Read our posts about therapists

Therapists and Pets: Is Three a Crowd in the Consulting Room?

Therapists and Pets: Is Three a Crowd in the Consulting Room?

When therapists talk about providing a ‘safe space’ where clients feel able to open up we are usually speaking metaphorically. We mean to indicate that the consulting room will be a place where everything is treated confidentially and judgements are on hold  regarding what is said or done by the client. But ‘safe space’ took on quite a different significance for the unsuspecting client who, towards the end of her session and in mid-thought, was attacked by a Manchester therapist’s cat. The feline who broke the therapeutic boundary had slipped unnoticed through an...
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The Toxic Legacy of Jimmy Savile

The Toxic Legacy of Jimmy Savile

It’s more than a year and a half since the first shockwaves of the Jimmy Savile sex abuse story hit, and I find it harder than ever to listen to the seemingly endless avalanche of disturbing voices testifying to the horrors he inflicted while the world looked the other way. I can’t say exactly how I came to ‘know it’, but the news story when it broke in the autumn of 2012 only served to confirm what I already knew in my guts; that Savile was a predatory abuser. Interestingly a lot of people I’ve discussed this with have also said the same thing.  We all somehow knew...
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The Draper Complex: When a Man Turns Against His Defences

The Draper Complex: When a Man Turns Against His Defences

Mad Men's Don Draper is not Tony Soprano.  The weird world of psychoanalysing fictional figures  had a field day with the latter – from labelling him with narcissistic or anti-social personality disorder to settling on a severe Oedipus Complex.Whatever the conclusion, the Mafia boss was clearly symptomatic. However little you’d expect a man like Tony to seek psychotherapy, he had to. You cannot run the North Jersey crime syndicate while suffering panic attacks. People don’t turn against their defences when they are perceived to be working in their...
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Why is There So Much Anxiety?

Why is There So Much Anxiety?

Given that we enjoy longer and healthier lives, why are so many of us suffering from anxiety? We do live in an increasingly competitive society. We are bombarded with images of ‘success’. Are we thin enough, handsome enough, rich enough, and clever enough?  We readily use words like ‘success’ and ‘failure’, yet what do these terms really mean? It doesn’t occur to us that these ordinary concerns might be a symbolic reflection of our anxiety about mortality. In my work as a therapist I have come to understand that, often, underlying our deepest anxieties are...
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5 Ways to Cope with Addiction in the Family

5 Ways to Cope with Addiction in the Family

By the time I met Lucy, she was desperate. Her much-loved only son, Ben, had started using drugs while at school, and by the age of seventeen was addicted to heroin. Lucy knew Ben was wasting his life, but more than that she was terrified that the drugs would kill him. Lucy and her husband Chris ‘panicked’ when they found out. They put Ben into a private rehab, but within days of leaving he was using again.  He stole from them, and then lied about it. By this point Chris wanted to throw Ben out, but Lucy could not stand the thought of her son living on the...
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Losing My Twins at 23 Weeks

Losing My Twins at 23 Weeks

Grief never really goes away completely. The best we can do is live at peace with the memories of our loss, or maybe even be lucky enough to derive nourishment and pleasure from them. But even if you reach such a hazy resolution in this way, it can re-emerge at full force when you least expect it to knock you down again. Or at least that's my experience of losing my two babies 12 years ago, born too early to survive in the world outside my womb. I'd had a time of it getting pregnant in the first place, with irregular menstrual cycles from polycystic ovary syndrome,...
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"Breaking up is Hard To Do"

"Breaking up is Hard To Do"

The moment when we end a relationship - or have an ending thrust upon us - is almost always exquisitely painful. But of course it's not just the moment of break up that hurts. The aftermath, as we recover, is arguably just as painful not least because it lasts longer - sometimes for years. After the early 'phoney war' of feeling convinced that reconciliation is just around the corner, or of feeling relieved that the vicious arguments are now over, it is then that the long-term suffering begins. Yes, some of us 'keep calm and carry on', and parting...
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Floating: Technologically Assisted Mindfulness

Floating: Technologically Assisted Mindfulness

When is the last time you did absolutely nothing for two hours? I’m not talking about lolling on the couch on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I’m talking about doing nothing - minimising distractions to the degree that all you are left with is your own mind. This can be achieved through “Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy” (REST) – in short, what happens when you immerse yourself in a flotation tank. In a previous post I spoke about how technology can get in the way of mindfulness. But what if technology might also offer us a quicker and more direct experience of...
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Sometimes Therapy Goes Wrong

Sometimes Therapy Goes Wrong

The course of true therapy may not always run smooth. Conflicts and ill feelings can arise just the same as elsewhere – therapists can offend, get things wrong, be clumsy or annoying as well as others. Like others too, they can also be unprofessional, unethical and even, it's tough to think, criminal. It may be that your therapist hasn't done anything 'wrong' as such, but you just feel as if you aren't getting anywhere or you have a vague and repeated sense of unease in the consulting room. Therapy works best if you are able to be as open and honest about any...
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Coming Off Anti-Depressants

Coming Off Anti-Depressants

After over a decade of taking anti-depressants I am now drug-free. I don’t feel entirely comfortable using that phrase, not least because I am an asthmatic and use inhalers on a daily basis, but most importantly because it feels far too evangelical, too much as if I have achieved a superior state to the one of being ‘on drugs’ and I don’t believe that one bit. I first took anti-depressants because someone tried to rape me. It was in broad daylight on a university campus. I was a long way from home, a student learning a foreign language during a long summer holiday...
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