Stones and shells or hopes and dreams?

Things that represent how we feel about something. Have you come across a smell that makes you think about someone, or a colour that you associate with them? Sometimes we can use items to help us express how we are feeling. With a child I may offer them a box of assorted toys and see what they want to play with, I may ask them what each toy represents, I may ask them why they treat each toy the way they do. Adults can do the same, often counsellors have pebbles or shells or little items in their rooms. These can be used to represent your emotions or events or even people and can help you explore and understand your feelings.  By using the items you can explore a certain person or emotion in details, and see how it fits into the world you live in.

If you are in the Newcastle-under-Lyme or Stoke-on-Trent area and would like to explore yourself more in therapy please do contact Wright Minds.

Creativity and Playing.

Creativity and Playing

When we are young we play, we don’t realise it but during this play we are learning and processing the world around us. We are figuring out physics when we see if we can ride or bikes without stabilisers, or lean as we go around a corner. We are finding our pain levels and finding determination when we fall off and get back on. We are finding patients when we play games together, we learn to play with others as we will learn to work with others, we learn to communicate, when we make up games we are building our creativity. But also when something adult we have seen interests us or scares us or confuses us we will as children often play it out. We can play through grief, love, fear, excitement, confusion all kinds of emotions can come out in our play.

When we grow we forget this method of exploring and understanding our lives.

We forget as parents this can help us with our children and what they are feeling.

Let us think then that playing with our children may be a good way for us to connect with them, understand them and to understand our selves.

Over the next few weeks I will give some examples of being creative to help us understand ourselves more.

If you would like to explore play further and are in the Staffordshire area please do contact Wright Minds

Time for bed?

Recently I was talking to friends and they were explaining how they struggled to sleep and often spent up to 48 hours awake. I often have conversations about sleep, people feel they sleep too much or too little or worry that they always feel tired even though they do sleep. This got me thinking about my own sleep patterns. I feel relatively lucky that I get about 8 hours of sleep a night, but still some days I am tired, others I have more energy, others I struggle to sleep.

I found a lovely website on sleep that was recommended to me and I found some interesting facts and articles on there.

The conclusion I reached is we all will have different relationships with our sleep patterns through our lives and different solutions will work at different times from something as simple as changing a mattress or opening a window to calming behaviours before bedtime, reducing stress levels, herbal teas, medication, or meditation or therapy. We maybe just need to forgive ourselves for poor sleep and be proactive about finding the right answer for ourselves at the time.

If you feel you’d like some counselling to talk about sleep or any other issues please do call Wright Minds

Supervision in Counselling

What is supervision?

Is it being watched? Is it a punishment? Is it a caring term? Is it helpful? Is it for trainees?

There are many uses of the word supervisor. It can mean you are at school and are being supervised in quite study. It can mean you have done something wrong and your work is being supervised, it can mean a manager who is above you and has more power than you at the supermarket? It can be someone supporting you in your training. I want to describe counselling supervision because we all have different understandings and I feel I should be very clear with the terms I use where possible.

For counselling it is an experienced counsellor, often with an additional qualification in supervising in a counselling environment. As counsellors we work alone with our clients, we rely on ourselves and our prior learning and experiences. Sometimes we need to review what we have said to our clients, or what they have said to us to allow us to offer the client the best care. This is where supervision takes place. They are there for a counsellor to talk to about their client work, to review what has happened, to check the work is going well, to make sure the counsellor hasn’t missed anything. They are there to make sure the client gets the best therapy they can and that both client and counsellor are in a safe therapeutic relationship.  Sometimes supervision can be in groups of counsellors, sometimes it’s just the counsellor and the supervisor. The client isn’t talked about, names are not shared, the client’s details are shared, it is just parts of the work and the feelings and academic terms are discussed.

I offer supervision to student counsellors and qualified counsellors as well as attending my own supervision.

It doesn’t have to be counsellors who can access my supervision, anyone around Staffordshire who feels they would like to talk confidentially about their work or staff or choices is welcome to attend supervision at Wright Minds.

Words for Love

We use the word love! What do we mean by it? This is one of the areas where the great language of English isn’t quite as helpful as it could be in describing our feelings and emotions.

“I love you” said Laura to Stef, “I love you” said Laura to Bob, “I love you” said Laura to Dave. What does it mean in each sentence? Do I love each person the same way? Without much context we’re stuck to understand the meaning. Even them it’s not easy to say I love you.

Here I will let the Greek language help me out. They have many words for love. Below I have described 7 of them.

Eros is sexual, romantic or passionate love,

Philia ,is the word for love of friendship, shared goodwill.

Storge is the word used familial love, between parents and their children, between siblings.

Agape is universal love, the love given to strangers, nature, Gods. Often linked to the religious love described by Christians or Buddhists.

Ludus is fun, uncommitted, playful love (teasing, flirting, dancing, seducing) – maybe linked to the word lustful.

Pragma is practical love based on reason, duty, one’s longer-term interests, personal qualities and compatibilities, shared goals, aged, matured. We use the word pragmatism. Could be a base for a longer term marriage, working relationship, friendship.

Philautia or Narcissism is self-love, which can be healthy or unhealthy.

So now I can re-arrange the above sentences Laura said to Stef “I feel philia towards you”. Laura said to Bob “I care you for you with great agape”. Laura said to Dave “I feel we have a strong pragma bond.”

It can sometimes be easier to have more than one word to express a feeling. In counselling your counsellor will show you agape, they will care for you unconditionally, but you’d probably feel odd if they said they loved you.

If you would like to talk to a counsellor and explore your different types of emotions and ways to understand and express them please do contact Wright Minds.

Iceberg

No I’m not talking about the lettuce kind, but the Titanic destroying kind.

Our conscious awareness or our everyday responses to things are the tip of the iceberg, this is what is said, done and seen by others and what we are aware our minds are thinking, e.g. ‘do I want a cup of tea?’ ‘I like tea’, ‘I am useless at painting’, ‘I’m great at sewing’.

Below that are areas that we are not aware of the subconscious and the unconscious, things we think but are not aware we are thinking. For example in our subconscious all those rules we’ve heard in childhood and taken on board are stored subconsciously. If you see pink you think of girls, blue makes you think of boys. Or a phrase ‘big boys/girls don’t cry’ often means we are not aware of these thoughts but our brains throw up the action – e.g. If you are hurt by an action you would resist crying, but unless you think hard you are unsure why.

Finally the unconscious is where we find our most primitive beliefs and behaviours, like violence, hunger, desire, belief in Gods.

We can bring our subconscious and unconscious minds into focus and become aware of them over time with therapy work. For example belief in a God, it can often be a unconscious belief from our early existence, being told by parents, or something we are born with, then we are able to recognise it in the subconscious as our religious activities – e.g. going to a place of worship. Finally we can focus our conscious mind on it and begin to debate why we do what we do. Here in the debate the awareness rises and we can start to see where the beliefs come from under the surface and start to bring them to the surface and adapt them if we wish.

This also links to the topic of ANTs I discussed the other week.

If you are in the Staffordshire area and would like to explore your mind further please do contact Wright Minds.

Flip the Thought

This is a technique I started using with children but can work very well with adults too. It follows from the previous topic of ANTs, to help change those negative thoughts. Take two pieces of paper, or two post it notes, they need to be different colours, try to make one colour you associate with negative and one you associate with positive. On one write the negative thought. On the other, the positive colour, write the opposite thought. With children I have a laminated paper, one side red and one green so we can write the thought and flip it over to the positive side.

For example ‘Oh its raining again’ would go on my negative colour, on the positive colour I could write ‘but the garden will look very green when it stops’ or there won’t be a water shortage’. Try not to let your mind slip towards other negative thoughts, really focus on the positive one.

Once you establish the flipping skill you don’t always need the paper, you can auto correct the ANTs in your mind.

If you are in the Newcastle-under-Lyme or Stoke-on-Trent ares and would like counselling to help with your ANTs or any other issues please do give Wright Minds a call.

ANTs

ANTs? I hear you say. I thought this was a counselling blog and shes talking about insects. Well you are right, it is a counselling blog and no I’m not talking about insects but about Automatic Negative Thoughts.

 

These occur once our minds become used to negative things occurring, the thoughts get stuck in a negative loop. This can be changed to a positive loop. Often this is a technique used within CBT or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

The idea is that the mind notices a correlation when it experiences X then Y occurs. So every time you talk to your boss in a week they yell at you and make you feel useless lets call this X. You respond to this by feeling sad, scared, unappreciated, useless (whatever negative emotion it connects to) lets call this Y. So now the brain will make the connection with Boss X to negative emotions Y. However, when the boss is less stressed and stopped shouting your brain is still expecting X so will start to feel Y. Thus ANTs are established. This can carry over into other areas, so people who are viewed as similar to the Boss will be linked to the same negative feelings. Thus it can spiral out of control.

Now I’ve made that very simplified, it isn’t always that simple, but its a nice explanation. The idea is to recognise these ANTs and start to turn the wheel the other direction. My boss doesn’t hate me, they were having a bad week, it was their problem not mine, I am competent etc. It is hard to do. Breaking the negative cycle, but it can be done.  

If you are in the Newcastle-under-Lyme or Stoke-on-Trent ares and would like counselling to help with your ANTs or any other issues please do give Wright Minds a call.

Therapeutic Relationship

The therapeutic relationship is the combination of the counselling skills. It is the connection between the therapist and the client, the bond they create together, that as it builds allows an environment that fosters trust, love, affection, caring, understanding, concern, respect, dignity, equality, compassion, unconditional. Rogers and many other therapeutic theorists would suggest that the relationship is the most important part of therapy. That being held in this safe environment allows the client to be truly open and honest and to foster change because they are allowed to do so, and that change is accepted by the counsellor unconditionally.  If you are interested in knowing more or would like to expereince therapy for yourself and you are in the Stoke-on-Trent or Newcastle-under-Lyme area please do call Wright Minds.

Being present

Be Aware, Listening and Engaged words on papers pinned to a bullBeing present is not as easy as it may sound. It is a relatively simple concept. Be with the client. Or just be with the person who needs you, relative, friend, loved one. Just be with them. Simple? Not really. What it means is don’t be in your own world, be in theirs. Listen to them, respond to them, empathise with them, care for them, love them, feel with them.

Do not think about the shopping list, the dogs, the children, the TV series you can’t wait to catch up on, your latest email, your date. Just be with the person. Try to ignore your head ache, back ache, clothing, temperature. Just be with the person. Pay attention to that person.

It is a very hard technique. But it is very rewarding for the person you are with who will feel your attention and focus on them. It is a very powerful tool. Psychology Today has a lovely article to help you be present if you would like to practise. Alternatively if you are in the Staffordshire area you can contact Wright Minds