Masculinity – exploring the concept of being ‘man enough’.

February 8, 2018

We are Man Enough

I have recently come across this discussion series – We are Man Enough. It’s an insightful, interesting discussion about what it means to be a man and about showing vulnerability and being authentic about thoughts and feelings. I recommend finding 30 minutes and watching an episode or two.

Why Don’t Men Talk?

#wearemanenough

Befriending and Volunteering

December 7, 2017

I often talk to people who are interested in working in the community in some way, perhaps volunteering with the elderly or young people or with homeless organisations.

Volunteering can be an incredibly powerful way to help improve your own confidence, self-esteem and feelings of worth. You can clearly see the impact your time and effort makes with the people or organisation you work with.

Here are a few links to help you make a choice about where you might provide assistance or time. Some of these are specifically aimed at people living in and around Brighton & Hove. I have included more general UK links at the end. Please feel free to contribute other suggestions in the comments.

Befriending an elderly person in Brighton and Hove

“For many older people loneliness is an unwelcome feeling of loss. The fear of loneliness alone is said to cause more anxiety than a lack of money or deteriorating health. In fact, loneliness is proven to cause early loss of life which is why services like ours are needed to help elders to feel connected with their community, with volunteer befrienders and each-other.” ( www.tttb.org.uk).

Contact Time to Talk to discuss ways you can help.
Time to Talk Befriending – Hove Tel: 01273 737710          http://www.tttb.org.uk/
email info@timetotalkbefriending.org.uk

Volunteering and befriending vulnerable adults across Brighton and Hove.

Brighton and Hove Impetus are an independent organisation delivering a range of services aimed at improving the wellbeing and quality of life of vulnerable adults across the City. They support people with learning disabilities, people with mental health issues, older people, people with physical disabilities and people with autistic spectrum conditions.

Volunteer roles include: Home visitor, volunteer drivers, phone support – further information can be found on the BH Impetus website http://www.bh-impetus.org/

Brighton and Hove Befriending Coalition “a group of organisations that provide befriending services to a wide range of people at risk of isolation and loneliness in the city” http://www.bhbefriending.org/
Call 01273 229005       email contact@bhbefriending.org

Volunteering with organisations working with homeless people

The Clock Tower Sanctuary provides a friendly, bright, centrally-located, safe space for homeless young people to engage with their peers. t: 01273 722 353

Details on how to volunteer with CTS here

BH Community Works has a volunteering search platform for local volunteering opportunities in Brighton and Hove.

UK wide links:

vinspired is the UK’s leading volunteering charity for 14 – 25 year olds. vinspired helps young people to make their mark on causes that they care about, whilst learning new skills and talents along the way. vinspired recognises that volunteering can help young people thrive, and transform the communities they live in. It teaches them vital skills, like teamwork and problem-solving. It prepares them for their future.” (https://vinspired.com/ )

Age UK – https://www.ageuk.org.uk/get-involved/volunteer/

 

Do ithttps://do-it.org/

Fear of abandonment might be the driving force behind your toxic relationships.

September 26, 2017

Intimacy can be difficult as an adult, it’s something we can easily become afraid of due to failed relationships and difficulties such as anger, jealousy and co-dependency. Without intimacy, it’s difficult to maintain a relationship, but when that relationship comes to an end, feelings of loss and abandonment are often triggered.

It’s these unconscious feelings of abandonment that can cause our problems with intimacy, low self-esteem and hopelessness – a vicious cycle that often stems back to our childhood.


healthy childhoodHealthy childhood development relies on adequate physical and emotional care. Without that continuing love and attention, a child may feel unsafe, even unwanted. Emotional neglect can be deliberate or simply caused by parents being unable to look after their children effectively. Sometimes, tragic events such as the loss of a parent through death, or even divorce, can have a negative impact on that child’s ability to relate to others.

It’s not unusual for non-traumatic events to have the same effect on us child, and the adult we become, but without any obvious signs or symptoms – making it even harder to understand why we might be the way we are. Whereas we can see how the loss of a parent could affect us emotionally as adults, or how childhood neglect or abuse can have an impact – what happens when we thought our childhood was ok?


Let’s take a fairly common scenario, we’ll name our hypothetical client Andrew. Andrew didn’t have any particular trauma as a child, his parents are still married and alive, living just a few miles down the road. Andrew recalls that growing up was hard though, both his parents worked long hours and were out of the house a lot. Andrew had to take care of his younger brother when they got neglect, abandonmenthome from school, make sure he wasn’t hungry and that their homework got done. Andrew’s father had high expectations that Andrew found difficult to live up to and there was very little praise or emotional support. Working such long hours left his parents feeling stressed and Andrew often felt that he wasn’t good enough as the eldest son.

When a child doesn’t get the emotional support and warmth they need from a parent, that child may not develop healthy self-esteem as they grow older.

Andrew’s experiences were common for many children growing up in the last few decades. Andrew doesn’t recognise it as neglectful – he says his parents were simply doing their best under difficult circumstances. But they were absent from his childhood, Andrew can’t recall many intimate moments or shared memories, and he has a difficult relationship with them today.

Andrew suffers significantly with his self-esteem as an adult and admits that he pushes people away before they can find out he’s not ‘good enough’ for them and leave. He’s aware that his behaviour alienates his friends and potential partners, and that he’s not going to get the intimacy he craves until he can deal with his mood swings and anger.

Andrew’s situation is not uncommon, and I’ve had many clients like him seek help from me as a counsellor. Sadly, many have found themselves in abusive relationships because they are desperately trying to avoid the feelings of abandonment once again. An abusive relationship doesn’t necessarily mean domestic violence. Partners might be controlling, demanding more than we can give, manipulative and always making you feel second best – sometimes, without an awareness they are doing it.


The need to feel loved and the fear of the being abandoned can lead to these toxic relationships lasting far longer than they should.

It can be difficult to trust people when you’ve been let down in the past, even when that let down was accidental or non-intentional, the feelings that result are the same. A level of co-dependence can develop with a partner, or even a close friend that provides the emotional support sought for. Though this can quickly turn to jealousy when they try to foster new friendships and relationships of their own.

So, let’s consider how counselling can help people like Andrew, who are struggling on a day to day basis with feelings of low confidence and self-esteem as a result of childhood abandonment or neglect.

When you are able to recognise that your fears are rooted in your past you can begin to develop coping mechanisms that restrict the way fear controls your emotional responses now. This, in turn, enables healing from those experiences in the past, and be able to enjoy the experiences of today without those negative thoughts constantly playing in the background.


Counselling can help a person distinguish and separate the fears of the past from the reality of today.

Counselling or psychotherapy where abandonment features involves the client learning how to be self-compassionate, especially to the inner-child that still dwells within us. We were all children once and metaphorically the child is at the core of our unconscious thinking, driving our thoughts, feelings and behaviours. By holding on to or suppressing negative feelings and memories from childhood, that inner-child can effect our emotional balance and cause relationship difficulties in the present.

One of the key tools that therapy can give the client, is the ability to communicate their needs successfully within an intimate relationship. As we saw with Andrew, he had to learn to put his needs aside as a child to look after his younger brother whilst his parents were at work. Despite forsaking his own needs to meet those of his brother, he still didn’t feel that he could live up to his father’s exacting standards. Subsequently, every relationship as an adult, he’s put his own needs aside for his partner’s, believing that would prevent them from leaving him. Clearly, without his needs being addressed there was an imbalance of power in the relationship and that led to continued feelings of low self-worth, esteem and anger. Exploring and identifying the unresolved feelings are the first step to understanding the impact they have had and making changes in current relationships.

It can be difficult learning to trust again when we’ve been let down in the past, and continued difficult relationships can lead to a lack of resilience, depression and anger. Counselling can help you discover the root cause of your fear of abandonment and relationship difficulties, enabling you to care for that inner child and move on to enjoy intimacy, trust, and respect as an adult.

Claire ScottIf any of this resonates with you and you would like to arrange counselling, get in contact by email at claire@insightcounsellingbrighton.co.uk or use the contact form on this website.

How can therapy help me and my anxiety?

February 25, 2017

fear-1940184_1280

Anxiety is a word that gets thrown around a lot and can mean different things to different people. Essentially, it’s used to describe feeling uneasy, worried and afraid and the mental and physical effects this can cause. For example, before sitting an exam it’s natural to feel scared, worried, sick, have stomach cramps, etc.

So when does anxiety stop being a natural response to a stressful event and turn into something more significant?

Anxiety is caused by the ‘fight or flight response’. A normal biological reaction to when we feel threatened, and something that has been with us since the dawn of man. When your body feels under threat it automatically releases hormones that physically prepare you to fight the danger, or run away from it.

mammoth-1127772_1920

Although we don’t have much use for the fight or flight response anymore – we’re unlikely to be charged at by a woolly mammoth any time soon, our biological reactions to it remains.


Anxiety becomes a problem when the fight or flight response stays switched on and the physical and mental symptoms have an impact on your quality of life.

Long term anxiety can be extremely difficult, and is often experienced alongside other illnesses such as depression and chronic pain. One of the key difficulties is that anxiety can lead to you feeling trapped within a ‘vicious circle’. When you’re feeling low and run down you tend to avoid activity because you don’t have the energy for it, or just can’t muster the motivation. This can lead to you feeling guilty and that you haven’t achieved as much as the ‘healthy’ you would have – you don’t feel like the person you used to be anymore. This makes you feel worse and you avoid more activity and you seem stuck in this never ending circle.

As anxiety can affect your health and wellbeing in numerous ways it is important to figure out the causes and find a way of resolving the anxiety whilst managing the symptoms. Although self-help and medication are useful in reducing symptoms, research has shown that therapy is usually the most effective option when it comes to treating anxiety.

Therapy looks at the causes of triggers and any underlying issues that might aggravate it rather than just treating the symptoms.
One starting point to be used in combination with other therapeutic approaches is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT uses the basis that it’s the way you think and react to a situation that’s causing the anxiety, rather than the situation itself. CBT challenges the way you think in a process called ‘cognitive restructuring’.

It’s a three step process that involves:

  1. Identifying the negative thought processes
  2. Challenging the negative thoughts
  3. Replacing the negative thoughts with realistic thoughts

CBT may also include learning to recognise when you’re anxious and what that feels like for you – often there are some signs that anxiety is going to kick in that when you learn to recognise what they feel like, can help you prevent the anxiety from kicking in.

Therapy gives you the tools to be able to manage the symptoms of anxiety and employ coping mechanisms and relaxation techniques to lessen its impact on you and your life.

Whilst self-help alone may not be effective in treating your anxiety, it is useful when combined with therapy. From writing a journal or diary to help figure out patterns of thinking, or even identifying triggers; through to mindfulness and breathing exercises that can help you through a panic attack. For some great tips and ideas for self-help visit the Mind website


CBT is best used as a ‘holding approach’– it’s useful for managing the anxiety and lessen its impact with a supportive counsellor guiding you through and challenging the negative thinking, but often there are deep rooted issues causing or aggravating your anxiety. So in the long term, it’s important that these issues are resolved through exploration and discussion with an experienced counsellor.

There are various kinds of therapeutic approaches that can be used to discover these causes which are tailored to your needs, problems and requirements ensuring that you get what you really need out of therapy.

room3Having an open mind is important when starting therapy as the process can be a difficult one with long-term thoughts that have to be challenged and adjusted. However, it is effective in treating anxiety and can mean the difference between coping with your anxiety and living your life how you want to.

 

Claire ScottFor a more in-depth discussion about how therapy can help you contact Claire at claire@insightcounsellingbrighton.co.uk to arrange your initial consultation.

 

In the meantime, check out these YouTube videos that you may find useful.

When is the right time to see a counsellor?

December 6, 2016

clock-1274699_1280Something I’ve noticed as a counsellor is that too often people struggle on with their problems for longer than they need to before getting help. Often this is because they see counselling or therapy as a sign of weakness. Yet so many of my clients tell me they wish they’d started visiting me earlier than they did.


So when is the right time to try counselling?

If you’re reading this then probably now. Ok, that might sound a little presumptive but you have to want to start counselling or therapy for it to work. If you’re being pushed into by friends, family or even your employer and you don’t like the idea… it’s not going to be as beneficial to you. Counselling is a process that is led by you – you need to be wanting to make changes in your life for us to work together to figure out how, and what’s been stopping you. So if you’re looking at blogs and websites now is probably a good time to get started.

Some people are put off going to a professional because they have someone close to them that they talk to – why pay someone to do that? It’s important to distinguish between how a counsellor can help you, over that of a friend or loved one. The value of talking to someone close to you can never be underestimated, they know you best after all! But often that is the very reason why you need to talk to someone else.


A counsellor has the emotional expertise and experience to be able to help you navigate through your difficulties and find your way again

Rather than talking about the issues counselling can help with, let’s look at how counselling has helped Marie (fictional representation of a past patient).

ball-407081_1920Marie had been experiencing low moods for quite a while and getting easily irritated over the smallest of things. This had started to develop into anxiety and depression and Marie was struggling to find ways to cope. She’d tried talking to her friends but they couldn’t understand why she wasn’t happy. Feeling increasingly cut off, Marie knew she needed to talk to someone who could help.

Marie started attending weekly counselling sessions where she found it helpful having someone to talk to who had no pre-conceived ideas or judgements about her life. She was able to voice her thoughts and concerns in a way that she couldn’t with anyone else.

With a friendly and objective ear to talk to, Marie began figuring out the causes of her problems with some gentle guidance. Once she’d considered the best ways of addressing them and started to take action, she began to feel much happier.

Sometimes friends want to offer their viewpoint and ‘fix’ the problem for you, but a counsellor is there to ensure that the decisions you make are the right ones for you. It’s because they don’t have any vested interests that they can be completely objective and offer a balanced perspective.


Counselling isn’t a quick fix, but it does help in reaching long lasting solutions

suitcase-1412996_1920Marie’s problems aren’t uncommon, and it’s certainly not a sign of weakness turning to a counsellor to help with them. It’s a way of taking back control and working things out for yourself, enabling you to make lasting changes in how you approach life and its challenges.
So let’s look at Marie’s problems in a little more detail, and how counselling helped with them.

Low mood

A low mood every now and then is a regular part of life but Marie was consistently feeling low and just couldn’t find a way to get herself out of it. She was starting to feel incredibly anxious and found herself slipping into depression. Marie said she was easily irritated by anything and would often fly off the handle at the smallest thing – she felt out of control.

In counselling we were able to create a safe environment for Marie to talk through her thoughts and feelings. As is often the case, Marie felt out of control of her emotions due to suppressing them for too long. So we talked through some of the important life events that had affected her in the past and how she could move on from them, and found some coping mechanisms she could use to help with any difficulties in the future.

child-1051288_1920We often don’t realise just how much past experiences can affect us in the here and now, and talking them through can be extremely difficult. Being able to make the connections between the problems you are finding challenging to cope with today and what you have found difficult in the past, can help you identify potential challenges early enough to be able to put coping mechanisms and strategies in place before they can become an issue.


Counselling is a cathartic process that can be a real eye opener enabling you to move on from what has been holding you back. 

No one listens anymore

birds-216412_1920
Marie said she found it increasingly difficult to find friends she could talk to. Few of them could understand why she wasn’t happy and she couldn’t keep turning to the ones that did. Marie was increasingly feeling alone and isolated – which turned out to be the main reason she came to me for help.

A counsellor is there to listen without judgement. As I hadn’t met Marie before I didn’t have any preconceived ideas about her or her life. I was genuinely interested in listening to Marie’s concerns and supporting her in finding the right solution for her wants and needs.

Counselling isn’t just about having no one else to talk to, lots of people turn to a counsellor despite being surrounded by friends and family. It’s having someone entirely focused on you, your needs, your difficulties and finding the right way to overcome them for you. As counselling is all about you, you have the control to take things at your pace and really delve into your difficulties in a way you’ve probably never been able to before.


Low confidence and self-esteem

After a few sessions with Marie, she told me how she couldn’t understand where she’d lost her confidence and self-esteem. She was always the bubbly one but now she struggled to be outgoing. It’s not unusual for confidence levels to fluctuate through our lives, but it can be tricky working out why and how to get it back again.
During counselling we discussed how Marie’s ideas of what she should be like were typical of how media tell us we should be. There was a disconnect when Marie compared herself to the women she was reading about in magazines and this was the cause of her low self-esteem and loss of confidence. We talked about setting her own personal standards and ways of judging if she was doing ok rather than constant comparison to other people.

smartphone-1445489_1280Traditional and social media can all influence the view we have of our lives, those of our friends, and those in the spotlight. Often this is negative and we end up comparing ourselves unfavourably to other people.


An outsiders’ perspective and guidance can be a useful tool when working on your own confidence and esteem. Counselling offers this in a safe environment, free from judgement and prejudice. 

Poor relationships with others

coffee-1878750_1280Marie found it difficult to make lasting connections with other people, and was finding it harder to maintain her existing friendships. Sometimes we might have everything that we want from life but we just can’t seem to make our relationships work the way we would like them to.

Working with Marie I was able to help her identify that communication was her main stumbling block. We talked through the different ways she could communicate and how she might be able to improve. Marie put these ideas into practice and reported that she was going out with her friends more often and had even made some new ones.

Overall, Marie had felt that her life was stuck in a rut. She wasn’t living the life she had imagined or hoped to be leading, her friends seemed distant and aloof, and her low confidence and esteem were preventing her from getting ahead. Marie admitted that at times she felt like there was little point carrying on as her anxiety and depression were making things too difficult to cope with.

It can be difficult to be true to ourselves when we’re constantly bombarded by television and media telling us that we should be a certain way. But happiness and change can only occur through the process of establishing what you really want and need from life – not what others tell you! This is something that’s much easier to discover with a counsellor to help you.

There are many reasons why you might be considering counselling or therapy. If you’re reading this then maybe now is a good time to get in touch and start clearing the obstacles preventing you from being happy and successful?

Claire ScottAt Insight Counselling Brighton & Hove, I offer a relaxed and comfortable environment where you can safely talk through your issues and concerns, and start living the life you want to. Email me today at claire@insightcounsellingbrighton.co.uk and we can get started soon.

 

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