Fight your demons and find your perfect balance
This page provides you with information about some of the problems you may experience, which may stem from your past, circumstances, or emotional difficulties. Please be aware that you may have different effects to others exposed to similar events, due to experiences being internalised and externalised based on your personal character and strengths.
There is no 'right' way to cope with a problem, everyone is different. Therefore, the information below is only general - through personal counselling I will explore your responses, emotions, thoughts and behaviours, unique to you. Scroll down or use the links below to be taken down the page to read a little more on each subject.
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It is common for people to attempt to label themselves or others based on how they are feeling; for example feeling sad may be translated into depression, or perfectionism may be labelled as obsessive. However, these labels are often inaccurate, and people may find labelling unwelcome which can limit openness about problems and cause difficulty with seeking help.
Counselling does not try to label or diagnose, the aim is to provide a space for you to explore problems, to develop life skills, to improve thought processes and coping behaviours, and reduce negative patterns, all of which may have a positive effect on your emotions.
General concerns often discussed in counselling include; stress, emptiness, dissatisfaction, lack of direction, sadness, difficulty communicating, problems with maintaining relationships or in social situations, break-ups, lack of confidence, or low self-esteem, amongst others. These can be addressed through counselling and life coaching, through the creation of personal goals and a focus on developing new skills.
If you feel there is no one in your personal life with whom you can openly discuss your problems, or if those you are talking to are struggling to help, counselling can provide you a safe, objective forum.
Strong relationships have many advantages, they enhance physical and emotional health, provide life meaning and a feeling of belonging, improve self-knowledge and self-esteem, broaden horizons and teach life-skills. Our relationships are the foundation of our existence - few people can find happiness without a supportive network around them, partners, family, friends and colleagues.
Conversely then, relationship difficulties can cause high levels of stress, pain, sadness, anger, disappointment and fear. People respond to these feelings in different ways: some may run away from the problem, others ignore or avoid it, while others may confront it directly, with varying success. As a result, I believe the key to many relationship problems lies in poor communication and repeating unproductive patterns; you can read in detail about these and other behaviours in relationships on my Relationship Counselling page.
Where you have relationship concerns, personal counselling can help you to understand your emotions and behaviours and what you could be doing differently to create stronger bonds. Recognising your own patterns and better understanding the patterns of those around you, can increase your self-compassion and empathy for others. You can learn new ways of responding to others, improve your communication, assertiveness and conflict-resolution skills, and develop the supportive relationships you both need and deserve.
Workplace and Career
Career and the workplace are a major part of most adult lives therefore unaddressed problems in these areas can have a great effect on well-being, and cause knock-on effects to other life areas including relationships, family and health. Your concerns may range from general dissatisfaction or lack of motivation perhaps due to having selected the wrong career, to specific issues such as redundancy, workplace bullying, conflict, communication problems, difficulty with excessive travel, stress and burnout.
Where you have general dissatisfaction or have lost your job, personal counselling and life coaching can help you explore your strengths and weaknesses, preferences, goals, values and life meaning to understand your career motivations and perhaps to consider alternate pathways.
For more specific concerns which may be having a stronger effect on your mental health, through counselling I can provide you with a space to discuss your experiences and the emotions they have evoked, and to learn new skills such as stress management, conflict resolution, coping with aggression, communication skills, or raising emotional intelligence.
Particularly, increasing emotional intelligence allows you to raise your self-awareness and insight into others' motivations, assists with overcoming challenges and promotes more successful relationships. These skills can provide you with more effective functioning and coping mechanisms both for the workplace and socially.
Health and Body
The field of personal health encompasses physical, emotional and spiritual health and includes many lifestyle choices such as diet, exercise, habits, creativity, relaxation, and personal growth. This counselling area overlaps greatly with wellness coaching in taking a holistic view of all life aspects and the relationships between them, that is, a positive change made in one life area can flow positive effects through to other areas and vice versa.
Weight problems can be a major concern in this area, particularly due to the impact across many other areas of your life. Difficulty making changes frequently results from past experiences which have formed negative behaviour patterns, often unconscious, and which perpetuate the self-destructive habit cycle. Similar principles can be applied to other detrimental behaviour, such as excessive drinking, smoking or substance abuse.
Where there is a specific personal health concern, I can help you to explore the root causes for lack of motivation to change, thereby assisting initial change and supporting long-term maintenance of the change. More broadly, personal counselling and life coaching can help you to recognise the impact of negative outcomes in one life area and how this may be affecting other aspects of your life, teach life-skills, set goals and motivate change and improvement. The aim is to achieve a well-balanced life with your personal needs being fully met.
Where you have specific needs for diet and nutrition, or personal fitness training, this can be arranged in conjunction with counselling to achieve the best possible outcomes with specialist advice.
Depression exists in many forms, ranges from mild to severe, and can result from a chemical imbalance in the brain or from other biological, social, situational, and psychological factors. These may include life transitions, illness, trauma, stress, repressed anger, isolation, or genetics, among many others. Understanding where depression stems from is key to effective treatment, whether through counselling, psychotherapy, medication, or a combined approach.
Depression symptoms can be broad and may include you feeling helpless, a loss of energy, interest and motivation, withdrawal, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, self-harm, despair or anger. This can extend to psychological negativity including self-hatred, low self-esteem, feeling unloveable, worthlessness, and that your life has no meaning. Physical symptoms you may experience include insomnia, weight change, aching muscles and digestive concerns.
Medication may assist in the short-term, however it is not a cure nor a preferred long-term solution and is best considered in conjunction with talking therapy. Counselling can help you if you are experiencing depression through seeking to understand and address the root causes, to reduce any feelings of isolation, and to help develop life-skills and coping techniques. Negative thoughts and feelings can be challenged and your brain retrained to work more positively, therefore improving your mood and developing resilience to life's challenges. Developing your personal goals and finding life meaning is an integral part of my process leading to self-acceptance.
Grief and Loss
Grief is the response to a loss of something or someone. A loss experience is widely defined and can include the death of another person or pet, relationship breakdown, loss of a part of the self such as your health, safety or trust, or changes to circumstances resulting in personal loss, such as retirement, financial difficulty, redundancy or job loss.
Many factors will affect the way you cope with loss, particularly the nature of the loss, past coping behaviour, unresolved prior losses, social and support networks. You may feel denial, anger, fear, guilt, blame, yearning, sadness and depression, with physical responses such as appetite loss, difficulty sleeping, loss of concentration also common. Unresolved or 'complicated' grief can be long-term and resembles clinical depression in many ways, however depression usually involves more negative cognitions, such as low self-esteem and poor self-perception.
Society provides many assumptions surrounding grief, what emotions and behaviours are acceptable and for what length of time. However, everyone copes with grief differently and there should be no conditions placed on what is acceptable. Additionally, research provides many different models which define stages of grief and how a 'typical' individual processes the emotions. These models are useful in understanding the experience however should not be strictly applied due to your individuality and uniqueness.
Talking through what has happened without expectations of what you should or shouldn't be feeling or doing can be very useful to you when you are grieving. I can provide you with the space to work through your experience and your emotions, and can provide adaptive strategies for coping and moving forward.
Despite what society sometimes conveys, anger is a normal and common emotion, a biological survival instinct. It is how it is expressed and controlled that can become destructive, both for you, and for those who surround you. Read more about conflict and behaviour in relationships on my Relationship Counselling page. Anger can be passive, such as withdrawal, avoidance, guilt, obsessing and sulking; or aggressive, such as verbal or physical abuse, or property destruction.
Long-term anger can also have physical effects, including impact upon your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing, therefore can pose additional risks to your physical health. Long-term anger unaddressed can also lead to psychological problems, such as depression, self-harm, substance abuse and addiction.
Underlying emotions are often the cause of unhealthy expression of anger, such as pain, stress, insecurity, a sense of injustice, or unresolved past trauma. Personal counselling can help you work through the underlying emotions, improving communication skills, managing triggers, and reducing destructive behavioural patterns, such as interrupting the anger cycle. All of these can help you promote healthy expression of anger and allow development of more successful relationships.
Anxiety is a fear response to a perceived threat and comes from your 'fight or flight' evolutionary survival response which releases hormones in your body to prepare you to take action against the threat. These are normal biological responses for most people, however for others, the frequency and intensity may escalate to affect daily functioning.
Examples include reacting to situations which pose no particular threat, excessive preoccupation with potential risks or what others may think, extreme physical responses such as shaking, sickness or panic attacks, or withdrawal from normal life, such as avoiding socialising or agoraphobia, (a fear of open or public spaces).
You may be affected by anxiety in many different ways. Physical reactions may include gastric problems, insomnia, tension or difficulty concentrating. Emotional responses can include you feeling irritable, angry, frustrated, or constant worry and dread.
Counselling can help you through providing skills to test the evidence for the intruding thoughts, conducting behavioural experiments which validate or contradict your thoughts, defining personal measures for your success and esteem (rather than judging by comparison), and addressing triggers and negative thought patterns. You may also find relief through lifestyle changes such as increasing exercise, relaxation, meditation, and creative pursuits.
Trauma can result from life experiences which cause extreme stress. These may be events causing you physical harm but also those which cause you psychological or emotional harm. They may include one-off experiences such as an accident, attack, relationship breakdown, or ongoing stressful events such as regular physical or sexual abuse, bullying, neglect, chronic illness, or external events such as death or other loss.
Unresolved trauma can have a lasting effect on your well-being, particularly childhood trauma which has been repressed can show up in adulthood often as anxiety, fear, and difficulty in forming relationships.
Your response to trauma may be similar to grief, where the trauma is considered a type of loss - a loss of a part of the self, such as security, trust, well-being, confidence or self-esteem, or the loss of another person. Emotional grieving reactions can include denial, shock, guilt, anger, despair, sadness and depression, while physical reactions may include loss of appetite, insomnia, gastric problems or headaches. Where you are unable to work through your trauma and grief effectively, physical reactions may escalate as your body deals with the repressed emotional response.
Counselling can help the grieving process through allowing you to process the trauma, express emotions freely, and to understand the effects in the present on your feelings and behaviour. Depending on your grieving patterns and coping style, there are a number of adaptive strategies which you can learn and use effectively.
Addiction is a compulsive, habitual pattern of self-destructive behaviour which provides pleasure and reinforcement, therefore making it difficult to change the behaviour. The behaviour pattern can be supported by many factors, referred to as 'biopsychosocial' factors due to the breadth of their coverage.
Biological factors include if you have a genetic predisposition to substance abuse and any physiological effects of withdrawal. Psychological factors include mental health influences such as personality disorders, depression or stress, along with personality factors such as low self-esteem, impulsivity, conditioning and control. Social factors may include family or societal influences on your lifestyle. All of these factors can support your continuing use and all will need to be addressed in working through the addiction.
Substance abuse is often a symptom of an underlying problem which you have been unable to address, such as depression, past trauma or anxiety, and these problems will need to be addressed in tandem. Through counselling, I can support you through the withdrawal and reorganisation process, assist in defining a new way of life which does not include the addiction, address and avoid triggers for indulging in the addictive behaviour, manage emotional states, teach coping mechanisms and recondition behaviours.
The choice which scares you is the one from which you will grow
My training covers many different coaching and counselling techniques including: learning and personality theories, cognitive-behavioural, solution-focussed, narrative, Gestalt, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), emotionally-focussed or person-centred approaches, along with the Sherpa Coaching technique, the GROW model and the Co-active Coaching model.
If you have a preference we can certainly work with a specific approach, if not, I will tailor what works for your needs, rather than choosing a single method. I work best through open and honest discussion, from a strong analytical and objective perspective and a well-studied interest in people, psychology and the mind. This has allowed me to develop high awareness and problem-solving abilities which have been incredibly useful in making improvements in my own and others' lives.