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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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Therapy and Cultural Difference

Therapy and Cultural Difference

London is a very multi-cultural place and so cultural identity is an important consideration when choosing a therapist. But what is culture? Some people think that cultural difference is about coming from a faraway country or belonging to an ethnic minority group. In reality, culture is so ubiquitous that even therapy has its own culture; in fact one that, for many people new to it, is shocking to start with. For example, sitting in a room with a stranger, sometimes in silence, sometimes talking about some very difficult feelings, is an alien culture for somebody who...
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Online Dating - the Secrets to Success

Online Dating - the Secrets to Success

I'm a huge fan of online dating. I have several friends and many clients who have found love that way. And when it works, it works well; a recent study suggests that couples who meet online are more likely to move successfully through the infamous 'seven year breakpoint' than couples who meet in traditional ways. But online dating is often challenging. For many, the journey, however hopefully started, often becomes a yo-yo of frustration and self-doubt as well as excitement and hope. In my work I've come to recognise 'online dating disillusionment' when I see...
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Self Protection: A Therapist's Guide

Self Protection: A Therapist's Guide

I often get asked about how I can listen to my client's distress all week without crumpling with exhaustion or getting distressed myself. I tend to give a short answer so as not to put people off asking me anything ever again, something like, “My training involves learning to protect myself/ I make sure to have plenty of supervision”. But there's a much better, longer answer that involves re-calibrating how I empathise in order to ensure my own self protection. Supervision is part of the self-care necessary for any therapist, but it is also an ethical requirement....
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Mindfulness Tames the Monkey Mind

Mindfulness Tames the Monkey Mind

I screwed up. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t good either, and it was entirely my fault. In the vernacular of my youth, I dropped the ball, hard. So, naturally I gave myself a hard time about it. And then, I gave myself a hard time about it again. Whenever I thought of it (and it was a lot) the worry and shame came, the adrenaline and cortisol burned in my chest, and I chased the disturbing thought down the rabbit warren of my emotional interior. Funny, that, as I’d been practicing mindfulness for some time and I thought I’d got the hang of it. Yeah, right. The thing...
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How to Stay Out of Debt

How to Stay Out of Debt

People who are great with money tend to stand out, because they’re a minority.  Most of us, at some point, find ourselves in debt, wondering how it happened. We try to live within our means, and yet still we’re overdrawn at the end of each month.  If this sounds like you, it’s time to look closely at your relationship with money and find a way to change it. Money is a symbol - coins, cards and paper have no meaning, except what we invest in them. But money is a powerful symbol because - whether we realise it or not - it takes us back to something in our childhood. Only...
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How Much Should I Pay for Therapy?

How Much Should I Pay for Therapy?

Whenever a friend consults me about starting therapy the second question after “How do I find a good therapist?” is usually “How much should I pay?”. It is a fair question. None of us like to feel we are being taken for a ride, but there is also the concern that lower fees may mean the therapist has less experience or is, simply, less good. It is not necessarily the case. Quite often the most experienced, most highly trained therapists charge the most reasonable fees. This could well be because they are psychoanalysts who traditionally charged a relatively affordable rate...
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Should You Have Therapy?

Should You Have Therapy?

When therapists are asked to list their areas of expertise for inclusion in Find a Therapist services, they sometimes find they have checked over 20 boxes listing every imaginable problem from sex to suicide, anxiety to anorexia. But none of that really helps the client decide the first question: should I seek therapy? So – how do you know if it's for you? The first thing to consider is whether you have spotted an emotional pattern of long duration. You don’t need to wait for a therapist to tell that something is repeating itself. Are you thinking ‘here I go again’?...
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Broken Heart: How To Cope With Bereavement

Broken Heart: How To Cope With Bereavement

We all know that loss is an inevitable consequence of making an attachment. No one gets out of here alive, as it were. Yet the severing of this attachment is literally heart breaking. A recent study by St Georges, University of London found that a person’s risk of heart attack or stroke is highest in the month after bereavement and this declines slowly over the following year. This is because grief can lead to a range of adverse physiological responses, such as changes in blood clotting, blood pressure, stress hormone levels and heart rate control – all of which are...
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