‘Look for the helpers’: The public place of empathy

The last few months have been traumatic for the UK population. Terror, tragedy and a political process which is throwing into relief division upon division, has left us shaken and grief-stricken. ‘Look for the helpers’, we’re told, to console ourselves in the face of each new wave of grief. And there are many helpers. Like […]

Feeling the strain: how counselling works to reduce stress

A recent episode of the BBC series ‘The Truth About…’ dealt with what it and the World Health Organisation called a 21st century health epidemic: stress (4th May, 2017). Stress, it told us, is a primal emergency reaction to a perceived threat. It is a physiological and neurological reaction in which a part of the […]

‘The change’: what does menopause mean to you?

Are you menopausal? If so, how do you know and how do you feel about answering yes to that question? Or if you’re not yet, how do you feel about menopause as part of your future? As a fifty-ish year old woman, I assume I’m ‘in the change’ as my mother (and Marie Stopes, Germaine […]

The emotion of politics

How old does Jeremy Corbyn make you feel? It’s an odd question, but it’s the sort that might come up in counselling; you might make an emotional timeline to help you to understand why you feel as you do in a particular situation or relationship. I resigned from the Labour Party a couple of weeks […]

When a relationship ends

Suddenly the shops are full of hearts and flowers: Valentine’s Day will soon be here. For many people who are on their own or in an unhappy relationship, it’s not a day of celebration. It can be particularly hard for those whose partner has left them. When I work with people whose partner has left […]

Are you sitting comfortably? Bodily distress and its meanings

  Are you happy with your body? Happy with your body as it is now, with how it functions, how it looks, how it feels? If the answer is yes, that’s brilliant, read no further. If you answered with a resounding ‘no’ or had to have a think about it, you are far from unusual. […]

A picture paints a thousand words: using photographs in counselling

Like many people, I have a peculiar relationship with cameras and photographs. I recoil when a lens is pointed in my direction and tend to avert my eyes when I’m confronted with the resulting images of myself. There are large gaps in my ‘photo history’, when I simply didn’t have a camera, or when I […]

moving on from stress and trauma

We frequently talk about being ‘stressed out’ or even ‘traumatized’ by our everyday experiences. But what distinguishes manageable ‘stress’ from something more damaging to our wellbeing and when are we mistaking being traumatized for stress? Neither stress nor trauma can be objectively nor definitively categorized. There is not a discrete set of events or circumstances […]

don’t go changing: loving yourself just the way you are

At this time of year, we’re bombarded with messages about change, mostly about changing our bodies, our appetites and our activities. Most of these are bound up with other messages about buying something to facilitate change: gym memberships, detox programmes, smoothie makers, nicotine patches. Conversely, one of the other things we’re reminded of at this […]

counselling and schools: a relationship under stress

There have been a number of reports in recent weeks of the rising demand for counselling services in universities, and ensuing debates about the causes of this increased demand. Some have pointed to the relentless pressures on children and young people throughout the UK education system, which, when combined with the difficulties which can happen […]