Quick relationship check – Blog Post Showcase by Julia Greer

Hi all, and welcome to this week’s blog post showcase, written and created by one of my Practical Steps to Blogging and the Images and Video Experiential Workshops, ran with Onlinevents.

In this occasion, Julia Greer is inviting us to do a quick relationship check-up.

I hope these insights will help you on your relationship journey and what you need to decide – it’s not easy but sometimes necessary.

The way that Julia has set up her blog post is very nice, as she’s used Canva, which we learned in one of the workshops I offer.

Let us know what you think either in the comments to this post, or directly via Julia’s website.

Enjoy!



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Be the change you want to see, by Helen Cruthers (Collaboration/Blog Post Showcase)

Hi and welcome to today’s blog post.

As some of my Practical Steps to Blogging workshop attendees have asked me to publish their blogs in full on my blog post, I thought I’d do what I do with my guest posts and share them as such – guest posts!

I’ll be adding links to Helen’s lovely website throughout so you can get in touch with her, and follow her blog directly from her website as well!

I hope you enjoy this blog post she’s beautifully created in Canva, using the skills she learned in my workshop, Practical steps to Canva and Lumen5!




Don’t forget to sign up to Helen’s blog via this link, and mine via the form below:

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Labels of Love, by Helen Cruthers (Collaboration/Blog Post Showcase)

Hi and welcome to today’s blog post.

As some of my Practical Steps to Blogging workshop attendees have asked me to publish their blogs in full on my blog post, I thought I’d do what I do with my guest posts and share them as such – guest posts!

I’ll be adding links to Helen’s lovely website throughout so you can get in touch with her, and follow her blog directly from her website as well!

I hope you enjoy this blog post she’s written, I know I have!


‘to diagnose or not to diagnose – that is the question’


When I became aware that Shula was ‘different’ my instinct was to ask for professionals to assess and to explore.

This could be because I am from a medical background, or because she was not terribly happy much of the time, and definitely because I felt out of my depth as a parent having felt pretty competent with my first two.

helenpinkcrop.jpg

I often felt chastened by what I perceived as others’ more unconditional acceptance of her as a being. Her lovely nursery didn’t raise any issues (despite her struggle with wearing clothes and interacting with peers) and were great at supporting her being her.

Her dad was worried that a diagnosis would limit her – that she would be seen as ‘autism first’, ‘Shula second’.

There was also a sense that I could be ‘making a mountain out of a molehill’ -especially as some of her challenges were more subtle, and she rarely presented as ‘typically autistic’.

And yet my instinct parenting her closely as a full-time mum – backed up by my professional experience of working with families – eventually led us to seeking assessment. 

My educated guess was that she was on the autistic spectrum, and my fear was that I’d be letting her down if I didn’t explore that option – even if only to rule it out.

My view was that if I was wrong then there would be no harm done and I would be able to adjust my perceptions accordingly (after perhaps eating a bit of humble pie).

I so wanted to be the mum she needed me to be. If she had a neurodevelopmental difference, I wanted to know.

If she didn’t – I would improve my parenting according to how she presented as an individual, without so much wondering about:

is it? isn’t it?… something seems amiss…but maybe I’m just a judgy bad mum who isn’t unconditionally accepting her child’.

Too much ‘beating myself up’ or ‘ruminating’ like this isn’t good for anyone -and could definitely undermine my capacity to enjoy her to the full or make the best of my strengths as a parent.

She was diagnosed with ‘childhood autism’, later changed to ‘Asperger’s Syndrome’ which now officially doesn’t exist as a diagnosis any more. This can be another reason for resisting ‘labelling’ a child – the field is constantly evolving and changing – and how much do ‘experts’ really know anyway?

For me – and I believe for Shula – it was a gamechanger.

As well as shock, fear, and grief, I felt that I had ‘seen’ her and had started my journey of understanding her better.

I read books, went on courses, and adapted my expectations and parenting according to my developing knowledge and skillset.

I became more able to see her amazing strengths and more able to accept the parenting challenges she presented to me.

I felt ‘lighter’ and brought more humour to our interactions.

I felt less inadequate.

I became more compassionate to her and to myself.

I learned so much from her and I learned more about myself, about neurotypical assumptions, and about diversity.

Supporting parents to understand, support and enjoy their children is a key part of my work and my passion.

I believe the right diagnosis can be incredibly helpful in this process.

It may be too obvious to state that the wrong diagnosis is not helpful.


Just because a child is different, challenging, or not what we expected doesn’t mean there is ‘something wrong’ or they have a diagnosable condition.


Looking at ourselves as parents is key – we need to work hard to be receptive to our children’s individuality, challenge our assumptions, and be willing to adapt our relating according to their needs.

Many of the children I work with have complex developmental trauma, and the autistic-type or adhd-type traits they present with can be more ‘nurture’ than ‘nature’.

Skilful exploration is needed to see if assessment for a comorbid neurodevelopmental condition would be helpful or not.

When children do have a condition such as autism or adhd, as we currently understand them, my belief and experience is that assessment and subsequent diagnosis can be incredibly helpful.

A label can have many benefits including:

  • signposting better ways to meet the child’s needs
  • being a ‘shortcut’ communication to others – we should all be thoughtful and kind to everybody – but sometimes it helps us to be accepting if we understand a little of why someone might be struggling
  • helping a child and their family access crucial services – such as additional support at school
  • supporting the individual to understand themselves in a more compassionate way – ‘oh…I have Asperger’s – that’s why some things are so hard for me – I’m not just wrong’  and help them ‘voice’ their needs to others
  • introducing us to communities of other families who are having some similar experiences and we can feel less alone and more connected
  • putting us in touch with professionals who can offer crucial input advice and advocacy
  • meaning that a child gets appropriate support and intervention earlier rather than later which research shows leads to more positive outcomes
  • being a positive part of a young person’s identity

My advice, therefore, would be – keep an open mind.

I firmly believe that I am closer to Shula, enjoy her more, support her better, have more fun with her, and respect her difference more than if we hadn’t sought diagnosis.

At 15, I am so proud of who she is as a young person.

This is enhanced by my strong understanding of how hard life can be for her sometimes.


I asked Shula to read this blog and comment –  

 Love it! I think it’s amazing Mum.

I asked for her opinion on having a diagnosis/label:

‘Being diagnosed with autism has definitely helped me a lot, if it wasn’t for my amazing mother my life would be very very different and a lot worse.’

Well I wasn’t expecting quite such glowing praise but am impressed by the social skills and very touched by the sentiment!


I recently attended my first Cork Autism Conference – on Zoom.

In a future post I will be reflecting on developments in the field of autism and my new learnings.


Don’t forget to sign up to Helen’s blog via this link, and mine via the form below:

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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!


See you at the workshops!


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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. If you want to know how to make your blog posts go further, I’ve created with onlinevents a one-day workshop on using Canva and Lumen5 to create images and videos to promote your blogs and keep them alive for longer!

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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Thought of the Day: Fear or Faith?

Hi and welcome to this week’s Thought of the Day post.

As you have probably noticed, I’ve been quieter than usual. Just to reassure you, all is well over here!

I’ve just taken some time to take stock of all that 2020 has brought to us. A sort-of “sabatical” from regular blogging and social media.

I’m sure you’ve had your own version of this throughout the virus crisis and the riots and other things that we see happening around the world this year.

What else could happen? Who knows!

But what I will decide for myself, and I hope this allows you to think about your own decisions around the virus and other crises going on right now.

I don’t want to live in fear.

Fear affects our immune systems, it makes them weaker and what we need when there’s something that threatens it, is to strengthen it, and not to make it more prone to catching any illnesses that might be around us in any way (in any time really, but it’s at the forefront of our minds now).

I want to live by faith.

I am a Christian, and have a relationship with Jesus Christ. I speak with Him regularly, and think about Him often. Not as often as I’d liked before all this pandemic stuff started to happen.

I realise this post will not be as popular as others, but I’m sure it will help some people that read this. I will not apologise for my faith, and this period of time has led me to be more bold with my beliefs in the one True God (am sure that last phrase won’t help my case either, what can I do).

The realisation of the things that are happening have made me think that these times require lots of faith and belief in the fact that no matter what happens, God wins in the end.

One of my favourite Bible verses is this one:

No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the LORD’s servants, and their vindication is from Me,” declares the LORD.

Isaias 54:17

I feel it really applies to these times we’re living in. No matter what happens, illness, wars, plagues, riots, etc., won’t succeed. They will try but they will not succeed.

I encourage you to consider whether you want to continue 2020 and onward living in fear, or in faith, whatever shape that might take for you.

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A message for you in this time of crisis. Regular blog posts will resume at a later time.

On behalf of Stacey Sabido from Serenity for you and Karin Brauner from KB Bilingual Services, we’d like to offer our support through these hard times.

We will continue our work online, and we hope that you’ll reach out if you need us.

We have decided to halt our regular blog series on hoarding as things progress.

Here is Stacey’s message to everyone:

“During this current situation we would like to offer you our words of support.
Please remember to stay safe & although these are difficult times, we can use it to appreciate our loved ones, appreciate life & focus on what we would like to achieve.
Let’s spend quality time with our kids, get more involved with their learning.
Do things that we never had the time to do before like decluttering the house, meditating, working on unfinished projects.
Together we can get through this 💛

Stay safe, stay in touch via mobile devices, keep eating as well as possible, exercise at home, practice mindfulness and meditation or anything that will help you get through this difficult time.

Take care one and all.

Karin and Stacey.

Business Mindset for Private Practitioners


Hi, and welcome to this new series that I’ll be publishing once a month on Mondays.

I have a few reasons for posting this series now.

The first one is that over a year ago, I started supporting private practitioners to get into the marketing mindset, so they can get the clients they want and that need their support.

The second reason is that I’m reading a book called The Business Book, in which I’m learning how to grow my business further, and thought I’d share my learning with everyone.

I’ve also joined an Author Academy that has given me a new tribe to rely on and lots of resources to develop my products and services further.


If you’d like to find out about these, click the affiliate links below:

6-figure Author 5 day challenge

Author: Create 18 streams of income out of your book

Set fire to your business and brand

Become Unhackable


It all starts with an Idea


Do you sit sometimes and think things like:

“I know a lot about this topic, I could offer some services around that”

“Ah that’s a great idea, but how can I get that idea to help others and bring me income in the process?”

“I want to do A, B, C ….. Z, but just thinking of all the work it requires, and all the ideas I have, I’m already overwhelmed”

I have had these thoughts, and some of them have required a mindset change on my part.

Patience and perseverance have also played their part.

I still have many ideas that haven’t come to fruition. I’m working on them.

If you’re like me, you have lots of things to do on the side of your self-employment / entrepreneurial life. Sometimes these things help, other times they make us stop, take stock, regroup and figure out how we’re going to move forward.


Every new idea comes with a risk.

It’s scary to put ourselves out there and either succeed or hear crickets (note I didn’t say fail).

Succeeding is just as scary as hearing crickets or seeing hay bales go across your screen…

According to the authors, we must combine our idea with entrepreneurial spirit.

This basically means that we are willing to take a risk by developing our idea and creating great products and services with it.


Development of a new product or service means we might have to start learning new skills, how to use new tech, do some research on the things already on offer, as well as plan, plan, plan!

This takes time and effort.

If you’ve got life stuff going on – health issues, physical or mental, people to look after, another part time job to help pay the bills – it might mean that it will take longer to develop this idea.

I know I’m struggling with regrouping right now and realising that my time is limited and I need to look after myself.

My priority as ever are my clients – counselling, supervision, tutoring, coaching and content. My energies are invested in them on the days I offer these sessions.

The rest of my time is for admin and rest. Depending on how I’m feeling, rest might take precedent over admin. I might do the bare minimum some weeks.

When we have limited time, but a willingness to support more people than we can in our one-to-one sessions, it feels like everything is urgent.


Prioritise and Be Realistic


The authors propose to have realistic propositions, which includes having an idea and then thinking “finance”.

Now I’ve grown my one-to-one service in a very frugal way. I’ve tried the Facebook Ads and Wordads, but I did those at a time where I didn’t have an audience and it flopped. I might give them a go in the near future, when I have courses and other products on offer and have the capital to spend on them.

Social media is a great way to market yourself for free, and I’ve taken advantage of that possibility. It’s meant that I can put content out there and support the general public and colleagues with great content.

So, the authors suggest we consider whether we need a lot or a little capital, or maybe we don’t need much to start with.

Consider what you need. For example, counsellors might want to pay to be a member of BACP or UKCP, NCS, or any of the others out there. Also being a part of directories will help them get clients. Networking events might cost some money as well.

Start with what you can afford without getting into money worries, and grow your capital for these activities as you grow your business.


If you’re going to the bank to ask for a loan, you’ve got to have a good business plan.

It is easier to get a loan if you’re employed (I know this from personal experience – I got a loan when I was on a 30hr permanent contract, without much fuss…but got denied a loan a couple of years later as I was part employed, part self-employed). Check with your bank what the requirements are if you’re self-employed!

Financial backers will look at your idea and figure out if it’s profitable.

If you don’t require much money to get started, then go for it! If you’ve thought it’s a valuable idea and will benefit others, then why not try it out!


Do something different to stand out – see what’s already out there


Finding out what’s already out there and what will make your products or services different is key.

I say this to people attending my Practical Steps to Blogging Online Workshops:

Nobody knows what you know, how you know it or present it to them. It will be valuable to the people that need to hear your message.

You will already have an edge because of that.

How else can you make yourself stand out?

There is lots of advice out there from business coaches and it can get confusing and daunting as some will say do A B C and others will say definitely don’t do A B C, it doesn’t work!

My best advice on this is, read what they have to say, and do what feels congruent for you.

What works for them might work for you too, or something else might come up that really helps you build your offering reach.

An important thing to develop is the Know, Like, Trust Factor. You can do this in many ways, but the key thing is: (metaphorically) shout that you exist!

For example, if you create an amazing website, but nobody knows about it, you’ll never sell or get clients. You have to guide people to your site to get the business you want.

That is a subject for another post, but promoting yourself is key!


The authors suggest that, once you’ve established yourself and your product or service, it’s time to maintain sales and figure out how you’re going to grow your business in the short and long term.

Don’t allow your business to get stale. Keep innovating, finding new ways to do things.

I’m in the process of starting podcasts, vlogs. It will take time but I’ll get there. I’m pacing myself but I have an idea of where I want to get to.

I am also starting to do workshops online and offering other things like courses (also will take time but I will get there!)

All of this has meant a huge mindset change and re-adjustment.

I’m being kind to myself whilst I readjust and figure out how to do this and grow my business offerings further.


The authors also talk about hiring people.

Now, I got into private practice to work by myself, be my own boss. But I’ve become so busy that I couldn’t do something that I enjoyed any longer, but needed to keep doing in order to keep “top of mind” on social media.

I’ve hired a VA that schedules my social media posts. I have the final say whether I want to change an image or some of the text, but in general she’s doing most of the work. I only spend like 10min (rather than 3hrs) a week on these posts.

It’s freed so much time!


I’m sure she could be doing so much more for me. It’s a mindset change to have someone do stuff for you, so I’m working on that at the moment.

For now I’m happy to keep my social media posts going!


A final note on all I’ve said above.

Self-Care should be key when building and developing your business.

If we don’t look after ourselves, we won’t be able to do any of the work we are dreaming of.

If you want to find out more, I’ve got a very practical book called 20 Self-Care Habits, which comes together with a free Facebook Group, coaching sessions (paid), and in the future some new products and services.


Reference: The Business Book: Sam Atkinson et al. (2014). Big Ideas Simply Explained. Dorling Kindersley Limited, pages 18-19


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The variety and versatility of Online Counselling


Hi, and welcome to this week’s blog post on the advantages of online counselling.

We are living in a day and age of high tech. It keeps changing and being “smarter” and more accessible and affordable to all of us.

I remember when the internet started. I was a teenager and it was exciting to meet people on the other side of the world, even keep up with music from over the Atlantic!

I never felt that those friendships I built online were very different from my face-to-face, local friendships.

Maybe that’s why I feel that online counselling makes sense, and is no different than face-to-face counselling in many aspects.

Of course, there are some things that I’ve needed to do to work online – further training, and thinking about some obvious differences, like less non-verbal cues to work with, but adjustments can be made and I’m pleased to say I’ve helped lots of clients through online counselling, and hope to continue to do so.


What do you think of when I say “online counselling”?

Maybe you think video calls.

That would be my first guess if I didn’t know about the other ways of working online!

There are many ways to work online with your therapist.

The way that works for you, and possibly the online therapist you choose to work with, will depend on your personality, lifestyle, available free time to attend sessions, and other aspects of your life that might get in the way of accessing face-to-face or synchronous (“live”) sessions.

Let’s go through a few creative ways in which you can look after your mental health through online counselling…


A live video call means you schedule a time with your chosen therapist, and try to meet regularly (usually every week), at the same time and using the same secure platform.

I use Zoom and Instahelp for private clients, but there are other safe platforms that keep your conversations encrypted and completely confidential.

If you prefer to see your counsellor, almost in the same way you would if you went to their physical office, then this might be the best way to work on your current situation.


Live audio calls happen in a similar way as described above, except you’d only be hearing each other’s voices.

This can be done using the same platforms, but with video turned off, or using the telephone.

If it’s easier for you to speak without being seen, then this might be the best way for you to have therapy.

Sometimes, internet connections might fail, and turning video off might be the only solution so the session can continue. These are things to discuss with your therapist – they would probably bring this up – in case technology fails and you have to adjust to using audio or telephone, or rescheduling.

Completing further training in the differences between seeing and not seeing my clients has really helped me when working with audio calls.


In this type of counselling, you and your therapist are using the same chat room, and are messaging back and forth, at the same time.

This would be for an agreed period of time – 20min, 40min, and hour.

If you’re a millenial or really enjoy using text-based communications in your daily life, then text-based messaging might be the best option for you right now.

Usually, therapists that offer this type of service can offer the other ways of working alongside text-based counselling.

Working online is so versatile!


I’ve used this type of therapy before, and it’s really helped me.

I didn’t feel I was missing out on anything, in fact, because I’m a fast typist and love to write anyway, I could get a lot out in one go.

My therapist was very good at catching what I was writing and replying sensitively and in a timely way. I felt really held by her, even when I’d only ever seen a photo of her and her text responses.

The great way about asynchronous messaging is that you can do it at anytime from anywhere.

Of course, you will have to wait for your therapist to log on and read your message, but you’ll usually have a good idea of what times they work and when you are most likely to expect a reply.


This is similar to text-based counselling, except you are going to be using email for this.

I would use a password protected word document to exchange your messages with your therapist, so nobody can open it except you two.

The responses would happen in a similar way to asynchronous messaging, as you can send emails at any time from anywhere, and wait for your therapist to reply at agreed times.


As you can see, online counselling opens up lots of possibilities for people to access good therapy, in a way that works for them.

Distance is not an issue any longer, and neither are some of the other barriers that might stop us from getting in touch with a counsellor – shame, fear, time, “what will people think”, amongst other things.


If you’d like to catch up on past posts, click the links below:

Accessibility

No Commute, Free resources

Anonymity

Confidentiality and Risk

Guest post: Would chronic illness benefit from online counselling? – By Olivia Djoudadi


See you next week!


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Would chronic illness benefit from online counselling? – By Olivia Djoudadi

Hi and welcome to this blog post collab with Olivia Djoudadi.

I’ve had a couple of collaborations through the years from people living with chronic illnesses or therapists that work with these.

You can read these here:

Self Care When Living With a Chronic Illness

Living with a Chronic Illness and Working as a Therapist

In this post, Olivia answers the question of whether online counselling can help people with chronic illness.

I think you know my answer will be a resounding “yes!”

Over to you, Olivia


When first diagnosed with a chronic condition it can be quite a shock for some people.

It may need medications, a newer type focus on the foods people eat and a shift on how life is lived.

This isn’t always realised until later as obvious affects on the person or family take time to realise.

Lets take a look at a fairly common condition like diabetes; the statistics show 63% of people with it may have either anxiety or depression.

That statistic can have quite an affect on how someone with diabetes looks after their medical care needs.

One might feel a doctor is the person that deals with the medical needs however psychotherapy or counselling can really help as well.


Dealing with a chronic illness and going out even to weekly therapy appointments can take its toll however there are options such as online counselling.

You can see your therapist online by either email, IM or video sessions.

Some therapists work online because they also have a chronic condition just like you.

Some conditions may be painful or cause a lot of fatigue making getting out to counselling much harder.

Research on the person you may see to see if they have worked with chronic illness before as that can help with trust.


How many medical conditions are there in the population of the UK? Do all conditions need therapy?

In the UK according to chronicconditions.co.uk over 15 million people in the UK live with a chronic condition yet not all need emotional support.

Some may have family support or don’t go through shock that accompanies some conditions.

Not every illness is obvious so people may assume that someone is completely fine when they actually have a condition that raises their likelihood of say a medical crisis.

If medication is not used then people can get incredibly unwell or even die and that can have quite a big effect on one’s mental wellbeing.

They may go through denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance; some reading may realise that these are actually the 5 points to the Kübler-Ross grief model.

People may lean towards one of those or have a mixture of all or as one clinician noted as a Munchian Scream which is a painting depicting a screaming man by Edvard Munch.

It may seem like its awful to get any kind of condition but the truth is that many people cope very well living with a diagnosis.

So, one may ask why that is the case.


According to Harvard Medical School dealing with a chronic condition can improve by:

  • Beware of depression or anxiety. These can occur when someone is newly diagnosed or when they have lived with a condition for a long time and see the ongoing effects on self or family.
  • Build a team. This can be medical as well as psychological to help keep you at your best, keep in mind to include yourself as part of the team.
  • Coordinate your care. You may need to be cared for by a number of medical staff and access to each other’s notes may not always happen. You may need to highlight what has changed so your doctor is aware. Yes, they may have the notes from other departments but a five-minute appointment with a GP may not have realised changes.
  • Get a prescription for information. It can help to know what side effects medication may cause so you know what is normal. Use information from a site that has a medical reputation so you don’t get scared by other information then discuss with your doctor what is your normal on that medication. It can be useful to discuss in therapy how to handle these changes or the effect it has on you or others.
  • Make a healthy investment in yourself. Treatment for almost any chronic condition involves changes to lifestyle. A doctor may ask you to eat healthier, stop smoking or drinking, exercise more or seek counselling if you are having trouble coping. As well as taking care of your medical needs it may help to have selfcare times such as walking in the park or having tea with a friend, some people find support groups helpful.
  • Make it a family affair. When learning about your own condition it can be helpful to include family members as they may need to assist at times even if it’s to pick up a prescription or adjust to a healthier way of eating meals. Some maybe quite active and others maybe distressed so talking with a therapist may help them as well as the person with the condition.
  • Make your doctor a partner in care. When you leave the doctor’s office you are the one who needs to track changes such as symptoms or medical input. You may also need to assist the doctor by saying your finding it hard to cope.
  • Manage your medications. One may need an adjusted eating plan, pills, injections or medical devices so one can function well. Knowing about the drugs you take can be helpful as they may cause other noticeable issues such as tiredness and that’s important for your medical team to know.
  • Reach out. Medical input can be really helpful but so can therapy and support groups so it may help to seek online or face to face counselling.

I’ve learned quite a lot from reading this post by Olivia.

If you’d like to contact her for therapy sessions, or read more of her great blog posts, do follow her blog at this site.


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Hoarding Intervention: Step 1: Get yourself prepared


Hi, welcome to this week’s blog post on hoarding. Our next topic is about staging an intervention and we will be breaking it down into 4 steps.

This post is dedicated to the relatives and friends of hoarders, which are usually the ones that are aware of the problem, sometimes a long time before the hoarder realises what they’re doing.


The first step which we will be focusing on is getting yourself prepared for an intervention as a family member or friend of the hoarder.

Do please take the time out to learn more about hoarding, what it is, the possible consequences that hoarding can have on the person and how hoarding can be used as a coping mechanism for an underlying issue. Please read our previous blog posts, we cover all of those topics.  


Betterhelp mentions that TV shows about hoarding may spread awareness about the disorder, but many experts say these shows paint an incorrect picture about hoarding and how to help a person who hoards.

Don’t get us wrong. Awareness is great, but these shows only show a part of the process.

We imagine that there’s a lot of psychological and other support for the hoarder and the family behind the scenes.

Look for credible sources like the charity Mind. https://www.mind.org.uk/ and other websites.

You can also contact Stacey directly for more on how we work together to provide both practical and psychological support for you and your loved one.


Betterhelp also advise not to enable the hoarders behaviour.

While taking items against a person’s will is not helpful, adding to their clutter by buying or giving them things or taking them on shopping trips is just as bad.


Let’s be honest, nobody likes their stuff taken away without their permission. This is no exception, no matter how hard it is to watch what it’s doing to them.

Take it step by step. You’ll all get there!

Avoid adding to the clutter by showing your love in other ways and spending time doing activities not related to consumption.


Engaging in activities that have nothing to do with buying or adding to their stuff will deepen your relationship, allowing the upcoming intervention to be received in a better light, as you’ll be a trusted individual in the life of your hoarding loved one.


According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) at a prearranged time, family members should approach the hoarder to talk about the effect of clutter on their lives and explain that help and support are available.

This is something we’ll be talking about in the next posts.

For now, let’s focus on preparing you for the day of the intervention.


Perhaps for now, just meeting as a group and practising with each other how you are going to approach the person and rehearsing what you are going to say and how will be helpful.


We understand that this intervention will be a big step for everyone involved, and we’re not sure how your hoarding loved one will respond yet.

Managing that anxiety with lots of preparation and possibly input from professionals such as Stacey and Karin will help.


Every step you take, whether they’re aware of it or not, is you showing them you care.

You are showing them in subtle ways that you care and they can receive help if they are open to it.


If you are living in a similar situation or know anybody that is, please do not hesitate to contact us today so that we can provide you with the support that is needed.


Declutter & donate your unwanted items to Shelter.

You can make a difference to improving someone’s life.

Contact Stacey for more info!


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Confidentiality in Online Counselling


Hi, and welcome to this week’s post on online counselling.

Natalia and I are both passionate about offering alternatives to face to face counselling. Her platform, Chat2Us, aims to grow its list of counsellors available for you to choose from, including myself.

I also work in private practice, and the focus of my practice is now going towards offering online counselling through different mediums – live or asynchronous messaging, Zoom video call, Zoom/Telephone voice call, and soon also email.

If you’d like to know more about Chat2Us or my private practice online services, click on the hyperlinks or message us to find out more.


In this week’s post, we’ll be talking about confidentiality.

When we talk about personal matters, confidentiality is a must.

This rule applies to online counselling too. Especially online counselling, with all the safety issues that might compromise the content of our sessions.

Before we start offering online counselling therapists need to make sure we can provide a safe and confidential online space.

We do this by using very high-end protocols.

These days, where technology offers unlimited options, finding the best way to provide safety and confidentiality should be straight forward.

Let’s go through the most known options.


Skype

It’s easy to use. Many of us use it to keep in touch with friends and family. with a handset, microphone and speaker we are ready to go.

I (Karin) still use Skype for some sessions, but am aiming to move everyone over to Zoom.

There is a major issue with Skype, that is enough to warrant moving to a more GDPR/HIPPA compliant platform, like Zoom or VSee (there are many others that are good to!)

The Issue: Skype is encrypted, but once you’ve signed the terms and conditions, you give up the rights to your sessions’ content.

Zoom

An alternative to Skype, but safer as it’s encrypted and your content is secure.

It’s great for one-to-one meetings, which have unlimited time, so it’s great for individual counselling sessions.

If you have a group meeting, the free version only allows 40 minutes per meeting.


Another great thing about zoom is that it can be used to record video conferences, present webinars and share your screen to show a powerpoint presentation and others (This is something that Karin has been doing alongside counselling and supervision!)


There are lots of other applications out there that could offer the encryption required to secure the confidentiality, but we won’t go into all of them here.


As a provider of a mental health service, such as online counselling, confidentiality is an ethical concern (Read BACP’s guidance here).

The fundamental intent is to protect a client’s right to privacy by ensuring that matters disclosed to a professional are not relayed to others without the informed consent of the client.

Of course, there are exceptions as to where confidentiality could be broken or not applied (risk to self or others for example).

This is easier to establish with face-to-face clients, but is also necessary to establish the boundaries with online clients.

Sometimes, we might not have the information necessary to call emergency services and direct them to the client’s premises.

We might even be in different countries!


Some online services don’t take more than email and client’s name.

Online therapists might have an online counselling clause that states the limitations of how they can support their clients, providing information on services that might be able to support them in case of crisis or additional support.

Keeping ourselves safe as therapists is important. It keeps clients safe as a direct consequence. Which is a great thing!


Online counselling should offer the same frame of security, confidentiality and trust as face-to-face counselling.

And more.

There are so many more things to take into account regarding confidentiality and client safety when working online.

By providing anonymity to the client, the disclosure of emotional content and thoughts could be easier, but this disinhibition effect might mean the client might be opening up to a lot more than they would face-to-face, and in a very short period of time, with the potential risk increasing.


Before starting any online sessions with a new client, therapists should check that the client is a good candidate for online counselling at this point in time.

This means checking for risk, which is important because we won’t have as many details from the client if they want to keep their anonymity.

This limits our chance to keep them safe from a distance.

We might need to refer on to someone in their local area.


As you can see from this post, we back up our claims that online counselling is a great alternative to face-to-face counselling, but there are limitations to the work we can do when it comes to assessing risk and considering confidentiality issues.

Hopefully our options for platforms and ethical suggestions will help you with your search for an online counsellor; for therapists, we hope this gives you more insights into how the counselling therapy world works.

Make sure you sign up to this blog to get updates when we post a new blog about this topic, as well as catch up with previous posts.


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Hoarding as a coping mechanism


Hi, and welcome to our series on Hoarding – practical and psychological support.

In this week’s blog post we will be looking at other mental health problems which were mentioned here: possible causes (and consequences) for hoarding.


Mental health issues aren’t straighforward to spot, and neither is it straightforward to pinpoint their causes, consequences, or what might have triggered particular behaviours or conditions.

Dealing with the topic of hoarding is a sensitive issue, as it’s not just about “the stuff.”

It’s about the trauma, the life story, the way the individual is dealing with their past and current life issues, and how thing might have gotten out of hand and overwhelming for them and their loved ones.


The mental health charity Mind mentions that a person might start hoarding due to another mental health problem, for example:

In these situations, hoarding is usually seen as a symptom and acts as a coping mechanism and is not the main or “precipitating” issue.

Note: Diagnosing is good in some cases, but we work with the individual as a whole. A diagnosis is helpful to frame the work somewhat, but the main issues discussed in the therapeutic work are the issues the client brings. The client leads the work, and this means we are addressing the aspects of hoarding and their current life situation that need to be worked through.


According to Jo Cooke of Hoarding Disorders UK

“Hoarding is a coping mechanism.

There can be a number of reasons, but it’s about filling a void, an emptiness, with stuff.

Bereavement is one of the biggest triggers.

It acts as a sort of nest, a security blanket, a form of emotional insulation.

You can’t just put a skip outside someone’s house and tell them to get rid of stuff.

You need to work in a sensitive way, because it’s very much anxiety-based.”


Dr. Jessica Grisham (University of New South Wales) has found that the link between hoarding behaviour and traumatic events – such as losing a spouse or child – is especially important to consider in individuals exhibiting a late onset of hoarding symptoms.

This is especially important if those symptoms first appeared at the time of the event or shortly thereafter.

It’s also important to note that people react to different events at different paces, so there might be a delayed reaction to a life event that might mean the link to hoarding might not always be as clear as mentioned above.

Still, looking at the immediate aftermath of a life event will still help us start to pin-point a possible cause.


Accumulating “stuff” fills the emotional hole left by the trauma and allows individuals to avoid dealing with the pain.

Later removal of these items can trigger high levels of anxiety, especially if someone else gets rid of these items without the hoarder’s permission.

When discussing their behaviours, many hoarders describe the “rush” they experience when purchasing new items, especially if the item is free or on sale

They can also go to great lengths to justify purchases when questioned by friends or family members.

This reinforces the fact that hoarding as a coping mechanism is a complex issue that requires time and working through different aspects of the hoarding experience so that they are replaced with healthier habits.


It’s important to understand the things mentioned above are very sensitive and personal to each individual hoarder.

Removing items without the person’s permission are a breach of their autonomy – even if we believe their decisions to keep seemingly useless or value-less things aren’t the right ones.

Something I learned during my (Karin) time in care work, was that we can’t stop people from carrying out actions or making decisions just because they might not seem like the best for us, or just because we know the consequences will affect them negatively.

We all take risks every day in our lives. Some result in positive things, others we might regret or want to amend or take back somehow. But we still go ahead and test them out without anyone stopping us.


Hoarders deserve the same courtesy, even if it’s harming them – the work might take a long time, while the hoarder comes to terms with the reality in front of them, and the imminent dangers they might be putting themselves into by not having clear paths to leave the house, or a safe place to sleep or relax, or even do work.

Be patient, as you support your loved one through the hard process of coming up with better coping mechanisms than hoarding and it’s consequences.


If you are living in a similar situation or know anybody that is, please do not hesitate to contact us today so that we can provide you with the support that is needed.

Declutter & donate your unwanted items to Shelter.

You can make a difference to improving someone’s life.

Contact Stacey for more info! 


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Advantages of online counselling: Anonymity

Welcome to the 3rd post of our joint series with Natalia from Chat2Us.

On this post, we will continue with the advantages of online counselling, focusing on Anonymity.

What are the benefits of people feeling anonymous when speaking – or typing – about the things that worry them or that they’re struggling with at the moment?


We might feel comfortable talking to friends and family about our current situation.

We don’t need to be anonymous to do so. They know us better than anyone else!

But sometimes we get to the point where they might not be the best people to talk in depth to about the issues we are going through.

Maybe because we don’t want to worry them, or simply because, let’s face it, we all have problems we deal with on a daily basis.

There’s also the other aspect of not being able to get a neutral response to what we are telling our friends, by no fault of their own.

After all, they’re not our therapist!


This is why seeking the support of a counsellor will help you process your current situation in a way that is limited when talking to a friend.

By all means, use your support system to vent and get help. This is one of the first questions we ask clients when starting therapy.

A good support system in place will help you through the tougher times – and will be there to enjoy the happier ones too!


Now, let’s go back to the anonymity issue…

You might be lucky to feel comfortable in sharing your issues openly, and talking about how you deal with them, with people you know; but you may be like so many others who simply are not as comfortable.

This might be remedied to a greater or lesser extent by seeking one of the many forms of online therapy.

Text-based therapy would provide the most anonymity, and might be ideal for some of us, but others might still prefer to see someone that lives miles away from us, and speak to them via video link.

It’s all about what works best for you!


Choosing to seek therapy online might reduce the chances of you feeling socially stigmatised if you wanted to keep the fact that you’re attending therapy between you and your therapist, and maybe a handful of trusted friends or family.

Unfortunately the social stigma attached to therapy is still alive and well.

Bumping into a friend at the therapist’s waiting room and feeling like you might have to explain why you are there might be an inconvenience and make both of you feel awkward (or it might just be absolutely fine! – there are more and more people accepting the fact that attending therapy is good for us, for many reasons!)

This inconvenience can be solved with online counselling.

You will save your energy for self-care and focusing on the process of therapy you’ve started, saving yourself the potentiality of having to explain why you are going to a counsellor’s office.

Once the social stigma attached to it vanishes, it will eventually reduce the hesitation to seek assistance.

Natalia, Chat2Us

Through online counselling, you can keep your privacy protected and engage easier with your therapist from home, even in the comfort of your pyjamas.


If we look at the different age brackets of people that are seeking therapy, younger clients may prefer the online version as most of them are very good with IT and may embrace the efficiency and convenience of using their devices to look after their mental wellbeing. 

Whereas older clients may prefer to opt for face-to-face therapy, as they might not be too literate with computers (although many do surprise us and are very tech-savvy!).

There are alternatives to online therapy that would also work well for someone that’s not very tech-savvy.

For example, a phone call might be great to retain a degree of anonymity but still access good therapy, with similar benefits to online counselling.


Something to take into account with online therapy, and something that happens more in this type of therapy, is the dis-inhibition effect.

Face-to-face social interaction may get in the way of the client fully opening up in a counselling session.

Some factors that can interfere with the client’s involvement in the therapy process might be paying attention to the therapist’s, and their own, body language; they might also get distracted by room furniture and other aspects of the face-to-face set-up.

Some clients do get inhibited by these things.

Think about autistic clients, for example, where feeling like there is too much sensory stimulation, which might distract them or not allow them to focus on dealing with their emotions, as they might feel overwhelmed by everything else going on around them.

– Karin

Choosing online therapy can therefore allow the person to focus more on the therapy than the surrounding interference.

It will also allow them to talk about sensitive issues quicker and with more detail than they would in a different setting.


Both online and face-to-face therapy are equally effective, but the real question is this: where will you be able to work through your issues the best?

As we are talking about anonymity, the online option seems to keep any interfering factors in check, allowing you to focus on the things that you need to work through.


Finally, we hope that you have gathered from what we’ve said in this post, that online therapy allows for a greater openness for some clients.

The absence of face to face contact can also prompt clients to communicate more openly without concerns for a bias of race, gender, age, size or physical appearance.

This may lead to an increased level of honesty with themselves, and therefore greater and quicker self-disclosure.

This might not be the case for everyone, and we do advise that if you’re more comfortable with face-to-face counselling, then please do follow what’s best for you.


We offer both face to face and online counselling, but seeking to work more online as time goes on.


Until next week…


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Causes and Consequences of Hoarding

Hi, and welcome to this week’s blog post, which is a continuation of last week’s post (focusing on the individual).

In this post, we will focus on the possible causes (and consequences) for hoarding and understanding that everybody is different and there could be many reasons as to why the person is hoarding.


Different people will have different explanations for their own experiences and causes for hoarding and it is likely that there is a a combination of reasons.

These reasons are not clear-cut and they might be influencing one another, at different points of the individual’s life.


According to the Mental Health Charity Mind, the following could be the possible causes for hoarding (click on each of the links for more on those particular issues):


According to healthline:

“A person may begin to hoard because they believe an item that they have collected, or are considering collecting, may be valuable or useful at some point in time. They may also connect the item with a person or significant event that they don’t want to forget.”

This quote points towards the person’s reasons for hoarding, which might be something as reasonable as “I might need it later”, even though they don’t really ever use it.

Other times it might be the way a person grieves the loss of a loved one. Collecting items they might have liked or that they link to their loved one is a way to keep them a part of their lives.


Mind mention that, through working with a therapist in sessions, a person may be able to link the start of their hoarding to a stressful event or period in their life, such as:

  • being abused or attacked
  • breaking up with a partner
  • becoming very unwell
  • someone close to you dying
  • feeling extremely lonely.

For some people, experiences like these can also lead to an increase in existing hoarding, when hoarding has already begun.

Also, hoarding might have started with a trauma or another untreated mental health problem, but it might also bring up other mental health issues that will need to be addressed.

Some of these are:


In these situations, hoarding is usually seen as a symptom and acts as a coping mechanism and is not the main diagnosis.

As we mentioned above, it’s not as clear-cut as it seems.

Sometimes hoarding can be the symptom, other times it’s the mental health issue or traumatic event that take precedence.

Listening to the client’s story, paying attention to the triggers of hoarding AND of the mental health issues will help us deal with them in a timely fashion, addressing all the aspects of the individual’s life that need our support, in order to get the client back to living as healthy a life as possible.


With our collaboration, we will focus on understanding the person as an individual, getting to the root cause as to why they are hoarding, through in-depth therapeutic support, as well as providing thorough practical help in order to help to create a safer environment, both physically and mentally.

If you or your loved one need support, don’t hesitate to contact Stacey Sabido from Serenity for You, to start the process.


Declutter & donate your unwanted items to Shelter.

You can make a difference to improving someone’s life.

Contact Stacey for more info! 


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3 consequences of hoarding on the person’s well-being


Hi, and welcome to this week’s blog post on hoarding.

In this post Stacey and I will be focusing on 3 consequences of hoarding on the person’s well-being.


Many aspects of well-being can be impacted when someone has too much clutter and keeps acquiring material belongings to meet a partly unconscious need.

We’ll start by defining well-being from three perspectives, then we’ll give some tips into how you can support yourself as a hoarder, or your loved one who’s hoarding.


What is well-being?


There are many ways to define the meaning of well-being, a few examples are below:

Physical well-being

A person’s lifestyle and behaviour (making sure that you eat and sleep well.)

What we do (or not do) to look after our physical bodies can have an impact on our mental health.

If we exercise, we will be releasing endorphins, dopamine, and other hormones that make us feel good. The opposite will happen if we don’t exercise.

If we get enough sleep, we are allowing our mind to repair and process what went on throughout our day, allowing us to wake up refreshed and ready for what the next day will bring.

Physical well-being also refers to our environment. Where we live and how we organise our space can mean we are thinking clearly or otherwise have “cluttered” thinking, which will mirror the way our home is filled with clutter.

Clearing the clutter will help clear your mind. It’s a parallel process!

Emotional well-being

Being in control of your thoughts, feelings and behaviour.

When we are in control of our emotions and behaviours, we feel good and we can function in our daily lives.

When things start getting on top of us, we can’t manage simple requests or make decisions that used to be easy for us.

Finding a therapist to work through these things will be helpful in figuring out what’s going on and how to get back on track.

Social well-being

Low social support can also lead to health consequences such as depression and high blood pressure.

Healthy relationships are really important.

A good support system means we have people to turn to in our times of need.

We might turn to family or friends, or professionals such as doctors, psychiatrists, social workers, counsellors, or people at day centres and other health-improving environments.


All 3 types of well-being mentioned above can be affected if you are a hoarder.


To have positive well-being we might need to start seeing life positively and therefore feel good about yourself, your life and relationships.

We would prefer to have the presence of emotions and moods such as happiness and feeling content as opposed to feeling anger, depression and anxiety.

All emotions are valid. All emotions are human.

If we experience our emotions, whatever they are, when they happen, we have a better chance of being happy than if we bottle them up or ignore them.


Hoarding can have a serious negative impact on your well-being.

It can cause anger, resentment and depression within the family and relationships thus affecting your emotional and social well-being.

The negative impact of hoarding can be remedied.

It might take time, effort, mindset change and lots of courage and support from your loved ones, but there is a way to make things better for your life and your relationships.


The Anxiety and Depression Association of America, quotes the following example of a person that is suffering from hoarding and it shows that it is having a negative impact on her emotional and social well-being.

Ive always had trouble throwing things away. Magazines, newspapers, old clothes What if I need them one day? I dont want to risk throwing something out that might be valuable. The large piles of stuff in our house keep growing so its difficult to move around and sit or eat together as a family.

My husband is upset and embarrassed, and we get into horrible fights. I
m scared when he threatens to leave me. My children wont invite friends over, and I feel guilty that the clutter makes them cry. But I get so anxious when I try to throw anything away. I dont know whats wrong with me, and I dont know what to do.

This lady is suffering from hoarding and this could consequentially lead to her husband divorcing her. It is already causes great stress to her children. Therefore, this is seriously affecting the emotional and social well-being for not just her but also her family.

Her social well-being is being affected due to the fact that her husband is not showing any support and her condition is affecting their relationship. This then leads to a negative impact on her emotional well-being as this will cause depression and she already mentions feeling anxious at the thought of throwing anything away. She clearly needs a strong support system around her.


If you are living in a similar situation or know anybody that is, please do not hesitate to contact us today so that we can provide you with the support that is needed.


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Private Practice Mini Series — Ghosted: the private therapist initiation rite


Hi, and welcome to the third post in my Private Practice mini series aimed at practitioners in private practice, and anyone who works one-to-one with clients.

In the first post of this series, I wrote about creating the mental space that leads clients to find us.

Last week I wrote about calling things into being.


This week I want to talk about those difficult times when we book clients and they either don’t show up, or they have their first session and never contact again.

This is a very tricky situation, that can leave practitioners feeling insecure about their capacity as therapists, or bringing that impostor syndrome to the forefront…or even more, wondering what it is they did that made the client “ghost” them.


I am speaking from personal experience here.


As someone that also had a start in private practice and all that entails, I can say that ghosting happened to me too.

As a supervisor, I really like Scaife’s model (read my post on that here). He talks about responsibility and gives the supervisor, the therapist and the client a set of responsibilities.

I will start with what I’ve experienced as a therapist starting out in private practice and generalise it to other practitioners. Then I will discuss what I think happens from a client’s perspective (some not all possibilities).


In regard to the therapist, I would say that our responsibility is to hold the space for the client, where it’s safe to process and work through difficult stuff.

When we are starting, we are “desperate” (my own words, not calling anyone that although I’m sure some of you reading this can relate) – urged might be a better word, to retain and find clients to fill our time slots and help us start earning an income from what we trained so hard to do.

This urge might communicate over to the client. Unconsciously of course.


I am psychodynamically trained (now working integratively) so I believe that the unconscious to unconscious communications are very powerful.

We might not verbally be saying to the client “please keep me as your therapist, I need you”, but that’s what we might be communicating in many other ways we’re not aware of.

Now, just being aware of this is a great starting point to not put that burden on our clients.

A burden that might lead them to leave.

Apart from this, I don’t think there’s anything else that I can say right now to point the responsibility of a client ghosting a therapist, on the therapist themselves.


Let’s turn to the client’s responsibility.

Sometimes a client books a first session and never shows up.

It might have taken all of their energy and might to contact and book the appointment, but might have realised that they’re not ready yet, or that it’s too scary to attend, or something might have happened that led them to not need therapy anymore.

Sometimes they let us know, other times they don’t. It can be enfuriating, but we can’t take it personally. We might never find out what happened. We might have to live with the “not knowing” of why we were forgotten by our new potential client.


I find that as we spend more time as private practitioners, we get better at setting boundaries and trusting ourselves, and valuing ourselves as practitioners, and this happens less and less.

But when we are beginning, these things might not communicate as much through our contract, or our verbal and non-verbal communications. It’s an art and it’s developed slowly and gently, as we work with more clients and spend more time acclimatising to the realm of private practice.


Other times, a client arrives for their first session, it seems to have gone well, and they never book another session again.

For some clients, the catharsis that happens in a first session might have been enough.

Or it might have been too much to start talking about something that was only in their minds up to the point they started talking about it with their new therapist.

Ideally they’d let us know. But as above, sometimes they don’t.


We must err on the side of trusting our abilities and capacity as qualified and experienced therapists (we have, after all completed quite a few hours in placements before setting up our private practice!), and consider what is our responsibility and what is our clients.

Taking it to supervision and getting reassurance and clarity about what happens when we’re ghosted by clients will build us up, help us set clearer boundaries, possibly rewrite our contracts (I’ve rewritten mine many times, mainly adding stuff as time goes on!) and work on our initial contacts with clients, and how we feel about ourselves as therapists.

I hope this post has been helpful, or at least food for thought. I welcome your feedback and comments.


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Private Practice Mini Series: Calling things into being by speaking them out.


Hi, and welcome to the second post in my Private Practice mini series aimed at practitioners in private practice, and anyone who works one-to-one with clients.

Last week I spoke about creating the mental space that leads clients to find us.

Next week I want to talk about something that I see happens a lot when we start private practice: clients “ghosting” practitioners.


This week I want to focus on something that I see as “working in the background”, in our favour.

I was chatting to a colleague once and I said something about a plan I had for the next year.

Now taking into account that this colleague didn’t know me for long, what he said marked me.

These are almost his words, verbatim: “yes, I am sure you will achieve that. Everything else you’ve said you’d do, you’ve accomplished so far.”


That got me thinking…


What is it that I’m doing – apart from taking steps towards fulfilling what I’ve said I wanted to do in the first place – that is getting me to achieve that goal?

In having conversations with other people, I started to piece things together and realised a very valuable lesson:

When we call things out….when we name the things we want in life…they will come to us, sooner or later!


Everything we do gets us closer to our goals.

Everything we say gets us closer to our goals.


There is a lot of power in what we say and confess to ourselves and to our friends, family and colleagues!

I really do believe that trusting that what we want to happen will happen is a great way to achieve our goals and live more fulfilling lives.

This is how I’ve been building my practice.

I guess it’s been discussed before in books like The Secret an the Law of Attraction, and such. But until you experience it yourself, it won’t mean much.

This goes hand in hand with what I wrote to you about last week – if we create space and name the things that we want to pass, they will most likely happen.


Another thing I live by is this “what I’m doing now, will help in the future, somehow”.


A clear example is a colleague I’ll be partnering with soon. I met her nearly 7 years ago now at a training session, and she remembered me from that, and now we will be working together!

Yes it’s 7 years later, but the point it, we plant seeds and they grow and flourish when it’s their time to do so.

The key is to plant the seeds, either by doing something, saying something, while taking the steps and planning towards what we want for our lives and businesses.


So get talking, get confessing openly with yourself or with your tribe, those things that are dear to your heart, that will bring your goals to fruition, and your lives to be more fulfilling and more like how you want them to be.

Whether that means having 5 clients, 10 clients, 20 clients…working only 2 days a week…having various sources of income and ways of supporting people with your business…whatever it is…speak up and see it happen!


Until next time…


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Private Practice Mini-Series: Creating the mental space that leads clients to find us


Hi, and welcome to this mini series aimed at practitioners in private practice, and anyone who works one-to-one with clients.

This will be a three-post series where I’ll be talking about

1. Creating the mental space that leads clients to find us

2. Calling things out so that they become a reality in our lives and businesses

3. Ghosting: a private practitioner’s initiation rite of passage


I’ve been in private practice for nearly 7 years now, and I’ve learned a lot.

Some things I wished I’d learned when I’d started, but that’s not always possible.

It is because of this that I’ve launched some services (free and paid), like this blog, to support practitioners that are just starting out now, to know about things that will get them started with more knowledge than I had when I started.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I like how things have panned out. I love how my practice and life are going. But I know this might not be the case for everyone.

Keep reading if you want to find out about this week’s topic and what I mean by creating mental space.


I’ll write a bit about how I started out and how I got to where I am today.

In 2013, I decided to launch my website and get online on directories so I could get clients. I was also working 37+ hours at a care job (which I enjoyed, but my sights were changing more towards full time private practice, only a dream at this point!).

From that point onward, I had started to lower my hours at that job and spending more time on counselling.

The first two years I didn’t have that many clients. Which was fine because I was renting a room and finding it difficult to find the right times to fit clients anyway.

In 2015 I got a Senior Care Officer contract at a children’s home, which was temporary until November. When that contract finished, it gave me the freedom to work as relief staff, which meant I could choose what days to work and what days to dedicate to my private practice.


This is where it starts to get good!


A month or so before my Senior contract ended, I started thinking more and more about dedicating Mondays and Thursdays to private practice. Just thinking about it did something…

It was almost magic!

By the time my contract ended, I had quite a few more enquiries.

I booked them in, and by the end of the year I’d gone from 1-2 regular clients to 4-8 regular clients!

I got a contract as a support worker in the same children’s home on February 2016, but took only 16hrs per week, which meant I could still dedicate Mondays and Thursdays to counselling and building my business.

My manager there has always been kind enough to accommodate my other responsibilities outside of that job. And as I was working very part time only, it was all good.

That year I did my last waking night shift. That’s how I started letting go of doing extra shifts and focusing more on my private work. By mid 2017 I stopped doing extra shift.


Another dramatic shift came about when I decided to finally give blogging a good chance and take it seriously. This meant taking promoting my blog seriously as well.

And this in turn meant posting regularly and consistently on social media.


I was still counselling Mondays and Thursdays, but decided to start offering sessions on Wednesdays as well.

I got more clients. I also started offering supervision.

I created the mental space for those clients and supervisees, and lo and behold, they contacted and booked!


My last two years at the care job were spent daydreaming about only running my own business.

I planned for it.

I made the mental space for the clients that I needed – a mix of counselling, supervisees, coaching and tutoring clients.

I also started thinking about other services and products to offer.

I wrote 20 Self-Care Habits, which came from a series of blogs I wrote.

I began planning other avenues of income and work.

In July 2019, I left the care job. I miss the social aspects of it and the young people I worked with.

But it wasn’t for me anymore.


I worked 11 years as a support worker in different areas. It gave me lots of knowledge that includes being able to offer counselling to autistic and other neurodiverse people.

My practice is now full to the brim. My products and services are being created slowly but surely.

More books are in the pipeline, as well as collaborations with colleagues and companies to create more mental space to help more clients and colleagues with their lives and careers.


Those who know me will know that I didn’t write this to brag. I’m more in awe of how things are going than anyone else!

I wrote this to show my fellow colleagues what is possible when we work hard, when we get the training, CPD, support from one another, and put ourselves out there.


I hope this post has been helpful to those starting out, and allowed those more seasoned practitioner to reflect on the amazing journey we’re all in…

…doing what we love, whilst at the same time helping our clients and colleagues get back on track, or get their businesses going.

I look forward to writing to you next week.

Until then…


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20 Self-Care Habits – Colleague Collaboration (Book Review)

Hi everyone!

I’ve just been given a brilliant review for my book, 20 Self-Care Habits, which was published 31st July 2018.

It’s been quite a journey and it’s always nice to hear how someone is benefiting from what I’ve written.


Everything I do is aimed at helping people. Helping them get a head start, learning from what I’ve learned in the past, from personal experiences but also from others’ experiences of putting my suggestions into practice.


In this occasion, my colleague, Pat Capel, reviewed my book for his website, and I’d love you to read it.


I think it’s better to hear feedback from others than from the author themselves sometimes – cause I would be biased to say it is a good book 😉

Anyway, I trust that you’ll enjoy reading Pat’s review and other stuff on his page – it’s really good stuff! (see, now I’m giving you feedback on Pat’s stuff, which is really good to be honest!)

If you haven’t read 20 Self-Care Habits, or my other reviews on my website, then have a look at Pat’s take on the book.


Here’s a snippet of what Pat had to say…

“If you are someone who is wondering what “self care” is or what you can do to take better care of yourself, I would suggest giving this book a read.  In this book, Karin explains and guides you through what it means to take care of yourself.  Our modern world can be tricky and yet she explains simple and practical strategies that you can start your new self care regime immediately. “

Pat Capel, http://www.patcapel.co.uk

Enjoy reading the review and spend some time exploring Pat’s page, and my own book page, reading even more reviews on the book.

I look forward to hearing your feedback after you’ve read 20 Self-Care Habits.


For more on Pat, follow him on Social Media:

Pat CapelPsychotherapist and Counsellor

Website:    https://www.patcapel.co.uk/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/patcapelpsychotherapy

Twitter:      https://twitter.com/pat_capel

LinkedIn:    https://www.linkedin.com/in/pat-capel-b9b176b7/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/patcapelpsychotherapist/?hl=en


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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 at a college in the Northwest. Lisa also supervises and trains placement counsellors working at 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, Lisa has just embarked on a PhD at The University of Chester to help to realise this dream


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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What’s the Whack-a-Mole have to do with my emotions?


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

I’m thinking, you’re either a regular reader of my blog or you got curious about the title.

Either way, I’m glad you’re here!


In this post, I’d like to address something that I believe in and that colours the therapeutic work that I do. It also colours my life if I’m completely honest!

I didn’t go looking for psychodyamic theory or its way of working, it kinda found me! (That’s part of my academic journey and for another post, if you’re interested.)


Firstly though, let’s talk about the link I’ve made between the whack-a-mole game and our emotions.

In this classic game, what happens is, you have a mallet and the aim is to hit the mole (sometimes a crocodile or another thing/animal) when it pops out of the hole. You never know where it’s gonna pop out so you’ve gotta be quick! You’ve gotta be on top of it and thinking very quickly indeed!

Our unconscious works in a very similar way.


If we have a situation, a set of emotions, an encounter with someone, or anything that affects us emotionally, it will continue to do so until we address it.

There is no time in the unconscious, so whatever happened 40, 30, 20, 10, 5 years ago (or more recently) will continue to affect us until we do something about it.


So just like the mole, the unresolved stuff won’t stop popping up in different ways in our life, until we look at it straight in the face and work through those difficult emotions and thoughts, and possibly relational difficulties, that it might bring us.

It can get tiring trying to think fast to keep these things under wraps…

Working through the difficult stuff will help in a massive way.

It might take a few months or even a few years, but once the change that happens when we process emotions comes to pass, then you’ll be forever changed.

It might be a massive change or a little change. But change nonetheless will help you live a better life, where you’ll be able to manage those difficult emotions with more resilience and calm than you were able to before you worked through them.


Now the whack-a-mole will forever be popping moles up and down the game. In a similar way, the unconsicous will always be trying to bring stuff up from within the deepest depths of itself.

But once we know what’s there (the mole) and how to get it under our control and it becomes manageable, smaller (through therapeutic processing), its effects will become less taxing or overwhelming in our day to day lives.

For lack of a better analogy, before working through, the emotional “mole” might have been big and overwhelming. After working through, it becomes small enough to hold in our hand, and therefore more manageable.

I tell my clients all the time, that we don’t get amnesia from therapy.

And that’s a good thing, because the things that make us who we are, with the strengths we have now, are sometimes those difficult things we went through and worked through.


Until next week…


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Trust your intuition…

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

I’ve got a few mini-series in mind, and one that’s in progress (Counselling Autistic People), to which I’ll get to in due course.


Today I want to talk about intuition – or what’s also known as our “gut feeling”.


Depending on how we were raised, and the events that we’ve experienced in life, we will be more able to trust our own gut without even thinking twice about it.

Others of us might have more difficulty and need to re-train our minds and bodies to listen to our gut.


As a counsellor/psychotherapist, I’ve been trained to trust my intuition in the therapy room, which generally helps my clients, as what I’m feeling might be a reflection of what’s going on for them.

Call it counter-transference, projective identification, empathy, it all leads back to our gut communication something useful to us.


Trusting our intuition isn’t reserved only for therapists.

It is a tool available for all of us, at one level or another.


So, how do we develop that trust that what is coming up for us, a gut reaction, a “walk away” thought, a “be careful” thought, or goosebumps all over our body, is something we need to listen to, for our own good?

Here are some ways I believe we can develop this important skill:


1 – Start small


Changing our mindsets and the way we do or think or react to things will take time and effort.

Tackling the big things might not be the best idea to start with, as we are not yet able to use our intuition in the best way possible.

Start small…for example: someone asks you for a cup of tea, and your first instinct is “I’m busy, I can’t possibly be making you a cup of tea, this is not the right time for this”.

It might be easier to trust your gut telling you “just say no right now” with something as small as making a cuppa for someone, than it would be something bigger.

The results of saying “No, sorry, I can’t make you that cuppa right now, can you get it yourself please?” will be massive!

You won’t resent your friend/colleague/relative for making you do something you didn’t have time for right now, and you won’t resent yourself for saying no.

Your intuition might have been telling you “if you do this, you’ll resent yourself and them! avoid that resentment and say no.”

I know this sounds trivial but building on this will help you with the bigger things in life.

Maybe you’ll need to trust your gut when driving – Do I go left or right, where is there usually less traffic? which road is safer for me?

Maybe it’s about accepting or rejecting a dinner invitation with someone you know deep inside will make you feel something you don’t want to feel (uncomfortable, judged, belittled, etc).

Why put yourself through things that you clearly don’t want to do and that your instincts are telling you “don’t do it?”


2 – Work it through in Therapy


In therapy, I believe is where we can really put this into practice.

Talking through situations with my clients is something I do on a regular basis.

Going through what happened and seeing things from a different perspective, as well as thinking about what we could’ve done differently in order to get the results we actually wanted…

Sometimes what we could’ve done differently is just listen to our gut…

Developing that keen ear for what we instinctively know is best for us is part of the therapeutic process.

At least when you come see me! Other therapists might work differently.

Listening to our gut is one way where we can learn to meet our own needs, prevent resentment of ourselves or those we love, as well as learning to set clear boundaries that will keep us safe from the things we really don’t want in our lives.


If you want to find out more about this, you can find my book and my facebook group via this link.


Until next week…


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Content Creation for Practitioners in Private Practice – Live Event Tomorrow


Hi! And welcome to today’s blog post, where I will be talking about a topic that I believe will benefit you.

Learning about social media and the business world has led me into a wider world, for my personal life, but also in a big way for my work life.


I am a counsellor in private practice, and as such I’ve had to come to terms with a few things.

  1. Private practice is a business.
  2. as a buisness, I must market it.
  3. Counselling isn’t the same as selling shoes (the title of my upcoming event) – and as such the marketing must be different
  4. I have to find a way to market myself without sounding either patronising or pushy, after all, people come to counselling when they’re ready, not when a counsellor tells them they need it (I wouldn’t dare say that to anyone and I challenge anyone that does! let people come to you)

It’s been quite a mindset change to get to where I am now in my private practice, but putting some things in place, slowly, steadily and consistently, has helped me get there.

In this post, I want to talk about repurposing. This is a great aspect of content creation and social media marketing!

In order to promote our business – private practice – on social media, therapists must be clever about it and think about what the best way to do this will be.

I believe that adding value to our audiene will get us the results we want. And in turn allow clients to reach us, their best choice of therapist!

But we must be consistent and congruent. This means posting on a regular basis, and posting what we believe in and what makes us passionate.

People will know if we’re posting for the sake of it rather than posting because we actually care about what we’re posting!


So what do I mean by repurposing?


In summary, repurposing means using your content over and over and over, in a variety of ways.

Here are some ways you can create, use, and re-use (repurpose) your content (I’ll leave some examples at the very end of the post as I’ve been having issues with my wordpress app today!)


  1. Write Blog posts like this one
  2. Create Podcasts and Vlogs that stem from your blog post or your services
  3. Write articles on LinkedIn based on your original blog post and/or service offers
  4. Images: you can create images to fit all your different platforms. Usually you can use the same ones you create for Twitter and reuse them in Facebook and LinkedIn. There might be particular sizes that fit Instagram (square) and Pinterest (infographic size, for example) better. You can find all of this in free programmes like Canva.
  5. Storyboard Videos: I use Lumen5 for mine, but there are other apps out there and if you have your own images you can even use Adobe products to create them. Videos are becoming even more popular and eye-catching than images, so get on board! It’s a great way to get started, especially if you’re not ready to publish personal videos yet.
  6. Personal videos: These are scary to do at first but once you get used to them, it gets easier and even fun! I’ve embedded videos all over my website, and they’ve made it even better for clients to decide whether they want to work with me, and to give more information in case I can’t reply straight away to a message due to being out or on holiday or any other reason. This is a real personal touch and I highly recommend it!
  7. Infographics: These are the pinterest app’s friend. They are fun to create and you can use your existing blog or service content to add them to your arsenal or first use and repurposed posts!

These are only some ways in which you can repurpose your content.

Contac me if you have any questions or need any help with your content creation!


Whilst I’m here, I want to remind you of the event I mentioned in the title and elsewhere in this post. Click here to join and watch tomorrow morning, Tuesday 23rd July at 8:30am.


As promised, here are some sample images and videos:


Twitter Sized, also can be used on Facebook and LinkedIn
Social Media or Square Sized, Better for Instagram, but also OK for other apps
Infographic: Ideal for Pinterest as this app prefers longer images, but there is an even better pinterest size!
I use storyboard videos for my promotions. This one is for online supervision and I keep reusing it over and over, especially on Twitter (the half life of a tweet is very short)!
This video is for my supervision month I did back in summer 2018. I have lots more like this and I’m looking forward to creating newer versions and new content! They don’t have to be long, and it’s better if they’re between 1min and 2min max.

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New Stuff Coming Right Up!

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Hello, hello!

It’s been about 2 months since my last post stating I was taking a break due to health and other reasons.

I’m pleased to report that the time off has done its job, and I’m feeling refreshed and ready to go again!


Since then, I’ve achieved the following:

  • Finished contracted work that was helpful at the time but is now not necessary as running my businesses is taking precedence. (I can still do relief shifts, which I plan on continuing as and when, the fact that it’s my choice now feels so much better!)
    • This means that I will have more time for my self-care, my relationships and my work, which I love (it isn’t really work!)
  • I’m sorting out my health issues, which has meant paying privately to get some answers (for those not in the UK – the National Health Service, NHS is free at point of service – we pay through our taxes).
    • I’ve got some answers and I’ve got something in place, which I’m hoping will help in my day-to-day. Hoping it means the symptoms that have been affecting me (exhaustion, foggy brain…) will be less taxing and life-affecting.
  • Refurbished my website, which seemed crucial for me to be able to move forward, for some reason!
  • I have a plan for what I want to do with my next year in regards to writing (books and blogs), social media, and new services and products I want to offer.

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A lot of new things have come up since then, which I actually need to pick up (I’ll send a message out to the relevant parties when I finish writing this post!)

  • Events via www.onlinevents.co.uk
    • I am participating in a few webinar events, presenting topics I’m passionate about. I’ve enjoyed participating in online interviews with John and Saz Wilson.
    • Here is my practitioner page, where you can find 2 past interviews
        • 20 Self-Care Habits – I presented my book (published July 31st 2018), and gave some tips for self-care, alongside my lovely colleagues that also had sessions that day on the Self-Care Conference. I’m hoping to be a part of this year’s conference as well!
        •  Creating a supervision model that works for your practice – I spoke about how I run my supervision practice, and why I believe that my integrated model is relevant for practitioners (one supervision theory doesn’t encompass all, and the 5 that I’ve integrated compliment each other very nicely and add different aspects that I believe are important for a great supervisory relationship).

       

  • In the next few months, I’ll be participating in 3 more events, which can be viewed for free when they’re being recorded, either on the facebook page or in the Zoom meeting itself (this is sent to you when you book the event).

     

      • September 3rd 2019 – Supervision “Pain Points”: What To Expect From Your Supervisory Relationship
        • Part 2 of my supervision webinars There is so much to say about supervision that I asked John if I could come back and talk about what practitioners should expect from their supervisory relationship to make the most out of their time and have it be a great, positive impact on their practice, development, and client work, which is the first purpose of supervision and practising as counsellors and psychotherapists.
      • To be announced – 2019 Self-Care Conference

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  • Ayanay Events
    • Face to face and online webinars
    • Ayanay is a new membership body that aims to offer Elevated services for their members and other colleagues that might want to attend the CPD services. They also have a novel perspective on accreditation, which won’t break the bank and reinforces the knowledge you’ve already gained. The story behind it is very powerful as well!
    • As part of the webinars and supporting Ayanay with providing clear, transparent and congruent information, I recently interviewed the Founders of Ayanay in a set of 6 interviews, which tell you a lot about the company, their purpose and the future.
    • The Business of Therapy Weekend.
      • In September 7th and 8th, I’ll be presenting a masterclass on Social media and content creation, which is similar in content to the event with onlinevents but I’ll be adding worksheets and other things to take away.

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  • Peer supervision groups
    • I find it important to continue to have conversations with colleagues, either through formal supervision or other types of groups, and peer supervision is one of them.
    • I’m meeting with local therapists for general group support, but also online with therapists that work with neurodiversity directly.
    • This offers an opportunity to increasing our knowledge and increasing the way we impact the therapeutic world with knowledge and expertise regarding neurodiversity.

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  • Facebook groups
    • I run a couple of groups that I’ve set up from my interests, and a few others that have stemmed from collaborations with colleagues and organisations:
      • 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.
      • 20 Self-Care Habits – Self -Care group – this group came about as a result of my book and my desire to add even more value to my readers and those wanting to develop their self-care activities in a supportive environment with like-minded people.
      • Content creation group Grow your private practice through adding value on social media platforms and promoting your services in an ethical and professional manner (linked to the events and services described elsewhere in this post)
      • Ayanay Open – a group designed to peak your interest in the membership, and be a part of it while you decide to join, or just to be in the loop if you decide not to join at this point. Social media posts are shared here, which will benefit everyone that shares.

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  • New services coming soon!
    • I’ve set up my directory of services, which encompasses everything I do and want to do, now and in the future.
    • Do have a look via this link to read a brief description of what’s yet to come (work in progress!) and what I already offer at this point.
    • The Dream to Reality service is one that I want to work on first, alongside writing, because I believe I can meet you right where you are, even if there’s no fancy ready-made programme to support you. A sounding board session or a few sessions might be what you need to get you back on track and clear about the topics I can help you with.

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  • Books to looks forward to!
    • I am really looking forward to putting my head down and writing. I write because I enjoy it and benefit from doing research and putting my ideas into paper. But I also enjoy adding value to the people that I can reach via my books and other stuff that I do.
    • You already know about 20 Self-Care Habits and my blog posts. I am looking forward to offering books on the following topics
      • Self-Care (part 2) – Responsibility issues 
        • I’ll say more as I develop the ideas
      • A non-fiction novel based on a recurring dream I used to have (as a psychodynamically based therapist, dreams are very important and telling, and the value I got from working through the dream in therapy is something I believe will benefit everyone, not only myself)
      • Content Creation – a practical guide to social media marketing, based on what I’ve learned so far and what has worked for me
      • Supervision – A compilation of the information I’ve gathered and found useful for my own practice and for my supervisees and all the clients that this has impacted upon
      • Children’s books on mental health topics – if we have good mental health from the start, and are able to be self-aware and work through our emotions with clear understanding and support, we are less likely to struggle as much as adults. The topics will be around every day stuff (I work with clients working through everyday life issues, so this makes sense and is congruent with how I work)

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In regards to this blog, in the next few weeks I’m going to be writing about the following topics:

  • Continue the Counselling Autistic People series
  • Content Creation Blog series
  • Supervision blog series
  • ad hoc posts as things come up for me, the mental health world, or other current events I might want to discuss from a therapist’s perspective

I am really excited for the next half of 2019 and the whole of 2020! 

I am hopeful that things will be much better health wise and with more time to look after myself, to engage more in my meaningful and close relationships – both friends and colleagues -, as well as giving my businesses the time they deserve and that I want to give them, that it will be a great time from now onward.

I’m not saying it wasn’t good or great already, but sometimes life gets in the way, and I wouldn’t be being congruent with myself or the people around me if I avoided talking about it or addressing those issues so I can better look after myself.

I practice what I preach, which is something I’m pleased about.


Until next time…


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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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