Category Archives: My Services

Breavement & Loss Counselling

Bereavement & Loss Counselling

Loss CounsellingBereavement and loss come in many different forms.  It can be the death of a loved one – husband, wife, child, parent, relative or friend. Loss can also be felt in other situations such as divorce, separation, redundancy, illness, injury or loss of sexual function. Every situation and personal response is unique in the manner and time it takes to recover and feel able to participate in and engage with your life again.

The loss of a partner or spouse

This often happens after a long-term relationship, where a couple have shared many years of life experiences and intimacy. The bereaved partner may have to adjust to living alone for the first time in their lives, having to do everything their partner did, learning new skills and managing alone. This can add to the desolation of their loss.

Grieving is not always straight forward and can be complicated by conflicting emotions of love, anger, guilt or frustration and regret about feelings which went unexpressed. Anxiety, weeping, panic, sleeplessness and loss of appetite are common responses. For those who have close relatives and friends and a good support network, they may work through the process feeling loved and cared for, even if still bereft and missing their partner.  For those who don’t have this, they can feel isolated and overwhelmingly lonely.

The loss of a child

Divorce Counselling Whether through accident or illness, still birth or miscarriage, there is profound grieving which can result in depression, anxiety, insomnia and lack of appetite. It can be desperately hard to continue with all life’s demands which can impact on siblings who are also grieving the loss. If it is a sudden death, there is no opportunity for mental or emotional preparation, and depending on the circumstances, can result in post-traumatic shock.

Other examples of loss

A disabling illness or accident, loss of sexual function or redundancy from a long term employment are all some of the situations which change the quality of life and require a period of adjustment to the loss. Learning to live in a new way, not being able to function as before can result in varying symptoms and emotions. Partners and families also may suffer as they are affected and have to adjust to the changed circumstances.

How can counselling help?

If you are feeling stuck and not progressing through the stages of bereavement, then counselling is an opportunity to explore your situation and express yourself in a way you may not want to with others. If you feel that your grief is burdensome or distressing to your family and friends but still need to express it, you can do so in the safety of the counselling room and the therapeutic relationship with your counsellor. Counselling is an opportunity for support for those suffering the loneliness of loss and to help them gain insight into ways to relieve that loneliness and the confidence to take steps forward.

  

Divorce & Separation Counselling

Divorce & Separation Counselling

Divorce and Separation Counselling

Power and Control CounsellingDivorce and separation are times of intense emotion and stress. Sometimes a couple recognise they have grown apart with insufficient feelings for each other to work at their relationship. In these cases, the process can be straightforward and an amicable connection maintained.In many other cases, especially where one partner doesn’t want the separation or it is the result of an affair, the process of divorce can be traumatic and often long-drawn out.

Children also have to adjust to a major change in their lives, as well as coping with their parents’ relationship breakdown and living between two different households.

Even when a couple come to terms with the separation, there can often be prolonged confrontation and distress when other partners become involved and begin to build relationships with their children.

The combination of these situations as well as sorting out the home, finances, child support, separate parenting and the general loneliness, loss and low self-esteem which comes with divorce  can be overwhelming and takes time and support to help everyone involved recover.

How can counselling help?

Counselling can help couples who have decided to separate by offering them an opportunity to speak about how they are feeling and what is concerning them as they progress through the separation process. Often, people feel able to express their feelings and wishes in the safety and calm of the counselling room in a way they are unable to do together because of heightened emotion and stress. In this situations sessions at chosen intervals can be a valuable opportunity to reflect on their changing needs and the welfare of children as they adjust to living and parenting apart.

If counselling together is not appropriate, then either partner can come alone for individual personal counselling. Getting divorced can contain many of the elements of bereavement, often amplified by anger, rejection and betrayal.

How many sessions will I need?

Divorce Counselling If both partners are coming together to work through separation, you may only need a few sessions at intervals which allow any actions to be put in place and tested. If something isn’t working for you or your children,there is the opportunity to explore other options or behaviours in a calm environment. If you come alone for help to recover from a painful experience and re-gain self-confidence and direction, this may take longer and will initially be at weekly intervals, according to individual circumstances.

Let’s make it work

If the decision is to try and make the relationship work, then counselling can transform your relationship if both partners are prepared to be fully involved. I also offer individual sessions within the couple counselling if this is helpful. Couple counselling requires self- control and self-discipline and putting respect back into the relationship. One of the benefits is that each person can listen to, respond to, or correct misinterpretations by the other.

What about the children?

Decisions regarding the separation process and living arrangements need to be made in the best possible interests of the children. The most stress children experience is when parents are arguing – either with each other or about them. If they become pawns in a tug of war, then they are liable to suffer. If they are made to choose between parents, this can also cause problems unless they are older and have clear feelings about who they are based with and where.  Often parents express their feelings in front of, or to their children which can cause divided loyalties which again causes emotional distress for the child.

Children want to be listened to, have their opinions asked about agreements and arrangements but not be put in a position of having to make major decisions which result in them feeling they are rejecting one or other parent. If both parents are pleasant with each other in front of them and allow them to enjoy their time with each one, without feeling guilt, then they are more likely to get through the divorce feeling loved, secure and able to get on with their lives happily.

Counselling for parents apart

I offer counselling for parents who want to be able to improve their parenting apart. If you are perhaps arguing about arrangements and disagree with the way your children are being treated in the separate households counselling can provide a calm environment to discuss these issues and learn new ways of communicating with each other.  All other issues including difficulty in arranging access and holidays can also be addressed.

Couple & Relationship Counselling

Couple & Relationship Counselling

Couple counselling

IPower and Controlt can often take some time to decide to take the plunge and organising counselling. It may have been discussed in moments of stress but put on the back burner when tension eases or a difficulty is resolved. Also one partner may want to have counselling and the other doesn’t and only reluctantly agrees. It may also be that the relationship finally breaks down and one partner talks about leaving, so the other is galvanised into doing something about it quickly.Whatever the reason for coming, I offer a calm, comfortable and confidential environment where I will work impartially. I will manage communication so that arguments are reduced in the session so both of you can speak and be listened to, and provide the opportunity to explore your relationship.

Affairs CounsellingAs understanding is reached about what your issues are and how you both contribute to any conflict, lack of intimacy or communication breakdown, we can then work at learning new communication skills and make any changes of behaviour required.

Couple counselling is a powerful means of getting to the heart of your problems in a situation where you can both hear what the other is thinking and feeling in a way it’s not always possible at home without it turning into an argument.

Let’s make it work

If the decision is to try and make the relationship work, then counselling can transform your relationship if both partners are prepared to be fully involved. I also offer individual sessions within the couple counselling if this is helpful. Couple counselling requires self- control and self-discipline and putting respect back into the relationship. One of the benefits is that each person can listen to, respond to, or correct misinterpretations by the other.

We have decided to separate

If a couple decide that the relationship has broken down beyond repair, I offer counselling for a few sessions, if they wish, to help them discuss, come to terms with and organise their separation. This can be painful if one person doesn’t’ want to separate, but it offers an opportunity to talk, explore choices and discuss arrangements for children if they have them. It can help to maintain some calm contact with each other during this process which might not be possible on their own.

Coming for counselling on your own

Often people choose to have relationship counselling on their own. Their partner might not want to come or they may feel more comfortable and able to speak more openly, alone. This is an opportunity to express feelings and situations that haven’t been able to be discussed as a couple or haven’t been resolved. Counselling can help you to discover what your thoughts and feelings are and enable more positive responses and changes.

The number of sessions required

The length of time spent in counselling is flexible and varies according to individual needs. Some people make rapid progress whereas others find themselves in a position of requiring longer-term support. Usually counselling sessions are weekly until the acute stage is passed and then may become fortnightly and finally monthly and stop when clients feel there is some form of resolution and they have the necessary skills to maintain their relationships themselves.

Individual Personal Counselling

Individual & Personal Counselling

Individual Personal Counselling

Anxiety CounsellingPersonal counselling is an opportunity to build a therapeutic relationship with your counsellor through which you can explore the intricacies of your individual circumstances which have prompted you to request counselling. There may be events or situations, either past or present which are affecting you in the present moment and hampering or distressing you in some way. You may not wish to share these things with family or friends and instead want an objective perspective from someone impartial and not involved,

which will be confidential and free from judgement or criticism. As your counsellor, I will work at all times for your personal well-being.

When is a good time to have counselling?

If you have circumstances in your life that are causing you unease or unhappiness and you want an impartial perspective on it, then counselling may be the answer. You may have discussed your situation with people in your support network – family and friends, but don’t feel you have resolved it or you don’t want to feel you are burdening them with your problems. You may also feel you can express yourself in a more honest and open way with a counsellor without feeling criticised or judged.

How will it help me?

services-8My clients often feel it is  great relief to be able talk freely and honestly about things affecting them which they have felt too uncomfortable or embarrassed to talk about, or simply haven’t trusted anyone enough to do so. They may also feel they aren’t getting the professional help they need from family and friends.

Personal counselling is a journey of exploration and insight. It is a time when you can, with my help and guidance, focus on your thoughts feelings and actions – what circumstances are affecting you in a negative way and how you respond to those. You will gain an understanding of your attitudes and belief systems and where they came from and whether they are affecting you in the present, either negatively or positively.

Counselling is a process of exploration, gaining understanding and then working to make changes which will enhance your life in a positive way.

What happens at the initial consultation?

This is when I ask questions about what has brought you for counselling. You can explain your present circumstances and I can gain some insight into what your issues are and whether I can help. If you are comfortable and feel I have a grasp of your situation, we will organise on-going counselling sessions at a time which is convenient for you.

How long will it last?

The length of individual personal counselling varies from person to person and the type and length of time you have experienced your situation. If it is a specific issue in the present which you want to gain some perspective on and can act on it quickly, then you may only need one or two sessions. If you have a more complicated situation, or are recovering from a loss or trauma, it may take much longer, as may learning the skills of self-control or assertiveness. Similarly building self-esteem or recovering from depression or anxiety may take more time. Every circumstance is different and although initially sessions will be weekly, as counselling progresses, the length of time and space between appointments can be flexible.

Separated Parenting

Divorce and Separation Counselling

Separated Parenting

Separated Parenting

Affairs CounsellingSeparating can be a stressful and emotional time. When children are involved and there has been conflict in the relationship prior to and during the separation or divorce, children can end up witnessing it and sometimes used as a means of controlling or punishing each other.

If separating couples are able to control their feelings in front of the children and work together in the best interests of the children, then children can manage the upheaval in their lives with less distress and disruption. When parents can be amicable and pleased for children to have a happy and relaxed time with each parent then children can adapt and get on with their lives. If, on the other hand, they are drawn into conflict over a protracted period, they can suffer negative effects which can last into adulthood.

Situations which negatively affect children

Unless one parent is a danger to a child, or incapable of being responsible for them, then both have parental responsibility for any children. Trying to stop a parent from having regular contact can have an adverse effect on the child as children need to have a relationship with both parents. If there was intense conflict during the separation process, one party can feel the other was to blame. Examples might be if there was an affair or domestic violence or a general breakdown in communication where parents were very angry with each other.

The effect of this can be very negative, emotionally and mentally for children.  If they hear repeated criticism of a parent by the other, or are made to feel guilty when they spend time with them, then they can suffer from divided loyalties and fear of talking about their time with the other parent in case it provokes and makes them subject to more anger or tears.

Making children choose which parent to live with, unless they are older and there are no emotional pressures on them, can create feelings of guilt and stress in a child. Not being allowed to maintain telephone contact is also damaging – children are also going through a loss process when their family splits up.

What do children want?

Power and Control CounsellingEasy and happy access to both parents,  Living arrangements to be as secure and convenient for them as is possible, To be able to carry on with school and social activities, To be listened to when arrangements are being made but not to have to make difficult choices, To be able to talk about things they are doing with one parent to the other,  To be allowed to love each parent,  To be able to have free contact by telephone and/or email with the parent they are not with at the time.

How can counselling help?

Counselling can help parents talk to each other and discuss their difficulties and feelings about their children in a calm environment. It can help them learn to communicate in a respectful and non-aggressive manner and generally build a more polite and business-like relationship, putting their children’s needs first.

   

Low self-esteem & confidence

Anxiety Counselling

Low Self Esteem

Low Self Esteem

Low Self Esteem CounsellingLow self-esteem is a serious condition, usually originating in childhood and manifesting itself in negative ways in adult behaviour and relationships. It is considered to be a condition in its own right rather than a consequence of other conditions and can seriously hamper interactions and communication to the detriment of both the sufferer and people they are in relationships with.

What is low self-esteem?

Low self-esteem is a thinking disorder – of thought processes which generate negative attitudes, emotions and behaviours not based on reality but on information and opinions from significant others in childhood. A person will think they are basically unworthy of positive responses from others – that they are primarily unlovable. This will then lead them, in an attempt to experience being lovable and worthy, into self-deprecating and compulsive behaviours. The view that sufferers have of themselves is distorted and unrealistic but because this is what they think and believe about themselves, they think others feel the same about them.

If they think, for example, that they are incompetent or unattractive, they will believe others see them as inadequate and aren’t attracted to them. This can result in feeling unskilled and uninteresting and so generate anxiety. Thoughts generate emotions which in turn prompt actions and behaviour. A person with low self-esteem has irrational or distorted thoughts which in turn generate irrational and distorted emotions and lead to negative and self-destructive behaviour. An example of this could be making bad choices such as staying in a damaging relationship because they believe they are unworthy of anything else.

How do you develop low self-esteem?

Low Self Esteem CounsellingThis happens in early childhood if parents don’t love a child and provide them with the necessary encouragement and praise. Good parenting encourages a child to be pleased with themselves, and with what they achieve, it allows them to express opinions and feelings with acceptance and consideration and generally encourages a child to grow up with healthy self- esteem. If a child’s thoughts and feelings are met with derision and ridicule and whatever they do and achieve is not good enough, then a child may develop fear and anxiety about not being good enough – sometimes becoming a perfectionist, needy of reassurance in relationships, and unable to take risks in anticipation of failure. Low self-esteem can cause serious and life-disabling consequences.

How can counselling help?

Counselling can help by exploring where low-self-esteem developed, and why. It can help a person to recognise their thought processes and when a thought is negative or irrational, to find ways to challenge the thoughts by reality testing them and as counselling progresses, to replace them with positive ones. This can take a while, but it is possible to be freed from a distressing and life disrupting condition.

How many sessions will I need?

Everyone’s pace of recovery is different, but as this is such a long-term condition and can affect every area of a person’s life, it may take longer than other situations and great importance will be placed on the therapeutic relationship which will be built between client and counsellor.

  

Assertiveness issues

Assertiveness Issues

Lack of Assertiveness & Fear of Confrontation

Anxiety CounsellingAssertiveness is the ability to express your feelings in a calm, polite, non-confrontational way without being aggressive. It is having the ability to make choices and to say ‘no’ to something you don’t want. This sounds straightforward but can be complicated and extremely difficult for many people.

The causes of lack of assertiveness

It usually originates in childhood as a blend of personality and parenting. If a child is frightened by the response of an adult or older sibling to something they have asked for or been upset about, then they will learn to avoid doing or saying anything that upsets, displeases or annoys someone else. They often grow up to be people pleasers, seeking approval and finding affirmation in being someone who can be relied on to fit in and respond positively to any request. The positive side to this is that such people are often sensitive, generous, kind and thoughtful. The negative aspect is that lack of assertiveness can result in being taken advantage of by others. Not having your own needs met or wishes taken into account over a period of time can lead to anger and frustration, and the potential of being abused.

Fear of confrontation

Assertiveness CounsellingLack of assertiveness is usually also part of fear of confrontation. Not only is there a desire to please in order to be accepted and liked, but also the fear of provoking an unpleasant response by confronting someone. That response could be distress, anger or rejection, any of which are reasons for them to fear addressing difficult issues.

Consequences of lack of assertiveness and fear of confrontation

The consequences can be varied and painful. It can lead to being bullied, both in relationships and at work. It can mean that a person becomes overburdened by requests from others which interfere with family life. It can also result in supressed anger and frustration, leading to withdrawal, moods and explosive outbursts. It can also lead more easily to situations of abuse. In a relationship the abuse can be physical, emotional, financial or sexual. Being afraid of confrontation can mean being caught up in the abusive partner’s ever increasing demands which can become more demeaning, controlling and threatening.

How can counselling help?

Counselling can help a person understand where their fears originated and the impact of lack of assertiveness on their present lives. It can encourage taking steps towards changing behaviours and thought processes and becoming more boundaries and clear.

How long will it take?

Usually this type of counselling may take a longer period of time because the feelings of anxiety and fear are very entrenched. The younger the person was when they started to feel this way, the more deeply ingrained it is in their psyche. It will depend on the individual but often it takes small steps into changing behaviour and dealing with the consequences before a person becomes confident. When this happens, it can be a life changing experience, increasing a person’s self-confidence, self-esteem and both self-respect and the respect that others have for them.

 

Power and control

Couple Counselling

Power & Control

Power & Control in Relationships

Power and Control CounsellingHaving an element of power and control in our lives is essential in order to be able to manage our lives with confidence. It is the misuse of it in relationships which cause problems of varying degrees. Relationships come in all sizes and shapes. They are complex structures requiring a fine balance to make them function well. Two separate individuals are coming together with different parenting experiences, upbringing, family values, social and work interactions. Some may come from different cultures and religions – even living in different areas of the UK can have an impact. All these plus different previous relationship experiences are brought as ‘baggage’ for good or bad into the present relationship. Everyone comes into the relationship with expectations and whether consciously or unconsciously, wanting the other to meet those expectations. Unless a couple have identical needs and experiences, then there will be differences and it will be impossible to meet all of those expectations. This can lead to disappointment and feeling let down which can be interpreted as not being loved or cared for properly. It is at this point that partners start to put pressure on the other to conform and this is where the dynamic of power and control plays itself out. Every individual needs an element of control in and of their lives – to be able to make decisions which affect the direction we take at in any given situation and the power to make choices. When single, this is more straightforward, but it is more complicated as a couple.

When both partners have strong ideas about how they want to live – ranging from housework, cooking, discipline of children, time spent on hobbies, how to spend money, communicate and express love. Then pressure is often exerted on the other to conform.

There are varying levels of control in relationships. When a relationship functions well, there will be a good balance of control – a couple will communicate and negotiate, and recognise the rights and needs of each other.

Problems arise when either arguments increase as partners pressurise each other to get what they want – either verbally or physically, or one is dominated by the other more powerful partner. If not equally assertive and confident, or if one is afraid of challenging and confronting the other, then the dominant partner takes control. Often the consequences of challenging the dominant partner can be too great, such as heated arguments, especially if the children can hear, withdrawal, or moods. In extreme cases it can lead to emotional, verbal or physical abuse.

How can counselling help?

Counselling can be either as a couple or as an individual if one refuses to come or the other wants to discuss the situation alone.

Learning to communicate and manage and diffuse arguments requires skills which can be learned. Counselling offers the opportunity to explore and understand the dynamics of the relationship at this point. It is a calm environment where a couple will be able to listen to and be heard by each other without arguing. They will start to understand how important respecting each other is and that being different isn’t a fault in the other. They will be able to learn the difference between being assertive and being controlling. If a couple want to stay together, these skills can transform their relationship.

When control becomes extreme and domestic violence is involved, then safety is paramount. If incidences are sporadic and not severe and the partner being violent (sometimes the man or woman or both) agree to stop, then counselling is appropriate if there is no further occurrence.

If violence is severe, repeated and life-threatening, counselling is only appropriate for the victim with the emphasis on personal safety.

How many sessions will I need?

Power and ControlAs in couple counselling, this will depend on how fast a couple or individual is able to put their learning into action. It will usually start at weekly intervals until the relationship is calmer and functioning better. Then it may reduce to two weekly and monthly until counselling is no longer needed.

Counselling for the perpetrator is not appropriate. There are perpetrator programmes available for them to seek help. For the victims of domestic violence, counselling will focus on a client’s safety. Thereafter, the client may want on-going personal counselling or choose to go on a recovery programme in a group situation.

Affairs

Affairs Counselling

Affairs

Affairs CounsellingAffairs either change or end relationships. There are major consequences of an affair, not least the feelings of hurt and betrayal and loss of trust felt by the partner. After the initial shock of discovery, the choice to separate or work at the relationship needs to be considered. People often believe that if their partner had an affair, then they would end the relationship. Sometimes this happens, but often they find they want to continue with their partner and move forward. If the person having the affair wants to leave the marriage, then divorce or separation follows.

There is usually a period of intense emotional distress, making it particularly hard for both partners, particularly the one being left. Everyone is affected – children, grandparents family members and friends. Sometimes the separation is prolonged by the partner leaving and returning several times, causing swings of emotions and instability. They often do this because they haven’t understood the implications of leaving and the feelings of loss they would feel for their marriage, home and family.

Why an affair?

Affairs happen for various reasons. It could be an external relief from pressure or stress, the relationship could have been struggling for a period of time and needs for intimacy weren’t being met within the relationship or a partner finds a friendship outside the relationship which develops into more serious feelings and an affair. Sometimes it as a brief episode  which happens under the influence of alcohol or because it is offered and is a momentary temptation and ego boost without any thought for the consequences or expectation that it would continue or be discovered.

When a relationship continues

Affairs CounsellingIf the choice is to stay together, there is a period of questioning and reassurance. The partner wo had the affair will need to re-build trust and the confidence of their partner who will be feeling a mixture of shock, anger hurt, loss of confidence and anxiety about whether the affair is still continuing secretly or it will happen again.

Counselling can help a couple work through this period when emotions are high and the relationship is fragile. Time can then be taken to explore the relationship before the affair and look at how they would like it to be in the future. An affair can often be a catalyst for positive change and bring a couple together in a more rewarding way.

When a relationship ends

Counselling is an opportunity to work through the ending of the relationship – together for few sessions if the couple feel it would help them understand the situation and move forward through separation in a more positive way. If this is not an option then either partner can have individual help to understand and cope with the change in their lives – both as a family, as parents who will be parenting apart, and as individuals wanting personal counselling to help with the emotional aftermath of a life changing situation – often accompanied by feelings of loss, low self-esteem and depression.

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Depression & Anxiety Counselling

Depression Counselling

Depression and Anxiety Counselling

Anxiety and Depression Counselling

Low Self Esteem CounsellingAnxiety and depression are debilitating conditions experienced by approximately 1 in 10 people at some point in their lives. Although not the same condition, they are often experienced together.

Anxiety

Anxiety is a state of mind which negatively affects a person’s emotional and physical well-being. It is a normal reaction to stress, usually prompted by a worrying or frightening event or situation in a person’s life. It may also be caused by on-going circumstances which generate instability or insecurity. This could be at home, work or school.

When a succession of worrying events occurs, a person may find themselves in a general anxiety state, called an anxiety disorder. Symptoms can be physical, emotional and behavioural: physical symptoms can be sweating, trembling, headaches, stomach ache, and tension in neck, shoulders and back. Emotional symptoms can be nervousness, fear, panic, uncontrolled thoughts. Behavioural symptoms can be withdrawing, avoiding situations, repetitive actions, sleeplessness.

Other disorders which manifest themselves as a consequence of stress are phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Depression

Low Self Esteem CounsellingDepression can be caused by various factors, for example helplessness or hopelessness – living in, or finding yourself in a situation from which you can see no way out. We all need a measure of control in our lives and if we feel unable to take that control in order to change our existence or experiences, we can feel trapped and ultimately depressed. If we feel exhausted, mistreated or bullied, anger and hurt which we may feel we have no outlet for can also lead to depression.

Symptoms can be low self-esteem, loss of energy or enjoyment in the usual things which give us pleasure, low mood and loss of desire to communicate and no interest in sex. It can become hard to focus on tasks or follow conversations and there can be general fatigue, listlessness and thoughts of dying.

How counselling can help

In both circumstances anxiety and depression can disturb your life and that of those around you. Counselling can help you gently explore your personal situation, helping you gain some insight into, and understanding of possible factors causing your symptoms.

Areas to consider and make changes will be: relationships, which if not functioning well can have a major impact on our emotional and physical state of being; thought processes, which affect brain function – our thoughts can affect our emotions and actions. It is recognised that the brain can change (called neuroplasticity) and be affected by what we think and do. Another area to consider will be our life style – what we eat, do and the exercise we take, and how this affects us emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. Also re-defining ourselves in terms of self-worth, assertiveness and regaining a lost sense of purpose will be an important aspect of recovery.

How long will it take?

Anxiety and depression are often the end result of a period of time of discomfort or stress or unhappiness. It may take time to understand how this has come about and to get to the position of being able to take steps to recovery. Sessions will last for as long as required to regain your ability to handle your circumstances with confidence and a sense of well-being.