Counselling Support

It’s common to think that going to counselling means that you are broken in some way or wrongly believing you have something seriously wrong with you and that not coping is something to be ashamed about. These beliefs can be unhelpful and damaging as often people then don’t seek support and believe they have to struggle alone.

We have come a long way in addressing the stigma in mental health however there is still work to be done. In the past, there were many unhelpful ways in which society and mental health support services viewed and helped those struggling with their mental health. Even now, sometimes people don’t get the help they deserve and this can be offputting to reach out again. Private counselling and therapy can offer different options on how to access support.

With counselling support and safety of confidentiality, you can talk about your innermost thoughts and feelings without fear of being judged or given advice and told what to do. You make a serious commitment to a self-reflective journey to work thru and validate the life experiences you have survived (or are still trying to survive) and begin a process of self-discovery to heal from the past and make changes for the future, to feel more positive and content again.

You learn how to begin to acknowledge your own needs, and the importance of listening to your emotions, instead of depressing them. Instead of being so hard on yourself, holding onto negative beliefs and feelings of hurt/blame, you learn to question what has happened to make you feel and respond in the ways you do?

With the help of a counsellor helping you, to help yourself you can learn how to be more understanding and self-compassionate. It’s not easy work and takes courage to address where the coping mechanisms you have are simply no longer working for you however counselling offers support that can be life-changing. Your thoughts will become clearer and this encourages you to validate how you feel as well as offering a challenge of being aware of different perspectives, as this too is important.

By beginning to talk in-depth about the difficulties you are experiencing, it lightens the weight of carrying painful thoughts and emotions on your own, which often lead to feeling stressed, exhausted and sad. Talking to a professional counsellor can help you to process and heal from challenging life experiences, and you don’t need a diagnosis to be able to seek this help and support.

Some like to take care of their physical body by going to the gym, counselling can be seen as your personal development and taking care of the mind, body and soul!

Counselling, therefore isn’t just for mental health problems, it can help you to gain a new perspective on a situation you want to change or reflect on where you are in your life, and establish what you want going forward? By learning to understand yourself more, you gain confidence, renewed self-belief and self-esteem meaning you can set boundaries and lots more to begin to feel alive again.

If you are thinking about counselling, perhaps this is your message to reach out and do something that’s just for you, a form of self-care and remember the message that no one needs to painfully struggle alone.

Beautiful endings

What a lovely image of where you can experience endings as the beginnings of something else. Finding yourself at a place in your life where you get to choose to leave the old behind and embrace the challenges of the new, just as you are. I hope you too can find acceptance of difficult situations and not be afraid that things didn’t work out as you planned because often endings can be a blessing in disguise ❤

You are not for everyone

The world is filled with people who, no matter what you do, will point blank not like you. But it is also filled with those who will love you fiercely. They are your people. You are not for everything and that’s OK. Talk to the people who can hear you.
Don’t waste your precious time and gifts trying to convince them of your value, they won’t ever want what you’re selling. Don’t convince them to walk alongside you. You’ll be wasting both your time and theirs and will likely inflict unnecessary wounds, which will take precious time to heal. You are not for them and they are not for you; politely wave them on and continue along your way. Sharing your path with someone is a sacred gift; don’t cheapen it by rolling yours in the wrong direct.
Keep facing your true north.
Page 256 of #lightisthenewblack

~ The power of listening ~

A lot of people who come to Counselling are wanting to improve their relationships. How often do you speak to someone and sense that they aren’t listening to you? Perhaps there is something about their response, or lack of response telling you that you have not been heard or understood. Perhaps you have felt diminished by the lack of importance attributed to what you said by the listener leading to feel misunderstood or judged by the listener’s response…or lack of it – or even angry that you are not able to get your point across.

The impact of not feeling heard is far greater than you might think and ongoing exposure to the feelings it can generate can affect your self-esteem, confidence and trust in other people to give you what you need. It can be anxiety provoking to consider that you are unable to communicate your needs or point of view or that you are being judged for something you have said.

Being heard allows people to process how they are feeling and to support this, you do not necessarily need to do any more than to listen. It is really important to remember that you won’t always agree but that doesn’t mean that you can’t listen. You may have conflicting values or character ideals and listening well is a great way to show that you are embracing your differences.

So, listening well means hearing things from someone else’s perspective, without judgement, and responding in a warm and genuine way – Article from NHS Counselling Services (2019)


Feelings are an important aspect of our lives but the trouble is many of us have been brought up to ignore and override feelings. Childhood messages have a great role in contributing to this state of mind. We feel guilty if we express our feelings of anger, shame, guilt and annoyance. We are afraid that we will hurt the feelings of others due to being people pleaser. The result of this kind of suppression is often anxiety, phobias, depression and restlessness….adopting a negative and pessimistic outlook of life. Suppressed feelings lead to anxiety.

Feelings are also influenced by our thoughts and perceptions. The way you perceive an event or interpret a situation gives rise to corresponding feelings. Feelings are also affected by stress. Automatic thoughts determine our state of mind. If you perceive a person as totally unreasonable, and selfish, you might feel anger towards this person. If you are jealous or envious of the other person, it will give rise to feelings of jealousy and envy and you will be inclined to react accordingly towards this person when you interact.

Feelings give you energy. If you are in touch with your feelings and can express them, you will feel more energetic. However, when you are unaware of your feelings, you may feel lethargic, numb, tired, or depressed.

Feelings are never right or wrong. They simply exist. The perception and judgment can be wrong or right, valid or invalid but feelings are simply there. Once you learn how to express them, you will feel better. It is not good to evaluate others or yourself on the basis of feelings because we are all entitled to have feelings. All human beings experience emotions like anger, envy, jealousy, sadness, frustration, and irritation.

Worrier type people are always insecure and worry about bad things happening to them. Their self talk is always, “what If?” type and this gives rise to anxiety. Sometimes when we hang on to our feelings of sadness or anger for a long time without venting it, we get depressed. When we vent our feelings by crying and talking about it, we feel relieved. We also feel psychosomatic symptoms when we suppress our feelings for a long time. Symptoms such as headaches, ulcers, blood pressure, asthma, cardiac problems could be due to withheld feelings too. Learning to identify your feelings, means you can reduce the symptoms of psychosomatic illnesses.

How to express your feelings

  1. Talk it Out: It is very therapeutic to share your feelings with a trustworthy person, like a friend, counsellor, or a support person. They should be the person who are willing to listen to your feelings without evaluating you and who encourage you to let you express feelings and not just share them.
  2. Write it out: Sometimes it is helpful to make a feeling journal and vent your feelings in a written manner. It is good to periodically review this journal and see if there is a pattern emerging. This is a very healthy outlet of your feelings.
  3. Discharging Sadness: When you are withholding your sadness, it can cause a heavy load on your body and mind. It is relevant to ask questions such as :Do I ever cry?, Do I cry because someone hurt me, or I am lonely or scared? Sometimes, we feel sad but we have trouble shedding tears. Listen to some evocative music, watch an emotional movie or read stuff to surface the feelings of sadness and be able to shed tears. It is important to vent your sadness and not hold it in because the result will be more sadness and anger towards who has hurt you.
  4. Discharging Anger: Anger is the most pervasive emotion that leads to anxiety. Anger has a range from mild irritation on one end to extreme rage, on the other side of the continuum.

Withheld anger can cause a person to become anxiety prone and also cause symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. When you are frustrated and angry, you become more preoccupied with your obsessions and phobias but often you are unaware of these angry feelings.

Those who are, by nature, a people pleaser, are prone to having anxiety disorders. They always want to present themselves as pleasant and nice. They are also dependent on relationships with significant others. Outward expression of feelings can risk the relationship of phobic people so they tend to suppress their anger. Also, it is important to note that people who are prone to anxiety have a strong need to control so when they feel threatened by a sense of loss of control, they give in to their anger and it frightens them. In addition, self defeating behaviors, such as excessive criticism, discounting the positives and focusing on the negative aspects of the situation, passive aggressive behaviors , blaming others, and worries about the future instead of enjoying life could also be signs of withholding anger.

Reference: Anxiety and Phobia Workbook, by Edmund J. Bourne, New Harbinger Publication, 2005

Approval not needed

Criticism is something you can easily avoid by saying nothing, doing nothing, being nothing” ~Aristotle

The need for approval kills freedom.

It usually starts out as a logical tactic. We gain others’ approval, make them happy for a moment, and feel pretty good about ourselves. It seems like the perfect path to take — and it’s one we can continue on for many years, believing it’s reducing our anxiety about disapproval in our daily lives. In actuality, it can work pretty well in getting people to like us. We avoid having them disapprove of our actions, and we get to enjoy that nice pat on the back every once in a while. But there will come a time when the constant seeking of approval — the very solution to our problems — will run its course. And that very behavior that brought us so many feelings of accomplishment will become the problem itself.

When others’ acceptance of you impacts how you make decisions about where to spend your time, you lose awareness of what’s important to you, what drives you, and what makes you happy. You might feel stuck doing work you don’t particularly enjoy and continue habits that are counterproductive. If this feels true for you, it’s time to focus your energy on getting in touch with what really matters to you. Start asking yourself questions like: What do I value? What keeps me awake at night? How is it that I prefer to spend my time? Start to listen to what you really want for your life, and align your actions with your values, principles, and goals.

At the end of the day, the only person you need to answer to is yourself. Your own self-approval is a crucial aspect of your integrity and will keep you happy and fulfilled in the long run. By working to free yourself from approval-seeking behaviors, you’re honoring yourself and your needs—and setting yourself up for long-term happiness.

Don’t worry about what other people are thinking, you dont need their approval! Instead solely focus on what makes you happy.

It can be challenging to accept all parts of ourselves, but that is truly where self-confidence begins. As we accept who we are, we find we don’t need others’ approval or input anymore, because we know the truth about ourselves ❤

Men have feelings too

Men have feelings too, however they often refuse to acknowledge them, much less talk about them. Emotions, negative thoughts and weaknesses may be expressed as anger but if feelings are not dealt with they can have a long term damaging effects.

Some people have the preconceived notion that men simply do not have feelings. This is far from the case. The problem maybe in the fact that women believe men should feel things the way they do. The truth is that men have a much harder time processing these feelings.

“Underlying brain differences may explain why men and women process their emotions so differently. On the surface it may seem like they have very different takes on the situation but they are really feeling quite similarly. Understanding how men and women differ when it comes to talking will give everyone a little more empathy when it comes to discussing emotional issues. And understanding one another is a big step when it comes to creating and maintaining emotionally fit and loving relationships.”

Societal expectations mean that men are taught from an early age that they need to be strong and confident. They begin to equate emotions with weakness and it is not! It is a sign of strength and of courage.

For the most part, men have not been brought up to express their feelings at all, much less in a constructive way. Generally speaking, you can trace this back to “big boys don’t cry!” but feelings must be expressed. To stuff your most intimate feelings is to stay stuck with the feeling.

What is the solution? How can you find a way to communicate your feelings in a way that feels safe and where you can always be assured of being heard? One highly effective solution is Counselling. To be heard is to be healed. You learn to talk openly and honestly in a confidential environment where there are no rules about what or how you say, what you need to say.

“Men have emotional needs in exactly the same way as women: they feel things such as anger, grief, shame, sadness and anxiety in the same way. The difference is that women have traditionally been ‘allowed’ to name these feelings and to seek support for them, while men have been silenced through male gender roles and have felt the need to keep their emotions secret, adding feelings of shame and isolation to the emotional mix.”

With the number of men seeking counselling increasing, and a similar upturn in the number of male-friendly services, it is perhaps surprising that of BACP’s membership of just over 40,000 practicing counsellors and psychotherapists, less than 20% are male (BACP, 2014). The number of men seeking therapy is increasing, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for men to ask for help, let alone talk about their difficulties.

Loss, grief and bereavement

There is no timetable for how long grief lasts, or how you should feel after a particular time. After twelve months it may still feel as if everything happened yesterday, or it may feel like it all happened a lifetime ago. These are some of the feelings you might have when you are coping with grief longer-term.

Learning to live with the loss of someone you love can take a long time, and just as everyone’s grief is different, so each person feels differently as time passes.

When will I feel better?

You and the people around you may have expectations about how quickly you should move on. But grief changes over time, as you understand how different your life is without the person. We are all different and there is no timetable for how long it will take you.

The length of time is different for each person. For most people it is a long process and it can take years. After about two years you are likely to know the places, events and occasions that trigger your emotions. As you start to know these, you will also learn what helps you to cope with them.

After a while people around you – family, friends and colleagues at work – may forget what you have been through, or may encourage you to move on. You yourself may even feel that you ought to have moved on. But the goal is not to move on. Your grief is not something that can or should be ‘fixed’. The goal is to find a way to live with and cope with your feelings.

Friends, relatives and even work colleagues, are likely to be very conscious of what has happened and make time and effort to support you. But gradually things settle down and support from friends and relatives wanes. Only then do you have the time and space to understand how different your life is without the person you loved and to grieve for that loss.

There are lots of reasons why you might find it hard to talk about how you’re feeling. If you are not normally someone who talks about your emotions, you are not likely to start now.

But you may find that other people who are also grieving do want to talk about it, or want you to talk about it. When this happens you need to try to find a way to be sensitive to each other’s needs, whilst coping with your feelings in your own way. When someone dies, relationships and communications within families can become strained. Sometimes families don’t talk to each other about their emotions.

While no-one can understand exactly how you are feeling, you may find sharing your feelings and experiences with a Counsellor or others at a support group can help.

The critical inner voice

Critical Inner voice and self-loathing is that underlying feeling that we are just not good: not good enough, not good at this, not good at that, not good at – or for –much of anything. It can be subtle, we may habitually compare ourselves to others, for instance, constantly finding fault with ourselves and putting ourselves down, with no real awareness that there is anything amiss. Or, we may listen intently to our critical inner voice while it scolds and berates us, telling us how embarrassing, stupid, or insensitive we are; refusing to challenge it even while we suffer from it.

According to Dr. Lisa Firestone and Joyce Catlett in the book Conquer your Critical Inner Voice, the causes of self-loathing lie in the past, when, as children, we were trying to cope with our lives in the best way possible. They explain: The nature and degree of this division within ourselves depends on the parenting we received and the early environment we experienced.

Parents, like all of us, have mixed feelings toward themselves; they have things they like about themselves and they have self-critical thoughts and feelings. The same negative feelings that parents have toward themselves are unfortunately often directed toward their children as well… In addition… if a parent has unresolved feelings from either trauma or loss in his or her past, this will impact his or her reactions to his or her children.

The point here is not to blame parents. However, it’s important to realize that no parent, or person for that matter, is perfect. Parents face a difficult struggle when they have children, as painful feelings arise from their own past. They may therefore react inappropriately or critically toward their children in moments of stress. Moreover, the critical feelings parents have toward themselves often come across to their children and are then internalized by the child.

No matter what circumstances you find yourself in, a nasty point of view toward yourself is never warranted. It is never in your self-interest. The proper viewpoint toward yourself should be one of friendship. Think about yourself and treat yourself as you would a close friend; respectfully and with affection. With understanding and empathy. And maybe most importantly, with a sense of easiness and humor.

Counselling can help you overcome the darkness of depression and self-loathing and help change your perspective.

“When I began seeing my counsellor she was amazing. She was the first person to tell me that the reason I had all these awful thoughts about myself in my head was because those were the words spoken over me so often. I began to understand that the reason I felt so worthless was because I had been told things that simply weren’t true (but at the time I believed and internalized them). In addition to those thoughts, I had also treated others poorly and I learned that also came from things done to me in my past. I had attachment issues and learning this was so eye-opening for me. I had spent so many years thinking I was less than nothing and I found out that it was a belief system I had bought into through experiences in my past and what I was told. If I could believe those awful things and be so critical about myself, maybe I could choose to believe something different. Maybe there was hope. So, I continued on…I went to therapy — a lot. I read as many self-help books I could get my hands on. These books taught me how to replace negative thoughts I had repeated in my head for so long with positive ones. It took some time to work through all my feelings and think of realistic alternatives, however therapy helped me see that I had choice over my beliefs and delusional thinking which is fixed and false personal beliefs that are resistant to change in the light of conflicting evidence. These beliefs were obsessive and the cause of my emotional distress.

After feeling let down from the NHS, I decided to pay privately and see a private counsellor each week who offered support. I am finally beginning to accept and understand how I feel and no longer feel ashamed of feeling my own hurt and own my story”.

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No one knows how you feel, when you pretend to be okay

At the end of #antibullying week, a be#kind reminder.

Someone can be secretly battling painful thoughts and emotions that no one knows nothing about, carrying untold feelings of hurt and sadness whilst pretending they are fine and that’s just how they try to cope.

It’s not helpful when others judge or assume they know what’s right for another person. Giving advice can be well-meaning by those around us however often it is just at best an ill-informed opinion and at worst can feel insensitive and offensive when coming from a place that lacks empathy and understanding.

Everyone #hurts,  in life, often it isn’t the case of judging situations as simply right or wrong, individual feelings are much more complex than that and we don’t know (unless a person chooses to share how they feel) what’s going on for another person.

We all have choices in life and some people choose to get to know themselves better and deal with their painful emotions and problems by seeking #counselling #therapy, others will choose to try to fight their own battles, #alone, #struggling and #unsupported. We can all try to be kind and understand that we all can face battles that nobody knows anything about