Quote of the Day:
For everything under the sun there is a time.
This is the season of your awkward harvesting,
When the pain takes you where you would rather not go,
Through the white curtain of yesterdays to a place
You had forgotten you knew from the inside out;
And a time when that bitter tree was planted
That has grown always invisibly beside you
And whose branches your awakened hands
Now long to disentangle from your heart.
You are coming to see how your looking often darkened
When you should have felt safe enough to fall toward love,
How deep down your eyes were always owned by something
That faced them through a dark fester of thorns
Converting whoever came into a further figure of the wrong;
You could only see what touched you as already torn.
Now the act of seeing begins your work of mourning.
And your memory is ready to show you everything,
Having waited all these years for you to return and know.
Only you know where the casket of pain is interred.
You will have to scrape through all the layers of covering
And according to your readiness, everything will open.
May you be blessed with a wise and compassionate guide
Who can accompany you through the fear and grief
Until your heart has wept its way to your true self.
As your tears fall over that wounded place,
May they wash away your hurt and free your heart.
May your forgiveness still the hunger of the wound
So that for the first time you can walk away from that place,
Reunited with your banished heart, now healed and freed,
And feel the clear, free air bless your new face.
Loss and the Soul - Excerpt from 'Beauty' by John O'Donohue
All through your life, the most precious experiences seem to vanish. Transience turns everything to air. You look behind and see no sign even of a yesterday that was so intense. Yet in truth, nothing ever disappears, nothing is lost. Everything that happens to us in the world passes into us. It all becomes part of the inner temple of the soul and it can never be lost. This is the art of the soul: to harvest your deeper life from all the seasons of your experience. This is probably why the soul never surfaces fully. The intimacy and tenderness of its light would blind us. We continue in our days to wander between the shadowing and the brightening, while all the time a more subtle brightness sustains us. If we could but realize the sureness around us, we would be much more courageous in our lives. The frames of anxiety that keep us caged would dissolve. We would live the life we love and in that way, day by day, free our future from the weight of regret.
Worksheets and Resources for Download
You are welcome to download any of these information and worksheets for your own use.
Thought Tracking WorksheetCritical Voice RecordGenogram SymbolsCase Formulation Diagram (CBT)EMDR IntroductionPositive Life Skills LogAnorexia Thought Record SheetAvoidance Tracker
With thanks to Carol Vivyan who compiled them, these worksheets and many others may also be found at Get Self Help online resources
The Challenge of Not Knowing
Some of the most difficult experiences in life can involve being held in a state of uncertainty. Examples of this might include the transition from being a student to being a self-determining adult, relationship or work problems, infertility, unemployment, bankruptcy or homelessness. You can probably come up with more. It’s a situation where there is no clear ‘what next’, and we are invited to find certainty not outside, but inside ourselves.
Usually we are carried through life from event to event, goal to goal, and for much of this we are on mental and emotional auto-pilot. We latch on to familiar things that inspire or soothe us, and give us the illusion of control. However for many of us there comes a time when we are forced to sit for a prolonged period with not knowing. It’s a place that triggers our anxiety and defences, yet we’re unable to resolve or escape our discomfort. In this state we are challenged to meet our true nature and potential for self-realisation.
The desire for certainty is something natural. It’s the positive drive of the Ego part of our nature, to help in providing a compass point in life. It begins with the infant developing a sense of duality, (this is me; that is not me) and needing a consistent experience of that in order to gain a secure sense of itself. It’s about feeling a reassuring sense of ‘the walls of reality’ that contain us; it is a feeling of ‘knowing’. Life, and also counselling and psychotherapy, holds a tension between the need for this sense of certainty, and an unfolding awareness that we are limited by it. Somehow it separates us from our deeper selves and connection with the big prize, a sense of oneness and peace.
Mindfulness and cognitive therapy (often referred to as CBT) can be excellent for helping the person to cope with this tension. It is a huge relief to realise that you – and reality - are not your thoughts or your beliefs. When you let go of your certainties, you discover how they have been keeping you dancing to a limiting tune.
Yet no matter what we do to loosen their grip, those certainties will keep re-forming one way or another. And life keeps doing its best to dismantle them. If the ego is too weak or the challenge too much, trauma, despair, psychic breakdown or spiritual emergency can ensue.
The therapeutic relationship itself often reflects this state of not knowing, and both client and therapist feel it. The experience of being forced to face limbo is deeply painful and can be excruciating – yet perhaps it is a call to growth. The therapist needs to be comfortable enough to sit with not knowing, and to hold the limbo experience for the client until something – the tension, the resistance, the defences against experiencing true reality, can be resolved.
What the therapist can offer as an alternative to ‘knowing’ is an open minded faith: in the possibility of growth and ‘becoming’ itself offering enough of a containing reality. Then certainty changes from needing to be about exterior structures, to concerning the multi-faceted diamond of true Self.
So many great books... just a few here... let me know your recommendations
Tales of Psychotherapy
‘Maybe You Should Talk to Someone’. Lori Gottlieb
'Love's Executioner' by Irvin D Yalom
'The Gift Of Therapy: An open letter to a new generation of therapists and their patients: Reflections on Being a Therapist' by Irvin D Yalom
'The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves' by Stephen Grosz
Lots of books, audio and videos by Susie Orbach
'Memories, Dreams, Reflections' Autobiography of Carl Jung
The Effects of Childhood Abuse
An illustrated book by Dr Nina Burrowes - whether they have experienced abuse themselves, or to help others to understand the effects. It is called 'The Courage to be Me', and it can be read for free on Dr Burrowes' website, or ordered or downloaded from there: http://ninaburrowes.com/index.php/books/the-courage-to-be-me/ It's illustrated, so accessible to all.
Understanding the effects of Narcissistic or Immature Parenting
TOXIC PARENTS / NARCISSIST MOTHERS
Silently Seduced Revised & Updated - When Parents Make Their Children Partners (Kenneth Adams) Audible
The Emotional Incest Syndrome: What to do When a Parent's Love Rules (Patricia Love)
Why is it always about you? The seven deadly sins of Narcissism (Sandy Hotchkiss) Chapter only
Toxic parents. Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life (Susan Forward)
Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers (Karyl McBride)
Never Again - Moving On from Narcissistic Abuse and Other Toxic Relationships (Dr Sarah Davies)
Boundaries After a Pathological Relationship (Adelyn Birch)
Breakthrough: The Power of the Interrupted Relationship (Dr Tony Humphreys & Helen Ruddle)
‘The Object of my Affection is in my Reflection. Coping with Narcissists,’. By Rokelle Lerner
'Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting or Self Involved Parents' By Lindsay C Gibson
‘The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child’. By Nancy Verrier
‘Coming Home to Self’: Healing the Primal Wound’. By Nancy Verrier
'Healing the Shame that Binds You' by John Bradshaw
Build Wellbeing from Within
'You Can Change Your Life: With the Hoffman Process.' By Tim Laurence
'Finding A Balanced Connection: Build well-being from within, take back your life and permanently change it for the better.' By John-Paul
'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People' by Stephen R Covey
On Sexuality and Relationships:
'Getting the Love You Want' Harville Hendrix PhD
Books, audio and videos by Esther Perel
'Passionate Marriage; Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships' David Schnarch
Books by Pia Melody about Co-Dependency
Enhancing Your Toolkit Workshop Series: Working with Dreams
I am leading workshops for counsellors and psychotherapists, hosted by Bower House Support Services or by you! Let me know if you would like to book, or contact
Bower House Support Services
32 Coventry Road,
Endorsements: "Brilliant day, enjoyed it, left feeling uplifted, not overwhelmed. Pace of day was just right." "Really enjoyed the day and powerful learning", "Stimulating and valuable content, practical and helpful in my work", "Very useful content. Great to put into practise."
A brief introduction to ways of working with dreams.
Many counsellors are unsure about how to go about working with dreams, feeling that there is a pressure upon them to interpret, or to know about the meaning of symbols.
This one day workshop will:
- offer ways into meaning through the client's own interpretation
- reduce the pressure of 'knowing'
- explore how dreams offer access to deep feeling
- help you to connect with the unconscious meaning and instinctive truth held in the body
- offer a chance to develop confidence.
Please be aware that much of the day will be spent in small groups putting skills into practice. Participants are asked to bring their own dream or snippet of a dream to work with.
This is a very brief introduction to safe practice with dreams; a precursor to further deepening of skills.
Some thoughts about Working with Dreams
What value do dreams have to us, as individuals, in our waking lives? One way of looking at the role they might play is to see them as enabling our unconscious to speak to us, to offer us a mirror of our inner world which is normally blocked to our consciousness by our rational, often defense-driven way of organising reality. Any doubts about the value to be found in them are dispelled when we touch the truth that they offer us and in the process experience insight, unblocking and release.
In psychotherapy it is often valuable to work with what persistent or powerful dreams offer by looking at them through our associations. It is possible to explore them even more deeply by using what we call the 'waking dream' technique, re-entering the dream and getting in touch - often literally, through the imagination - with its content. This method can enables you to connect with very powerful instinctive feelings and truths of which you has been unconscious. Here is a filmed inerview with Nigel Hamilton Nigel Hamilton talks about the transpersonal approach to working with dreams.
Nightmares can also be resolved. Here is a video showing Dream/nightmare completion technique which shows how you can do this yourself.
Other interesting video link resources:
The Power of Vulnerability: a talk by Brene Brown
An inspiring personal experience of qualities of left and right brain functioning - by neuroscientist Jill Bolt-Taylor
I am part of a network of excellent fellow practitioners all over the UK and abroad who also practise using transpersonal and integrative principles and am happy to recommend them to you:
I am a Senior Practitioner at Mindtalk in Market Harborough. We are a group who between us can work with children and young people, families, couples and adult individuals.
Masks: here is a poem that simply captures the struggle we all have with revealing our true self to others, and how the therapeutic relationship can help.
I keep my paint brush with me
Wherever I may go,
In case I need to cover up
So the real me doesn’t show.
I’m so afraid to show you me,
Afraid of what you’ll do – that
You might laugh or say mean things.
I’m afraid I might lose you.
I’d like to remove all my paint coats
To show you the real, true me,
But I want you to try and understand,
I need you to accept what you see.
So if you’ll be patient and close your eyes,
I’ll strip off all my coats real slow.
Please understand how much it hurts
To let the real me show.
Now my coats are all stripped off.
I feel naked, bare and cold,
And if you still love me with all that you see,
You are my friend, pure as gold.
I need to save my paint brush, though,
And hold it in my hand,
I want to keep it handy
In case someone doesn’t understand.
So please protect me, my dear friend
And thanks for loving me true,
But please let me keep my paint brush with me
Until I love me, too.
Author is either Bettie B. Youngs or David, Wizard of Oz
The Treasure Chest: The Transformative Power of Not Knowing An experiental weekend workshop
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.
(From: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, S T Coleridge)
v For security we latch on to things that give us the illusion of control. Yet life catapults us into limbo, for example with cancer or other illness, infertility, financial, relationship or career problems, creative block, moving home….
v As counsellors the therapeutic relationship itself sometimes reflects this state.
v It’s a place that triggers our defences, yet it’s a wonderful opportunity for growth.
Would you like the adventure of seeking the buried treasure in your Self?
Join me in exploring the challenges presented, and the opportunity provided for growth and fresh insight.
I invite you to bring an object that, for you, represents your time of 'not knowing'. We will use this along with word play, drawing and visualisation exercises designed to tap into the transformative power concealed in the in-between place we call Limbo.
Pandora’s box or a treasure chest? We shall use a mystery box and exercises to explore our shadow selves, unlocking and releasing the treasure we all seek, connection to our true, essential self.
A 2 day workshop for up to 6 people. This workshop is offered in various locations by arrangement. Please contact me if you would like to host it. Cost: £100 per person.
For bookings and enquiries please email me, or phone 07900 303 561
Getting to the Root of Anxiety
Self Destructive Relationships - Love Addiction
EMDR, Stress and PTSD
Defusing Anxiety and Narcissism through Therapeutic Process
Being Heard and Understood
Quotation of the Month
Solace is the art of asking the beautiful question, of ourselves, of our world or of one another, often in fiercely difficult and un-beautiful moments. Solace is what we must look for when the mind cannot bear the pain, the loss or the suffering that eventually touches every life and every endeavor; when longing does not come to fruition in a form we can recognize, when people we know and love disappear, when hope must take a different form than the one we have shaped for it.
Solace is the spacious, imaginative home we make where disappointment goes to be welcomed and rehabilitated. When life does not in any way add up, we must turn to the part of us that has never wanted a life of simple calculation.
Solace is found in allowing the body’s innate foundational wisdom to come to the fore, a part of us that already knows it is mortal and must take its leave like everything else, and leads us, when the mind cannot bear what it is seeing or hearing, to the birdsong in the tree above our heads, even as we are being told of a death, each note an essence of morning and of mourning; of the current of a life moving on, but somehow, also, and most beautifully, carrying, bearing, and even celebrating the life we have just lost. - A life we could not see or appreciate until it was taken from us –
To be consoled is to be invited onto the terrible ground of beauty upon which our inevitable disappearance stands, to a voice that does not soothe falsely, but touches the epicenter of our pain or articulates the essence of our loss, and then emancipates us into the privilege of both life and death as an equal birthright.
Solace is not an evasion, nor a cure for our suffering, nor a made up state of mind. Solace is a direct seeing and participation; a celebration of the beautiful coming and going, appearance and disappearance of which we have always been a part. Solace is not meant to be an answer, but an invitation, through the door of pain and difficulty, to the depth of suffering and simultaneous beauty in the world that the strategic mind by itself cannot grasp nor make sense of.
To look for solace is to learn to ask fiercer and more exquisitely pointed questions, questions that reshape our identities and our bodies and our relation to others. Standing in loss but not overwhelmed by it, we become useful and generous and compassionate and even more amusing companions for others. But solace also asks us very direct and forceful questions. Firstly, how will you bear the inevitable loss that will accompany you? And how will you endure it through the years? And above all, how will you shape a life equal to and as beautiful and as astonishing as a world that can birth you, bring you into the light and then just as you were beginning to understand it, take you away?