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Beat Blue Monday

Beat Blue Monday

As if Mondays didn’t always get a bad press for being the most miserable day of the week, now apparently we need to be alert for the fact that today is Blue Monday – the most depressing day of the year. Although not actually proven by science, anecdotally it would seem that the perfect storm of bad weather, post-Christmas family angst, a flurry of credit card statements, and the dawning realisation that we’re wobbling on our New Year’s resolutions, can make even the most glass-half-full person feel bleak. To some extent, the idea of one day of the year being worse than...
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Case Histories: How a Gay Man Found His Thrills

Case Histories: How a Gay Man Found His Thrills

“Do you consider any of your behaviours to be high risk?” The question about high risk behaviours is deliberately open. It’s designed to encourage people to stop and think. But most don’t activate their mental Rolodex and reflect on their online gaming or shopping habit. They brace a little and shoot back, “What do you mean?” I offer up a list of potential areas of concern at that point. Your relationship with alcohol? With gambling? With pornography? Have you ever cut or scratched yourself? Do you take pleasure in driving above the speed limit? Edward chuckled when I...
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EMDR Explained

EMDR Explained

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing may sound like an occult magic trick, but in fact it is a form of psychotherapy developed by the American psychologist Francine Shapiro in 1989. She noticed that when feeling depressed, if she moved her eyes in different directions her level of distress reduced considerably. I was first drawn to the technique because of the controversy that surrounded it. When I found out more, I became intrigued by the techniques themselves, which seemed  to produce profound changes, although seemingly simplistic and rather inexplicable...
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Case Histories: The Housework Concealed a Deeper Mess

Case Histories: The Housework Concealed a Deeper Mess

People channel anxiety in a variety of ways. Worries find expression in eating, drinking and smoking, in counting and checking rituals, and in shopping and hoarding - to name just a few. I've worked with several clients who spend lots of time cleaning, vacuuming and ironing. Mostly women, the clients themselves rarely question these activities. It is more likely that they are seeking approval when they tell me that they don't go to bed at night until the whole house is vacuumed and underwear drawers are re-arranged. Whilst it isn't my job to make value...
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What Does a Therapist's Consulting Room Look Like?

What Does a Therapist's Consulting Room Look Like?

The use of promotional photographs of a therapist and/or their consulting room is a relatively recent development. Many argue that to be seen before a first meeting will affect the ‘transference’ of a client. Transference is the process by which the patient displaces on to their therapist feelings and ideas that derive from previous figures in their life; loosely speaking, it is the patient’s emotional attitude towards their therapist. Exploring the transference is central to the work and although the psychotherapist’s presentation of themselves as a ‘blank...
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Mindfullness is not Mindfulness

Mindfullness is not Mindfulness

The cursor on my screen moves along swiftly. My wifi is off and my mobile is on “do not disturb” – so no emails, no notifications, and no phone-calls or texts. I’m not worried. I know that in about 30 minutes I’ll check all those devices and whatever I need to attend to can wait until then. Just now I have to write this column and I want to be mindful and present for the task. In many ways, there’s something delightfully calming about this, which is paradoxical because it’s still work. It seems that as mindfulness is gaining more space in the public conversation, our...
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Case Histories: the Anxious Mother

Case Histories: the Anxious Mother

Sophie was a single mother in her twenties. She came into counselling believing that it is normal to check and re-check windows and door locks dozens of times before retiring at night. She would leave a trail of obstacles such as roller skates and squeaky toys “in the path of intruders.” Sophie slept lightly and dreamt darkly. She left the bedroom door open so that she could keep a watchful eye on the top of the stairs. Sophie was in a relationship, but was not willing to allow her partner of three years to stay over at her place. Kieran was a gentle soul who would call...
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It Still Hurts: Being a Child of Divorce

It Still Hurts: Being a Child of Divorce

  Divorce. When I was growing up, I thought divorce was what happened to other people’s parents. The word sounded foreign, scary and dramatic. When my parents told me that they were separating, the ground beneath my feet felt as if it were crumbling. I could hear the words, I understood the message, but I so desperately wanted it not to happen.  So I did what 15 year old children do when hearing something unpalatable – I put my fingers in my ears and sang loudly to block out the reality of what I was being told. I felt intensely angry with them both. I...
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Case Histories: Brotherly Love

Case Histories: Brotherly Love

Clients sometimes strike a deal with themselves, and therefore with me, about coming to therapy. A young woman once approached me with a fixed budget and time-frame she wanted to spend in treatment. Aparna was an accomplished person living an enviable life. She was a human rights lawyer at a high profile international agency. She had met and married a Canadian counterpart overseas. They globe-­trotted for a while and decided to settle in the UK when their second child was born. Aparna's eyes glistened with pride and tenderness when she spoke of her family and the...
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Case Histories: The Perfect Girlfriend

Case Histories: The Perfect Girlfriend

From Freud's stories of Anna O and Dora, to  presentations at psychological conferences, the case  history has long been a fascinating view of what happens between client and therapist. Welldoing.org will be publishing a series of case histories written by one anonymous psychotherapist to reveal what goes on behind the closed door of a consulting room. Caroline was going places career-wise; the youngest-ever this and the first-ever that in the field of eye surgery. She was in her late-twenties when she reluctantly arrived for an exploratory therapy session. People...
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