A safe place to talk for Individuals and Couples in Central/East London

Therapy taught me slowly to help myself – Megan Beech (The Guardian 29th December 2015)

Therapy taught me slowly to help myself – Megan Beech (The Guardian 29th December 2015)

Two women talking
‘Counselling helped me to get my voice back, which I now use often and buoyantly, as I perform poems about feminism and my struggles with depression.’ Photograph: Camera Press Ltd/Alamy

After two years of weekly meetings, copious amounts of sullied tissues, hours of talking, silence and contemplation all in the same tiny room overlooking the Thames, I couldn’t quite sense what I was taking away. The rewards of the experience didn’t await me neatly wrapped with a tag addressed to a newly well version of myself. The real gift I received through undertaking counselling was slow in the making. The ability to realise what had been given and received in the work we had undertaken together was similarly slow in revealing itself.

I began therapy, rather unwillingly, halfway through my English literature degree at King’s College London, in the midst of an all-consuming depression. I had entered university confident, clever and keen, eager to learn more about the literature that I loved. Yet I instantly felt that I didn’t fit in. Rather than finding my feet and forging new friendships in an exciting city I was losing sleep, losing my confidence and losing my sense of self.

I was unable to speak to my peers, go to the pub, or carry out any basic social interaction without an intense feeling of fear and anxiety. The effect on my personal life was huge. I retreated and hid between library shelves, buried myself in books and locked myself in my bedroom. My debut poetry book had just been published, but I was declining gigs, terrified that I could no longer perform with my usual exuberance.

When a kind and concerned tutor referred me to counselling, I was initially sceptical and reluctant. My fear of speaking to people had become so all-consuming that the thought of being “forced” to talk in a confined space for 50 minutes a week with another human being was beyond contemplation.

The first sessions lived up to my expectations. I was guarded, mute and disengaged from the process out of a fear of what it might reveal. But slowly, like the cranes on the South Bank I watched from the window, I began to build a rapport with my counsellor and grew more willing to talk and engage openly with the process of counselling. The sessions gave me new ways of viewing my life, new coping mechanisms for enduring every socially awkward evening at the pub, but more importantly they gave me a new perspective on what gift-giving and receiving might look like.

Unable to cope with my life as it was and unable to see the way to solve the situation for myself, I had gone into therapy with the wish to just scream “Please fix me!” at the nearest trained therapist. But through the process of counselling I learned that the point of the exercise was not to be given all the answers, but to be offered a safe, contained space in which I could develop and grow, aided by my counsellor.

The benefits I took from the experience were not handed to me by an all-knowing, problem-solving professional while I sat passively receiving them. They were worked for through collaboration and effort, strain and failure. They were the product of a symbiotic relationship, united in the purpose of thinking (and feeling) through the problems I was facing. Counselling gave me my life back, a life I slowly began to want to live again. It also helped me to get my voice back, which I now use often and buoyantly, as I perform poems about feminism and my struggles with depression.

My counsellor had been right. Counselling didn’t “fix” all the problems in my life. There are still days when getting out of bed feels like an impossibility, when talking to strangers feels too scary. Through counselling I learned to accept that the process of thinking and feeling better about myself was a gradual one; one that didn’t have to provide all the answers at once; one not about being given a solution but slowly realising the internal gifts and qualities I already had but had lost within myself.

Realising just how much I had gained from therapy took a long time. I realise it every time I feel incapable of getting out of bed but do anyway. Every time I feel on the edge of things and yet somehow still finish my to-do list for the day. And every single time I stand up in front of a crowd and perform a poem.

The transformative and restorative effect of my time in therapy wasn’t in fact a gift given to me, but one I helped to give myself

Couples Counselling : Evidence of effect on Men’s health (Sourced AFP News via Yahoo)

Stuart : Recent article regarding the effect on health for men due to couples counselling

Men who had described their marriages as "improving" had better cholesterol readings and a healthier weight years later“Paris (AFP) – Men whose marriages grow stronger over the years have healthier cholesterol and blood pressure than peers whose unions fall apart, said a study Tuesday that hinted at unexpected health perks of relationship counselling.

Researchers got more than 600 men in Britain to rate the “quality” of their marriage at two points in time — when their child was three, and then again aged nine.

The men could describe their union as consistently good, consistently bad, improving, or deteriorating.

Another 12 years later, the team measured the participants’ health.

They analysed such measures as blood pressure, resting heart rate, weight, cholesterol, and blood sugar — potential risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Men who had described their marriages as “improving” had better cholesterol readings and a healthier weight years later, the team reported in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

Unions described as “deteriorating”, on the other hand, “were associated with worsening diastolic blood pressure.”

“Changes in the quality of a marital relationship appear to predict CVD (cardiovascular disease) risk,” the study authors concluded.

Little change, however, was noted for men who had reported being in a consistently good or consistently bad marriage, said the team, and speculated this may be due to “habituation” to their situation.

The researchers warned their study was merely observational and could not show conclusively that an improving marriage results in better health.

But assuming this was the case, “then marriage counselling for couples with deteriorating relationships may have added benefits in terms of physical health over and above psychological well-being,” the authors wrote.

Given that the men were still relatively young when taking part in the study, it is too early to know how their relative health risks would translate into actual disease.

Previous studies had already shown married men to have a lower risk, on average, for cardiovascular disease such as heart attack or stroke.

“Further research needs to determine if effective marriage counselling, or when appropriate, abandoning a deteriorating relationship, has longer-term physical health benefits,” said the team.”

Good mother’s don’t overload their Children (The guardian 28 March 2017) by Giles Fraser

Stuart : I liked this article below taken from the Guardian newspaper talking about attachment and our powerful relationship with our mother’s and just HOW very powerful it really is!

Mother and children“Philip Larkin may have found the words: “They fuck you up, your mum and dad.” But his nearish contemporary John Bowlby explained how and why. So what better subject than Bowlby for Mother’s Day weekend? Mothers – or significant carers – can get it wrong in at least two very different ways: they can either be too emotionally absent or too emotionally present. Those mothers who give the impression of not caring or who deprive their children of love and affection tend to create children who grow up into clingy, emotionally needy adults. In contrast, those who emotionally over-rely upon their child, wanting the child to be the adult to their own messy and complex needs, or those who create an overly intense home environment, can create children who grow up into emotionally avoidant adults. This is how problems with what Bowlby called “attachment” come to be transmitted down the generations; how, in Larkin’s narrowly gendered words, “Man hands on misery to man”.

In a series of experiments in the 1970s, Bowlby’s collaborator, Mary Ainsworth, sought to quantify the proportions of those who have problems with attachment. She created an environment called the “strange situation”, where a child is abandoned by his or her mother for various periods. Of those children who took part, 60% – those whose parenting was generally secure – were distressed for a while, but soon comforted. Some 20% of children were extremely distressed, not easily soothed and often exhibited conflicted reactions to the parent’s return, like wanting to hug them and punish them at the same time. And 20% weren’t much bothered by the separation and continued playing with their toys when the parent returned.

It wasn’t until the 1980s that the same logic was applied to adult relationships. Cindy Hazan and Phillip Shaver’s so-called Love Quiz found that 20% are overly anxious that their partner is having an affair or doesn’t really love them; another 20% feel drained by partners wanting to get too close; and 60% seem OK, happily depending on partners and allowing partners to be dependent on them. In other words, the percentages were very similar to Ainsworth’s study.

So maybe only 40% of us are Larkin-style fucked up. Still, there’s a great deal of fucked-upness that can be generated by these 40%. Imagine a relationship between those who have “anxious” and “avoidant” attachment styles. This is not uncommon, as both partners tend to confirm the other’s pre-concieved perception of reality. The pseudo-independence of the emotional runaway confirms the anxious person in their anxiety that others are always about to check out. The gushing neediness of the anxious style triggers the avoidant’s fear that others want to overwhelm them and drain their autonomy – thus they feel smothered and so emotionally withdraw into what Bowlby calls “compulsive self-reliance”, often centred on an over-commitment to work. So the dance of anxiety and avoidance deepens until the relationship gets mired in resentment and goes pop.

So what about good-enough mothers. They care and listen and are emotionally present to their child. But also, they don’t make it the child’s business to deal with all their own complicated adult baggage. They let the child be a child. Those who successfully manage this demanding job description provide their children with the basis for a secure and happy future. But when they get it slightly wrong, they don’t get overwhelmed with blame. They too have their own past. Remember Larkin’s second verse: “But they were fucked up in their turn.””