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!
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.