Category Archives: counselling

I make no apologies. This is me.

Driving always allows me to think. Today was no exception. My diary had been full with clients and I was using the time on my own to process and reflect on today’s work. During this time, the song ‘This is me’ by Keala Settle (from the Greatest Showman) came onto my radio.

I found the words poignant. ‘I am not a stranger to the dark…’ It made me think how often my clients are in dark places. Their thoughts are scrambled. They are exhausted. They feel ashamed. They feel they have let themselves and others down. They know it is a horrible place and often do now want those close to them know they are coming to counselling. They feel alone. They are scared. They feel there has been no right time or place to talk about their difficulties.

The song goes on to say ……’I am brave, I am bruised…..But I won’t let them break me down to dust.’

It made me think that despite all the feelings mentioned above, my clients are brave. They’ve admitted that they are experiencing a problem and they want to bring change into their life. It is not easy coming to counselling for the first time! My clients go on a counselling journey of self-exploration and eventually their shame turn into pride and they are ready to step forward with confidence and self-esteem out of my door.

This is me – #timetotalk

As the song continues with ‘I’m not scared to be seen. I make no apologies, this is me.’ It made me reflect on today’s #timetotalk day.

#timetotalk aims to tackle the stigma of mental health. It wants people suffering from mental health not to make no apologies.  It aims to get people talking about mental health. All of us (including us professionals)  need to join together to break the stigma around mental health. In other words, break the silence. We need to show that by talking about this once-taboo subject does not need to be difficult or bring shame.

I need to talk

A friend recently commented that she could never be friends with my page Professional Facebook Page, as her family will think there is something wrong with her. I was struck by her embarrassment to mental health.  I asked her how she defined mental health. Her response was vague with inappropriate language. On reflection, I realised that perhaps I was failing in my approach on how I talked about mental health. I need to show that standing up to mental health, encouraging conversations, and engaging with people is a positive way to talk about mental health. This could help stop people feeling isolated and play a real part to their recovery.

#TimetoTalk reveals 1 in 4 suffer from mental health Click To Tweet

Even more alarming these figures are include a high percentage of young people.  The average age of onset for depression is 14, as diagnosed now, compared to 45 in the 1960s.  These figures are staggering. We do need to shout louder about mental health.  A lot of clients who come to me who are suffering from stress, anxiety or depression. They need to talk. They need to make sense of their problem themselves. They need to be heard. They need to stop feeling ashamed of themselves.

I find myself often reassuring my clients that they are ok. They will be ok. They need not be scared. I encourage them to find the strength to look deep into themselves and find their own way through the fog.  They need to accept themselves. In other words, make no apologies.

We all have a time in our life when we feel down. It is ok to reach out. When people reach out, we need to welcome them with open arms and listen. Being heard and believed can be a big step to us believing in ourselves, and can help our recovery, as well as feel less isolated and ashamed.

The song ends.….Another round of bullets hits my skin. Well, fire away ’cause today, I won’t let the shame sink in.  LET US TALK TODAY AND TAKE THE STEP TO BREAK DOWN THE SILENCE AROUND MENTAL HEALTH

Other articles on Mental Health and Stigma can be found here




Working with Interpreters in Psychological Therapy

A book Review

Working with interpreters for the first time in a psychological therapy setting sounds daunting. For me it instantly created feelings of anxiety and I thought ‘is it possible to bring a third person into the room? It would take me the counsellor into an uncomfortable setting. Surely this would affect the quality of the therapeutic relationship?

Last autumn taking on the role of psychological therapist at Sheffield Refugee Council meant I was suddenly being thrown into the deep end of working with interpreters. As an experienced counsellor, I felt confident in my work but I felt unsettled working with interpreters.

I have been fortunate enough to be working with Jude Boyles who introduced me to her book. The book has helped me address my anxieties as well as the numerous questions floating in my mind. The book has also given me practical steps to consider when working with interpreters throughout the counselling process.

The authors, Jude Boyles and Natalie Talbot, have established a long working therapist and interpreter relationship, and bring these experiences and their lessons learnt into this book.

The book is set out concise chapters addressing working with interpreters such as what is their role, good practice, managing the dynamics, as well as looking at how to brief and support the interpreter. It also provides good practice to managing the therapeutic relationship with an interpreter. Each chapter ends with practical steps to summarize what has been written. These are useful if you don’t have time to read the entire book, as well as being used as a quick reference.

I found the chapter on learn how to debrief the interpreter helpful. Simple things like if the client gives you a letter, make sure the interpreter hands it over to you and you read it out. If you leave the room, take the interpreter with you do not leave them with the client in the room on their own. Always ensure you debrief the interpreter at the end of each session and provide them support for the work they hear from your clients. Check they are ok, and give them a chance to talk about the impact it has had on them. An hourly meeting with my interpreter before I started sessions with the useful tips given in this book was critical to that first session.

The other chapter that stood out for me was the endings. As counsellor we focus a lot on the endings, and ensuring we give our clients a smooth ending. This book highlights that you need to include the interpreter in the ending. They can be impacted on the work the client brings. They need to be included in the ending and ensure the interpreters do not have a relationship with the client after the ending.

As a novice who hasn’t worked with interpreters in a therapeutic setting, this book helped reassure me, as well as provide useful advice to ensure good practice. It taught me not to be afraid working with interpreters. You’ll be pleased to hear with the help of this book, that my first session with my client and interpreter went smoothly.

The book is easy to read without any technical jargon or in-depth theory. It is a practical short book. I would recommend the book. It has been a useful guide to reassuring me my work with interpreters. The only drawback is the price. The hardback copy is £45. Presently the kindle version is £15 which I feel is a more realistic price for a book of this size.


Analyse me – The Counsellor

BACP in Therapy Today has a section called Analyse me – the counsellor. This gives counsellors an opportunity to share more about their work and what drives them to be a counsellor. I thought I would share my questions…..

Why did you become a counsellor?

From an early age, I had a passionate desire to help people in Africa. This led me to studying a Masters and working as a Community Water Engineer. I worked for various agencies, such as Oxfam and Medicins Sans Fronteries as a humanitarian aid worker. This took me to amazing places in Continue reading

What I’ve learned after 100 blog posts


I’ve done it. I’ve reached one hundred blog posts.

I have been writing in this blog for five years. It has taken me on a professional journey I did not imagine it would take me, and has helped improve my reflective writing.


  • how did I get here, and;
  • what I have I learned along the way?

Continue reading

Living with Psoriasis

Living with psoriasis can affect how confident a person feels outside of the home. It can affect both social and work situations. Whilst many people may not notice or comment on the psoriasis, unfortunately some can be rude and say hurtful things, ask personal questions or simply stare. This often leads to people with psoriasis worry about what others may think. Sometimes other people can make false assumptions about the cause of a skin difference. These beliefs and experiences can cause anxiety, which often leads the person with the skin difference to want to avoid social or work situations. Continuing on from my previous blog post Continue reading

Therapist at Sheffield Refugee Council

New Opportunity…. Therapist at Sheffield Refugee Council

 A blast from the past

A few months ago, I visited my local walk-in clinic and was seen by a nurse who was born and bred in Kosovo. It was a delight to chat to her about her home country, the places I had visited and the growth of Kosovo over the last decade. I came home and said to my husband that there were parts of me that missed living and working with different cultures, and working as a humanitarian worker. The values and passion to working as an aid worker hadn’t died, they are just buried inside me.

The following week, an advert for a sessional therapist at the Refugee Council Continue reading

Coping with loss and bereavement

Coping with loss and bereavement

Every time there is a significant change in our lives, such as loss and bereavement, we experience a range of feelings. It can be a confusing and frightening time. Understanding loss and bereavement can help with the grieving, and to understand what is happening. Coping with loss and bereavement is an important step forward.

The terms loss, bereavement, grief and mourning are explained below: Continue reading