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Counselling and Therapy Newtownabbey. 

Professional therapy for personal healing, growth & discovery.  

    Counselling Newtownabbey, private counselling, therapy and healing. 

    Accessible affordable professional mental health support, supporting Newtownabbey, Belfast, Co. Antrim & surrounding areas.


Blog

Blog

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Are you a human being or human doing?

Posted on 16 January, 2022 at 14:05

Check out my latest published article sharing tips on how to live more presently.



Theraputic Techniques & Meditations

Posted on 3 May, 2020 at 14:20

To access regualr theraputic techniques, journalling exercises, selfcare suggestions, mediatons and breathing excercises please follow my social media pages  as these are updated regualry. 


Ashleigh's Beach

Posted on 3 May, 2020 at 14:05

A poetic piece penned by an incredibly talented client, a beautiful potrayal of their process. 
(Shared with full permisson)


d c
 

Managing Wellbeing

Posted on 27 March, 2020 at 6:50 Comments comments (63902)

Infectious disease outbreaks, like the current Coronavirus (Covid 19), can be a scary and uncertain time for everyone, this can have an adverse effect on our mental health. During times like this please remember it is natural to feel worried and express concern. While it is important to stay informed, there are also many things we can do to support and manage our mental wellbeing during such times. Here are some tips I hope may to look after your mental health at a time when there is much discussion of potential threats to our physical health.

 

Try to avoid speculation, avoid social media, unhelpful threads or people. Be careful what you share online, .While it is good to raise awareness however false information can be damaging. Ask yourself is this helpful or may this raise hysteria? Be mindful of what conversations you involve yourself in online. Rumour and speculation can fuel anxiety. Having access to good quality information about the virus can help you feel more in control. You can get up-to-date information and advice on the virus from Gov.UK or NHS.uk. – only follow reputable advise through the situation. Keep up to date with events including recovery statistics and stories from those whom have experienced it.

 

Follow hygiene advice such as washing your hands more often than usual. You should do this whenever you get home or into work, blow your nose, sneeze or cough, eat or handle food. This will implement as form of control within. If you can’t wash your hands straightaway, use hand sanitiser and then wash them at the next opportunity. Carry hand sanitizer and tissues, this is a comfort. (You should also use tissues if you sneeze and make sure you dispose of them quickly; and stay at home if you are feeling unwell) Please be advised this informaiton is changeable adapted from WHO advice 11th March 2020). For up to date information https://www.who.int/

 

It is a good idea to stick to your daily routine, even if you do have to stay at home routine is extremely helpful where possible, spend a little time creating a schedule of activities, include some journaling in your schedule to help you offload some of those thoughts and feelings. You may also like to focus on the things you can do if you feel able to: stress management techniques, keep active.  Eat a well balanced diet, use mediation, creative activities, cooking, reading, as a form of self care. Spend a little time each morning setting out your day. it is also important to focus on gratitude during troublesome times, wrtie 3 things daily you are grateful for. 

 

Try to stay connected. At times of stress, we work better in company and with support. Try and keep in touch with your friends and family. Talk about other news than the virus. Talk to your family. Involving our family and children in our plans for good health is essential. We need be alert to and ask children what they have heard about the outbreak and support them, without causing them alarm. Talk about your feelings as a family work out a plan to prepare for this time.

 

Be kind, look to the good, at tough times it is natural to look at the negatives but if you look around you will see so many people reaching out and helping others. Where possible you too may wish to get involved in reaching out, call an elderly relative, text a friend to check in, pick up an extra tin for the food bank, good deeds and kindness are good for our own wellbeing as well as helping others. Always look to the good.

 

Before You

Posted on 12 January, 2020 at 3:35 Comments comments (1809)

"AN OPEN LETTER FROM A CLIENT AND THEIR EXPEREINCE OF THE THERAPUTIC PROCESS"

Shared with Full permisson.


Before you I had seen 4 different therapists throughout different stages of my life, then I found you.

I hated going to therapy, making every excuse not to go, if I did get there I hid myself. Telling the others what they wanted to hear, I figured I would get out of there sooner if we ticked all the boxes, that's what I felt I was to them, a tick box.

They would ask me questions, I wouldn't engage. Responding with "I don't know . I did not know. I didn't want to disclose. Plastering a fake smile on my face. "I've had a good week actually". I did not have a good experience, so I stopped therapy for good. I felt alone. Questioned why this wasn't working for me. Was it me? Was it them? Before you, I wasn't ready for therapy. You told me this. Graciously. It would have been easy for you to bask in the glory that your colleagues weren't as good as you. You worked gently with me to begin, building our trust week by week, strengthening our relationship until I was ready. I started to actually look forward to our sessions. You gave me the gift of patience choosing your moments carefully, waiting until I was ready, no boxes ticked. We joke of your sorcery, one minute we would be talking about a TV series the next an unresolved trauma from my past, that I had buried deep. You just have that way. Before you I wasn't ready. With you I was. Ready to be vulnerable, ready to be real. The time you give me each week has changed my life for the better. Before you, I was closed off, I was fake. With you I allowed my feelings to surface, to sit with all the pain and really get to know myself. Before you, I was so angry at everyone, using my trauma as an excuse for my behaviour. You didn't allow that, you validated my feelings, yet called me out on my bulls*t. No one had dared called me out before. I remember projecting that anger to you, utterly seething with you. Who did you think you were? The audacity of you to hold me accountable for my actions. I was never going back. Another one bites the dust. I then remembered you had warned me this might happen at the time I shrugged it off not fully understanding. Then something happen. A strange feeling enveloped me. I needed that. I needed accountability. The following week I reluctantly went back, I feIt somewhat lighter, yet slightly awkward and embarrassed at my rage towards you. I couldn't look you in the eye. You were firm yet gentle with me. Making mention of the previous week, explaining the process, allowing time to explore my feelings. With you, I was comfortable enough to communicate how I felt, making sense of my thoughts and feelings. Before you I had spent so much energy on being angry and avoiding my truth. Living the blame game, a victim of my circumstances. You changed that. I'm now a survivor of them. You told me I could let my tragedy define me or determine me. You told me I had the power, the choice. Questioning if I wanted to stay bitter or get better. I felt that. To say you are my saving grace doesn't cut it. You say that it's all on me because I'm doing the all work, but that's not true. I want you to know the reason I want to do the work is because of you, your kindness, your compassion. Your acceptance. Your passion, grace and empathetic nature exudes through every word you say, every smile, look and face you pull. My other therapists were stone faced, sounding boards, box tickers. They showed me no emotion. You show it all. You wear your heart on your sleeve. Literally, one of the first things I noticed about you was the small heart tattoo on your wrist, ironic. A lotus flower on the other, when I questioned what those meant you didn't hide, you didn't hesitate to answer, explaining the lotus as symbol of purity, enlightenment, self-regeneration and rebirth. It's characteristics are a perfect analogy for the human condition, we come through the dirtiest of waters growing into beauty, I too have been through the mud", you smiled. You showed me you are human, real, showing me humanity. One person to another. I relaxed. I knew I was ready to bloom. Before you, I was different. You've shown me how to put myself first how to fully love myself, grow through murky waters, scars and all. Before you, I felt alone. Now I know when I need someone you'll be there, present in my week, whatever I need that hour you'll give to me. You have cried with me. You have laughed with me, but most of all, you have heard me. For so much of my life, I just needed someone to hear me, to be with me. Thank you for giving so much of yourself to others, I know I am not the only one who feels this way. I see it. I see you greet others with a hug or put gentle hand on their shoulder as you part ways - silently saying "I am here with you". I see the few moments you take to compose yourself after holding the heartbreak of another client before you begin with me. Now fully present with me. I see the love that you hold for us all. The light that you give. Thank you. For being incredible at your job. For your job being more than a job. For being authentic. Thank you for being you.

Grief

Posted on 5 December, 2019 at 15:10 Comments comments (2724)

Grief is love. A reluctance to let go. Grief is the last act of love we give to those who have passed.

Coping with the loss of someone or something you love is one of life's greatet suffering.

Often, the pain of loss can feel too much. An intense feeling of sadness and overwhelming sorrow..

Shock, anger, depression, and confusion may suface, to name just a few. (Elizabeth Kubler Ross created a helpful formula covering the stages of grief, however it is important to remember there is no right or wrong way to grief, contrary to what people may say, each person grieves differently) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kübler-Ross_model

Grief is like the ocean, enormous. Intrchangeable. It comes in waves, ebbing and flowing, sometimes it is calm, gentle almost peaceful, other times it is overwhelming, strong and aggressive. These are the times it can knock of us off our feet, taking the wind from our sails. The enormously of the loss weighting down heavy. That heavy feeling right in the pit of the stomach. We can feel like we are sinking in it,

Other days, it is almost manageable, life continues on, we get caught up in everyday life, our pain almost fleeting. A gentle wave comes to suface when we are hit with a memory or a reminder of our loved one. We slowly learn to tread water. Working to keep our head above water. Inertia, but we get through, the day passes. Much like the waves in the ocean, our pain is fluctutating.

Can we ever really learn to live well in our grief and move on from the pain of our loss?  I feel we will never move on from those we love, nor would many people wish to, however, we can move forward, we can learn to live with our loss, eventually the pain easing. We adapt, we heal  and we can eventually rebuild. 

It may continue to permeate long after our loved one has passed but with time and healing we can work through that loss, eventually meeting acceptance, and finally meeting hope. Hope for the future.


If you are struggling with grief, it is important to take extra care of yourself, healing takes time, it takes patience. There is no timeline for grief. Grief is not one emotion, it is an experience - a process.Do not compare your grief to those around you, each persons experience is different. It may be a very private affair, a lonely journey. However, do remind yourself you are not alone.

Here are some protective factors to help you along this journey.

Take time and care. Do not try to do everything at once set small targets that you can easily achieve. Build on that.

Seek and Accept Support: Talk through your feelings with friends of family. You cannot travel this path alone. You need the support and care of others. If friends or family are unavailable seek professional support.

Spend time with people. Grief may be so intense that you just want to withdraw or isolate yourself; take time for yourself, yes, however, lean on those around you. Get Involved in Something. Volunteer or set a project. Getting involved in work or some other activity you enjoy can keep you focused and offer a welcome distraction from your grief. If that activity is especially meaningful or helpful to others, you might find it also raises your spirits, strengthen your sense of purpose.

Implore lifestyle changes. Greif can at times feel like we are out of control. Take your control back where you can. Eat well, gentle exercise, mediation and make time for self care. Making healthy changes will also massively improve your wellbeing at this difficult time.

Pace yourself. Grief is exhausting. It takes a lot of energy to feel so intensely so often. Allow yourself plenty of time to do everyday tasks and don't over-schedule yourself. Take your rest when you need to and offer yourself some kindness allowing yourself grace.

It is important to listen to your body asking yourself what you need that day? Each day will vary. Treat yourself well do, what it takes to manage that day. Keep the faith.

Remember that intensity of grief doesn't last forever. Things will get better. Hold on.


** If you feel you are unable to cope and feelings persist, do contact your GP, a medical professional, counsellor or seek support from a local grief support group**

See below for 24 hour Crisis & free bereavement counselling. https://www.cruse.org.uk/get-help/about-grief https://www.lifelinehelpline. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/coping-with-bereavement/

Don't believe everything you think

Posted on 9 September, 2019 at 4:15 Comments comments (1107)

Anxiety is a word we hear often, it is a feeling we experience regularly, with many struggling with it daily. Anxiety can be overwhelming, limiting and extremely damaging to our confidence, a manifesting monster that begins small GROWING & GROWNIG until eventually that monster is part of us, living our life, stealing our voice, interrupting our day.


If anxiety is following you around, you don't have to live with it. There is no doubt about it, that anxiety will be present in your week. It's a natural feeling we all have, it's actually a positive emotion, if managed well.

It is our protector. It is our guide. If managed well anxiety keeps us safe, telling us that something is up.


Next time you feel anxious really explore the feeling, hold space for it, what is your body telling you? Are you not looking after yourself? Do you need to rest? If the anxiety is present around particular people or situations, what is it warning us off? Problematic anxiety can directly affect the way you think and behave. You may not even be aware of this happening.

Psychological symptoms can present as feeling worried, tense or fearful for no obvious reason.

Mood swings, lack of motivation and concentration.

Overthinking and negative thought patterns. Everyone experiences anxiety differently. It can also present with physical symptoms, such as heart palpitations, tummy pains or headaches. Some people know their anxiety is triggered by a specific fear, while plenty more find that they're anxious for no apparent reason. Its important to take action if you notice signs of anxiety. Leaving them untreated can mean they get worse and lead to further health problems. Avoiding your triggers result in deeper secondary levels of anxiety.


Simple Steps to manage anxiety.

Journaling - Writing down thought is a powerful coping tool. It benefits anxiety in two ways: First, journaling provides an opportunity to release thoughts - something that far too many people hold inside. Second, writing down worries puts thoughts in a permanent place and tells your brain that it doesn't have to focus on remembering them as much.

Breathing Techniques - Box breathing, also known as four-square breathing, involves exhaling to a count of four, holding your lungs empty for a four-count, inhaling at the same pace, and holding air in your lungs for a count of four before exhaling and beginning the pattern anew. Some people find it helpful to make a square with their hand to follow as they do this exercise.

Distractions - Hold space for the anxiety and they move on, get creative, begin a creative task such as cooking, baking, drawing etc, it can be as simple as phoning a friend or going for a walk, the key is not to let the anxiety get the better of you. You've got his.

Therapy - Should your anxiety be persistence or overwhelming you may need to seek professional help, talking through your feelings with a professional allows time for healing and will positively impact your life. Remember, anxiety management is about helping your mind learn to cope with stress better so that the symptoms of anxiety aren't as severe. Anything that promotes relaxation may be helpful.

Learn to listen to your body, take your rest when you need it, look after yourself and make time for self care. You are stronger than any feeling, feelings are just temporary <3

NEW YEAR NEW YOU???

Posted on 28 December, 2016 at 7:45 Comments comments (19798)

 

With 2017 upon us many people are setting goals in order to embark on the New Year with a fresh mindset. If you are among those who set resolutions for self improvement please consider carefully if these resolutions will be beneficial to your physical, emotional health and general well being. Set yourself goals, task & treats to fulfil your year but remember to be realistic, here's some tips on making those New Year's resolutions stick

Start Small. Make simple resolutions you will be sure to keep. I.e. if you aim is to get physically fit aim to exercise 2-3 days a week rather than 5-7. By completing this you will gain a sense of achievement perhaps pushing you to up your goal.

Take it slow and change one behaviour at a time. Habit and behaviours develop over time therefore replacing unhealthy behaviours with healthy ones require time. Don't get overwhelmed and take on too much, you are setting yourself up for failure.

Talk about it. Explain to your circle just what you are aspiring to achieve. For example if your goal is to cut down on alcohol intakes explain to friends you may not be socialising in bars etc for a while but are happy to do other things.

Consider joining a support group to reach your goals. Sharing your struggles and successes can make your journey much easier.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. Perfection is unattainable. Sometimes things pop up and you may fall off the wagon, eat too much or miss the gym, always make self care a priority and remember moderation is key.

Seek support if you feel overwhelmed or unable to meet your goals on your own, consider seeking professional help. Counsellors are trained to understand the connection between the mind and body, can offer strategies on how to achieve your goals as well as explore your feelings and emotions that surround them.

Last but not least celebrate your strengths and achievements as you go you’re doing your best :) 

 


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