I have worked as a Counsellor in a GP surgery, a University, a College and an NHS Trust. I am currently solely in Private Practice providing Counselling services, Mindfulness courses, a Meditation Group and use Shamanic approaches therapeutically. I have a very wide and varied counselling experience and some of the concerns I work with are shown here, however they do not list all my experience. If you do not find your concern listed on this website just get in touch (without obligation) and it may be that I have experience in that area too.
My nursing background is tremendously helpful as I am aware of the health conditions, medications and diseases that individuals may have which may be impacting on their lives. My knowing a bit about it means that the individual is not trying to explain themselves, and we can get on with the counselling work.
My nursing background of working in pain management, and my personal experience of chronic pain, means that I am ideally placed to offer support and advice with individuals in chronic pain or with long-term health conditions. As such we can devise your own personalized pain management program to improve physical functioning.
My knowledge and experience make me the unique Counsellor that I am, ready to meet with you and your uniqueness.
Some areas I can help you with (not limited to)
Brief descriptions of some areas that I work with and how counselling may be of use:
Abuse and domestic violence
When we think of abuse, we generally think of physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Abuse is not limited to these areas. It may have happened to you or maybe you witnessed it. It may be that the abuse you experienced happened in childhood or maybe in adulthood. Maybe it doesn't happen anymore or maybe it still does. I can offer you a safe environment to talk about your experiences to help you to find a way forward in your difficulties. For some, the information on PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder may also be useful.
Anger is an emotion we all feel at some time. It comes as a result of feeling and thinking we have been treated unfairly, been disrespected, or when others have broken our rules or fallen short of our expectations or standards. Anger has consequences which often involves hurting others feelings or sometimes physically hurting them. After an anger outburst we can think very critically of ourselves and may feel ashamed, guilty or depressed and withdrawn.
Counselling helps to explain the physical sensations you may experience when you are angry, such as breathing quickly, shaking and sweating and why they occur. We can look to identify your anger triggers and find strategies to help with the physical sensations and the thoughts and behaviours which feed into the anger to discover the calmer you. Stress management may also be useful.
Anxiety is an intense worry or fear which is so strong it can affect your daily life. Some individuals may experience anxiety in social situations, others may have anxiety about their health or it could be about something else. During anxiety, the individual may experience physical symptoms such as chest pain, palpitations or a rapid heart rate, trembling, numbness, tingling. In health anxiety a bodily change such as a lump or rash is also present.
Anxiety affects our feelings, thoughts and behaviours which are explored in counselling. It follows that challenging these through increasing activity, understanding what our feelings and thoughts are about, and challenging and testing out new ways of managing our life is useful in overcoming anxiety. I may set goals or tasks for you to achieve in between sessions.
Bereavement, loss and grief are not limited to the death of a loved one, although that is generally what we associate with bereavement and loss. Similar feelings experienced following the death of a loved one may also be associated with other significant losses such as separation, divorce and relationship breakdowns, loss of role or function through ill health, chronic pain or other changes in circumstances. Miscarriage, abortion or infertility may also involve the many feelings around loss and grief. The death or separation of a pet may also generate very strong feelings of loss and grief.
Counselling can help by allowing you to explore these feelings and the meanings attached to that which is lost or is expected to be lost. Through these explorations your own inner resources may be utilized to enable you move forward in your grief, not to forget what you have lost but to feel more accepting of its passing and in their remembrance. Grief is a process of personal change which may feel chaotic and overwhelming and some people feel the need for the support of someone outside of their inner circle of friends and family to listen, understand and accept what they are saying without judgement.
Chronic and long term health conditions
Many long term health conditions such as M.E., M.S., Lupus and Hughes Syndrome and many others affect our sense of who we are, what we can do physically, and our positions and roles within the family, work and socially. Due to the unpredictability of your condition it may be hard to make future plans, or you may have had to give up work or other previously fulfilling activities. We may feel that we no longer know who we are; we may feel depressed, hopeless, helpless and useless. Very often we may feel alone, lonely and isolated with intense fear and anxiety.
Pain is a common feature in many different conditions, as well as being a condition in its own right. I have worked as a nurse in acute and chronic pain management within the NHS and also live with chronic pain. I am not working as a nurse now. Our world can often become quite small when living with a long term health condition.
Counselling helps by providing an safe and secure environment for you to talk about how your condition has impacted on your life. Through this you can identify areas of change and together we can identify strategies to help you manage your condition in a more fulfilling way to help you broaden your world. I am uniquely placed to help with your pain management through exploring with you your thoughts, feelings and behaviours around your pain and the impact it has on your life. We can also look at ways to improve your activity levels which may help to reduce your pain working within NICE guidelines. This may take place in individual sessions or if appropriate in small groups.
Depression is very common in the UK. Some individuals may have one episode which passes; others have a longer lasting depression or one that comes back several times.
Some symptoms of depression include:
- Feeling low, sad, miserable;
- Low motivation and loss of energy, sometimes people stop doing as much as they did before the depression;
- Loss of interest and enjoyment in activities previously enjoyed. Sometimes individuals avoid social activities and contact;
- Feeling you are useless, bad, worthless;
- Pessimistic thoughts;
- Feeling hopeless about now and the future;
- Difficulty concentrating and memory difficulties;
- Changes in sleep and eating patterns;
- Loss if interest in sex;
- Thoughts of death.
If you are having frequent or serious thoughts of suicide please see your GP as soon as you can, speak to a mental health professional or call the Samaritans on 116 123.
Even if you take anti-depressant medication counselling may be helpful to discover what is contributing to your depression so you can make changes to your life. Depression affects our feelings, thoughts, and behaviours which are all explored in counselling. Increasing activity, challenging negative thoughts and problem-solving are other ways counselling may help you. I may set goals or tasks for you to achieve in between sessions.
Grief is the pain and suffering we experience when we have been bereaved. It has to be experienced to enable healing and acceptance. When bereaved we react emotionally (the grief) and gradually we begin to react cognitively (thoughts) and behaviours. As something or someone has been lost to us, so too a part of whom we are has been lost with them. Adaption to grief involves rebuilding your life alongside a changed you. It is a very active and transitional process which may feel chaotic, with one step forwards and two back, rather than being in sequential steps or stages.
Counselling helps by supporting you through this very difficult transition and helping you to see that your feelings (even anger, guilt and shame) are part of a normal process. Counselling can help you to identify changes and strategies in rebuilding yourself and your life.
Loss could be viewed as being deprived of something or being without someone or something that you once had. So, that could be a person, a relationship, an animal, your health, your job, your role as a parent, an object, etc. Loss is never just about one event. Each loss is influenced by past losses and each loss is affected by the other losses related to the major loss. For example, in the primary loss of a partner leaving you, the secondary losses could be friends, a social activity you did together, lifestyle due to financial changes, and so on.
In any relationship loss (human or animal) we will lose a part of ourselves too, as we were invested into that relationship. Counselling helps you by allowing you the space and time to talk and to identify and develop strategies to manage this change process, change in you and in your life, in a supportive environment.
As social animals we all have a need to feel valued by others, and have the capacity to value ourselves too. When an individual is frequently looking for praise or reassurance from others, or is maybe unable to make their own decisions or choices, they are unable to generate their own valuing of themselves - looking for it outside of themselves and from others. A low self-esteem means having a low opinion of yourself and it can affect us all to greater or lesser extents and may even change depending on different situations.
For some a low self-esteem intrudes in many situations or they may have an overall general dislike of themselves. They may be self-critical, have self-doubt, blame themselves for things, and focus on criticisms, mistakes and weakness discounting praise, success and strengths. Things from our past can contribute to a low self-esteem such as abuse, bullying, rejection, bereavement and traumatic events, excessive criticism, not enough praise or affection among others. Counselling can help by exploring these things from the past and challenging our beliefs, and the thoughts and meanings around them. Part of our work may include keeping a thought diary for use in-session and in between sessions.
Medically unexplained pain
When we have pain we often go to our doctor who generally refers you on for further tests and investigations, such as scans. Sometimes the results come back which allow us to have a cause or diagnosis for our pain. Sometimes, despite many investigations and tests there is no apparent cause for our pain - the pain is unexplained by medicine. This is very distressing, as the pain is very real, and so too is its negative impact on your life and relationships.
Maybe you have been told that the pain is "all in your head" or "psychosomatic" and you are angry at your doctor or questioning if you are mentally ill. Let me reassure you, all pain is real and not all pain is generated from a disease, illness or injury. This is why medical tests and investigations are unable to find the cause of your pain! For instance, we can experience chronic pain during stress, severe emotional upsets, and after psychological trauma. It is still real pain. Our minds and bodies are connected and try to help us in tough situations. Maybe during that stressful time your mind and body believed it would be better for you to still function at work with pain than to suffer repeated flu? Even pain with a medical cause will have the mind/body connection influences. The mind/body connection can lead to us to experience more pain and distress as well as less.
Please see the pain management and long-term health conditions pages as these are appropriate and relevant to you too. In my practice I make no differentiation between the causes of the pain - as what happens physiologically, emotionally, psychologically and behaviourally is very similar regardless of cause of pain. And how we would work would also follow the same program either individually or if appropriate in small groups.
Chronic pain may be experienced on its own or as part of a disease or illness, such as M.S. among others. Chronic pain is also commonly experienced by those with PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. With my nursing background in acute and chronic pain management, and with personal experience of chronic back pain, I am well placed to help. As I am not working as a nurse now I cannot change your medication, yet remain familiar with medications.
I am uniquely placed to help with your pain management through exploring with you your thoughts, feelings and behaviours around your pain and the impact it has on your life. Through this you can highlight areas of change and together we can identify strategies to help you manage your pain. We can also find ways to increase your activity levels which may help to reduce your pain, working within NICE guidelines. This may take place in individual sessions or if appropriate in small groups.
I can also offer an 8 week Mindfulness-based approach to pain management, Stress and long-term health conditions course. Please contact me for further details.
Panic attacks are very common and for some the panic is around for a while and then goes away, for others panic may be around much longer. Panic attacks are accompanied by intense fear or anxiety (you may think you are going to die, go mad or make a fool of yourself). Panic can come on fairly suddenly and unexpectedly without an apparent trigger. These intense feelings last a brief time although during an attack it may feel a very long time and you may be left feeling uncomfortable for some time after an attack.
Symptoms of panic may include:
- A rapid heart rate, or your heart skipping beats (palpitations);
- Breathing very fast (hyperventilation);
- Feeling short of breath;
- Chest pain, headaches other pains;
- Tight throat/choking;
- Feeling sick;
- Tingling fingers/toes/lips.
Counselling helps through exploring your panic experience, how you manage your panic now and relating that to your thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Sometimes it feels that our currents thoughts and behaviours are helpful, such as avoiding social situations in case of panic. Counselling may help you to see that sometimes what we feel may be helpful is not always, and maybe we can try new things out such as new and different strategies for when you are out among others.
Grieving the loss of a pet loss through death, or an expected death (anticipatory grief), or through having to give up your pet due to changing circumstances (such as a relationship breakdown) is often viewed negatively by society. The emotions, pain and suffering are no less real, intense or valid because it is/was a well-loved animal. Please see the information on Bereavement, Loss and Grief for how the loss of a pet may impact upon us. The feelings, pain and suffering are the same in the loss of a human, or other major loss, as in the loss of an animal.
Losing your pet may include the loss of pet related activities (agility, training, going to dog shows, exhibitions) a routine (regular walks), a lifestyle (pet-friendly holidays), and the losses of the people and places related to these activities. Your pet often gives you what no human can-unconditional love and acceptance. They seem to understand us and our moods and offer comfort, loyalty and a sense of fun.
Counselling helps by allowing you the time and space to talk about your difficult feelings and the impact of the loss on you and your life. You and your life will be different following your loss and this can feel chaotic. You may want to talk about getting another pet, and we can identify strategies to help you move through this difficult grief process.
PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Traumatic experiences (assault, serious accidents, natural disasters and fire) can happen to anyone. If someone has experienced a traumatic event understandably they may have nightmares and memories of the event replaying for days or weeks following the traumatic event. In most cases, with support and either talking about it or not talking about it (and either is OK) people can heal physically and mentally and recover from the traumatic event. Roughly 20% of people however develop the more longer-lasting and disabling difficulties called PTSD. PTSD may develop months or years after an event or directly from it.
Symptoms of PTSD
Some symptoms of PTSD may include:
- Re-experiencing of the traumatic event through distressing thoughts or pictures of the event (intrusive thoughts);
- Flashbacks (intrusions) of the event where the memory is so strong and vivid it is like the event is happening all over again;
- Nightmares are also common;
- Experiencing strong physical and emotional reactions to reminders of the trauma, such as feeling anxious when hearing a siren for example, or an increased heart rate and sweating when near the site of the trauma;
- Chronic pain;
- Substance misuse (alcohol, prescription and non-prescription drugs).
Those with PTSD find it hard to relax as they are constantly alert to danger. They may have difficulty concentrating, be irritable or have sudden outbursts of anger and experience difficulty going to and staying asleep.
These traumatic memories are stored differently compared to other memories, and so it often feels like the traumatic event is in the here and now. Counselling can help to aid recovery by looking at the traumatic memories, which in the long-run makes the memories less distressing and allows their storage and location to be in the past. Counselling can also help you to identify strategies to manage your symptoms better (such as intrusions and flashbacks) to help you regain some of your life back.
Looking at the traumatic event in detail may be terrifying, so please ensure you have the support of others around you.
Disagreements and conflict feature in most relationships whether they be parent/child, lovers, married or living-together couples, boss or work colleagues. The strength and sustainability of our relationships depend on how we manage conflict.
We each have our own perspective on people and events. Two people could be at the same event and each will leave with a different perspective and interpretation of that event. Sometimes tensions in relationships arise as we see our view of events and believe that it is the same for them too- we forget they have their own perspective. We can also get into a “blame game” and say things to create a reaction.
Looking at things from someone else’s perspective may help grow our relationships. Of course communication is important too as a way of sharing our perspectives and letting the other person know how we feel. Communicating so that you are both heard and understood may not be happening and counselling may help to facilitate that in a fair and equal environment. We can look at different ways of communicating so you have skills to use outside of counselling. Counselling may also help in other aspects of relationship difficulties by allowing you the time and space to talk and enabling you to find your own answers through identifying your own inner resources.
Stress and work-related stress
Stress is a normal part of life and not all stress is negative- think about the stress or adrenaline rush of playing well in a match or performing well in another way. So, up to a point, stress can aid us to achieve more. Beyond that optimal point however, our confidence dips and our ability to perform declines. Stress is negative and positive. Positive stress is when we feel excited, nervous, under pressure, feeling like you’re being tested or pushed to your limits. Negative stress is when we feel like there is no way out, it is a disaster, you don’t know where to start and there is too much to do it is impossible. If negative stress builds it may turn into thoughts and feelings like:
- There’s no way out
- My life is a disaster
- I can’t cope any more
- Even simple tasks takes forever to do
- I can’t concentrate.
This is really hard to get out of and so our performance declines even further. However, YOU have the power to control your stress and your reactions to it which is where counselling may help. If you can identify what factors are contributing to your stress, strategies to better manage it will arise.
Trauma encompasses traumatic events such as assault, accidents, natural disasters and all kinds of abuse. The majority of people who experience a traumatic event find that through talking about their experience they can feel psychological healing. A small minority however may go on to develop PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (please see the PTSD information). For those that have experienced traumatic events, counselling may be helpful to explore your feelings and thoughts around it to gain insights into your feelings, thoughts and behaviours. Counselling can help you to move forward with new perspectives and self-understanding and acceptance.