From the Counselling Room

Counselling Blog

January 2020

Counselling Children & Young People

The Motivation Wasp

Melanie, a 15 year-old client, shared one of the things holding her back was not being able to get out of bed on time. She was continually being late for school and not getting her household chores done. Understandably, this was causing disruption in school and at home. She was desperate to change this but felt she couldn’t achieve it, getting up seemed impossible to her.  

I asked Melanie if she had any dislikes, such as spiders, etc. She said she hated wasps. I wondered aloud what she would do if a wasp was in her bedroom - would she stay in bed? She said no, she would shoot out of bed instantly! I asked Melanie to imagine a wasp in her bedroom when she was next struggling to escape her bed, highlighting it will only work if she wanted it to. She seemed a little reluctant but said she might give it a try. 

Melanie attended the next session saying the technique had worked! And she had managed to be on time for school all week. She also used this motivational technique to give her the energy to get chores completed, which resulted in a happier home. 

To protect confidentiality, all material here has been provided with consent, or has been disguised, adapted or several examples merged. Real names are not used. 

Melanie could not get out of bed

May 2020

Happiness & Wellbeing

Mental health week- kindness 


Looking through the window into my garden has never felt so different, and it fills me with such gratitude; a sense of serenity and freedom in these very unprecedented times. Who knew, even three months ago, that we would all be in this situation, that our precious lives would be put on hold and for many, most probably changed forever. We have all had to adapt to the “new normal” so quickly, such as by working remotely and video calling for work meetings, ordering food online, thinking about the basics by carefully planning meals, managing the fear of going to the shops, hiding behind face masks and not exchanging those unconditional smiles that are contagious and connect us as a human community, and being in touch with our loved ones via video call… It can be overwhelming even to think about how much has changed. 


Right now it is Mental Health Week and the theme this year is ‘kindness’, which makes it all the more poignant. We can take this time to look at how we are dealing with this lockdown which is laying bare an unknowable number of issues and concerns for so many. 


While some of those issues and concerns are known to many of us, there are others that are deeper, things like isolation, and the solitude of living alone. Some people are living with difficult relations and relationships, domestic abuse and violence. Many worry about their livelihood, loved ones, long and short term job prospects, career worries due to colleges and universities being shut. Still more have to contend with childcare custodies. And what of those of us living with existing mental health difficulties, physical health issues, and loss and grief through coronavirus deaths, or even deaths not caused by this pandemic? So many of us are living with these situations, and have been touched by this lockdown in so many ways. 


So, I ask the question - how do we comprehend the need to offer kindness to ourselves when faced with all these challenges and adversities in life?

 
So many of us have not considered or practiced self-compassion, or have not offered ourselves the kindness that recharges us, which is a crucial element of being. 


Elaine Beaumont writes in her book, The Compassionate Mind Workbook
This is commonly known as self-compassion. Whilst many of us feel at ease being compassionate to others, and even receiving compassion from others, bringing compassion to ourselves can often be tricky. In fact, rather than being compassionate to ourselves, in times of difficulty we often treat ourselves in unkind ways. We can get caught up in invalidating our distress, fighting or trying to block it out- we can try or ignore it or push it out of our minds. Sometimes we can become overly critical with ourselves for struggling as we do. In all of these, we tend to treat ourselves in a way that we would be unlikely to do if it was to someone else who was struggling in a similar way. So, it turns out that being compassionate or kind to ourselves is often quite a challenge, and that for many of us, it takes practice to learn how to become compassionate with ourselves. 


Beaumont writes about how practising self-kindness and compassion can help us to learn techniques to overcome unhealthy ways of treating ourselves. And there may already be some mechanisms in your life that you use, or would like to use, to help you carve out the space (mental or physical) to reflect on yourself and your feelings. For some this is yoga, for others it’s enjoying the natural world around us in whatever size or shape it can be found (a recent article in Guardian here has writer, Lucy Jones, thinking about exactly this). 


This kindness can create its own sort of healing, a chance to think honestly about how this situation is impacting our lives, but in such a way as not to despair, but to consider, take stock, and continue however we can. 


And this can be passed on - if we offer kindness to ourselves, then we can offer it to others in a more authentic and meaningful way, and in these times of stress and anxiety, even something so very simple is extremely powerful. 


Broadening out the scope from the individual, different communities and cultures will be feeling this pandemic in different ways and at different times. As many of you are aware, this is the holy month of Ramadan, a time for reflection and contemplation, which Muslims around the globe are observing. This is a time, usually, for Muslims to share love through food and prayers with their neighbours, friends and families, offer good deeds to people who have little, and share their wealth through donating alms (Zakat). But lockdown has created challenges in connecting and sharing, and so this must be carefully managed. This year there can be no visiting mosques or friends and family, not even on Eid (Muslim celebrates at the end of Ramadan). 


As it is the case for Muslims, right now, there will be, and are, more events that we would all usually share as a part of a community, in close proximity, and with those we love. 


It is therefore important that we remember to be compassionate, and find new, safe ways to express our kindness towards ourselves and each other and keep those community links strong and warm. As with many things, this process must start with our own selves, and then branch out to help others who may be hiding behind brave faces. 


What I have noticed, on a positive note, is that there is a very real sense of camaraderie and community within our workplaces i.e. the CFC, and in my neighborhood and other communities. Our shared anxieties and uncertainties are dissipated by humour sometimes (may I offer to you,“ doggy yoga" on You Tube), and the fact that people genuinely care for each other. It seems that we are already adapting, and now is a good time to make peace with ourselves and be compassionate. 


EID MUBARAK! 

Joy in nature

January 2020

Counselling Children & Young People

The Motivation Wasp

Melanie, a 15 year-old client, shared one of the things holding her back was not being able to get out of bed on time. She was continually being late for school and not getting her household chores done. Understandably, this was causing disruption in school and at home. She was desperate to change this but felt she couldn’t achieve it, getting up seemed impossible to her.  

I asked Melanie if she had any dislikes, such as spiders, etc. She said she hated wasps. I wondered aloud what she would do if a wasp was in her bedroom - would she stay in bed? She said no, she would shoot out of bed instantly! I asked Melanie to imagine a wasp in her bedroom when she was next struggling to escape her bed, highlighting it will only work if she wanted it to. She seemed a little reluctant but said she might give it a try. 

Melanie attended the next session saying the technique had worked! And she had managed to be on time for school all week. She also used this motivational technique to give her the energy to get chores completed, which resulted in a happier home. 

To protect confidentiality, all material here has been provided with consent, or has been disguised, adapted or several examples merged. Real names are not used. 

Melanie could not get out of bed

January 2020

Counselling Children & Young People

The Motivation Wasp

Melanie, a 15 year-old client, shared one of the things holding her back was not being able to get out of bed on time. She was continually being late for school and not getting her household chores done. Understandably, this was causing disruption in school and at home. She was desperate to change this but felt she couldn’t achieve it, getting up seemed impossible to her.  

I asked Melanie if she had any dislikes, such as spiders, etc. She said she hated wasps. I wondered aloud what she would do if a wasp was in her bedroom - would she stay in bed? She said no, she would shoot out of bed instantly! I asked Melanie to imagine a wasp in her bedroom when she was next struggling to escape her bed, highlighting it will only work if she wanted it to. She seemed a little reluctant but said she might give it a try. 

Melanie attended the next session saying the technique had worked! And she had managed to be on time for school all week. She also used this motivational technique to give her the energy to get chores completed, which resulted in a happier home. 

To protect confidentiality, all material here has been provided with consent, or has been disguised, adapted or several examples merged. Real names are not used. 

Melanie could not get out of bed

February 2020

Counselling Children & Young People

Happy Clapping

After a few sessions, Georgia, a young person I was working with said she was not getting along with her Mum, Dad and older sister. With some exploration, it was clear that she had a functioning family and was cared for and loved. However, she perhaps didn’t see this and said she felt left out and alone. To me, she was clearly in a self-enforced ‘victim’ position when around them.  

During one session, I asked Georgia to clap her hands. Georgia laughed, a little embarrassed, as though she felt this was an odd thing to do. We then both clapped together, at first both a little self-consciously but after a while with more freedom. It was a special moment as we both clapped with abandon and joy. 

After this I asked Georgia to sit on one of her hands. When she was settled, I asked her to clap again. Looking amused, she said she couldn’t clap whilst sitting on her hand. 

I highlighted, that to me, this seemed to be what she was doing at home when she was with her family. She was not taking part nor making an effort with them, self-sabotaging without realising. It was natural if she continued like this, she’d feel left out. She needed to enable herself to join in and to reap the benefits this would give. 

This technique can be used in any situation to prompt a realisation that a client needs to put some effort in. I have used this with children in school, adults in social situations and even at work with colleagues. 

To protect confidentiality, all material here has been provided with consent, or has been disguised, adapted or several examples merged. Real names are not used. 

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