Deciding to work with a qualified counsellor or therapist is a big decision to take. Whatever your issues or concerns are, it will take time to work through them in order to make progress. At KlearMinds, our professional team is committed to helping you achieve lasting change in the fastest way possible, but do be aware that counselling can never be a quick fix.
While there are many different approaches to counselling and therapy, the most important aspect is the rapport you have with your therapist. Especially if you are feeling anxious and vulnerable, finding someone you can trust and that you would feel comfortable talking to about very personal thoughts and feelings is key.
So, how do you go about choosing the right therapist? Here are 4 tips to help you make the right decision.
1 – Do your research
From word of mouth to local sources and online directories such as the Counselling Directory, there are many ways to find therapists in your locality. You can filter your search by area, type of therapy or the type of issue you wish to address.
The KlearMinds therapy team comprises a number of experienced counsellors, psychotherapists and life coaches that can help with a wide range of mental health concerns.
If you are looking at online profiles or professional websites, be mindful of your thoughts and feelings as you look through them. Does the person whose profile you’re reading give the right impression? Are they approachable? Professional? The sort of person you could talk to?
2 – Trust your gut feeling
When it comes down to it, there’s no scientifically proven way to choose a therapist; you’re going to have to go with your gut. If you’re drawn to a particular person, there may well be a reason that you don’t understand rationally. Don’t ignore your intuition.
Do you have a preference of male or female therapist? Is your issue particularly related to one or the other gender? It’s a very individual thing and there are no right or wrong answers – you need to choose what feels right for you.
3 – Speak to more than one therapist
There’s no need to make a decision based on having spoken to, or seen, only one therapist, unless you’re comfortable to do so. It is perfectly OK to make a shortlist and speak to several therapists, perhaps taking advantage of any free phone consultations that may be on offer.
At KlearMinds, we view the initial meeting as a mutual opportunity to see whether working together could produce the results you wish to achieve. It is a time for you to ask about how we work and the types of therapy that might be most appropriate for you. At the end of the meeting, you may wish to go ahead with counselling or go away and think it over – no pressure.
4 – Make your decision
When you think you’ve found a counsellor that you are happy with, book a first set of sessions to get your therapy started. At this point it is important to make a firm commitment, even if it’s only for a few sessions, to give you both a chance to get to know each other. Sometimes, difficult feelings can come up at the beginning of your journey together and it’s wise not to throw in the towel.
At the end of the first set of sessions, you will be given the opportunity to review your progress and either continue or terminate your therapy.
If you wish to make contact with the KlearMinds team to discuss the possibility of therapy, you can reach us by email or phone 0333 772 0256.
Many of us have grown up to believe that if you’re not constantly working hard, or looking after those around you, you’re being selfish. The problem is that this kind of ingrained thinking puts your needs last, not first.
Think about it. If you don’t take care of yourself, making time for rest and relaxation to replenish your reserves, how can you be of any use to anyone else? How can you do your best in a high pressure job? Look after your family with love and patience? Conduct healthy relationships? You can’t give from an empty cup.
Time to say goodbye to self-hate and self-destruction, and go back to basics.
Self-love is a state of appreciation for oneself – it is a set of thoughts and actions that, over time, develops healthy physical, psychological and spiritual growth. When you act in a way that supports your own needs, you will learn to acknowledge your strengths as well as accept your weaknesses, without the need to explain your shortcomings. Compassion and balanced will guide your values as you move through life with much greater fulfilment.
As a concept, self-love teaches you to release negative thoughts and self-criticism and to embrace more loving thoughts instead. It is these thoughts that will form the basis of your actions which, in turn, define your life.
That’s all very well, you may say, but how does it work in practice?
Self-love should be a very concrete, realistic thing that you practise every day. Here are our top 9 suggestions on how to look after Number One.
1 – You are what you eat
Fill your body with nourishing food and drink and take the time to appreciate mealtimes. Eating mindfully – not while multitasking, or in a hurry – means that you treat your body with the respect it deserves.
2 – Praise yourself
Rather than compiling a never ending To Do list, recognise your achievements at the end of each day. Did you finish a work assignment? Do the laundry? Make that important phone call? Play with the kids? Give yourself a well earned pat on the back.
3 – Practise gratitude
Find something to be grateful for every day, even on down days. Write it down – perhaps in a diary by the bedside – and you will find that by focusing on one positive thing per day, no matter how trivial, your mind set will shift away from the negative.
4 – Create a bedroom sanctuary
Does your bedroom need some TLC? Build a space that feels cosy and inviting by adding scented candles, a fluffy bedspread, fresh flowers or anything else that makes you feel good. Now you have a safe haven to retreat to when the going gets tough.
5 – Rediscover your inner child
Cast your mind back to the innocence of childhood and think about some of your favourite things back then. It could be picking wildflowers, making up silly rhymes, or having a hot chocolate with marshmallows on top. Now go and treat yourself and feel the warm feeling wash all over you.
6 – Get active
No doubt you’ve heard about endorphins – feelgood hormones that are released through exercise. Find a form of physical activity that you really love – gardening, cycling, gym, dancing, walking, etc – and enjoy it on a regular basis. You will feel happier.
7 – Lose yourself in a book
There’s nothing quite like losing yourself in a great book for an hour or two. The act of reading encourages a sense of peace and tranquillity that is perfect for balancing a hectic lifestyle. It’s something you can look forward to every day.
8 – Take a break from digital
If you have a smartphone, an email account or a Twitter handle, you will know how easy it is to give hours of your daily life over to online activities. But it’s important to take time out from the internet to reconnect with actual life. Switch it off for an hour a day and notice the difference.
9 – Channel your inner creativity
Being creative is a need that we all have inside. Getting artistic will allow you to fell both mindful and productive, so find something you really want to do and go ahead. From cooking a meal to painting a picture, designing a garden or writing a poem, there’s bound to be something that makes your heart sing.
What could be easier than breathing? We do it all the time, and yet not all breaths are created equal.
Deep breathing can be a great tool to use when you’re in a state of anxiety, high stress or are dealing with a panic attack. The simple action of taking deep breaths is soothing and calming on body and mind.
If you want to use your breath to calm yourself, all you need to do is to stimulate the right part of the body’s nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system controls our rest, relax and digest response. When it is activated, the body is in a state of calm, with dilated blood vessels and lower blood pressure, a slow heart rate and calm breathing.
How to get there? Your outbreath needs to be slightly longer than your inbreath. This stimulates the vagus nerve, which runs from the diaphragm all the way to the brain.
There are many different breathing exercises you can try to put your body into a parasympathetic state, but the simplest is this one:
Find a comfortable place where you can sit quietly in a relaxed pose but with your spine upright. Close your eyes and begin breathing normally through your nose.
Next, take a deep, slow breath in through your nose counting to two, hold for one count, and exhale counting to four, then hold again for one count. Make sure you breathe smoothly and evenly.
If this feels too easy, you could try inhaling for 4 counts and exhaling for 6, or even 6 inhales and 8 exhales, just so long as it still feels comfortable.
On the outbreath, try experimenting with breathing our through your nose, through pursed lips or through your mouth to see what feels best for you.
Do this breathing exercise for a minimum of 5 minutes and notice a real difference in your state of mind.
If you find breathing exercises helpful to combat stress and anxiety in your life, you may wish to try these 3 video guided exercises:
A good night’s sleep is something many people take for granted. But when it’s not happening, and you’re routinely suffering from lack of sleep or interrupted nights, this can take its toll on your physical health and emotional wellbeing.
According to the Royal Society for Public Health, adults need 7-9 hours’ sleep per night. However, the average time recorded in a recent sleep survey was 6.8 hours, and many people are suffering from restless nights or periods spent lying awake too.
Lack of sleep is related to increased stress and irritability, while poor sleep is known to increase the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Clearly, the benefits of getting sufficient good quality sleep are not to be underestimated.
Stress reduction – Just as lack of sleep can raise the level of stress hormones in the body, deep and regular sleep can lower them.
Lower blood pressure – Sufficient restful sleep keeps the body relaxed and has a beneficial effect on your blood pressure, lowering the chances of heart disease and stroke.
Better immunity – Lack of sleep makes your body less able to fight infections, while plenty of good quality sleep improves your immunity.
Brain boosting – While your body is resting, your brain is busy processing memories. With plenty of sleep, your cognitive function improves and you feel more attentive and focused.
Mood lifting – Getting a good night’s sleep will help keep you in a calm and balanced frame of mind, while lack of sleep will lead to irritability and may exacerbate depression, anxiety or anger management issues.
Weight control – Plenty of good sleep will help regulate the hormones that affect our appetite, while reducing cravings for the wrong foods.
To help improve your personal sleep patterns, it is recommended that you establish a regular bedtime routine to prepare your brain and body for sleep. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day to keep your body clock regular. Wind down before bedtime so you are relaxed and ready for sleep
Are you busy today, and every day? Too busy to ‘stop and stare’? Our world continues to whizz around at ever increasing speeds, thanks to mobile communications technology and the 24/7 availability of information. The result is that our brains are expected to process information at an unprecedented rate, with the expectation that we’re constantly ‘on call’.
Where’s the downtime?
Research has shown that downtime is hugely important to our wellbeing. It helps to alleviate anxiety and depression and is a valuable tool for stress management. ‘Switching off’ for just a short time is important for recharging and replenishing our depleted mental resources, providing our minds with the necessary rest and space to increase our attention span, improve memory function, process information and learning, inspire creativity and make better decisions.
The trick is to take time out to intentionally and mindfully slow down, creating a bit of extra space every day. Just 10-15 minutes a day can be a sufficient window for our minds to experience downtime.
Here are 7 easy strategies you could try:
1 – Get up 15 minutes earlier. Find a bit of peace and quiet before the madness of the day consumes you. Whether you try a short morning meditation, take a longer shower or simply have a cup of tea in bed, it helps to set you up for the day.
2 – Reassess your commute. If you must commute to work, make the time as stress free and relaxing as you can. Try sitting in silence, creating space for the mind, rather than cluttering it up with news and information before you even get to the office.
3 – Take a ‘power nap’. A 10-minute nap in the middle of the day, sitting in a chair, is all it takes to recharge and enhance your performance straight away.
4 – Take a short walk every day. The fresh air and the change in environment are enough to switch off from ‘work mode’ for a few minutes, leaving you refreshed and in a better mood.
5 – Turn off the TV. Did you know that we watch on average 34 hours of TV a week? Rather than taking in more information (ostensibly as entertainment), why not value our downtime by switching off artificial stimulants?
6 – Limit distracting internet activities. Rather than spending hours idly surfing the web, use the time to engage with the real world – you will feel better for it.
7 – Turn off notifications. Did you know that we now check our phones an average of 150 times a day? Don’t be a slave to your smartphone. Incoming emails, messages and notifications – nothing is so important that it can’t wait a while.
Everyone is afraid of something, but when your fear is so specific that it triggers excessive levels of anxiety or panic, you could be suffering from a phobia. Phobias are distressing emotions that are initiated by fears, both real and imagined, that are simply out of proportion. Irrational fears about a place or situation, an object or an animal can make it difficult to live a normal life.
Around 10 million people in the UK suffer from some type of phobia. But what exactly are people so afraid of? The 5 most common phobias in the world are:
1 – Arachnophobia – fear of spiders
An excessive fear of spiders and other arachnids such as scorpions is the most common animal phobia in the world. Often, the cause is the perception that some species of spider are deadly dangerous and the human survival instinct kicks in. Arachnophobes often go to extreme lengths to make sure their surroundings are spider free.
2 – Ophidiophobia – fear of snakes
Affecting nearly a third of the adult human population, a fear of snakes also has evolutionary roots, since venomous snakes can kill. In extreme cases, ophidiophobia can stop a person from going camping or hiking, or take part in any activity where snakes or other reptiles have a chance of appearing.
3 – Acrophobia – fear of heights
An irrational fear of heights or falling from height is a phobia whereby the sufferer gets highly agitated or panics – which could affect their ability to climb down to safety. Extreme acrophobics can’t even tolerate stepping on or off a chair without suffering symptoms.
4 – Agoraphobia – fear of open or crowded spaces
A fear of open spaces, or of crowded spaces, can be a debilitating condition that prevents the sufferer from going out in public – from shopping centres to concerts or theatres and many other social situations. There’s intense panic even at the thought or sight of such a space, and the feeling that it will be impossible to escape from. Agoraphobics often display avoidance behaviour and limit their range of activities, suffering from depression.
5 – Cynophobia – fear of dogs
Another common animal phobia, the fear of dogs (and often also of cats) can lead to even more limiting social behaviour since domestic animals are a common sight in residential areas. The condition typically develops in childhood and, interestingly, nearly ¾ of cynophobics are women.
Other types of phobia can involve the fear of flying (pteromerhanophobia), fear of germs (mysophobia), fear of injections (trypanophobia), fear of failure (atychiphobia), fear of abandonment (autophobia), fear of social situations and many others.
If you suffer from any type of phobia, you don’t have to live the rest of your life in fear. There are many therapy options available to effectively deal with a phobia, allowing you to face and overcome your fears once and for all. They include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Exposure Therapy and an approach based in Integrative Psychotherapy.
The first step to a lasting change is to make contact with an experienced and sympathetic therapist. Why not call the friendly team at KlearMinds today on 0333 7720256 to book an appointment?
Did you know that spending time outdoors can benefit your physical and mental health? You don’t even have to be exercising energetically to reap the benefits. Simple everyday activities such walking to work, taking the dog out or having an after dinner stroll can really improve the way you feel.
We all know that a good walk in the fresh air can help you collect your thoughts, let off steam or simply relax, particularly when you’re experiencing high levels of stress. But it’s more than that. Walking can positively affect your overall wellbeing, and even help fight depression.
Here are just a few good reasons why it pays huge dividends to get outside more.
Walking, just like any other physical activity, releases endorphins. These are the ‘feel good’ chemicals in your brain that are responsible for improving your mood and reducing anxiety and stress.
Regular walking can help improve your sleep patterns, leading to better quality and more refreshing sleep.
It is a well known scientific fact that people with active lifestyles have a lower risk of suffering from clinical depression.
It is a recognised benefit that spending time in contact with the natural environment – perhaps by walking in local parks, green spaces or woodland – can boost your mental health.
Regular physical exercise has been shown to be at least as effective a treatment for mild to moderate depression compared to taking antidepressant medication. What’s more, all the side effects of exercise are positive!
According to a recent clinical study, being surrounded by nature gives your brain a break from overstimulation, which can have a restorative effect – increasing your vitality, boosting energy levels and heightening your concentration.
Discovering your local area on foot is a great way to make you feel more at home. It gives you a greater sense of belonging, and makes you more likely to make contact and establish friendships with people who live close by.
A welcome by-product of regular walking is that you will feel fitter and may lose some weight. This can enhance your body image and improve confidence.
Group walking is a sociable activity that can make you feel more connected and overcome social isolation – all helpful in boosting your mental health.
Even if you don’t go for a walk but simply spend time outdoors, this will still improve your wellbeing. Why not take your lunch break on a park bench, or watch the children play in the playground on a sunny day?
You’ve no doubt heard the term ‘Life Coaching’ being bandied about, but do you really understand what it is, and how it can help you? Let’s take a closer look at Life Coaching and the 4 key questions you should be asking.
1 – What is a Life Coach?
In a nutshell, a Life Coach is someone who can help you build confidence, overcome blocks to success and help you achieve your personal and/or professional goals and improve the quality of your life. This can include being more successful at work, becoming happier and more fulfilled at home, exploring your ‘self’ and achieving ambitions.
Just as a sports coach can help an athlete to develop into the strongest, fastest or most tactical competitor in his chosen field, a Life Coach can do the same for people from all walks of life to help them be the best they can be.
The Life Coach will do this with the help of specialist techniques that are based on psychological principles and personal intuition, giving you the tools to face tricky situations, overcome emotional barriers and see the world with new eyes.
Rather than simply giving advice, a Life Coach will adhere to the fundamental principles of life coaching:
Subjectivity – No one’s view is right or wrong, but some perspectives can restrict the person to be who they want to be.
Empowerment – With the help of Life Coaching, the individual can learn to open his mind and adjust his own perspective.
Guidance – Rather than giving instruction, a Life Coach provides the tools and support for personal development.
2 – What is the difference between Life Coaching and Counselling?
Essentially, counselling therapies involve some form of investigation into the roots and causes of potential or actual mental issues or health problems, in order to define a way forward.
Life Coaching, on the other hand, tends to look forward, not back. Its approach chiefly focuses on the future to encourage personal improvement and development.
Life Coaches are not usually qualified to diagnose, advise or deal with any health related problems. If a health issues arises, you may be asked to see your GP.
3 – What issues can Life Coaching help with?
A Life Coach can use effective techniques to help you in all aspects of life, including your performance, your business life or personal life. Whatever you may be struggling with, working with a Life Coach can help you get there. Issues include
Life Coaching sessions are typically for a set duration, usually 45-60 minutes, and may be given face to face, over the phone, email or via Skype. During the session, you will be working with the Life Coach to talk about the areas in your life that you are unhappy with or that you would like to change.
Life Coaching should be a partnership between you and your coach. It is up to him/her to gently encourage you to explore and challenge your previously held perceptions, so that you can move forward with your life.
While a Life Coach should offer support and feedback to help you stay focused on your goals and move forward towards positive changes in your life, you will never be forced to make any decisions that you don’t feel happy with.
It should go without saying that all sessions, and the relationship between you and your Life Coach, is based on confidentiality, so that you have a safe space within which to explore your new direction.
At KlearMinds, we take an integrated approach towards Life Coaching in order to help you achieve positive changes that can be sustained for life. By combining Life Coaching with additional therapies, we can offer you the best possible guidance towards a happier you.
It’s a type of talking treatment that combines cognitive therapy (examining your beliefs, attitudes and thoughts) with behavioural therapy (examining your feelings and actions). By focusing on how the way you think about situations and experiences affects your feelings and behaviours, CBT can teach you coping skills to break the cycle.
Negative thinking patterns may have developed a long time ago and, if allowed to continue, may influence how you feel about yourself many years later. The continuous cycle can look like this:
Diagram from www.mind.org.uk. Click here to read more.
Working with an experienced CBT therapist can help you identify and address your particular negative thinking patterns so that they cease to dictate your behaviour in the future. CBT can be a very effective treatment to help with a wide range of mental health issues including:
CBT is typically a short term treatment of, say, 12 weekly sessions that can take place one-to-one, in a group setting or online. Within the setting of a supportive, non-judgmental relationship between yourself and the therapist, you may feel comfortable to open up to talk about difficult personal issues. As your therapy progresses, CBT will teach you new and more successful ways of coping with different situations, feelings, thoughts and behaviours that put you on a much healthier path.
Going to work is a daily fact for most of us – but what do you do if it leaves you stressed day in, day out? Obviously, if you really don’t like your job, then consulting a career coach or looking for alternative employment is an obvious way out. But sometimes, even if you love your job, work stress can get to you. Whether it’s the commute, the workload, the niggly backache, eye strain or headache, or even your co-workers, it can feel like the proverbial daily grind.
The good news is that there are many strategies you can employ to make yourself feel better at work, both mentally and physically. Whether you work 40 hours or 20 hours a week, here are 7 little tricks you should try.
1 – Get more sleep
Sleep is the magic ingredient to having positive energy to face the day. We know that sleep helps the body to recover from the day and repair and recharge, which in turn helps us to be more productive the following day.
Good quality sleep also puts you in a more positive frame of mind. In terms of neuroscience, the brain processes negative stimuli in the amygdala while neutral/positive memories are processed by the hippocampus. Bad sleep affects the hippocampus more than the amygdala, meaning that if you haven’t had enough sleep, your positive emotions are likely to be weaker than your negative ones.
2 – Eat breakfast
Yes, it’s true, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Many studies have linked eating a proper breakfast to good health. Think about it: you need to put some fuel into your body to stimulate your metabolism, up your energy levels, improve your concentration and memory. Even if you’re not hungry first thing in the morning or don’t have time to sit down for breakfast, it’s never a good idea to work on an empty stomach.
However, just as important as having breakfast is the quality of what you eat. Whether you go for a wholesome porridge, an egg or fruit and yogurt, make sure your breakfast food is fresh, unprocessed and nutritious. A croissant on the way to work, or sugary cereals are really don’t doing anything for your energy levels.
3 – Arrive on time
Get to work late and the scene is set for a stressy day. Personal organisation is key for a smooth working day where you are in control the moment you walk into the office. From planning your wardrobe to sorting out your lunchbox, to setting your alarm on time, to sorting out the kids/partner etc, to leaving ample time to get to work (including unforeseen delays) – it will be worth the effort.
The office commute can have a surprising effect on your overall happiness. If you really live too far from work, you may want to consider making a change in the longer term – either to your job or your home.
4 – Beware the sedentary job
You may feel hardworking and productive sitting at your desk for hours, but it’s actually really bad for your body. Studies have shown that regularly sitting for long periods of time puts you at greater risk of obesity, hypertension, diabetes, depression, cancer and many more serious health conditions.
Make sure you take a break from sitting every half an hour or so, maybe do some desk yoga to stretch out, or try a standing desk to avoid sedentary posture problems altogether. You should also ensure that your work chair is ergonomically optimised to support your body’s correct posture and minimise back pain.
5 – Personalise your desk
Feeling ‘at home’ in the office can be achieved easily with the addition of a few carefully chosen items such as a framed photo of your loved ones, a house plant, or even a subtle scent diffuser. Your physical environment at work has a big influence on how you feel, so investing a bit of thought into how to make the office more homely is well worth the effort.
6 – Get out more
The temptation to stay at your desk all day long, particularly when you’re super busy, can be overwhelming. But there are actually very good health reasons for taking a lunch break and stepping outside the office during the working day.
Taking a break gives your brain the opportunity to recharge, making you more productive when you return. Spending time outside in the fresh air alleviates eye strain, boosts your positive mood, refreshes your thinking and improves your working memory. A recent study showed that natural environments had a more positive impact on happiness than urban environments.
7 – Practise smiling
Strange but true, smiling can make you feel better. While most people think we smile because we feel happy, it can actually work the other way round too: we feel happy because we are smiling. It’s called the facial feedback hypothesis.
Obviously, it’s most natural to smile because you’re having positive thoughts – a smile has been shown to improve attention and performance on cognitive tasks. But even forcing a smile when you don’t feel like is sufficient to lift your mood and lessen the pain or distress of an upsetting situation.
...I had tried counselling before and thought it wasn't for me. I now realise that finding the right counsellor makes all the difference.. As a result I feel in control, grounded and confident in all parts of my life and most importantly, I feel capable of moving forward...
Overcoming Anxiety & Depression
Outstanding at providing me with what I needed, not as a "quick fix" but by giving me the tools to use whenever I may need them in the future...
Help with Bereavement & Depression
...Straight away Maggie was warm, kind and understanding... I didn’t want to be in therapy for a long time, I just wanted to get better, get on with my life... I cannot recommend Maggie highly enough to you. Whilst life still presents me with challenges I can cope with them as I feel so much stronger now – I owe her much.
Career & Relationship Therapy
My relationship with my partner is now fantastic, as are my relationships with my family... I am so much happier now than I have been in many, many, years....