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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School holiday-proof your relationship

do216genres-relationships1200The kids have broken up and we’re heading of on that holiday we’ve been slogging towards since Christmas. We’re looking forward to a rest, being with family and long hot lazy days.

But the reality for most of us is that often we work harder in that last week before a break, the weather will be unpredictable, travel will be problematic, kids will whinge, getting out of our routine is stressful and drinking more alcohol than usual can make us more reactive and more tired and grumpy the next day.

Holidays are great for kids, who grow both physically and emotionally over the long summer holidays, but what about us?

It may be first time you’ve been with your spouse for a while, particularly if you work shifts or on a rota. Take a tip from school teachers, who often take the first week of the holidays to flake out and depressurize. That two week holiday abroad might look restful on the brochure, but how about taking a week at home, with nothing planned, to get to know each other again and destress, before heading out on a shorter adventure?

For those of us who parent with an ex partner the school holidays can feel even more stressful and it’s worth starting to negotiate your child’s schedule as soon as possible. Some parents might have a tried and tested formula for holidays, but remember as your child grows what you agreed for them at three years old might not work at age 13. As kids grow their peers become more important, so taking this into account and building in time to catch up with friends can be really helpful.

Whatever you choose to do this summer, be thoughtful, curious and kind to yourselves, and enjoy this wonderful season.

Birth Trauma Awareness Week 2018

Birth Trauma Awareness Week starts today until July 8 2018.

I have a personal and professional commitment to helping people recognise and manage traumatic birth experiences having been through a traumatic birth.

I often ask my clients about their birthing experiences and have heard their surprise at being asked. A common response is ‘Well you just get on with it don’t you ..’ Partners say ‘Well she went through it, I just watched’. In reality the trauma of emergency intervention or seeing the person you love in peril and feeling powerless to help can stay with you and cause flashbacks, ongoing panic or depression.’

Just talking things through afterwards and in a safe space can be hugely helpful for men and women alike. It’s also worth considering ante natal counselling for future pregnancies.

The Birth Trauma Association says on its website: “Each year, up to 20,000 women and their birth partners go through a traumatic birth experience and suffer the often long-lasting impact this has on their physical and mental health, their ability to bond with their baby and their relationships with their family and friends.

Many women and their partners who have been through birth trauma are left feeling isolated, unable to share their experiences and talk openly about what has happened to them. “

Last year, Birth Trauma Awareness Week brought the subject of postnatal post-traumatic stress disorder out into the open and gained widespread media attention. The Association will be holding Twitter chats each evening from Monday July 2 to Friday July 6 on subjects relating to birth trauma as well as launching new videos of women talking powerfully about their traumatic births.

Other resurces

Unfold Your Wings . Hope, Support and awareness for Birth Trauma and Perinatal PTSD

Sands . We operate throughout the UK, supporting anyone affected by the death of a baby, working to improve the care bereaved parents receive, and promoting research to reduce the loss of babies’ lives.

Email Counselling

I’ve just completed a fascinating course in using digital technologies in counselling and therapy.

Some of it was a refresher as I’ve been offering telephone and webcam appointments for some time, but it’s always nice to take a full day to work with new and existing colleagues on our clinical practice. There were Relate counsellors in our group from as far south as Devon. Luckily I didn’t have to travel as far.

I’m excited about reaching people who can’t schedule appointments at specific times by offering email counselling. I’ve been thinking about this for a while and now I have some practice under my belt this way of working is available to all my clients.

People who can really benefit from this way of accessing support are those like new parents, carers, people who work away, or maybe those who just don’t feel comfortable speaking with someone for any reason.

There’s a £40 charge for each email you write, and I spend an hour reading and responding to your email. I guarantee that you will receive a reply within 3 working days.

Get in touch if you would like more information.

The Wonder Down Under

I’m always keen to share books and other resources that are useful to people and having read The Wonder Down Under I’m mentioning it to friends, colleagues and clients who I’m sure will all find it useful.

The book, published in 2018, is written by two Norwegian medical students and sex educators who aim to ‘bring genital elightenment to the masses’. So far so good, but in practice I find books about sex tend to be quite dry (take it from someone who’s waded through Schnarch and a lot of Masters and Johnson research, I know, I’m weird!)

This one is written very much with the reader in mind, sentences are punchy and the tone is conversational. There’s no judgement, instead a lot of practical advice and information about what a healthy body and sex life looks like and how to keep it that way.

Books about sex and our bodies do tend to date very quickly as our understanding develops, for example I’d never read anything more than 5 years old about sexually transmitted infections (STIs) as the information is very likely to have been overtaken by more up to date research. This book includes up to date information about STIs which is great but once it’s aged a bit I’d recommend reading it in conjunction with a bit of research.

I’d recommend this book to parents of teens of both genders, all educators of children, counsellors, women and the people who love them.

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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