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What To Do When A Friend Is Bereaved

What To Do When A Friend Is Bereaved

When a close friend is bereaved – especially when the death is traumatic and unexpected – what’s the best way to offer support? Is emailing appropriate? Should you phone or rush round? What if they’re far away? It’s easy to feel paralysed and hopeless when everything you say sounds trite. If all you can come up with are glib phrases like ‘I can’t imagine the pain you’re in,’ or ‘I’m thinking of you constantly’, is it better to keep quiet? It’s essential, says integrative psychotherapist Sue Cowan-Jenssen, to realise that offering support is better than...
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Why We Shouldn't Fear Touch

Why We Shouldn't Fear Touch

The media impress upon us the often horrifying results of inappropriate touch. As increasing numbers of celebrities have come under investigatation, media coverage has been innundated with examples of inappropriate touch.  The fact that Rolf Harris is now serving five years for using his celebrity status to control young women is a case in point.  Are we  fearful of touch?  We now struggle to decipher what is appropriate and what isn't.  At this years sports day, I was surprised to discover that primary school teachers are no longer allowed to put suntan lotion onto...
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Old Faces, Younger Lives: How to See Beyond Dementia

Old Faces, Younger Lives: How to See Beyond Dementia

Imagine yourself in hospital, aged and unable to articulate what you need and when. Think of the dejection, loneliness, and knowledge that your wellbeing lies in the hands of someone who sees you only as a blank and wrinkled canvas, who sees you only in the context of your dementia. I have, and I find it frightening. Dementia visits the elderly with a cloak of confusion and uncertainty, its prey usually unaware of its early presence, manifested by occasional illogical behaviour. A friend witnessed her 75 year-old mother trying to pay for groceries with cigarettes,...
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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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Taking Care of Our Elderly

Taking Care of Our Elderly

More and more of us have an elderly relative in residential care. Currently more than 400,000 people in the UK live in care homes, a figure which is bound to rise further, given the ageing population (there are currently 3 million people aged over 80 in the UK, and that figure is predicted to almost double by 2030. Currently one-in-six of the UK population is aged over 65; by 2050 it will be one-in-four). NICE the (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) has issued new guidance on improving the mental wellbeing of older people in residential care, via a...
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