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  • Counselling FAQ
  • How does workplace stress impact women’s lives?

    I think more and more work is becoming a key part of women's lives. Both out of necessity and because they want to work. But I still think that a lot of women feel like they carry the lion's share of running the household and running the family as well. So, the two combined, quite often what I hear is that I feel like I'm not doing either very well, as opposed to, I'm getting the best of both worlds. It's almost like, I'm getting the worst of both worlds. And I think women put a lot of pressure on themselves to really perform at work, and to perform as mothers and to perform as partners. And I think they can feel like if things aren't going particularly well at work, they tend to allow that to feed into who they are as people. And that can really carry over into the home life as well. I think women can ruminate a lot about what a certain comment might mean and what that says about them, as opposed to being able to compartmentalise work versus home life. So, I think the two can bleed into on one, and when things aren't going very well, or where one of them is very stressful, it can really impact on someone's self-worth.

  • What are the early messages that can affect women in the world?

    Yeah, I feel that it's really important to understand core beliefs, and with a lot of women, I work very hard with them to try to unearth those early messages. Now we know from lots of research that women, and girls particularly, are conditioned to feel like they can't take up too much space in the world, that their objective is to care for others. And quite often what that can result in, is what we might term adaptive behaviour. In other words, people become people pleasers. So if they're not people pleasing, there's this sense of, "What's the core belief?" That, "I'm letting people down," or that, "I'm not good enough." And I think that's why it's really important to get to that root so that we can help adjust thinking in that way.

  • Why is anxiety and related disorders so prevalent in women at the moment?

    Anxiety is probably the most common thing that I see walking through the therapy room door, and I see it a lot in women at the moment. and I think it's because the society that we're currently living in is very much about having to get everything perfect all the time and that will be both for women in the work place, and at home and with friends, and in terms of what they look like. And I think the idea of if your core belief is you're not good enough, it can really result in a lot of anxiety in everyday life which can be very, very uncomfortable and actually very debilitating.

  • Can counselling help everyone?

    I think it can help everyone that feels ready to come to counselling. I think sometimes clients might not be ready, but even so, it's often very useful to come along and find out what counselling's about. And what I'd hope to do is give them a good enough experience of that, so even if it's six months to two years down the line, they would feel able to come back and see the use in it.

  • How can counselling help with stress?

    The kind of issues that I might work with, again, huge variety of things from relationship issues, to health anxiety, to people that might come because they're just feeling a bit out of control with their lives and they really want to understand how they can move forward. And the way that I would help with that is to find what we're going to focus on very specifically initially, and again because my belief is that at the same patterns in almost whatever we do, that can be really useful to find something that's quite manageable to deal with first of all. And again, what I'd be doing is looking at trying to add some understanding as to why that behaviour or that issue might have developed to look at how it's impacting on life at the moment and then moving forwards to the future, setting some goals and understanding how the client might get there.

  • How can patients overcome self doubt?

    Self-doubt I think is a really common concept, especially in women. And my approach to that is to work very much with understanding where that's come from. You know what again were those early messages that women might have heard that means that they can't trust their own opinions or they can't trust their own view on the world. And I think that once they understand that actually a lot of self-doubt is learned behaviour, it gives them the opportunity to think, "Well how could I learn behaviour that might enable me to be more solid about who I am?"

  • How can therapy help women with infertility?

    I think one of the main components of infertility is the concept of loneliness for women, back to our collective unconscious image of what life should be like, you know, maybe getting married, married, finding out you're having a baby, and everything being happy, and, you know, and it's just one of life's natural progressions, one of life's natural stages. And for women that reach an age or maybe decide that they want to start a family and then spend one, two, three years trying, they can feel very alone in that. They can be surrounded by people that are constantly announcing that they're having babies, and, you know, that can be a very lonely place. And I think the way counselling can help is to give a very open space for women to express some of those feelings, and also to look at what the options are for them in the future, you know, to accept that it's not ideal, this is not what they would've wanted, and at the same time giving them hope as to what, perhaps, a new family situation might look like.

  • How many therapy sessions would I need?

    The number of therapy sessions that you might need can be very dependent on what can be offered. For instance, for some clients, they're working under an insurance policy, so they're only granted, say, eight sessions. For other clients, they might only have a limited budget. Some people want to just see where it goes. But in all of that, I think what's most important is that the therapist and the client work hard to understand what the focus of the work is, so that however many sessions you have, the client can see some benefit from it.

  • What are your top tips for reducing stress?

    It can be true that women are thought of as being better about talking about their feelings and their emotions, and quite often they may have very good support networks and very close friendships, but from my perspective, I think there is a difference between seeking out the advice of friends and going to see a therapist, and I think the main one is friends very much want to collude with you. You know, they to say, "You're absolutely right," or, you know, "What you need to do is...," and really give you advise about what to do. Whereas the key difference with a therapist, is they want to sit alongside you and work out, from your perspective, what your choices are and what the best way forward is. So whilst friendships and friends’ advice can be really useful and very, very supportive, I think a therapist can offer something very different.

  • What are the common symptoms of a panic attack?

    Panic attacks can be a really frightening experience for people, especially the first time that they have one. The most common symptoms are: feeling out of breath, shortness of breath, perhaps feeling frozen in the moment, you know, not knowing what to do, where to go, the heart might be beating very fast. There might be some similarities to almost fainting. And we know physiologically that all of these signs are about the release of adrenaline into our bodies. And actually that's got a very useful...it's very useful to have that as a response, if for instance we're being chased by a tiger down the road. But often when people develop that response to everyday events, they need to learn how to handle that surge in their body. Maybe look for the early signs that something is about to trigger it. So what we try to do in therapy is arm them with as many tools as possible, so that they can feel ready to deal with it when it happens.

  • What are the effective interventions for supporting women with post natal depression?

    Postnatal depression is something that I've worked with quite a lot. It's one of those areas that I think is very, very difficult for women to admit that they have, and I think that's because our collective unconscious as a society has this view of what new motherhood should be like, and as we know, so often, it falls very short of that. So, I think for women that are going through a very difficult time after the birth of their child, encouraging the idea that, actually, this can be a normal thing to experience, and also, you know, being understanding that people don't have the tools and people do feel different emotions after giving birth, is a way that I like to work with people.

  • What are your top tips for reducing stress?

    Well, we know that stress is felt very much in the body, so I try to work with clients and their bodies quite a lot as a way of helping them to control those feelings of stress, because I feel...it feels like that's a very effective, immediate way of bringing stress levels down. Then we would look to work with the trains of thought they get on. So when they...you know, when they're hit with a stimulus, where do they go to with that? And in the counselling room, we will try to set up ways of challenging those thought processes and testing the evidence so that we can perhaps help to train the brain to think in a slightly different way. One of the lovely quotes that I really like to share with clients is the idea that, "Our power lies in the space between stimulus and response." So while it might feel a bit clunky in terms of learning to think of new...learning to think in new ways when we first started to do it. We are, in fact, learning new tools as a way of dealing with life stresses.

  • What can counselling do to help people?

    Counselling can help people with a wide variety of issues. I mean my belief is that one of the very most important parts of successful counselling is that the client and the therapist feel like they work well together. So in the way I work is quite often the relationship I have with my client is central to the work, and I think that in itself provides the right environment to contain quite emotive and emotional stuff to be unpacked in the room. Again it's all about feeling safe and held, and yeah giving clients the opportunity to reflect on how they can move forward, which bits of their life they're happy with and which bits that they might want to tweak or change.

  • What does a psychotherapist do?

    Therapists tend to work alongside their clients. They kind of sit with them, if you like, and help them go through issues that are difficult in their lives. I'm thinking particularly here about a very common theme I see in women that come to see me in the therapy room is anxiety. That seems to be really common at the moment. I think that is borne out of the society that we live in. Also, looking back at perhaps what the early messages were to those women from parental injunctions, maybe from school days, they can really understand where that's come from and what's fuelling the anxiety in their lives. I think my job as a therapist is both to offer therapeutic authority whilst at the same time feeling like I'm alongside the client in helping them work it out.

  • What does relationship counselling involve?

    Often, when women come to see me, there might be some focus on their relationship, or I might see a couple. And I think the key difference between relationship counselling and one-on-one counselling, is that what you're looking at is what's co-created between two people. So, in a sense, you're looking at the space between the two people in the room. And the most common intervention for couples, and the most powerful way of showing them maybe what might be causing issues in their relationship, is to look at how they communicate with each other. Quite often we're making assumptions about what somebody else is thinking, or we're not understanding the impact we're having on somebody else. So, the way I work with dealing with relationship-type issues, is to get people to understand their parts, what they bring to the relationship. And looking at how they can change their response to what's coming their way. And it's amazing. Even though we know that we can't specifically change somebody else's behaviour, once you change your own, it's amazing how everything changes around you.

  • What is counselling?

    Well, the way I like to think about counselling is, it's a safe space where clients feel very comfortable with their chosen therapists to give them time to reflect on and then pick issues or behaviours that they're not finding very useful in their lives at the moment.

  • What is emotional intelligence?

    As human beings, we all have at least some degree of emotional intelligence, but certainly some of us have more of it than others, and it's really about developing self-awareness. When we develop self-awareness, we can start to open our eyes to the areas that perhaps we overlooked. Some of that will be about taking the time to do that, but it's also about accepting constructive feedback from others.