Read our posts about mind

Understanding the Imposter Syndrome

Understanding the Imposter Syndrome

I first witnessed the disturbing force of the imposter syndrome while doing research on young people at the cusp of adulthood.  As they leave the family home and their long term friends for the wider world - either of higher education or employment – the familiar comparators shift, and with it, their comfortable place in the pecking order of peers.  The fear that your true ineptness will be exposed. In defence, some act like peacocks, displaying confidence to attract attention and mark status.  With lots of people around them also strutting their stuff, they may be taken in...
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Talking to a Friend Isn't the Same as Therapy

Talking to a Friend Isn't the Same as Therapy

Guardian journalist Zoe Williams has known integrative psychotherapist Julia Bueno since they were teenagers. But they have never before spoken about Julia’s profession - how it works, why she does it, and whether Zoe is sceptical about the whole process. Welldoing put them together for a truth-telling session. ZOE: My prejudice about therapy is that it's every day, it really gets into your life, it goes on for eight years, the therapist doesn't say very much and you talk yourself into an answer . JULIA: Therapy isn't like that. You are thinking about 'old...
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Is Coaching Simply Therapy-Lite?

Is Coaching Simply Therapy-Lite?

Coaching, counselling, and psychotherapy arguably exist on a continuum;  Julia Bueno has given a good explanation of the differences in her article Who does what? Talking therapies explained on this site.  Compared to the more emotional focus of psychotherapy and counselling, coaching is typically addressed at specific issues in a person’s life which may be perceived as dilemmas, conflicts, or simply “being stuck”.  These issues very often appear at first sight to be mostly practical in nature, but a little investigation frequently reveals deeper truths.  It would certainly...
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Getting Too Close to Your Therapist

Getting Too Close to Your Therapist

The relationship you have with your therapist is intimate. You say things to him or her that you may never even have articulated to yourself before, let alone another person. You show them your most vulnerable side, and parts of your psyche that even you have trouble tolerating, yet they accept all this non judgmentally. In your relationship with them, you deepen your relationship with yourself. A therapist in this and other processes can become an idealised figure for their clients. An idealised figure has a lot of power over you, power that might be helpful, benign or...
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"Head in a Car Crusher": Understanding Autism

"Head in a Car Crusher": Understanding Autism

When I first started to work with people on the autistic spectrum, I was given a very bad piece of advice: because the brains of people with autism were damaged, one should not listen to what they had to say. The implication was that they had nothing useful to contribute. I repeat this now only because it highlights how completely our perspective on autism has been challenged and redirected by the autobiographical accounts of such courageous people as Temple Grandin, Donna Williams and many others, presenting us with the view from the inside. Starting as a...
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The Psychology of Lateness

The Psychology of Lateness

I told my husband I had been asked to write an article on punctuality for welldoing.org. ‘What’s the deadline?” he asked and we both cracked up. Yes, wouldn’t it be funny if I didn’t hand this in on time. Actually, no, not really. Latecomers like to pretend that their lack of punctuality is a funny charming quirk, but it’s serious, it's a handicap. Sometimes one of my psychotherapy clients might be late. “The tube got stuck in a tunnel for 20 minutes, I do apologise”. It happens the once, I don’t treat it as significant. But some clients are always late, maybe just...
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Want to Know Yourself? Take Our Test

Want to Know Yourself? Take Our Test

“If I knew myself, I’d run away,” said Goethe, who, incidentally, was Freud’s favourite writer. You might imagine that knowing yourself would be one of the key goals of psychology.  Often it has not been, however. When I was young one of the most distinguished experimental psychologists of his generation Donald Broadbent told me students should realise it was an illusion that psychology would teach them to know themselves better. Perhaps that’s why a paper on Experiential Self Monitoring which I reported in 1980 made such an impression on me. It was given by E J...
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The Ground Beneath My Feet: a Fear of the Unknown

The Ground Beneath My Feet: a Fear of the Unknown

I was 13 when I had my first panic attack, though I didn’t know what it was then. I was at a café in Biarritz when I got a chicken bone lodged in my throat. My entire body went white hot; I became convinced I was going to die. The blood drained to my feet, every bit of me screamed to get outside, so I walked around the block eating yoghurt until the fear drained away. When we got back to New Zealand, the same white heat would flow through my body again whenever we would go to a café or restaurant. I had to give myself ‘outs.’ Sit facing the door. Don’t order food....
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Fear of Driving

Fear of Driving

I used to be so scared of driving that I couldn’t even look at my car parked outside my house. I didn’t drive for seven years. I was too afraid. Happily, these days I can and do drive whenever I want to. So what makes people scared of such an everyday activity as driving, and how do those of us with a driving phobia overcome it? If the thought of zooming off down the motorway brings you out in a cold sweat, then rest assured you’re not alone. Fear of driving is one of the most common phobias that exist, yet we seldom talk about it. Official statistics are hard to...
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The Stressed Sex?

The Stressed Sex?

“Women become insane,” opined the Victorian psychiatrist G. Fielding Blandford, “during pregnancy, after parturition, during lactation; at the age when the catamenia (periods) first appear and when they disappear…” Back in the bad old days, it was accepted that women were inherently susceptible to mental illness, due to the imagined intimate connection between brain and reproductive system. For women, read madness. In these sun-lit days of supposed gender-equality, the idea that one sex is more prone to mental illness than the other has become taboo. Wanting...
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