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…

Depression Part 6: 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 undertaken to emotionally injure or insult the recipient in a way that conceals the intent of the aggressor.  It is the result of hostility,…

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…

Mini Survey: 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 helpful to them during times of need.  Your comments are valuable in developing my own psychotherapy and…

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…

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…

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

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 useful information; information designed to tell us…

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…

Depression Part 1: two simple steps on your road to recovery

First of all, this isn’t a ‘how to get over depression’ guide.  It’s something of a response to quite a few blog posts and articles on depression I’ve been reading lately and some concerns about what I’ve read.  Many of the blog posts I’ve been reading seem to automatically define depression in medical terms and…

The Outsider Part 2: living off-label

Whilst most of us long for kinship with others who will accept us, approve of us, validate our ideas and beliefs, some of us don’t. Many of us will adjust ourselves in order to fit in and secure such approval, or for the sake of ‘a quiet life’, even to the extent of compromising our…

Why is CBT still being promoted as a cure-all?

As a psychotherapist I continue to come across the ad nauseam promotion of CBT – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – both within the NHS and outside of it for what seems to be any and every ailment known to man, woman and child. This is partly due to the lasting momentum of a politically-motivated campaign of…

Personal Authenticity Part 3: the healing power of truth

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32 When it comes to healing ourselves from significant troubles, distresses, wounds, afflictions and traumas that we may have suffered, the one thing that I have found to be of primary importance is clearing any and all impediments to our seeing…

The Outsider Part 1: clarifying our place in society

If there’s one area of my work that I have a special interest in it’s working with people who feel like they don’t fit in or who find themselves rejected by the group. I wanted to start writing a series of posts on this subject because of the confusion and assumptions that we typically make…

Suffer the Little Children: abuse and its legacy for survivors

“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” – Carl Jung The term ‘child abuse’ opens a Pandora’s Box of definitions and meanings.  From words like neglect to domestic-, emotional-, physical- and sexual abuse; to bullying, genital mutilation, exploitation, trafficking, grooming – the list goes on.  These definitions describe…

Healing Minds: what works for you?

Often we are so socialised into looking to ‘professionals’ for their expertise that we forget that, prior to the boom in professions, we did a pretty good job of taking care of ourselves and one another.  Family, neighbours, community, aunts and uncles, grandparents: all of these community bonds have been eroded by massive shifts in…

Existential Analysis: how I work with you

I thought it might be helpful to write something about some of the ways I work with my patients.  This might give you a better idea of what you can expect if you decide you’d like to start working together. As described on my website, the first step is getting a sense of one another…

Personal Authenticity Part 2: a good or bad idea?

“The shortest and surest way to live with honour in the world is to be in reality what we would appear to be…” Socrates 469-399 B.C. Personal authenticity has some diverse definitions, especially within philosophy.  I define it within my work as a psychotherapist as involving “a commitment to being aware of and honest with…

Self-healing: a shift from pain to compassion in five minutes

Periods of mental distress are often characterised by a hyper-focus on our own struggles to the exclusion of everything else.  In the midst of pain and suffering, loneliness and desperation we can end up so concentrated on the distressing aspects of our lives and on what is missing that we literally forget ourselves and what’s…