Mindfulness Therapy in Bristol

What is Mindfulness? We hear it spoken of more and more regularly. Indeed it has become something of a “buzzword” in recent years. But what does it actually mean and what are the real benefits, if any, that it can bring?

A sense of awareness of the present moment lies at the heart of what it means to cultivate mindfulness. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the prime exponent of mindfulness in Western medical and psychological settings, defines it as follows: “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgementally.” In other words it is about getting a handle on your “thinking mind”.

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If we can bring some more perspicacity to each moment we can begin to see the processes that occur within us at any given time. We can see the subtle sensations, thoughts and feelings that lie behind our actions and motivate our behaviour. We can begin to choose how we react to the stimuli around us, and even influence our habitual moods and emotional states. At the very least we can begin to develop an attitude of kindness towards ourselves, and others, in our moment-to-moment experience.

How do we actually do it? Mindfulness is generally thought to originate in Eastern spiritual traditions but also has flowered in various Western contexts. However, it has only become widespread in the West in the latter part of the 20th Century. With all this history behind it there are many techniques available but to begin with it’s about bringing the mind under control. Not by forcing anything or shutting anything out, but by developing the ability to maintain attention on the object of meditation. Commonly the breath is used as a focus, or “anchor” to the present moment, because it is always available and brings us into contact with our bodily sensory field. By simply paying attention to the sensations we experience with each breath – in and out – we are able to shift attention away from our thoughts and develop stability of awareness.

Following this simple practice can reveal quite how powerful and insistent the mind’s thinking processes are! When I sit down and meditate I find a tendency for my thoughts to focus again and again on different ideas and plans for the future – from anything as banal as the shopping list to an exciting creative project. It has been very helpful to discover that, with practice, I can relinquish the planning and settle into the present moment. For although the planning is helpful and necessary in moderation, it often undermines my actual enjoyment of what’s going on right now as I’m too busy planning the next thing!

In this small way Mindfulness can help with the majority of psychological difficulties we face. Habitual emotional states that are causing distress, such as anxiety, anger or depression, can be altered through creating this space around the emotional experience and gaining the ability to intervene in negative cycles of thought. With the awareness of what’s happening inside we get to identify what we’re feeling and respond appropriately instead of acting unconsciously and doing what we’ve always done. In this way it can be very helpful with compulsive behaviours such as addictions and eating disorders.

It can be argued that a great deal of psychological suffering is exacerbated by the avoidance of uncomfortable emotion. Perhaps more importantly than any other benefit, Mindfulness enables us to “be” with our experience and develop the equanimity to move through and beyond turbulent waters.

New Year, New Cycle – Manifestation

Happy New Year! It does seem a somewhat arbitrary marker – this particular calendar day and it seems to me that the solstice would provide a more grounded, natural moment to reflect on the end of one cycle and the beginning of the next – but some time to take stock is better than no time. In the busy-ness of everyday life finding the time to think about what we have recently experienced and what we want to experience in the coming months can be challenging. So having a nationally recognized marker for the end of the old and the start of the new can give us the prompting and the opportunity we may need to reflect.

For many years I spent my New Year in quiet contemplation with a friend undergoing a process we ambitiously named “The Reckoning”. We would go somewhere peaceful and loosely write a number of columns to help us reflect on the year. There would be things I was proud of having done, things I regretted not doing (or doing!), relationships (in three columns – those I found really rewarding, those I found unrewarding and those in the middle), things that I felt the desire to experience in the coming year, and anything else that seemed appropriate at the time. It was comforting to chart the waters about myself at that moment in time and to set some kind of direction for the coming year.

I find that taking the emphasis away from the predominant “resolutions list” changes the quality of reflection away from things I “should” or “must” change to things I want to let go of or move towards. Rather than being propelled by the desire to NOT do something, which I have to forevermore battle against, I am drawn to what I actually want. This way an organic motivation is awakened, so I no longer need to set my own unsteady willpower against the task at hand.

The specific goals are often less important than the experience I’m looking to have in achieving the goal. If we take weight as an example, what might I be looking for if my goal was to lose ten pounds? Underneath the specific weight loss lies a qualitative experience that I imagine I will feel if I lose ten pounds. What I’m really looking for is the experience of feeling more comfortable with my body. Using this approach I might then look at ways in which I could achieve more comfort within my body: taking better care of myself; eating nourishingly (instead of restrictively, which then sets up the inevitable fall from grace, which in turn makes me eat even less healthily); doing activities that bring me into contact with my body (like swimming, massages, walks, or if feeling adventurous, dancing); keeping blood sugar levels balanced (to help avoid cravings to eat unhelpfully calorific snacks). The amazing thing is that this approach has the effect of producing an unforced desire to look after my body instead of pummeling it into shape.

So my advice to you this new year, if you are looking to change anything in your life, is to cultivate the vision of what you want and then to process the blocks that arise to you experiencing this vision. Just as the earth is heavy, static, still at this time, so it is healthy for us to allow ourselves to envision and dream. Allow the seeds of what you desire to gain a foothold in the soil of your psyche. Soon enough it will be time to awaken and take action!

Brian Thorne on the legacy of Carl Rogers

Last week Focus Counselling hosted Brian Thorne’s “last public speaking event on the circuit” at St. Michael’s Church on Broad Street, Bath.

I was excited. I had “discovered” Brian Thorne, the much-admired torch-holder of the Person-centred tradition in the UK, two years ago when my new supervisor pointed me towards his work. The clarity, courage and heart in his writing spoke to me of an approach to counselling that I had hitherto been unable to find, yet felt called to employ. I was grappling with the division between my experience of working in fairly directive environments (addiction rehabilitation centres) and my yearning to bring a softer, more permissive, yet more authentic aspect to the therapeutic encounter. Here, it seemed, was a man who was willing to throw caution – and perhaps the security of specific techniques or targets – to the wind: to uncompromisingly meet his clients’ relational needs. Using Carl Rogers’ triumvirate of core conditions as his watchword he shone light upon a legitimate way forwards in my ideological impasse! I admired, too, his willingness to fly in the face of convention, take risks and challenge a discipline in which it is easy to allow caution to overwhelm creative clinical integrity.

Thorne began with the impact Rogers has had on psychotherapy. He spoke with conviction about the Rogerian approach in which “what mattered was the kind of relationship he offered his clients – nothing less, nothing more.”  He touched on the actualizing tendency – the underpinning assumption of his approach -, which espouses that, if met with the right conditions, people will grow, develop and realize their full potential. He praised Rogers’ refusal to assert power within the therapeutic relationship, and noted that this commitment followed through into his work as an international peacemaker towards the end of his life.

He spoke of Rogers as “The Quiet Revolutionary”. In many ways Rogers’ impact on western society is so great that it is invisible: his ideas about the value of listening, of the transformative power of self-expression in safe conditions has become almost ubiquitous. Our society’s narcissism has, of course, taken this individualizing impulse to an extreme in which many foster a self-centredness, expressed by the need to share intimate details to all and sundry in the form of reality television, social media etc. (The irony of my posting this critique on a blog is not lost on me!). However, the cultural shift from a position of excessive emotional containment to one of increasingly widespread emotional tolerance remains a sign of progress towards a more balanced way of being.

Thorne touched on the core conditions of Unconditional Positive Regard (acceptance), Empathy (understanding) and Congruence (authenticity), which have been so influential in the development of counselling. I would have loved to hear more of his thinking around these admittedly widely discussed attitudes. But Thorne was on polemic form and seemed more interested to address some of the more contentious and portentous issues on his mind!

Thorne chose to focus on Rogers’ final book A Way of Being (1980), which came to acknowledge the transcendent, the mysterious, and the spiritual in the therapeutic encounter. In the world of psychology this unquantifiable language, let alone concept, was not welcome. Indeed, Thorne was saying that many within the person-centred tradition had actively avoided and ignored the implications of Rogers’ later writings, preferring to focus on the more accessible aspects of his early philosophy. Thorne seemed to be admirably supporting a more transparent acknowledgement of these elements within psychotherapy, and was at pains to communicate the failure of contemporary psychotherapy and society to integrate spirituality into its value systems. He did not address the issue of how this might be embodied on a practical level within counselling, or how to prevent therapists imposing, however subtly, their own belief systems on clients.

Thorne spoke as if a lone voice in the wilderness. But is he really so unusual in championing the transparency of the spiritual in therapy? Did not Jung turn to alchemy, mystery schools and eastern esoterica in his penetrating search for meaning? What about Transpersonal Psychotherapy – a whole psychological tradition that acknowledges the presence and importance of the soul life? More recently, with the fruitful incorporation of mindfulness and eastern awareness traditions into mainstream psychology, there seems to be increasing tolerance for the dogma-free techniques and tools of contemplative religion in therapeutic systems. Moreover, there are numerous openly Buddhist psychotherapists in practice and broadly held esteem. To my mind the position that Thorne was taking was aimed more at policy-makers than practicing therapists.

It was Thorne’s contention that the current climate of service provision, with its focus on outcomes and interventions, rather than the quality of human relationship, sanitizes and stultifies therapy. The current system encourages us to become “psychological technicians that tinker around with the psychological mechanisms of the human mind”. He felt that this represents more than the simple mistake of overemphasizing form over substance. For him it is evidence of the field of psychotherapy becoming infected by the shadow aspects of our society – namely an obsession with achievement over experience, productivity over provision, and consumption over everything. The increasingly litigious environment, he feels, is contributing to the crushing of therapeutic creativity – and thus we therapists are losing the ability to model a creative, spirited self to our clients for fear of judgement and condemnation. His concern was communicated with an oppressive solemnity and extended out from the therapeutic world to the challenges facing humanity in general, from continued human atrocities to global warming.

Many of his concerns I emphatically share. I’d consider myself a poor therapist indeed if my observations of societal ills did not extend into the restrictions and challenges of the context in which our clients are living. I was somewhat baffled, then, by his focus on these woes because my very being a therapist is born from a keen awareness of these massive challenges, and the instinctive desire to therefore facilitate meaningful individual and collective change. I admire his willingness to take on denial and break our seeming indifference towards the challenges we face. But in this case he was preaching to the converted, and rather than offering constructive insight, dwelt on hopelessness, whereas I see progress in many areas of human development.

He did observe that, while support for the traditional faiths of the world is dwindling in this country, the contemplative orders are flourishing and that an authentic individual search for spiritual connection is flowering. He also noted that the quality of relationship, although not yet at the centre of psychological policy in the UK, is becoming increasingly recognized. But he didn’t seem to join the dots of these significant shifts towards a brighter future. To me the growth in partisan spirituality is evidence of a cultural development that seems to embody the person-centred ethos of allowing organic, rather than imposed, evolution to take hold.

During question and answer time at the end he softened. Having sounded the clarion call of doom he was perhaps ready to acknowledge hope! Interesting questions were raised which prompted the observation that in order for things to change a crisis often needs to be reached – a scenario I’m sure many of us are familiar with in our personal and professional lives.

Near the beginning of the talk Thorne threw down the person-centred gauntlet: “I am challenged to trust my client as a person designed for wholeness and possessed of the inner resources to achieve wholeness.” I am endeavouring to extend this trust to humanity as a whole, as well as my clients. My challenge to Brian Thorne is to do the same.

As I observe clients grow I see the changes they make radiate out across the constellations of their relationships, like ripples in a pond. So, as each of us progresses along our own growth towards our potential I believe we make a microscopic, yet meaningful, contribution to the evolution of the systems to which we belong. For anyone who feels discouraged by the task ahead, be it in response to a personal or the global situation, I offer you these illuminatingly paradoxical words from Gandhi, “Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.”

The Science of Self-harm

Why do people hurt themselves?

Imagine you are feeling really upset. Something is going on inside but you may not even know what – you just know a rising sense of desperation and overwhelm is happening and you feel like you can’t cope. Something’s got to give. In your distress you’re ringing your hands. You notice as you unintentionally scrape the skin on the back of your hand against the ring on your finger the sharp sensation distracts you from these powerful thoughts and feelings. Or, perhaps, you’re digging your fingernails into your palms, which you don’t even realize you’re doing, and that somehow eases the pain in your head… A coping strategy is born…

A few weeks ago I was asked to assist Off the Record – a leading youth support service in Bristol – in delivering training for staff at 1625 Independent People on the subject of self-harm. I’ve worked with this pattern of behaviour for some years so my role was to inform the team of the psychology and physiology of why people deliberately hurt themselves. It was hoped that with a deeper understanding, along with their plentiful experience, the team could formulate an updated organizational policy on how to respond to young people in their care who were self-harming. Jonathan Parker, from Off the Record, lead the training and it was heart-warming to see both the level of care and experience amongst the 1625 I.P. staff.

So, what is happening when someone cuts, burns, scrapes, or otherwise harms themselves? Well, the best place to start is in the body. The application of pain or injury to the body stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and the “fight, fright or freeze” response is activated. This is an automatic evolutionary mechanism that enables human beings to survive in hostile situations by defending themselves by fighting or removing themselves from the circumstances. Pain is numbed and muscles are primed. Awareness is moved away from normal processing – hence awareness of emotional pain or disturbing thoughts becomes significantly reduced.

Recent neurological research has reinforced this understanding of how self-harm provides a concrete form of emotional regulation. One particularly fascinating study (Niedtfeld et al. Affect Regulation & Pain in BPD, Biological Psychiatry 2010) detailed how a collection of Borderline Personality Disordered clients (who have a high prevalence for self-harm) and controls were put in a neuro-imaging scanner and then shown three sets of pictures – “positive” ones (kittens etc), “neutral” ones (eg a chair), and “negative” ones (surgical procedures etc). The pictures were designed to generate the corresponding positive, neutral and negative emotions. The scans showed that people with BDP had mostly more than double the level of brain activity response to the pictures in certain parts of the limbic system. The limbic system is associated with emotion, impulsivity, pleasure, as opposed to the pre-frontal cortex – the logical part of the brain – which helps people to moderate behaviour through thinking. It can be inferred from these observations that the BDP subjects experience a significantly greater level of emotion than the control subjects.

The study then goes on to test what happens to this brain activity when pain is applied in the form of a heat pad to the leg. They used the same people and the same pictures but then introduced the pain. And guess what? The brain activity in response to the pictures (read the emotion) reduced in all cases. Simply put: emotional stimulation + pain = less emotion. It is remarkable that we no longer need to rely on anecdotal evidence or theory to understand the function of self-harm – we can observe these pain reduction effects happening in the brain in real-time.

Other studies have supported these findings and explored them further, leading to a suggestion that it is not the introduction of pain per se, but effective distraction, that moderates the emotion. Hence forms of distraction can be extremely useful in helping clients to cope with states that trigger the desire to self-harm.

More next week on the psychological function that SH fulfills and why self harm stops working

Continuing Personal Development – Training

Yesterday I attended a continuing personal development (CPD) training day in Stroud, an increasingly interesting and alternative town on the edge of old Gloucestershire, thirty miles or so north of Bristol. CPD is the umberella term for ongoing recognised counselling training that counsellors and psychotherapists undertake to to maintain their skills post qualifying. It is required by the accrediting bodies, such as the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), that systematize professional standards in the field of psychotherapy.

I find it a rich and enjoyable process to choose and attend courses, out of the many diverse trainings that are regularly on offer in and around Bristol. Trainings on Ecopsychotherapy, CBT, Mindfulness, EFT, trauma resolution and many more are high on my list, but on this occasion it was the topic of sex that came out on top. Indeed, the title of yesterday’s training was “Sex in the Consulting Room”. Despite the roots of psychology lying in Freud’s central theories about neurosis stemming from unresolved sexual tensions, it seems that there is precious little detailed talk of sex in the modern day consulting room. Even without subscribing to Freud’s arguments, which I don’t, sex is a massive topic and our relationship to it can hold precious information about they way we relate to life. Despite this it seems that non-psychoanalytic models of therapy often don’t arm the budding therapist with practice and training around speaking about it. Perhaps this is also a cultural – British – phenomenon and there’s plenty to be said about modern society’s conflicted, one might say addicted, relationship with sex. The long and the short of it is that, with these different considerations in mind, it seems important to be able to offer clients a welcoming space in which they can sense a therapist’s genuine capacity to talk to whatever level the client would like about sex.

David Slattery, an esteemed psychotherapist who has taught at Bath Centre of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BCPC) and works extensively with couples, was holding the training. His thoughtful facilitation and accepting style of interaction allowed for a day of contained, but nonetheless, candid exploration. Each therapist had the opportunity to look at their own relationship with sex, how comfortable or not they felt talking about it, and to move closer to understanding their own blocks and fears. It has left me considerably more aware of my own responses and reactions, and made it clear how different everyone’s needs are when talking about this subject. Some people might need an open enquiry, some people might find that intrusive and need a more gentle, empathic presence. It was encouraging to see how, when the therapist is able to offer the right conditions through sensitivity and transparency, the client tends to feel able to share what is helpful to them to share.

I come away from the training curious to explore more of my own relationship to this material and more confident to assist clients in their own journeys towards understanding themselves.

Counselling in the Bristol Area

Counselling In The Bristol Area

Stress can affect our lives negatively in many ways. If you have a lot of stress in your life, it can affect your relationships, your ability to focus and be productive, and even your health! That’s why it’s so important to learn to relieve and reduce stress in your life. Read on to find out how.

If you feel like you are chronically stressed out or upset than you should consider introducing exercise into your routine. Many people swear by running for stress relief but any kind of heavy exercise will help you to free your mind and will also increase your fitness level at the same time!

Looking for Counselling in the Bristol Area? See the contact page for how to reach us.

A great tip that can combat stress is to never let yourself engage in gossip. Everyone knows that if they gossip, it’ll eventually come back to haunt them. Unless you want to deal with a difficult situation in the future, you should steer clear of gossiping at all times.

One of the best proven ways to reduce stress is to keep a diary or journal. It has been proven through scientific research that writing about our problems, or rather to be specific acknowledging our stress and analyzing the underlying reasons for it, can help reduce stress. Scheduling time to write in your diary or journal is a great way to make sure that you do this everyday.

One way to reduce your high levels of stress is to read a book. When you read, your mind wanders into a fantasy land, where you are not troubled by the different pressures that will cause you tension. Purchase a mystery or science fiction novel to help how you feel.

To more effectively manage stress, learn to let go of things you have no control over. Try to discern which things you do have control over and separate them, mentally, from those you don’t have control over. By separating the issues, you will find it easier to worry less about things.

Avoid taking on too many responsibilities at once. By taking on too many things all at once you can become stressed out. Chances are, if it seems like too much for you to handle it probably is, and you should avoid the extra responsibility if you are able to.

A warm, dark environment can be comforting when you feel stressed. Though it is not always possible to step into a warm dark room, you can try warming your hands in a pair of gloves and then cupping them over your eyes to create darkness. This environment is comforting and can cause a feeling of safety and relief.

Personal finances can be one of the most stressful things a person can deal with. In this world, we are used to living above our means and this puts a constant strain on our minds and health. Our stress levels shoot through the roof as we imagine how we are going to pay the next bill everyday. Budget, and live within your means and try to take the stress of finances off of yourself.

Remember that stress from all areas of life can negatively impact you in many ways. If you practice the tips from this article, you can improve your job, your family life, and your emotional, mental, and physical well being. Remember to recognize symptoms of stress in yourself and take a step back if you need to.

Counselling In The Bristol Area

Private Counselling Services Bristol

Private Counselling Services Bristol

If you are seeking private, confidential counselling in Bristol to a high standard of sensitivity and professionalism I invite you to contact me about working together. I have over seven years experience of working in the private healthcare system. Most recently, before moving to Bristol, I worked at the flagship Priory hospital in Roehampton, London, so I am well acquianted with needs of individuals requiring a private therapy service.

If you are looking into counselling for the first time it may feel confusing and somewhat daunting. You may be asking yourself: “How do I know what is the right kind of therapy for me? How do I know which therapist will be best for me? What if I don’t get on with the therapist once I’ve begun?” These can seem difficult questions to answer, particularly when under the kinds of pressure that can prompt us to seek help in the first place.

The first thing to consider is what type of therapy do you want? There are lots to choose from but a simple breakdown is given here http://www.mind.org.uk/help/medical_and_alternative_care/making_sense_of_counselling#whatis. It is helpful to find out about the approaches on offer and see which ones seem suited to your personality and aims.

I am an Integrative counsellor, which means I adjust the ways I work according to your needs at any given time. Having trained working with addictions, eating disorders and other compulsive conditions I am adept at addressing behavioural change, which at times requires Cognitive Behavioural Techniques (CBT) and tasks-based interventions. However, my preferred orientation is towards a “person-centred” (Humanistic) approach, in which I look to deeply supporting you through empathy, congruence and acceptance of you and any issues that you bring to therapy. My experience tells me that the most long-lasting change arises through people feeling really listened to, accepted and supported in finding their way through whatever difficulties they are facing. It is therefore vital to work with someone you feel comfortable with and trusting towards.

I offer an initial consultation in which you have the opportunity to ask me anything you’d like to know about the way I work and what to expect from therapy. Through spending this time together you will have a chance to see if you feel comfortable with me. I also then have the chance to assess whether my training and experience are suited to the help you’re looking for.

Another aspect to consider is choosing someone who is well qualified and accredited. Accreditation is the outcome of a lengthy process through which a therapist demonstrates their capability by building up significant counseling experience during their training, and shows understanding of the therapeutic process through case study reports. Credentials can be checked by making an enquiry to the therapist’s accrediting organization. The British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists (BACP) or the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) are the most widely recognized accrediting bodies in the UK for counselors and psychotherapists. I am accredited with the Federation of Drug and Alcohol Practitioners (FDAP) because I initially studied addiction psychology. I am also a member of BACP, which means I abide by their code of ethics, which can be found at http://www.bacp.co.uk/ethical_framework/.

You can contact me via the form below or simply call me on 07737 092 625. Please feel free to enquire about any aspect of therapy

Private Counselling Services Bristol

Bristol Student Counselling Service

Bristol Student Counselling Service

Depression can hurt not only your mind but your body as well. It can be hard when you are under the cloud of depression. Yet, taking control of many of the aspects and causes of your depression is still very possible. The following tips will help get you back on your feet and on the road to recovery.

Don’t stop eating. This causes your blood sugar to dive between meals and to jump when you eat which can cause mood swings. Try to eat small, nutritious meals every few hours to keep your blood sugar stable. That way, you don’t have to worry that your food intake is contributing to your depression.

The next time you are feeling depressed, grab a great book. A book provides you with an escape to a fantasy land with fictional characters and exciting events. It can provide your mind with just the release it needs, and give you a moment to not focus on your depression.

While many realize that exercising is an important tip to help combat depression, it is equally important to exercise your mind. Keep your mind active and alert when you are dealing with depression as this can elevate your mood when you accomplish a task you have set your mind to.

If the area you live in is part of the cause of your depression, you may want to think about moving. People who live in undesirable neighborhoods tend to get depressed because they do not feel safe. Changing your environment can help to reduce or get rid of many of your feelings of uneasiness.

Exercise is an effective and scientifically proven way to combat depression. The reason why it works is because exercise increases your endorphin levels which provide a feeling of well being. If you are feeling down, a great way to start getting better is to create an exercise plan. It can be as simple as allocating an hour a day to jogging.

If you are struggling with depression, two good options to consider in the treatment of depression are using interpersonal therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy. Interpersonal therapy centers on your relationships and how you cope with them. Cognitive behavior therapy focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to depression.

Getting an appropriate amount of sleep is also another great way to battle depression. Clinical studies have very reliably shown that both those who over sleep and those that under sleep are more prone to experience clinical depression. If you can, you should have a set sleep schedule which allows for seven or eight hours of sleep.

Exercise releases endorphins in your brain. These endorphins are feel good mood boosters. If you feel like you are depressed, or even just in a bad mood, get up and do some exercise. The more rigorous and energetic the better. It will help you feel better and get you into shape at the same time.

As you have read above, there are many ways to take the hurt out of depression and get yourself in a better place both mentally and physically. Attentive application of these suggestions will help you to recover, and at the very least will lessen the impact that depression has on you.

Contact me for help here

Bristol Student Counselling Service

Bristol – Confidential Counselling Service

Confidential Counselling Service

There are many reasons that someone might start to suffer from anxiety. There may be a history of anxiety in your family, or you may be experiencing a lot of stress in your life. Anxiety can happen to anyone. If you are feeling anxious, here is some solid advice to help you live a more relaxed life.

You will go a long way toward reducing your anxiety if you learn to accept things as they are. Realize that you cannot control everything in life, and sometimes things will not live up to your expectations. Look at the situation objectively, and realize that matters are not really as bad as you are making them out to be.

Try not to self-medicate with alcohol. When you suffer from anxiety, it can be easy to consume alcohol, in order to reduce your symptoms. Using alcohol to control your anxiety levels, however, is a very bad idea. You will build up a tolerance to the alcohol, and you will have to keep increasing your intake.

Learn to say no. Overextending yourself can quickly drain your reserves and leave your mind racing as you try to live up to your commitments. Your refusal to put more on your plate than you can manage may cause disappointment for someone, but your mental health and well-being are most important.

To help keep anxiety at bay, manage everyday stress. When your stress levels are high, your anxiety tends to increase, too. Learn to delegate tasks and relieve some of the pressures or responsibilities at work or home. Also, make sure that you get plenty of time to unwind and decompress each day.

Know that your anxiety will pass. Millions of people suffer from anxiety, but millions of people also recover. Hope for the best and make sure that you are ready to start feeling better. Look for examples when you find yourself less anxious, and soon you will indeed be less anxious.

Investigate amino acids as a treatment and potential cure for your anxiety. Many people find they are low in certain nutrients and their bodies do not produce enough serotonin. Many good books discuss treatment plans that help you use over-the-counter supplements to reduce or eliminate your anxiety.

Listen to music. However, not just any music will do. The next time you feel your anxiety levels rising, throw on your favorite CD, or playlist. Whether you enjoy the calming sounds of a classical orchestra, or rocking out to 80’s hair metal, you will feel your anxiety melt away with each song you know by heart. Before you know it, the anxiety is reduced, if not gone, and your spirits will be invigorated and renewed.

Anyone can start to have feelings of anxiety. It’s important to know that you aren’t alone. It’s also important to start coping with your anxiety, and the suggestions in this article can help you to do that. Take a deep breath, and make sure that you start taking your life back so you can be happy once again.

Looking for a Confidential Counselling Service in Bristol. Contact me for friendly advice.

Confidential Counselling Service

Anxiety Counselling in Bristol UK

An Integrative Approach To Anxiety Counselling

Are you struggling with feelings of anxiety? If so you are not alone and help is available. I am encountering more and more clients who seek help for precisely this issue. The purpose of this article is to illustrate how I work with people suffering from anxiety so you may have a better idea of what to expect from therapy. If you have any questions relating to this article or how to engage in therapy with me please feel free to contact me.

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As an Integrative counsellor, I use techniques from different psychotherapeutic models to tailor the most effective treatment possible. This means that I can vary how I approach the issues according to each client’s individual character and needs.

Generally speaking I aim to work on two different levels for clients suffering from anxiety issues. First there is the immediate challenge of helping you to understand, manage and reduce your anxiety symtoms. Second comes the task of exploring the underlying tensions that might be “driving” the anxiety experience. This part of the work helps you to maintain freedom from anxiety by recognising your deeper emotional needs and learning to effectively respond to them.

There is ample research to indicate that CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is effective in helping people recover from anxiety disorders. The CBT model emphasises the impact of our thinking (cognition) on our behaviour. Through getting a better understanding of our thought-processes regarding anxiety – largely maintained by worry – and by learning behavioural tools to change those processes we can make significant progress in changing how we think and, therefore, how we feel. Exploration of these processes is often a significant initial focus of therapy.

As well as talking about your thoughts in connection to the issues you worry about I introduce mindfulness techniques to help you be able to see more clearly what is happening for you. With this increased awareness of your internal landscape, and instruction in relaxation techniques, you then have more capacity to respond effectively to anxiety triggers (both from the outside world and your own inner thoughts or feelings).

 

Ironically, the thought processes that drive anxiety often automatically come into being to distract us from uncomfortable emotions. We may not realise it but our minds are very skillful in helping us avoid emotional and mental pain. They create clever diversions to protect us from difficulties. However, in time the avoidance strategy itself can become a problem and prevent us from resolving the original difficulty. An example of this dynamic is an addiction, wherein the sufferer initially gained relief from pain (whether knowlingly or not) through the addictive behaviour but over time it has taken on a momentum of its own and become destructive. It can be a similar process with any thought process. Hence the need to address your emotional management to achieve a long-lasting recovery from anxiety.

For this aspect of therapy I drawn on humanistic theory, which asserts that each individual has his or her own healing potential within. I find that by giving space, encouragement and honest empathy people are often able to contact this aspect of themselves and bring about large shifts in how they relate to themselves and others.  Thus you become adept at managing your emotional and interpersonal needs.

I have offered a brief and generalised picture of the process of Integrative Psychotherapy for anxiety as I approach it. Of course, everyone has a different set of experiences and personality attributes that they bring to therapy, which means that no two paths to healing are the same. The beauty of the Integrative model is that it allows for these differences and enables me to bring my full training and experience to each therapeutic relationship.

I offer free assessments so you can find out if this approach feels right for you before committing to anything, and am happy to answer any questions you might have. Please feel free to comment below or contact me on 07737 092 625 or info@freddyweaver.co.uk

Anxiety Counselling In Bristol UK

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