Archives For Therapy world

So often we see and hear what we’re looking for rather than what is real. In his much talked about interview, Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex, shows the profound impact that therapy can have on an individual who is ready to look back on their life and make choices about their future. As I reflect on this, I can see four areas that affect all of us, regardless of our background.

Inside/Outside

Who we are on the inside and how others perceive us is not the same thing. This might be true in the family, in the workplace and numerous other groupings. We already know this about celebrities and political leaders. This fine if you are marketing a particular persona for your brand image but it is quite a different and more painful thing if others are deliberately spreading inaccurate information about you. None of us would like that. Especially if it’s done on a global scale and they get paid to do it. Connecting to and appreciating our own story gives us a deepening sense of our own self, autonomy and resilience.

Therapy helps us to take an honest look at ourselves, who we have been and how we want to show up in the world. Many of us become more self-aware as we get older. This could lead to self-acceptance and a desire to continue growing and learning. For others it may be an excuse and explanation for all that happens to them, abdicating the potential for choice and growth.

The potential for transformation

This new self-awareness could lead to lasting transformation. We do not need to continue to be who we have been. We’re often drawn to stories of great transformation. I know that is particularly true in religious circles, when a former criminal finds faith and the put all their energy into helping others to turn away from crime. There could be the unhealthy person who then becomes an advocate for a healthy lifestyle. But transformation does not need to be so drastic to be worthwhile. We love those fully packaged make-over stories but forget that we can do this for ourselves, from the inside out.

Personality and birth order

Personality and birth order affects our experiences in our family of birth. We know this is true in our family but often forget this is true for other people too. The experiences of the eldest, the youngest, the middle and only children are all different. The state of the relationship when you are born may be different to what your siblings experienced. I know with my siblings, with differing age gaps, we have memories of our parents at different ages. For example, parents who are newly-weds are not the same parents when child number four comes along.

In Prince Harry’s case, and this is somewhat obvious but important, he is the only one of his father’s children not to be an heir. The Queen had 4 children so 3 of them shared that experience of not being the heir. The Cambridges have 3 children so 2 of them will be able to share that experience. But Prince Harry is one of two. Every day, every mealtime, every holiday, being reminded that you are not the chosen one and there is nothing you can do about it for the rest of your life.

Living our values

Becoming aware of our values can be very empowering. If we decide that truth is a value we hold dear then we will tell the truth regardless of how uncomfortable it makes us feel. There might be a lot to lose by telling the truth so it can take a lot of courage.  Families sometimes encourage us to keep secrets to avoid shame and guilt. This is particularly true in families where there is abuse.  Some families will believe the child and report the abuser. Other families will accuse the child of lying and leave them unprotected.  In those spaces where people are believed and therapy is sought, healing and forgiveness can happen. For those who are trapped and not believed, the wound is deeper, and healing can take a lifetime.

We can all become more self-aware, begin to live to the values we hold and remember that other people may be going through a lot internally. Childhood, adolescence, adulthood and ageing are all difficult in different ways.  We live forward and reflect after.  We are all a work-in-progress, and we can’t tell anyone else how to live their one precious life.

Journal 2021

December 30, 2020

I’ve added my love of photography to my work in ‘writing as therapy’ and created a journal for 2021. You’re welcome to try it too. It has a writing prompt, space for what you’re thankful for, how you plan to look after yourself and any goals you have for 50 weeks of the year.

2021 journal
Back and Front cover of A4 journal with 50 writing prompts and 100 pages

You can be as focused or as vague as you like , just the weekly reflection should be useful. It’s my first journal so I’m excited to try it and to hear how you find it on Lulu here. Start the year with intentionality and positivity.

https://www.lulu.com/en/gb/shop/shirley-anstis/journal-2021/paperback/product-ykkzdp.html?page=1&pageSize=4

It is only for people with mental health problems

You may think that there are people who have mental health problems and others who do not, but the truth is that we all have mental health and any one of us could experiences challenges in this area. Mental health is on a continuum and during our lifetime we can be located on different positions as it is not a static thing. Of course, we can build up resilience but sometimes we break because we refuse to bend. Statistics in the U.K show that 1 in 4 of us will have a mental health challenge during our lifetime. If that is not you it will be someone you know.

It is only for those on the verge of a breakdown

Some people think they need to be on the verge of a breakdown to seek help but that is not so. Therapy allows you to explore the shape of the life you live and how that fits with who you feel you are on the inside. The mere fact of exploring this could be preventative and therefore make a breakdown much less likely to occur.

Everyone has mental health

 

Therapists only look backwards, never forwards

There is a view that therapists are only concerned with the clients’ childhood. Whilst childhood is important in many approaches there are some schools in therapy that create healing through being in the present or by focusing attention on finding solutions to the current problem and so create a better future. I practice an integrative approach which gives space to all of these time phases.

One size fits all

This imagines that all clients are the same and can be worked with in the same way. Yet every professional knows that their clients are different in small and important ways and in order to serve them well we need to be in tune with that diversity. Some clients might be on medication, some might be in support groups and others could be in full-time employment. We could all benefit from taking some time out to reflect on our life choices and consider making beneficial changes.

They’re all the same

People resistant to getting help or those believing they can’t be helped might turn to an experience where they tried to get help and it didn’t work out. This may even be second hand information because they had a friend who was not helped as expected. By imagining that all therapists are the same (not individual humans) they do not need to open themselves up to trying again and possibly finding someone that is a better match to their personality and story. If you choose a therapist in line with your world view, then you’re more likely to find a fit and build the trust required to explore the issues.

Do any of these misconceptions chime with you or do you have a few others not covered here? I’d love to know what you think so please leave a comment below

 

I stood with one hand under my chin, arms folded and looking at my feet.  If you saw

me at a distance you’d think I was feeling miserable.  The truth is I was enjoying the

sunshine and engrossed with the ladybird trying to climb up my shoes.  A grounded

moment in a busy day.

 

What we are thinking and feeling is not always obvious to those around us.  If our aim

is to deceive then that’s great but if we wish to deepen relationships and develop trust

then opening up is necessary.   We could be smiling or crying on the inside, who

knows?

 

What we see from the outside is

always a partial picture of the

truth, and even we may not fully

understand ourselves.

 

 

 

For myself I find it is very powerful to be really seen, even if feedback is sometimes

difficult to receive.  It is very exposing and moving to have someone give honest

feedback on how they experience us.   With my clients I offer my reflections gently.

 

If we are experienced differently from what we believe to be the truth then it is up to us

to explore this. How are we living or being that gives them that impression?  Is there a

conspiracy or is there some truth in how others experience you?

I would love to have your responses.

Looking back at the past year and looking forward to the new year

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