When the Past is Present

As children we absorb experiences and information around us without necessarily having the ability or maturity to defend ourselves and our best interests against it, or to make complete rational sense of it at the time.  This is particularly true of behaviours and emotions both expressed and unexpressed in the relationships around us when we…

The Traumatised Psyche

Trauma in Simple Terms Psychological trauma describes the experience of difficult and distressing events or circumstances that we have suffered in life with which we have been unable to cope, give a clear rationale or learn from at the time they happened.  Instead of being able to make rational and emotional sense of the events…

Psychiatric Diagnosis: a brief guide and caution for the weary

The Medicalisation of Mental Distress Many people who experience distress, emotional and mental disturbance, anxiety, and a whole range of unpleasant or difficult experiences end up seeking medical help via the NHS or other healthcare settings. Psychiatry is a branch of medicine that attempts to systematise human distress in clusters of commonly observable and reportable…

Existential Crisis

There is a point that some of us reach in life where the everyday normality to which everyone appears to be well adjusted just isn’t enough to keep us content, stable or secure.  It is the point of questioning our life in ways that run deeper than contemporary social narratives commonly adopted concerning ambition, career,…

Keeping a Therapy Journal or Notebook

Our psyche tends to focus on the familiar and to obscure the unfamiliar.  Like forgetting a dream a few minutes after you wake, we can forget key insights in therapy shortly after the session.  Keeping a notebook in which you record your insights, memories, dreams, things you want to focus on, questions that come up,…

The Outsider Part 4: the scapegoat, and surviving the dysfunctional group

The definition of a scapegoat is “a person who is blamed for the wrongdoings, mistakes, or faults of others, especially for reasons of expediency”.  The name has its origins in the Bible, whereby the scapegoat was “a goat sent into the wilderness after the Jewish chief priest had symbolically laid the sins of the people…

Mental Distress and Suicide

Statistically, suicide is the highest cause of death in men between age 20 and 49.  This is not to diminish the female suicide rate, merely to present statistics.  And the suicide statistics are shocking, with greater numbers of men taking their own lives than are killed in road accidents, or by cancer and coronary heart…

Passive-Aggression: an expression of inauthenticity

Passive-aggression: the Suppressed, Repressed, Dissociated Possibly one of the most pervasive features of undesireable or antisocial behaviour we find in society is passive-aggression.  Passive-aggression is aggressive or hostile energy that is used to emotionally injure or insult the recipient in a way that attempts to conceal the intent of the aggressor.  It is the result…

Considering Starting Psychotherapy or Counselling?

Where to start The psychotherapy, counselling and psychology field can be very confusing if you are unfamiliar with how it all works and have no experience of seeking such help and don’t know where to start.  Here are a few points to consider: People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. They prefer…

Mental Health Feedback: help me help you

In a continual effort to expand my understanding of the needs of people who need help, I wanted to invite people to tell me something about their experiences of seeking help or being helped and what could be of greater helpf to them during times of need.  Your comments are valuable in developing my own…

Depression Part 5: Listening to Elvis

“I believe the key to happiness is: someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to.” – Elvis Presley 3 key changes to remember: find someone to love in our life do something we love to do every day have something we love to look forward to Someone or some thing to…

Dissociative Identity Disorder

Still Like A House Fractured?  No, curiously I feel fractured but I see myself in the mirror and I’m whole, standing still like a house.  The mirror may be fractured, but my eyes still swivel like windows in this head, guided by a nose that acts as a weather vane.  I open and close my…

Self-development Courses

Courses – coming soon I’m currently designing a series of what I anticipate will be twelve week courses focussing on specific topics to help improve the quality of your life through awareness development, psycho-education and focussed therapeutic work where appropriate.  Courses will comprise weekly sessions, experiential learning, workbooks, therapeutic tasks and between-session support to help…

Spirituality II: Developing an Existential Practice

In an earlier post I outlined an existential perspective on spirituality as a means of responding to existential needs and questions by recognising and forming a more meaningful relationship to the bigger context in which we live as human beings.  In this post I list some of the pragmatic aspects of developing existential awareness by…

Ways of passing the time

Indifference Here I am and there you are.  And there’s the clock on the wall.  I pretend I don’t want anything from you.  You pretend you don’t want anything from me.  Our pretending binds us like a form of artificial intimacy.  And keeps us hungry, a million miles apart. Conversation I pretend I’m listening to…

Recovering your self in 7 days

Hollowday There’s a hollow in me; an absence.  Like a piece of furniture missing from a room I haven’t been in for years.  I enter knowing something’s changed and I can’t say what.  There’s just the feeling.  Hollow. Dumbday I feel dirty on the inside.  I scrub the outside; wet hair, towel and soap, and…

Spirituality I: An Existential Perspective

“One day your soul will depart from your body and you will be drawn behind the curtain that floats between us and the unknown. While you wait for that moment, be happy, because you don’t know where you came from and you don’t know where you will be going.” ~Omar Khayyam A feature of the…

PTSD, cPTSD, and Dissociative Experiences

I wanted to write something about the relationship some of us have to traumatic experiences from our past.  It seems important that I write this from an intuitive, non-technical place.  For me, this is because intution – as opposed to fear – is what we need to develop regarding our power to manage our way…

On choosing a psychotherapist

When choosing the right psychotherapist it’s important to remember some basic facts about psychotherapy if you want it to work for you: Psychotherapy is founded upon a trustworthy, secure relationship.  The best evidence from the longest-term study supporting psychotherapy’s effectiveness in helping people make changes in their lives says that the quality of the therapeutic…

Depression Part 4: downhill or uphill?

There are simple reasons we end up depressed, getting deeper and deeper into a state of numbness or hopelessness or meaninglessness or apathy.  All of the characteristics of a depressed state are the result of going away from something.  That something could be a problem, difficulty or truth we are avoiding.  Or feelings.  Or people. …

Depression Part 3: ‘bad’ feelings, alcohol and substance misuse

Depression as a Response to the World The world loves to divide feelings and thoughts into ‘good’ and ‘bad’.  But feelings and emotions really aren’t good or bad in the moral sense.  When we call them ‘good’ or ‘bad’ we tend to mean pleasant or unpleasant, comfortable or uncomfortable.  Most importantly, feelings and emotions are…

Depression Part 2: a well-worn path

Depression is one of the most common afflictions of human beings and one of the main reasons why people seek some form of help.  Depression has been medicalised in the last hundred years and ‘treated’ as a disease.  In some cases there are, of course, biological or other physical reasons for depression, such as chronic…