Online Digital Counselling

I’ve been spending this summer honing my skills in online counselling, working on the Relate Live Chat service. It offers 30 minute chats with highly qualified and experienced relationship counsellors.

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It’s been a while since I’ve had to type quite so much, and fast, and it’s also been incredibly motivating! Often I’ve been able to help people who would never book a traditional face to face counselling appointment because of isolation, or mobility issues, or sometimes because of the nature of what they’ve wanted help with.

Online counselling, in the form of web chat or email counselling, can be a godsend for new parents, airline crew or anyone working shifts because it’s on demand and people can engage when and how they want to. I’ve spoken with many more young adults than I would when I’m in my counselling room and they’ve told me that our chats have been helpful.

I’m so excited about adding online counselling to the ways I can connect with people because of the frustrations I’ve had in the past in not being able to provide a service for people who can’t turn up to a face to face session regularly. We have a lot of people here in the North East who work offshore so I’ve had many conversations about different ways to access support and this feels like a big step forward.

And of course it’s good for me to keep fresh and challenged, to continue to grow just as I encourage my clients to do!

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It’s your fault!!

2014-02-13 09.28.18 - Copy (1)I was down at the beach last week, the weather’s been so great, and there was a festival or some kind of party going on. I noticed something that stuck with me and I wanted to share it with you.

There’s a food stall that sells amazing barbecue. They also sell alcohol, but as part of their licence you have to buy food in order to order alcohol. So people start buying their cheapest dish, which is a pot of yummy fried potatoes, and then ordering loads of drinks, effectively turning it into a bar type situation.

Now this is out of order, as any British people reading this will appreciate, and could have led to the stall being shut down, but the people buying drinks didn’t put themselves in the shoes of the poor guy running his own small business, they just wanted to drink and party. I would have been pretty peed off if I was him. I would have been tempted to go have a stern word with the party people and get them to accept how rude their behaviour was.

But instead of sending them off with a flea in their ear, or feeling the need to explain to these drunk people how disrespectful they were being, the staff just quietly went to the menu board and removed the potato dish.

It struck me as an elegant way to set a boundary when we can’t trust those around us to overstep the mark. We don’t have to explain, or justify ourselves, when we reinforce a boundary that isn’t being respected, just notice, accept, course correct and carry on.

Are you due a Relationship MOT?

I like the idea of harnessing routine in a relationship, the power of making small regular deposits into the relationship ‘bank account’ that over time serve to build a strong foundation: when I say goodbye to my clients at a final session I often suggest they choose a future date in their diary to review what progress they’ve made and stay aware of any small issues that threaten to grow.

So making a yearly date to sit down  to look at your relationship makes sense: often we’re so caught up with work, kids, family, friends that focussing on where our relationship is just doesn’t get a look in. Looking back on an average year for me I could assure you that enough will have happened that’s been completely out of my control that a bit of time out to thrash things out and make sense of things with my partner is usually long overdue.

If you’re single you could do this with a good friend, and return the favour, or of course make use of an experienced and qualified relationship counsellor (try www.counselling-directory.org.uk “.. a comprehensive database of UK counsellors and psychotherapists, with information on their training and experience, fees and contact details.”)

Some questions to ask might be:

What’s important to me in this relationship?

Is this being honoured at present?

Am I being the person I want to be currently in this relationship? If not, why?

If I am, what could I do more of?

What would my partner like less / more of?

Can we talk openly and honestly, even when the subject is sensitive?

How is our sex life?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the idea of a relationship MOT .. message me below or get in touch on Twitter or email me.

Taking Stock

I wanted to share with you a great habit that I was taught to carry out at the turn of the year, and which has served me well .. which is reflecting on what happened in the past year and how I handled it.

I love the quiet time in between Christmas and New Year and I made a commitment to myself a while ago to take this time for myself, for quiet enjoyment of the season, the weather, and taking a look back over the past twelve months.

Life has a habit of throwing the unexpected in our way, however well we plot and plan our lives, and often I’ll be surprised at the things that happened that I could never have predicted the year before. Sometimes these are wonderful and sometimes less so: in examining how I responded I find clues to who I am and how I’m showing up in my life and others’

So maybe you’d like to join me. Carve out a little space for yourself in the next few days to ask these questions:

What happened in this past year that I could never have predicted?

How did I respond? Was that helpful to me and those around me?

Who was important to me in the past year?

What one thing would I have liked to be different?

What would I like to do differently in this coming year?

I’d love to hear your thoughts .. do you have any other questions you’ve found useful?

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Merry Christmas to you!!

Thank you for being part of this year’s Relationships Advent Calendar, I hope you’ve had as much fun joining in the fun as I’ve had creating it ..

I’ve been inspired along the way by the penguins at noomi, whose Kindness Advent Calendar I follow every year, so check that out too.

And today of course is a day for family so I’m off to spend a peaceful day with mine .. wishing you a love-filled day close to your special ones, whoever they are ..

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Relationships Advent Calendar . Day 23 . Make an Inventory

So as we know from the kids’ nativity Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem for the census .. and today I’d like you to start a mental tally chart of the good things in your life, and how many are possible because of the love and support of your partner.

Keep adding whenever you think of one and watch that list grow .. find a beautiful notebook and start a gratitude journal if that’s how you roll .. notice how it feels good to know you’re not dependent or independent of each other .. but inter-dependent, two people who support and appreciate each other.

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Relationships Advent Calendar Day 20 . Switch on your Relationship Radar

You’ve just spent 19 days doing something every day for the benefit of your relationship .. notice a difference yet?

So now you’re a super honed relationship athlete in tip top condition it’s time to start looking for opportunities to flex those muscles ..

Keep your eyes and ears open for the many small opportunities that come up today to make a difference, and see how many you take .. send me your scores by commenting on this post, or on Twitter or Facebook if you prefer .. a relationship Christmas star for the winner!

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