Appointments Available From Monday 5th August 2024

Monday - 5pm and Thursday - 10:15am - all fortnightly appointments

If booking for smoking/vaping cessation - this is only a one-off 1.5 - 2 hour session and so I may be able to fit appointments in for this at different times during the day to those listed above, so please get in touch to enquire about availability for these sessions



Labels, Labels, Labels

It’s that time of year again in the UK – Mental Health Awareness Week. The theme this year is kindness. Self-kindness in taking time to understanding ourselves is just as important as being kind to others.

On a recent counselling training course, I have been teaching a mental health module, where the students are required to watch a Ted Talk by Eleanor Longden (The Voices in My Head). At the same time, I was most of the way through reading a book called ‘Drop the Disorder’. All of this came together at the same time and has caused me to stop and think about what I am teaching my students about mental health and also how I am approaching this in my own practice with clients.

I was already very much aware about the importance of challenging the culture of imposing labels but re-watching Eleanor’s Ted Talk has caused me to really stop and think this through.

What’s wrong with you?

Perhaps there have been times where you have been feeling low for a significant period of time or have been worrying a lot and it has become worse to the point of feeling constantly panicky, perhaps even having regular panic attacks. You might have been experiencing nightmares or flashbacks. Maybe one minute you feel low and the next minute you feel wonderful or you feel an immense amount fear when someone gets close to you and you want to run and hide from the world. Perhaps you are hearing voices or feeling like you aren’t good enough.

You visit the GP to discuss and are essentially asked, “What’s wrong with you?” - questions about symptoms, filling in questionnaires to measure things and match to symptoms outlined in the mental health diagnostic tools such as DSM-V or ICD 11.  After a short appointment, of approximately 10 minutes, you are given a diagnosis (depression, anxiety, PTSD, panic disorder etc), offered medication and if you are lucky, some short-term NHS ‘counselling’.

I wonder how this felt. Was it a relief or did you feel unheard and misunderstood? Did you repeatedly visit the GP with the same issue(s) because nothing was resolved?

What’s happened to you?

Now think about what might change or feel different if asked, “What’s happened to you?” That low mood you are experiencing or anxiety is likely to relate to something in your life and is a reaction to this to be worked through and understood. The nightmares, flashbacks and other behaviours are likely to be a perfectly reasonable response to a traumatic event you have experienced. The fear of deeper level relationships is likely to be a reaction to your own individual life experiences.

Stop and think

It is really important to understand that I’m not discouraging you to visit your GP, mental health team, psychiatrist, psychologist etc, when in need of support and assistance. It would be unethical and unsafe of me to suggest this. However, what I am suggesting is that it is a good idea to stop and think about what you are experiencing and consider that it may be a perfectly reasonable reaction to something that has happened to you and that understanding this can make a significant difference to your life. Counselling can help you to work through this and understand how what has happened to you may impact on how you feel, behave and relate to others. Why not get in touch now to discuss how counselling can help.

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