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7 things I learnt working with interpreters in the counselling room

Third person in the room?

When I started working at the Refugee Council, I could not envisage how interpreters would work in the counselling room. Third person in the room? How would that work? Could a therapeutic relationship be established

My previous experience of working with interpreters in international development was sometimes a challenge. The Interpreters sometimes interpreted what they thought the community should hear or missed interpreting back to English. I was therefore bemused Continue reading

Reflection of an intergrative counsellor

When I first became a counsellor, I was outcome focused and wanting to make a difference. My work centred in helping the client have a better life and I worked hard, often seeking reassurance.

In the last few years, I have become curious about the counselling process and more focused on the client’s transformation using that process.  As a result of believing and trusting the counselling process, I am calmer and unfazed as to what my clients bring to sessions. I seek to help clients become passionate about themselves and become self-aware.  I have become goal-focused and see greater value in the strategies and exercises used to help the clients gain more from the counselling. As a result, Continue reading

The growth of a counsellor…..

I find as a counsellor, I am continuously growing and changing. When I first became a counsellor, I was outcome focused and wanting to make a difference. My work centred in helping the client have a better life and I worked hard, often seeking reassurance. Continue reading

BACP Senior Accreditation

I’m delighted to share with you that I have been awarded my Senior Accreditation with BACP (British Association of Counselling and Psychotherap)y.  As I started sharing my good news with some peers and my supervisees, a few raised some questions and I thought I would share these along with my answers.

Why bother going through the BACP accreditation process?

Continue reading

Value of Complex Trauma Training

Last year, I attended complex trauma training delivered by Dzmitry Karpuk, which focused on stage 1 of Herman’s three stage model of trauma recovery and described ways of ensuring safety and stabilisation in the counselling room. 

I was curious Continue reading

Anxiety Toolkit

Do you needs tools to manage your anxiety?

Wouldn’t it be great at times when you want to avoid situations or people, you could pick out a tool to help you? Imagine when anxiety strikes you try a techniques and it helps you get rid of that anxiety feeling. You then get on with your life. Rather than end up feeling destabilised.

This post will show you Continue reading

Counselling private practice – Love what you do.

Reflections on starting my own counselling private practice

My decision to starting my own counselling practice was based on two reasons.  Firstly, I loved being a counsellor and secondly, I really wanted to be independent.  

You simply have to enjoy being self-employed and love counselling.

You also need to be prepared to work at being successful. The reality is that it is more likely that you will not make much money at the beginning of starting your counselling practice or be inundated with clients. There is a lot of counsellors out there and plenty of competition. Every day I see a new counsellor Continue reading

Identities Working Together

Counselling and social work – can two identities can work together?

Guest blog post from Lynn Findlay, (counsellor and psychotherapist based in Sheffield) who reflects on whether two career identities can work together. You can find more of her reflective writings here

I never realised until recently how much my identity is bound in my career and my job role. I now see this too in my clients, it can be expressed as a dilemma, a frustration and a loss. A loss of Something that we traditionally think is external until we are without it, or facing being without it, then it becomes our safety net and comfort zone.

Identities working togetherWhat is it? Our job role or title becomes our identity and an important part of our “I am”. Imagine you are introducing yourself to people you have not met before, perhaps at a family event or new social gathering. What is the next thing you say after your name?

For me it was always “I am a social worker”, often before my roles in my family, those I care about the most who accept me unconditionally, or the hobbies I enjoy which give me more enjoyment and pleasure. Work was always there, always second on the list.

Who ‘I am’ in my career?

I have been a qualified social worker for over 20 years, and over the past three years as I completed my counselling training, I have grappled with who I am in my career. I noticed I began to add on to my introductions an “as well”, usually “I am also training to be a counsellor”. But this was an add-on and I thought perhaps it was because I was still in the doing phase rather than the being.

I am now a qualified counsellor and psychotherapist. But I am still a social worker first. My working week is shared between the two roles. I am trying hard to see myself as both my identities, but this isn’t easy at times. I have considered moving on from social work but I know I am not ready to let
this part of my identity go, just yet. It is my safety net and my comfort zone.  I am still getting the “I am a counsellor” to flow. 



Working in dual roles also enables important reflections on the shared values and skills across the professions, with building relationships and making a difference to people’s lives, alongside some of the differences, most notably in power and assessment. Being a counsellor has changed how I view power and I consciously address this now in my practice where I can, both in how I am working and being perceived by others, and in the wider systems we operate in.

Having these different roles brings privilege and I can use this to empathise with clients who are too facing change, wanting to make changes to their “I am” or moving on from being stuck. It is a loss we often don’t consider, especially if it is through active choice, rather than retirement or redundancy.


Now when I am introducing myself to others, I consciously try to remember all the roles I have in my life, and bring these into the conversation. Just as I encourage with my clients when we explore their wholeness and all their parts of self which come together to make the whole person. It does feel
strange not to put work first all the time and I often try to begin with my hobbies, although these often precede with ‘aspiring’. Noticing how you introduce yourself to others highlights what you value and what you think others value in you. It might be time to try things in a different order….?

Embrace change or resist it?


Do you struggle with change? Are you aware of your own reactions to changes? Do you resist change?

Sound familiar?

What is it that makes us resist change? Often fear of the unknown, feeling overwhelmed or denial that change needs to happen or a lack of trust of those bringing about the change.

Change brings about different reactions within us and even irrational behaviour. Therefore a common first instinct is to resist the change.

How can we deal with change?

When change happens, it is useful to reflect on our inner resistance to change. If we have a deeper understanding of ourselves, it will help us understand how our inner resistances work and how we generally react to different situations. By learning more about ourselves and our reactions we can adapt to different situations and learn to cope with them.

A strong sense of self-awareness will help you to take personal reasonability and stay more in control. It is up to you how you chose to react to each situation. Learning how to manage change more effectively will help you to be better equipped and more positive when it change happens to you.

Positive ways to make changes

  1. Embrace Change

Change often only happens when we want it too. If you procrastinate, you will be putting of inevitable. The danger is we may be wasting precious time in our lives being unhappy when we could turn it all around by embracing change.

  1. Be open-minded

Your mind works best when it is open. As Frank Zappa says ‘Your mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work, if it isn’t open’. Sometimes we can drag the baggage of the past and superimpose it on to situations without being open-minded and taking a fresh perspective. One thing I hear from clients who resist change is ‘Well we tried that before and it didn’t work’ You need to remember every situation is different, and just because something different work last time, it does not mean it will not work next time. Give it another go with an open mind without the expectation that it will fail.

  1. Prepare your emotions

Accept the fact that you may be emotional during the change process. Change may make you feel unhappy, fearful, insecure, unsettled, frustrated. On the other side of the table, however, you may feel enthusiastic, elated, delighted and excited. Any of those emotions will have an impact on your energy levels so it is really important to prepare yourself.

  1. Relax and go with the flow

Sometimes change happens and we have absolutely no control over it whatsoever. When this happens you have to choose how you are going to respond. If you resist change and remain rigid and inflexible it will be a lot more difficult and even painful. Going with the flow sometimes is the best approach.

  1. Be positive

Having a positive attitude about change is the right mindset to cultivate. If we go into the change situation believing that it is negative then we are more likely to experience negative outcomes. Whilst it is important to understand some of the risks and pitfalls involved it is also important to focus on positive outcomes.

  1. Keep some familiarity in your life.

Understandably changing everything sends people into panic as it threatens to destabilise their world. If you are embarking on a major change, then keep up as many familiar things that feel comfortable to you. This will help remind you that there are things in your life that do not need changing, and how much is in your life that isn’t changing. For example, sticking to same routine or seeing friends you normally see. You can then reassure yourself that not everything has to change just because some things have.

  1. Challenge your perspective

Sometimes the way we view a situation can be very narrow because we are perceiving it through our own filter, and will perhaps benchmark it against our previous experiences. It is important to really examine and look at the situation from all angles. Be careful not to get yourself stuck up a one-way street with your thinking. There is always another angle and another perspective.


As a summary when thinking about change:

  • Understand why the change in your life is happening
  • Actively seek out the opportunities this will bring
  • Be positive and open minded
  • Understand your emotions around change
  • Take responsibility for your reactions and choices.


Do you resist change? Will any of the above tips will help you to adapt to change?

What I’ve learnt on my journey with grief

Grief journey

I have had several losses in my life and been through different journeys with grief. When grief first entered into my life,  it would have been helpful if someone explained the stages of grief to me.  It would’ve been good if someone just told me that grief was normal. I was doing alright. It was ok to feel all those bad feelings. I had to feel them. I tried to ignore them but i needed to go through them all – bad and good. Grief comes with no timetable. It differs from person to person. You have to be patient, and allow the journey unfold and go in whatever direction it takes you. 

So what did I learn from my journey with grief?

I learnt about myself and I changed. For the better. I’ve become empathetic and kinder. I learnt that as hard as it gets, it does get easier. You don’t forget but you do learn to live with the pain.

What are my tips to help others who are grieving? Here are a few points, I think are useful for anyone experiencing grief.

1. Walking

It saved me. I walked for miles. It was a time when I really let you in grief. I cried, I shouted. Every step helped. It got me out of the house and gave me exercise. It allowed me to be myself. Sometimes I stomped. Eventually my step came lighter. I now take this lesson into my work by offering walk/talk therapy.

2. Writing.

When I worked overseas, I wrote to a family member. Each evening I wrote for 10 minutes or so. At the time, I did not realise how therapeutic this was. Evenutally I turned this to writing to the deceased. When I felt lonely. I wrote and told them. It allowed me to share my feelings – anger one day, sadness the next. It helped me recognise what I was feeling. Knowing what I was feeling helped me feel better equipped to deal with the various feelings, especially through the depression stage.

3. Allow yourself to grieve.

I stayed in the numbness stage and managed to supress those feelings. I became an expert at burying them. I do wonder if I accepted those feelings sooner, perhaps I would’ve moved on quicker. It is important to acknowledge the pain. This will be the start of the healing process. It is good to read around and gain some understanding of the grieving cycle.

4. Lean on friends and family.

Friends were there to help. I rejected most help. You think they will be bored with your story but they are not. Embarrassment kept me to keep things to myself. If only I told some of the friends how lost I felt and how I was feeling. I had a lot of expectations from them without telling them what I really wanted from them. If you experience a traumatic death as we did as a family. Talk. Share. Work through that trauma together. Stop thinking you must protect each other.

5. Seek support.

Find a therapist. Counselling what helped me through the depression. Counselling helped me work through the intense emotions and identify the barriers to my grief. It also helped me learn how I react to my emotions.

6. Take care of yourself.

I was bad at this. I did not eat and as a result I had no energy. At times I became lethargic and those were the days when it was easy to do nothing. I slept the day away. I did not go out and hid away from people. I lost my confidence and self-esteem. Arrange times to meet up with friends.

7. Plan for the triggers.

Birthday’s, anniversaries, Christmas, Mother/Father day etc They are all triggers. Often the lead up to them are worse than the actual days. Each year it can still be painful but careful planning does help. You can find out more information here.