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Stigma, Discrimination and Mental Health.
Postive thinking
Self expression.
Positivity
"Once in a Blue Moon".

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Positivity

 
Buddha; Buddhism: The state of perfect enlightenment through ones own efforts and insights.Fairly recently, I decided that it would be great to send positive messages out to family and peers via a social network.  I had no ulterior motive, I just wanted to share the positivity I had within..........outwardly.
Nothing too heavy, just little things like:
 
  • "Top of the morning to ya."
 
  • "Just gazed out my window and was greeted with a clear sky.  I can see Jupiter, right next to the moon.  It's great to be alive innit? Nite peeps!"
 
  • "Had a great day yesterday!! Here's hoping for more of the same. Enjoy!"
 
 
Responses to my goodwill and happy to be alive messages were interesting.  I got several messages from my brother calling me a "loser!" 
and a couple of messages from others saying "what drugs are you on?"
Fun and jokes aside... the majority of the comments I read were positive and wished me well, however, I did note that a small minority had a tinge of negativity, usually attributed to feeling over-worked or over-tired.
 
My thought processes  are usually positive, hopeful and optimistic.  I'm fortunate to be able to generate 'positive automatic thoughts.'  Although I have always been a positive person, it must also be  recognised that I'm no Mother Theresa and  I do my best to maintain my positive environment.  Put really simply, I tend not to sweat the small stuff because:
 
 
Smiley face.  Denotes feelings of happiness, joy, laughter, fun, ebullience.
  • firstly, it gives you frown lines and
  • secondly, holding onto good stuff generally feels much nicer. 
 
 
 
 
At other times I may utilise certain tools or reserves, such as: 
 
 
Night Sky: Visual interpretation: Peaceful, positive image.
  • Remembering special moments,
  • Watching a clear night sky, decorated with stars, planets and of course,the moon.  (Any opportunity to talk about the moon and I will seize it!...hehehehe.)
  • Listening to great music.
  • Doing things that make me laugh.
 
Individuals whose thoughts patterns are full of worry, angst, doubt and/or anxiety are likely to have a stream of 'negative automatic thoughts'.  Many aspects of their inner dialogue is fuelled by negativity, never allowing any space for positive processes to be filtered through and housed.
 
 
 
Loud speaker.  Visual representation: 'Melody of Mayhem.'Saxophone:  Visual interpretation: 'Sweet Symphony.'When you stop and listen to that inner dialogue that you have within,  what do you hear?  What kind of noises are being played?  Is it a sweet symphony or a medley of mayhem?
 
 
 
 
 
 
Listening to ourselves is extremely important, it helps us to learn and to grow. Talking therapies such as Psychotherapy and Counselling gives an individual experiencing a medley of mayhem, a safe space to be candid about theirthoughts and feelingsAt SW11 Counselling, the client and the therapist work together to explore destructive thoughts.  The aim is to work towards assisting the client in finding and housing their own sweet symphony.
 
Thank you for reading my blog.  Your comments are valuable and always welcome.
 

The top 5 regrets of the dying.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Firstly, I want to thank my 15 year old nephew for posting this article on facebook recently....... "Very impressed dear nephew!"
 
 
The article written focused on data collected by a palliative nurse in Australia.
 
The top 5 regrets are:
 
  • I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life     others expected of me.
 
  • I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
 
  • I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
 
  • I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
 
  • I wish that I had let myself be happier.
 
I found these results particularly interesting for several reasons.
All of the regrets are based on factors or issues that clients have brought to me in therapy.  For example when a client is feeling fragmented or depressed, they sometimes find it difficult to express their feelings, thoughts and ideas.  By having counselling/psychotherapy the client has the opportunity to express their feelings in an environment which is confidential, safe and non-judgmental.
 
 
 
 Imagine it!..................someone has lived their life, are about to die and their regret in life is that they wished they could have been happier!!!  Gwhizz!.... to me, this seems very sad.  There are so many strategies and/or techniques that could enable an individual  to be happier in this world.  Look..... I'm not here to ram counselling/psychotherapy down your throat, but, funnily enough, I do have evidence that counselling and psychotherapy works excellently.  I view them as enriching processes and  excellent tools in which to empower an individual.  If the therapist and the client are fully engaged in the work, then counselling/psychotherapy will help to diminish/eradicate negative thoughts and feelings.
 
I feel that the article in the Guardian,  connects beautifully with a popular blog I wrote back in October 2012 titled, "To Live".  In that blog I looked at the notion of living/existing.  In short, I explored what it would it take for us to live happily,  bearing in mind, that after we live, we die;  The article in the guardian goes to the next step, it explores the regrets that people have actually shared, near their death.
 
I'd like to think that those of us that are experiencing some personal, interpersonal and professional concerns, wouldn't wait until their death bed to explore, assess and treat.  You are alive now! Please don't wait until it's too late.
 
If you knew you were about to die, what regrets would you have about your own life?
 
Your comments are always welcome and thank you for reading this blog.

Christmas

Christmas is a magical time,
Is there any doubt?
But I'm going to need a psychotherapist
To get my anxieties out!
The sugarplums might be dancing,
But they're messing up my mind;
The silver bells aren't doing much
To help me unwind.
Section of a poem by
Joel Bjorling, Gilson taken from: www.theholidayspot.com 
 

My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others.  Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?
By Bob Hope,takenfrom: quotations.about.com
 
This comes to wish you
joy and good cheer
not just for Christmas
but throughout the new Year. 
 
Christmas is..Christmas is...
What is Christmas?..
To some there is no Christmas..simply because of their religon.
To others Christmas is a time of loneliness because of past events.

By James, taken from: www.poems.md
 

Endings

 
"Thank you and goodbye".......
will be the headline on the front cover of the News of The World newspaper.  The News of The World, founded in 1843, will cease publication on 10th July 2011.  To be fair 168 years of reporting the news is momentous in itself, however, it is clear that their moral code/ethical stance in their bid to have a "scoop," has definitely been the catalyst for its demise; The News of the World has come to an end.
 
It's interesting how endings take form, some are forced upon us, other endings are a shock/surprise, whereas, some endings can be a gradual slow process.  As mentioned above, in the case of The News of the World, its end was due to its unsavoury conduct.
 
Endings are particularly significant in psychotherapy and counselling because it illustrates, that the client who arrived into therapy feeling distressed is  now able to leave feeling more comfortable and more aware of themselves and their processes.  One of the most rewarding aspects for me being a therapist is hearing a client tell me that they are ready to end therapy, they are ready to go it alone and to fend for themselves; it simply demonstrates the client that was once so fragmented, isolated and lost is now  more complete, connected and empowered.
 
Interestingly, the year so far has made me  look at some of the endings that I've experienced on a personal and professional level.  Although these endings have worked for me positively and negatively, causing me to feel elated, validated, frustrated and agitated, I can tell you confidently and congruently that they have enabled me to learn and to grow.
 
So to conclude, endings can be painful, sudden, scary, fun and exciting....but I also like to think (being the eternal optimist that I am) that we need to experience  different endings so that we can learn to understand other aspects of ourselves, as well as, start to forge new beginnings. 
Like they say: "When one door closes another one opens".
 
Your thoughts are welcome.
 
 
 
 
 

"I"dentity.

Who are you?
How do you define yourself?
Who are you when you are alone?
Who are you when you are amongst others?
How do you think you are perceived by others? 
 
Image of a blank face; a representation of an individual without identity
Identity....When you think of your identity what springs to mind?
For example my identity could be placed into various boxes, i.e. professional, sexual,  gender, religious and so on.
 
I suppose what i'm interested in, especially as a therapist, is who you think you are? 
 
Since I became a therapist, I have seen many clients who really don't have a clue how to define themselves.   Well, actually that statement is only half true!  The vulnerable clients that I have worked with can define themselves, but, only in negative terms.  One exercise or process that I do with a client is to ask them, how they see themselves.  I start by asking them to give me five positive adjectives.  More often than not, clients who may be suffering from loss of identity, depression, low self esteem/self worth, really struggle to relay these to me.  However, in contrast, these clients often have a myriad of negative adjectives in their schema.
 
Psychological assessment tools such as Myers-Briggs and Johari's window are helpful in understanding how an individual relates to themselves, their environment and to others.
 
I believe that Counselling and Psychotherapy is extremely valuable in helping a vulnerable client develop a clearer sense of self.  What is particularly important in therapy is the relationship between the client and the therapist.  The focus is on working together to understand the origins of these negative processes, as well as, enabling the client to understand who they really are.  This by no means is an easy process, as it involves being really open and honest with ones-self and with the therapist. 
 
How did you find answering the questions at the beginning of this blog?
I'd like to hear your thoughts.
 
 

Work it on out.

An Hour Glass, an abstract image of life passing on by.And I, I can let my life pass me by
or I can get down and try
work it all out this lifetime
work it on out this time
I can let it all pass me by
or I can get down and try
work it all out this lifetime lifetime

Maxwell - Now (2001); 'LifeTime' Lyrics (chorus). 
 
There are many of us who can find the motivation to achieve our goals and to live each day as if it were our last.  However, in contrast, there are some of us who find the future a scary place, therefore, are more cautious or tentative; we may have no self-worth or belief, so become frustrated, confused and even more unsure.
 
Listening to these lyrics, as a therapist, I wondered, how many of us just let life pass us by? Wishing for something else....... something different, but, feeling paralysed to do anything about it.  Maxwell's song 'Lifetime' expresses feelings and thoughts of love, loss, depression, hope, growth and change.
 
"I can let my life pass me by....Or I can get down and try".
 
It's true, change is scary and the journey to some form of Self-actualization, has its obstacles, but breaking free from debilitating thoughts and behaviours is achievable and empowering .  We can choose to let life pass us by, but surely we owe it to ourselves to......
"Work it all out this lifetime...work it on out this time". 
 
 
 

St Valentines Day.

 
Abstract image of a love heart.So, February 14th marks the celebration of LOVE ...
ST VALENTINES DAY!
 
There will be some of us getting  excited, waiting for a loved one or admirer to display their undying love, with a series of gifts, celebrations and proposals.  However, there will be others that believe that Valentines day is another commercial celebration, designed to make gullible people spend money unecessarily.
 
St Valentines Day originates from Roman times and is traditionally associated with the Cleric St Valentine.  Emperor Claudius II, ordered St Valentines death when he discovered that the cleric had been performing secret wedding ceremonies.  During St Valentines incarceration, the emperor wanted the cleric to change his religious beliefs, however, Valentine refused.  It is believed that St Valentine was executed on 14th February 270 AD.   It is also suggested that because St Valentine refused to renounce his religious beliefs, he portrayed the idea of a christian love.   St Valentines Day is less likely to be associated with its religious heritage and nowadays is defined as a passionate love.
 
LOVE takes many forms and is culturally defined, therefore,  applying a universal definition would prove impossible.  Emotions such as love interest me on various levels.  For instance, in my role as a counsellor, I have seen clients who were at a crossroads in their lives and questioned their love for partners.  Moreover, I have seen clients who found it extremely difficult to recognise any postive attributes about themselves or others, finding it much easier to negate their existence and that of others.  In short, having no love for themselves or anyone else. 
 
The love I write of here, involves the capacity to form an emotional attachment to another - interpersonal and a positive connection towards ones self - intrapersonal.  Therapy or counselling is extremely beneficial in understanding the issues that may affect you surrounding interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships.
 
No matter what your thoughts of  St Valentines Day, it is connected with the notion of love.  Love does exist and it is complicated, exciting, painful, generic, specific, free, suffocating, puzzling, elevating...................
 
What does LOVE mean to you?
 
 

When a push doesn't result in a shove.

A candle to show that we remember those young people who have been murdered violently. Between 1999 and 2003, I worked with young people who were labelled as disaffected.  My role at the time was to ensure that they utilised our services and assist them in changing certain patterns of their behaviour.  Back then we predominately worked with young men aged 13-19, viewed at risk because they were truanting from school; had been expelled; or were known offenders.  The gang culture amongst the young men that used our services was in full effect and the staff team and I would hear countless tales of violent encounters between our young men and rival gangs.  Stabbings and shootings were frequent occurrences.  Some of our young people were admitted to hospital as a result of stab wounds; one of our young men was stabbed which resulted in his death.  He died alone in a ditch in South London .
 
So,
 
When I hear media coverage of the young man(aged 17) who was found dead in a stairwell on the pelican Estate in Peckham, my heart bleeds.  Yet another senseless murder.  What had he done that warranted him dying in that way? This takes the total of teenager murders this year in London to 19.
 
Although I'm not condoning violence, couldn't this matter have been resolved with an argument and a punch up? How come a push doesn't result in a shove?
 
This topic is both emotive and a long way from being exhaustive.  There are many variables to consider when we look at this subject matter.  I invite you to share your experiences and views.
 
This Blog is in rememberance of all of those young lives that have been taken, through violent means.
 
 

Can your relationship survive after infidelity?

Birds depicting a loving, nurturing relationship.An article in Therapy Today, (June 2010 Vol.21 Issue 5) focused on research undertaken by Dr Andreas Vossler and Dr Naomi Moller.  The study suggested that couples who were able to trust and forgive after a partners infidelity, were able to have long-term positive results.  Furthermore, utilising professionals, such as counsellors or organisations such as relate, assisted in nurturing this progression.
 
Or in contrast............"Once a cheat always a cheat!"
 
Your comments are appreciated.