the client to have familiar things, especially at the beginning of the process.

Leaving the windows open or closed has also come up in my sessions, and I make sure I ask the clients what’s better for them. This will change as the therapeutic relationship changes and the room becomes more familiar to the autistic client.


During the session, checking in often about how the session is going and how the client is feeling, what needs changing or working on, will be helpful and reassure the client that they’re being heard and understood.

At the end of the session, the client might need a transition “ritual” or a few steps that might help them close down what was opened up during the session.

Maybe some processing time or some checking in with the surroundings and the next steps.

It is all person-centred, so this will be different for each client, as their transitioning needs and experiences might also be very different.


Anxiety


I’ve previously written some blog posts on anxiety, which you can read here (part 1, part 2, part 3)


Anxiety with autistics can be linked to transitions.

Sometimes an advanced warning with plenty of time to process might help the client with the transition by helping keep the anxiety at bay.

Other times having such an advanced warning might be anxiety provoking in itself. Keeping the warning to just before the transition is happening might be helpful in these cases.

Keeping clear on what’s going to happen next, and sticking to what we say, can be really helpful.

In the therapy room, if we say the session will last 50 minutes, make sure you stick to this time.

Ask the client whether a 5 or 10 minute warning would help, or whether you just end the session at 50 minutes without much warning.

A cue such as grabbing my diary to schedule the next session might become a transition clue for the client that the session is ending. This might develop naturally or as part of the conversations and agreements in session 1.


Do read my series on anxiety for more on this topic.


Autonomy


As part of the ethical frameworks I work under, respecting the client and providing a space for them to be autonomous is essential, and ethical, in the therapeutic relationship.

By asking questions like the ones described above, we are setting the client up for going from depending a bit on the therapist to understand their inner world and their relationships, to learning how to tap into these on their own, as time goes on.

The goal with therapy is not to keep a client forever, it’s to enable autonomous behaviours and thoughts, through practice.

By observing what goes on in the therapy room, which is usually a reproduction of what goes on in the client’s everyday world, and discussing their everyday events and past situations, the client becomes able to process their thoughts, emotions and events on their own, slowly through their therapeutic journey.

Seeing clients come into the room and talk about their progress with setting boundaries or asking for their needs to be met, or having an “a-ha” moment about something we’d been discussin in therapy, is so rewarding and it is great to see the therapy taking an effect in the clients’ lives.

Autonomy is essential in the client’s self-esteem and ability to live their best lives. Of course other aspects are also involved.

Estay and Paxton call this self-monitoring in Chapter 3 of their book.


Self-esteem and self-talk.


Focusing on the positive things clients say to themselves can be helpful when negative self-talk has been taking a hold of the client’s life.

Self-esteem can increase and the client’s moods and how they go about their daily lives can be impacted greatly by focusing on the positives.

I read somewhere (can’t remember where) that thinking that is not reinforced will be come extinct.

The same goes with thinking that is reinforced. It will be at the forefront of the client’s mind.

So if we don’t reinforce negative thoughts, then we can focus on the positive ones.

This seems to work well for autistic clients, and I tend to use it with many of my clients, in one form or another.


Keep speaking positive into your life, and I’ll see you again for next week’s post.


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Autism/Aspergers – Working together in the therapy room (mini-series- pt.4)


Hi, and welcome to this week’s post, part 3 in my series about working together in the therapy room with autistic clients.

This week want to talk about some alternative ways of working that might be helpful when communicating with our autistic clients in the therapy room.


Read part 1, 2 and 3 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.


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)


Carol Gray’s writings (In Paxton and Estay) highlight the fact that using visual aids in the sessions might help our clients process what they’re bringing to their sessions.

In my past role as a support worker, I have used social stories for things such as transitions, staff changeover, leaving the house for an activity, room changes, and other similar things for the young people and adults I’ve looked after.


I have created a pictorial contract in a similar fashion, which has been received well.

When I send my contract to autistic clients, I might send the pictorial version along with it, and it’s in the client’s choice to open it or just read the non-pictorial version.

I’ve had positive feedback and I’ve been really careful as to not make assumptions over whether the client will be able to read one or the other. I send both and that way the client decides what is most helpful for them.


I have a whiteboard in my therapy room, which is generally for my tutoring students, but it’s been very handy in my therapy sessions too.

I have drawn or made diagrams of what we’re discussing, or clients have used the board themselves to explain how they process information and how they understanding something.

This helps me gain some insight into how best to relay what I’m trying to say, and meet my client where they are.

It’s amazing how visualising something can bring so much clarity! Sometimes words escape me – or my clients – and drawing it or making a diagram might help.


A third thing I use is physical tools and games. I have stress balls where the clients can see them, and I offer them if they seem to need them (some might not want to go near them as they don’t know who grabbed them beforehand! others are quite happy with talking and squeezing the stress balls during the sessions).

I also have playdough, skittles, draughts and a tiny bin where clients can write what they want to process or get rid of and put it in the bin (of course it’s not that simple, but the concrete, observable act, is a start and part of the process).


I’ve not done this yet, but if requested, or if I think it might be useful, I can make a summary of the session, either with the client or send it after the session, for further thinking and processing.

Another way of working is to use emotional thermometers, bar graphs and other tools to facilitate identifying and measuring emotions in a more visual and concrete way.

In my work, I try to bring clients (autistic or not) to think more in the “greys” rather than just black and white. Using the emotional thermometers and similar tools might help achieve this.


Estay and Paxton (pg.79) point out that some of these aids might be rejected as clients might feel that these are being used because of their autism rather than as a tool to help them. As I said before, I have used these techniques with all my clients, and I’d make sure that they knew this before using the techniques.


All of these will help with the thinking process, as well as with the processing of emotional content that the clients might be bringing into the room.


Have you got any more ideas that have helped with your own clients?

If you are autistic and have other ideas that might help counsellors understand what you need from us in therapy and how best to support you in your therapeutic journey, do let me know and I’ll be happy to add them to this post.


Until next week…


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