How long does Therapy take?

One questions that I am often asked is “How long does therapy take?”


This is an incredibly difficult question to answer, especial before an initial assessment. There are so  many factors to consider when trying to determine the length of therapy.

What do you want from therapy?

One thing that affects the length of therapy is what is wanted for the therapy. Some clients have very clear goals when entering therapy. “I want a better relationship with my partner” “I’m struggling with my grandfathers death”, others can be more broad “I just don’t feel fulfilled and I’m not sure why”, “I find I’m worrying all the time and I want to stop worrying”. The more defined and narrower the focus the shorter the therapy can be. 

Don’t worry if you are unsure about what you want from therapy. This can be discussed during the initial assessment and can be refined through out the therapy.

How long have you been feeling this way?

Another aspect that can affect the length of therapy is how long you have been feeling like something isn’t right. The longer it has been the deeper we may need to explore, and this can take time. Remember it has taken our whole lives to build up our personality, habits, needs, wants and desires. To explore and change theses aspects of ourselves can take time. If it’s something that has happened relatively recently it may be a short about of time. If it’s something that has built up over your entire life starting in childhood this will take a longer and deeper exploration.


Revelations

During therapy other concerns can be brought to the surface and revealed. For example while exploring your relationship with your partner it may come to light that these issues are rooted in your relationship to your parents and their relationship with each other. This could mean a shift off focus from “wanting a better relationship with my partner” to exploring deeper aspects of your earlier relationship with your partners. At this point a good therapist will ask you if you’d like to change the focus, why this might be a beneficial path to take ( it may be helpful for your original goal as well) and what this would entail, including possibly extending the therapy.

Many revelations can surface during therapy and it is worth considering the effort and time it takes to full explore these.

Trust and the therapeutic relationship

Developing a relationship and building trust takes time. In order to full explore and open up at a deep level, sometimes about uncomfortable thoughts and feelings it takes trust. To gain the most from therapy you have to be able to trust your counsellor with ever aspect of yourself including the darker aspects that can be difficult to admit to, even to yourself. I’ve heard clients say to me on many occasions “There is something I haven’t been telling you” and “I’ve never told anyone this before”. As a counsellor these statements let me know that trust is there in our relationship. How long it takes to get there varies from person to person and what it is that they are not saying or have never said.


So how long does therapy take?

I hope this has helped explained why there is no easy answer to this question, but when you enter into therapy I am more than happy to discuss it and reassess as we go along. 

From experience I notice most of my clients experiences some sort of shift around four to eight sessions where they begin to feel the benefits of the therapy and  understand what they want from the therapy, what they need from the therapy and have a better understanding of how deep they want to go and how long it may take.

I recommend booking 8 - 12 sessions initially as this will give you time to build trust, to get used to talking about yourself and the issues you may have and utilising therapy. It will also allow the time to give you a greater understanding of whether you want more sessions to work at a deeper level and how long this will realistically take.

 

To find out more please get in touch

 
How long does therapy take?.jpg

PTSD - The Hound, Game of Thrones

Note- Spoilers for Game of Thrones S08 E03 The Long Night.

Some readers may find some of the following disturbing to read as incidents of abuse are described. Please use your own discretion.

While watching battle for Winterfell I was struck by one of the character reactions. That of the Hound aka Sandor Clegane. During the battle when a trench of fire is lit Sandor freezes and seems unable to move. Is the Sandor suffering PTSD?


What is PTSD?

PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental health condition brought on as a reaction to traumatic experiences. Traumatic experiences that may contribute to PTSD include warfare, abuse including violent, sexual, and psychological abuse, car crashes and natural disasters. In fact a traumatic event is any time we feel in danger. This can be real or perceived danger. 

Some of the symptoms of PTSD are uncontrollable disturbing thoughts, feelings and/or dreams about the traumatic event.

Those with PTSD may also have intrusive memories (sometimes called flashbacks) caused by trauma related cues, often described as triggers, sometimes these may be obvious (such as fireworks and explosions for war veterans), at other times these triggers may be subtle and harder to recognise.

Other symptoms include avoidance. Avoidance of situations, people and places that remind us of the trauma. Avoidance of thinking about and/or talking about the trauma.

Negative thoughts about oneself and self criticism and negative thoughts about others and the world can also be a symptom of PTSD.

This list is by no means exhaustive.


How we react to danger…

As humans we have many responses to dangerous situations developed over time and we may react in different ways to different forms of danger. You may have heard of fight or flight as a reaction to a threatening situation. Theses are often described as the F responses. Here are five F responses-


F responses to danger or threatening situations-

Fight

This response is to fight when we encounter danger. Attack the aggressor(s) or the danger. This fight response can be physical or verbal or even functional, as in attacking a fire to try and put it out. 


Flight/Flee

This means to get away from the danger, to run or flee from the dangerous situation. It is a means to protect ourselves by putting distance between ourselves and the threat in front of us.


Freeze

This reaction is to become incredibly still, to freeze in one spot in the hopes that the danger will pass us by, that any aggressors or threats will with not notice us or become disinterested. This can also occur when a sudden threat appears and we freeze will we recover from the shock and take stock of the situation to figure out how best to react.


Flop

This means to become limp, to play dead, literally flop. Similar to the freeze response this is to hope that the threat becomes disinterested. This like all the responses can be seen in the animal kingdom. Have you ever seen a cat ‘playing’ with a mouse? One response the mouse utilises is to play dead, the cat then gets bored and wonders off. Once the cat is a safe distance away the mouse activates its flight response.


Fawn

This reaction is to try and talk our way out of danger. To please the aggressor and neutralise the threat by fawning over the aggressor so that they like us and no longer see us as a threat and put us in the position of friend rather than foe.


All these reactions are natural responses and are seen across the animal kingdom as well as in humans but can become over used and occur at inappropriate times or situations.


The Hound, Sandor Clegane


In the episode of Game of Thrones we see Sandor react to the fire which activates his freeze response. This is clearly an inappropriate response as he is in the middle of a battle and freezing potentially puts him in more danger. We have seen his freeze response when faced with fire in pervious episodes. This can be traced back to the abuse he received from his older brother when he was a child. One of the ways his brother abused him was to hold his face in a fire scaring Sandor. This incident has traumatised Sandor and he now has a reaction to fire which causes is freeze response to activate.


Seeking help


When to seek help? If you have been in a traumatic event or series of events and are still feeling the effects more than a month later or are feel you are severely suffering or having suicidal thoughts contact your GP as soon as possible.


Counselling

Counselling can offer support for those suffering PTSD and help to work through the trauma and understand what triggers flashbacks and how to cope and minimise these. Counselling can also help in understanding self criticism and self esteem and work towards minimising the inner critic and bolstering self esteem. Counselling can help you to understand why you react in certain ways to certain situations allowing you to take more control over your responses. Counselling also offers a place where you can talk openly and honestly, without judgement, about your experiences.

PTSD.jpg

Nine signs of Depression



Depression is a serious mental health condition that affects many people at different times in their lives.

Here are some signs that you may be suffering with depression-



Tiredness

Feeling exhausted all the time. Not having the energy to do anything. Staying in bed all day. 



No Joy

Finding that you get no pleasure from things that you usually do. When going to the movies, cooking a meal, or a walking in the park, which used to be pleasurably now feel dull and uninteresting.



Lack of Concentration

Can’t read a book, watch a film or get any work done because you can’t concentrate on the task in front of you.



Avoiding things

The pile of mail lying unopened by the door is growing. The list of missed and unreturned calls on the phone is getting longer.



Lack of self care

Not showering, not shaving, not brushing your teeth. That old stained t-shirt will do. Clothes a mess. Bedroom is a tip. Dust is gathering on every surface. The unwashed dishes in the sink are starting to fester. Eating crap, can’t be bothered preparing a tasty health meal. 



Sleeping

Can’t sleep, lying awake all night or all you can do is sleep, constantly tired.



Eating

No appetite, can’t stomach a thing or eating too much, over eating.



Sadness

Feeling sad. Feeling sad all the time. All day and all night. Constant sadness.



Suicidal thoughts

Thinking about death or suicide. If you are feeling suicidal contact your GP or the emergency services. They can help.



If you are suffering any of these symptoms, especially for extended periods of time (two weeks or more) you can contact your GP. If you feel you are in crisis contact the emergency services or go to A&E. They are there to help.



Counselling for Depression

Depression can be all absorbing, and it can feel like it’s never ending sometimes. It can be hard to remember a time before this mood took over and really difficult to see a future when this mood has lifted. You are not alone, many people suffer with depression everyday. You can feel better and it does get easier. Help is available.

Counselling can help for depression. 

Having someone to talk to and to open up about how you are really feeling can be a great relief. Here at Respire Counselling I use a range of techniques to help you right now in your present day to day life and to explore your emotions at a deeper level to help you build resilience and gain understanding of your feelings. To help you overcome your depression. Get in touch now for counselling for depression

 
 
Signs of depression.jpg

Five Reasons Counselling Sucks


Time


Counselling takes time. Firstly taking an hour or sometimes more out of your week to go and meet with a counsellor. Finding a time that is suitable for both of you can be difficult. 


Then it takes time to see the benefits of counselling. It can be a slow process. How come I don’t feel amazing after one session? How long is this going to take?

There is no easy answer to how long counselling will take. Think about how long you’ve been alive and how long it’s taken you to build your personality, habits, behaviours and ways of relating to others. It can take time to explore all of these aspects and unpick them and if desired change them. It also depends on what you are bringing to therapy and what you want from therapy. The more you want to explore and uncover the longer it will take. It also takes time to build trust with your therapist, and it takes trust to be able to fully open up and explore the more difficult aspects of ourselves.

In my experience most people notice some change around the 4 to 8 week mark and at this point start seeing some benefits and have a better understanding of what they want to get from counselling and how long it may take.



Work


Having Counselling is work, sometimes hard and difficult work. It takes effort to fully commit to the therapeutic process, to open up and explore difficult emotions and situations. That’s a hard thing to do. Examining our lives and who we are can be very hard, sometimes we might not like what we find and it can take a lot of energy and effort to not shy away from those parts of ourselves. Ultimately the more effort you put in to the counselling process the more you’ll get from it.



Emotions


The therapeutic process is full of emotions. The effort and work put in to counselling can bring up some difficult emotions. Exploring challenging parts of our lives can bring those emotions to the surface. It can be hard to let these emotions surface and resist forcing them back down. 

Who wants to feel sad, scared, anger or anxious? 

Who wants to put themselves through a process where you feel these emotions?

Emotions are often seen as good or bad, positive or negative. We are often told by society and people around us to focus on positive emotions and to suppress negative emotions. Emotions are neither good or bad, they are how we feel. If we ignore or push down our emotions they don’t go away, in fact they can often get worse. By exploring these emotions in therapy we can discover what is making us feel this way, what these emotions are trying to telling us. We can also learn how to express these emotions in a constructive and appropriate manner. Counselling gives you the space to express all of your emotions and feelings in a contained space, allowing you to understand them, work with them and gain from them. 



Breaking down Defences


Ever heard of defence mechanisms. We all have them and most of the time they are useful and help protect us in our day to day lives as we face the world, but sometimes the become too much and over used to the point that they block us from connecting with others and living our lives fully.

Ever heard things like “He hides behind humour”, “She’s in denial”, these might be situations where the defences are too rigid.

Discovering and breaking down our defences is incredibly tough. We’ve built them up over our entire lives. Softening our defences can leave us feeling vulnerable and exposed. That’s a challenging place to be, but if our defences are no longer serving us well then it may need to happen. Counselling exposes these defences and often challenges them. It gives us a space where we can explore our defence and be vulnerable, allowing us to learn what defences we are using and how to use them to help us, not hinder us.



Change


Why Counselling? Often it’s because something isn’t right, something needs to change. Change is difficult. Change can be scary. It’s easier to stick with what we know, to stay in or comfort zones. We’ve built our lives, habits, ways of being over a life time, to change is to lose something. Counselling lets you explore what changes you want to make. To find what’s best for you. To understand why you act in certain ways and feel certain things and how you might want to change these to help you live more fully. It takes time and honesty. Honesty with your counsellor and honest with yourself.





Counselling is difficult. It’s hard. It takes effort. Ultimately it’s worth all the difficulty, struggle and dedication. 

Counselling helps build resilience, promotes self awareness and helps you gain understanding of yourself and other.



If you think it’s time to give yourself the time and space to learn about yourself and find out how you can live a fuller life please get in touch.



Counselling Sucks.jpg

'A Year in Therapy' - Thoughts on Counselling from a clients perspective

I am often asked “What is counselling like?”, and my answers often seem inadequate in giving a true sense of what an incredible journey counselling can be. 

Here is a piece written by someone taking that journey. Let’s call her Sarah (all names and places have been changed to protect anonymity and this is reproduced with ‘Sarah’s’ consent). Sarah came to counselling after the death of her father. This was written just before our second to last session, after a year of therapy.



A Year in Therapy


With the fish held firmly in one hand,

Take hold of the spine and pull.

The skeleton will come away 

And the fish will be turned inside out.


*


I don’t really want to go.

Scared, scared of strangers.

Don’t want to be known.

I don’t deserve help. Other people have it worse than me.

But

The Doctor said so. He knows what’s best.


Face said it all, “I have just had a breakdown at work,” the words unsaid, superfluous.

He: “Would you like time off?”

I: “Er.”

(Says The Goblin, “you are using your father’s death as an excuse to doss work. Wicked girl.”)

He: “I am signing you off. And you ought to self-refer for counselling.”


So

Leave it to The Automaton.

Google maps, calculate walking time,

I’m going, even if I pretend otherwise.


January sunshine – my favourite

High Holborn: sharp corners, sharp colours

Chancery Lane: seedy, dirty, bleached bright.

Grays Inn Road: Book Shop (familiar), a shop selling mirrors: some are out on the street.

Ugh, is that what I look like when I am not paying attention?

Miserable git.

Bloomsbury: Regency garden squares, lovely in the January light.

And then

A grand Catholic church, columns and steps.

Cold fingers shake, light a candle, touch base.

Three candles, I decide.

Daddy

Derek

Scott


14:55 sharp, leave the church and present myself

Downstairs and round

Ring the intercom, stare at the floor. Nerves.

You: “You must be Sarah,” and a broad, open smile.

I suppose I must be

Though The Impostor accuses me, “there’s nothing wrong with you, go home.”

The Automaton smiles back and nods.


You: “Wait through there a minute, I’ll come and get you.”

Perch. Observe children’s toys, boxes of tissues, lever arch files.

Tick, tock.

You: “Would you like to come through?”

[No]

I: “Thank you. Where should I sit?”

You: “Just as you like.”


And so it begins.

I am the fish. Innards flipped outwards by your gentle prodding.

You touch something, a thread, a string

And something moves a very long way away.

At first I recoil, unused to feeling fresh air on that memory, that thing, that bit of me.

I am de-boned, seen, known, inside out

Cold.

All roads, it seems, lead to grief. Spread out through the capillaries of my fabric - nothing is unaffected. 


Catharsis is a while in coming: first you have to break my head open.

Like a walnut, unyielding, hardened by unresolved grief and not wishing to be known, all that suppressed emotion.

Get over the guilt – I am allowed to be here. I do need this help.

Get over the block. You: “Do you think I’ll judge you if you speak in monosyllables?”

Get over the fear: If I start crying I will never stop.

Recognise The Impostor, The Goblin, The Automaton. See them.


I wonder what you see.

A person in need of help?

An impostor?

You see everything of course. Compulsively picking my nails, wringing my hands. Tense.

You see when I can’t meet your gaze. Not just away but averted, evasive.

I don’t mean to be.


A month, six weeks, roundabout,

Something eases,

I’m not reticent any more – I look forward to our sessions.

Thursdays, my routine. Drop everything, church, three candles, 14:55 sharp, present self. 

Offer you things to look at, threads to pull. 

You have found my buttons, my triggers.

Now, like lavatory paper kicked down a hallway, everything unspools, uncontrolled.

"Over there," I feel like you're saying, "you know the answer already, maybe look in that direction."

Gentle kick, back out of the door, brain food for my walk home. 

Notebook, don't forget the notebook. Write it down. 


*


I am a tree.

When great-aunt Catherine died 

I endured 

An extreme prune – not pleasant 

But part of the natural order of things. I was still tree-shaped. 

Likewise my old Nan, "happy as a pig in shit sweetheart," she said from what she knew was her death bed. 

When Scott died a large healthy branch was ripped off. Now the place where the branch used to be is scabbed and scarred, and I picked it, didn’t let it heal.

Daddy’s branch is the biggest and heaviest. It fell with a crash and the wound in my trunk is smarting, there he lies next to me, shocking, visible, taunting, still in full leaf but beginning to wilt. 

I will heal. I am still a tree. But that bit will always be delicate, sore, scarred.

What I didn’t realise … when Derek died, it was like 

When Daddy ran over a medlar sapling with the ride-on lawnmower. 

We stood it up, bandaged it with anti-bacterial rooting powder, and it survived, albeit with a somewhat twisted trunk.

Sudden, early, violent deaths … they batter and damage the tree though it survives and is recognisable.

Embrace the twist - you're allowed it. 


I have a well

Daddy has died. That much is apparent, though it still surprises me every day.

Our family is half-decapitated – the absence is almost a presence: is that what a ghost is?

The gap he has left is a huge hole. An abyss.

Don’t fall in.

Instead, build a wall around it, make a wishing well, make a feature of it.

Go to the well, make it a place to be, to contemplate, commune, complain.

Draw from the well. What would Daddy do?

Leave the well sometimes. It’s ok.


*


I'm glad you're a nice person - imagine

What a horrible person could do to an inside-out fish.

In fact, sometimes I'm not sure you're real -

Child-like, stripped down and opened up, I imagine 

That you're like a music teacher:

You exist only in this room, for my benefit, 

Like the people in the telly who come alive when you switch it on. 

Seeing you in Tesco's would blow my little mind.


Remember, also, how I've developed a taste for pain.

Forged by hot teenage tears and tantrums

I took my shame and anger out on myself, "so as not to harm others." Though, of course, I managed that as well.

Now I don't self harm any more, I just get tattoos. 

And drink

And write and draw

And now, I go to counselling. 

Groping for words is painful. 

Good pain. I'll keep it. Use it in the future, when 

You, the teacher, are no longer there reminding me. 

Demonstrably feeling my struggle - reflecting it even. See: it IS real. 


Keep many things. 

Things you've said, instructions you've dispensed, 

"You’re allowed to enjoy your memories."

"You're allowed to be happy."

"That sounds difficult."

"It's ok not to be ok."

"There is no right way." 


Now, as predicted, two weeks to go

Denied the end of the road till now. Can't see it: not there. 

Separation anxiety? 

Or am I better, just don't want to be? 


In any case, it's ok. 

 

 

Grief and Bereavement can be extremely difficult to go through. If you would like to know more about how counselling can help please get in touch.

A-Year-In-Therapy.jpg

Five tips for Anxiety in the moment & Five tips for Anxiety in the long term

Anxiety is something we all go through and anxiety can serve a useful purpose. Anxiety is worry about future events and situations, known and unknown, real and imagined. It puts us in a state of alertness and readiness. Prepares us to meet these new challenges and situations.

Sometimes anxiety becomes too much and we become stuck and overwhelmed and it becomes unhelpful and in fact debilitating, stopping us doing the things we need to do to live life to the fullest. 




Here are some tips for coping with anxiety.  Five tips for helping with anxiety in the moment and five more for dealing with anxiety longer term.                    




In the moment-




Change of scene

This is simply standing up and moving to a different space.

Have you ever walked into a room and forgotten why you went in there in the first place? This is know as the boundary effect. One of the ways our brains remember things is to use our surroundings as visually cues. By changing room we no longer have those cues and can ‘forget’ why we entered that room in the first place. This can also help with anxiety. When we enter a new space we have to reassess our environment and this can distract the brain and bring us back to the moment. This can also help if there was an item or sensation provoking our anxiety as it changes our immediate surroundings. 






Breathing

When you feel anxious, take a moment and focus on your breathing. Trying to breathe naturally and normally. When we feel anxious our heart rate can speed up and focusing on breathing can help lower our heart rates back to normal. Focusing on our breath also helps to bring us back to the present moment. As anxiety is focusing on the future bring our mind back to the present moment can help reduce the effects of anxiety. 




Stretching

When we are in an anxious state our bodies can tense up. This is to prepare us to either fight or flee. When we are in a situation where fighting or running away are not appropriate responses to the situation we are in some gentle stretches can help return us to a more natural state. By stretching we loosen some of that muscle tension and as our mind takes cues from our body this can help reduce anxiety.





Acknowledging and accepting

Anxiety is a heightened state of readiness, preparing us to act. If we try and fight this response we may increase the physical sensations, such as increased heart rate making the anxiety worse. One way to try and counter act this is simply to acknowledge that you are anxious and, if you know, what is making you anxious. Try to do this without judgement, as if you are curiously noticing what is happening. This can help to give some time before automatic reactions increase the anxiety helping you to be in more control of your reactions. 





Wiggling toes

This may sound a bit silly, but wiggling your toes can really help. If you can, take your shoes off, though this might not be appropriate in some situations. Then, with your shoes on or off, wiggle your toes. Try and notice the sensations you feel when you wiggle your toes. How does it feel?

This helps to ground us and bring us back to the present moment (as mentioned above). It also helps to bring focus to another part of our body, taking the focus away from thoughts of the future.






Five tips for working with anxiety in the longer term-




Exercise

Exercise has been shown to have a positive effect on mental health. Exercise helps with anxiety by firstly putting us in touch with our bodies. It can also help with the physical effects of anxiety such as muscle tension and increased heart rate. If you suffer with anxiety try adding some exercise to your routine. This can be as gentle as a walk in the park. More strenuous exercise also helps bring us into the moment making us concentrate on what’s happing right now. I find indoor climbing very helpful for my mental health. It is fun, strenuous and challenging and while climbing I am so focussed on holding on and making the next move that all other thoughts shrink into the background and its just me, my body and the wall. I find this incredibly helpful as it gives me a break from any rumination. Find an exercise that’s right for you and if you have any physical concerns contact your GP.




Yoga

Yoga helps with anxiety in the same way as stretching and exercise. In the longer term yoga can really help reduce tightness and tension in our bodies. This tension may provoke anxiety as feeling tense can make us think we are tense and become anxious. Helping us to loosen up when we feel any tension.




Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a form of meditation to help us live more in the moment. It can be incredibly helpful in making us aware of how much we are on automatic pilot. We often react with out thinking. Mindfulness helps to bring the focus back to the hear and now. This can help with anxiety by pulling attention away from rumination’s about the future to simply being in the moment.

Mindfulness can be done via the multiply smart phone apps available that have guided mediations. There are also numerous Mindfulness courses available. I’ve just completed an eight week Mindfulness based stress reduction course (MBSR) and found it enlightening, informative and incredibly helpful. I’ve also introduced clients to mindfulness and we’ve used it in our work together with very positive results.

Here are some guided Mindfulness meditations that can be used to help with anxiety.




Talking

As my Grandmother used to say ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’. Talking to friends and loved ones can help to share the load and normalise your situation. Anxiety can be a burden but not one you have to face alone.




Counselling

While friends and family can be a great support, sometimes we need a space where we can open up with out judgement or advise. Friends tend to try and fix things and offer advice and even though they mean well this can be unhelpful. Counselling offers a space where you can really open up in a completely non-judgemental environment. Counselling can also help you to find the roots of your anxiety, to discover where it comes from. Anxiety is sometimes caused because something isn’t right in your life. Counselling can help you explore what this is and what you want to do. Counselling can really help with anxiety in the long term.




If you are struggling with Anxiety and it is having a detrimental effect on your life please contact your GP or get in touch to find out how Counselling can help you with your Anxiety. 



Counselling for anxiety2.jpg

Book Review - Love’s Executioner, and Other Tales Psychotherapy by Irvin D. Yalom

In his 1989 work “Love’s Executioner, and Other Tales of Psychotherapy” Irvin Yalom gives us a glimpse inside the therapy room, inside the therapeutic relation and inside his technique. Here Yalom shows us the world and the therapy of ten individuals, all with seemingly unique concerns.


The range of his clients primary concerns include, tragic love, terminal cancer, obesity and binge eating, bereavement, loneliness, and depression - to name a few.

What Yalom attempts, and I believes succeeds, to reveal is that, while all the clients’ presenting issues are unique, under the surface they are all suffering what he calls ‘existence pain’.


Yalom shows us his model of Existential Psychotherapy. This ‘existence pain’ is the anxiety felt from our endeavours to cope with the harsh facts of life. The ‘givens’ of existence as Yalom puts it.


These ‘givens’ are death, freedom, loneliness and meaninglessness.

The inevitable death of ourselves and everyone we know.

Our freedom to choose our lives and the responsibility that comes with that choosing.

Our loneliness as we can never be truly known.

And the stark fact that it is all ultimately meaningless.


Yalom then goes on to show us in these ten vignettes, how his clients avoid facing these givens and then, through their therapeutic work with him, find personal change and growth by confronting them.


Yalom is an excellent writer and master of his craft. These case studies give a real sense of how he works. His openness and honesty about his feelings towards his clients gives a real sense of his process and help to reveal the true depth and challenges of the work, with many valuable insights.


What could have easily been a dry rendition of clinical work comes across as exciting, vibrant and dynamic. I found myself engrossed in each story and eager to find out what happens next.

Here Yalom manages to both educate and excite the reader. A rare talent. Highly recommended for all.




Who is this book good for?


This book is great for all. It offers an enlivening insight into Psychotherapy.

I first read this as a student and found it inspiring. Highly recommended for Counselling students and practising Counsellors and Psychotherapists. Especially good for anyone with an interest in Existentialism and Existential Psychotherapy. 

Love's Executioner.jpg

Counselling for Personal Development

Like the old Yellow Pages advert- “We don’t just help with the nasty things in life.”

While counselling is incredibly helpful for Anxiety, Depression, Loss, Relationship difficulties… The list goes on. You don’t have to be struggling to gain from Counselling.


Counselling can help you develop as a human being, assist you in getting more out of life and living more fully. Counselling can aid you in discovering what you truly want from life and to get more from life and living.


Many of us meander through life, taking it as it comes, as if life is happening to us. Doing things because they need doing, because it’s the “right” thing to do. Jobs become a means to an end. Dreams and ambitions fade into the background. Days, weeks, months, years, start to merge into each other.


Then ten, twenty, thirty years fly by and we wake up one day and wonder “What if…?” 

What if… 

We all have our own unique What if’s and it is never too late to explore them. 

It is always valuable to take the time to contemplate and examine our lives. Explore which aspects of our lives make us feel truly alive and which parts feel like dull repetition.

Do you want to live your life on autopilot or do you want to take charge of who you are?


How can counselling help?


Counselling is a great space to explore these ideas. To discover who we are and what drives us. To figure out what is holding us back, in work, our relationships, personal lives. What is stoping us living life fully as we truly want to and what changes and choices we can and wish to make. Counselling can help you form deeper and more meaningful relationships with those around you and help you live more authentically.  


A place without judgements or preconceptions. A place to examine and explore. A place to reflect and grow. A place to wonder. A place to honestly examine those What if’s…

Get in touch now to find out how counselling can help you develop and grow.

Counselling for growth.jpg

Book Review - Counselling for Toads by Robert de Board

Based on the characters and setting of Kenneth Grahame’s “The Wind in the Willows” we find Toad has fallen in a deep depression. We then follow Toad on his journey through counselling with Heron as his Counsellor.

Heron uses a variety of therapy models, such as Person Centred, Psychodynamic and Existential, to help Toad explore his childhood, his relationships and his way of being. Heron also makes great use of the Transactional Analysis’ ego states of Child, Parent and Adult to help Toad understand why he and others behave in the ways that they do. Providing Toad with some Psychoeducation, as he learns to analyse his own feelings and develop his emotional intelligence. 

Heron explains counselling beautifully and we accompany Toad as he explores his difficult childhood and how that is influencing him in the present, how he has trouble expressing his anger and the guilt that he feels and how he relates to his friends Rat, Mole and Badger.

When Toad reaches the end of his counselling Heron helps Toad review the progress he has made and the work that they have done. Toad then ventures back in to the world anew, ready for his next adventure.


This is a fantastic book. Well written and easy to understand and follow. The counselling process is very eloquently explained from beginning to end and as Toad learns to understand himself and the world around him I could feel his progress and felt genuine empathy with him when the work got hard.


Who is this book good for?

This is an ideal book for those thinking about trying counselling as it will give you some idea of what to expect and what it might be like for you. I can not recommend it enough, thoroughly informative and engaging.  


The Audible version is charmingly narrated by Charles Hunt, who succeeds in bring all the characters to life. 

counsellingfortoads.jpg

Counselling for Anxiety

Anxiety is something that affects everyone at some point. A small level of anxiety or stress is quite normal and can be helpful. It gives us a state of readiness and alertness that can be useful when entering new situations and trying new or challenging things. The difficulty arises when the anxiety or stress becomes overwhelming and stops us from being able to function and live our lives to the fullest.

There are many forms of anxiety such as-


Generalised Anxiety

Worry and tension that’s over exaggerated and can be quite overwhelming even when there doesn’t seem to be a reason for the anxiety.


Social Anxiety

This can be excessive worry, stress or self-consciousness around social situations. This kind of anxiety can be be focused on certain types of social situations, such as meeting new people, speaking in public, or eating in front of others. It can also be a high level of anxiety when in any situation involving other people.


Panic Disorder

Having panic attacks. These panic attacks are characterised by on overwhelming sense of fear or confusion, and can include many physical symptoms such as heart-racing, dizziness, chest pains and difficulty breathing.



We live in a world where we are often asked to be on high alert. 24 hour news cycles bombard us with potential dangers. Living in cities we have to negotiate large crowds and fast moving traffic, constantly having to keep our wits about us. Pressures at work building to a point that it seems never ending. Navigating our social lives, meeting new people feeling we have to present the best of ourselves. This can be exhausting and sometimes we become overwhelmed.


How can counselling help?

Here at Respire Counselling I utilise a range of techniques and methods to help with anxiety and stress.

Mindfulness and Breathing 

Meditation and breathing techniques to help ground you and lessen some of the effects of anxiety. Overtime this can help you live more in the present and lessen the immediacy of the anxiety.

Counselling

We can explore where the anxiety is coming from. What the anxiety is telling you and how best to resolve the anxiety for you. Talking can really help and release some of that pressure we encounter in our lives.

Counselling for Anxiety.jpg