Mental Health Resources and Wednesdays.

First of all it is fair to say I am not too keen on Wednesdays. For me it means early starts leaving home at 6am, and late finishes, yesterday it was 7.30pm before we arrived home again. With chemo in between and over 40 tablets to take I am pleased when Wednesdays are over. Being the first day of another cycle however I had my monthly appointment with my lovely consultant. The news yesterday was good with the latest MRI showing that the mass around T12 in my spine is shrinking. I won’t know the para protein results for a few days but the signs are all good. So the plan is to continue on this path, completing a total of 6 cycles of the three chemo drugs, so I should be finished sometime in July and then we shall just have to see what happens next.

Meanwhile, now that the BrainBox resource is out and available, I am passionate about building a website and business that provides mental health resources that will help make a difference to both children’s and adult’s mental health and emotional well-being. It is sometimes quite difficult to find the right resource for the job so I want a site that reviews the resources and promotes the best product to meets the needs required. During my career I have been lucky enough to meet up with other creative and innovative health professionals at awards nights etc, that have designed and produced resources that are really making a difference to their clients. Hunting these products down can sometimes be quite a challenge so I would love to have a one stop place which provides reviews and information about products that work. Marketing and web design are challenges in themselves so there is quite a lot of research to be done yet but it’s something to work on. Any marketing tips will be much appreciated.

So there’s lots more to do, you haven’t heard the last of me yet, as my passion for improving mental health continues.

Have a great day

Deborah x

First 100 BrainBox deliveries made.

How exciting is that!

It seems to have been a long time coming but has been well worth the wait. The BrainBox was first designed quite a few years ago but has recently been re-developed to become a more cost effective portable resource. In its original format, it has been used by a range of professionals including school nurses, psychologists, youth workers and teachers with some outstanding results. It’s main purpose is to explain the fight and flight response, increasing knowledge as to how the brain works at times of heightened anxiety and anger. It is very empowering and provides the parent/ carer and or young person with some tools to help them to better manage their emotions and behaviour.
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I feel very proud of this resource as I have seen the difference it makes and am delighted it is now going to be available to even more people. It may appear very simple but it’s effect is quite remarkable.

If you are interested it can be purchased via our website http://www.thebrainbox.org.uk

We are now in the process of designing a new website for Starfish House Publishing (our new company) where we hope to add more resources including the next one in line, “Taking Control of Anger”. It is my dream to have a wealth of resources available to parents, carers and professionals to help improve mental health and emotional well being. It is over 35 years ago that I first started voluntary work in my local mental health hospital and it feels so good to continue with my passion in this field.

Today is a very good day

Deborah

Here we go again

We are already on the road at 6am attempting to miss the rush hour traffic, although there does seem plenty of it around. Colin was rudely woken by the alarm unlike myself who was already playing solitaire on my iPad. However with the help of a good dose of sleeping tablets and pain killers I didn’t have too bad a night and so far my back feels a little better this morning.

So today is week 2 of cycle one and so far so good, with no horrendous side effects to report. During my waiting time today I have booked myself in for an aromatherapy massage, so that’s something to look forward to. Colin has brought his computer so will spend his time working.

We have some great news about the BrainBox. We are in the process of re-developing it into an ‘easy to use’ pack which will include the manual, some cut out representations of the original resource, connecting wires (neuro pathways) and a scaling dial. This will allow us to make it more widely available and at a much lower cost. Today we are changing the BrainBox website and then we shall send out some marketing material. We have already had an order for 80 packs. This has really lifted my spirits, as anyone who uses the BrainBox will tell you, it really does help parents and children increase their knowledge about the workings of their brain and empowers them to take some control. The next stop will be to contact Mental Health First Aid and anyone else we think might be interested.

So we have 11 booklets to create on a number of mental health subjects, our BrainBox packs, our website to re- design and a couple of books to write. We have also set a publishing company called Starfish House Publishing and are about to release our first Ebook. That should keep us out of mischief for sometime.

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Enjoy your day.

Much love

Deborah x

Re-organising

As my new life starts to take shape there is lots of re-organising going on.

This includes giving this blog a good old sort out.

You may notice that there is an extra page title on the black strip under the photo at the top of the Home page. This page titled ‘Mental Health Strategies’ will include all future and previous posts that are particularly related to improving mental health and emotional well being. I hope that this will make it easier to navigate. I know there are lots of you out there who are quite happy to read about my cancer journey or holiday antics and rather than having numerous different blogs, I wanted to stick with just the one. I did however want to make sure, that those of you who want to access information related to particular topics, can do so easily. If you hover over the Mental Health Strategies title you will even find a drop down link to posts specifically about the BrainBox. How clever is that! Although I must admit it took me quite a while to achieve, what now appears to be a fairly simple wordpress process. Don’t forget you can regularly follow my posts by clicking on the link at the top of the bar on the right, you will then receive an email every time a new post comes out. There is also a search option, categories option and a list of all the old posts under ‘Archives’. Whoopee I am getting there!

This past week has been pretty busy as we, in the ‘royal’ sense of the word, have been re-decorating the living room, including laying a new floor and putting up new ceiling lights. It is a great feeling to have it freshened up and a step away from the place I lay around in feeling so poorly earlier in the year.

Cancer, what cancer? Accordingly to my latest report as it reads ‘ Bone marrow trephine biopsy showing no evidence of an abnormal plasma cell infiltrate, 2-3% plasma cells”. and paraprotein is still undetectable. This is such good news and I thank all involved for making this possible including you dear readers. I now just have my monthly hospital visits to check everything stays as it is.

So what next?

Well it’s good news that I am driving again, now that I am medication free, which although I have never been that keen on driving. it feels great not having to rely on lifts anymore.

An article I have written is due to come out very soon in The Journal of Family Health Care.

I am awaiting to hear back about how my skills might be put to good news in some new projects. 😉

The book I am writing is coming on, if somewhat slowly, and I am starting to build a story board for some short films or E learning sessions.

I am very excited to have been short listed to the last three in the Inspirational Leader Awards which means I have an exciting black tie event to attend on November 20th and get to catch up with some of my team.

Oh yes and there is my retirement do to look forward to on November 25th.

My eldest daughter is continuing to fly the flag for the NHS and making her mother very proud.

And due to the skills of my youngest daughters brilliant parenting my grandson continues to be the happiest and most content little boy that I have ever met, and brings great joy into our lives.

So life really is pretty good but that’s not to say that I still don’t desperately miss my old job and colleagues though.

None of this would have of course be possible without the wind beneath my wings.

You know who you are!

Xxxxx

Back to the BrainBox

I am having one of my early morning thoughts once again, perhaps this is a good sign as it reminds me of the old days pre myeloma.

A few days ago I watched another television programme on Obssessional Compulsive Disorder (OCD). This time the programme came from an internationally renowned treatment centre dealing with severe, complex and resistant OCD, based in London. On there was a young computer programmer with severe symptoms related to contamination. After weeks of intense therapy his improvement was evident but I couldn’t help wishing that I could have had the opportunity to share the BrainBox with him and the other patients on the unit. It seems such a missed opportunity to have this resource and for it not to be more widely available as I know the difference it can make. (See Feb 2nd post)

So I have been awake thinking since 3.30am about what else I can do about it. The conclusion I have come up with so far is to make a YouTube video of me demonstrating the resource. This may be enough to help lots of people out there understand more about how their brains work and to help them with a range of often very disabling symptoms.

Let me just recap what the BrainBox does.

Using recycled computer components it demonstrates how three different parts of the brain work.
1) the basic operating system represented by the motherboard
2) the emotional brain or Limbic system represented by the hard disc drive
3) the clever thinking part of the brain or the neocortex represented by the intel processor.

These three parts of the brain are linked together by neuro pathways represented by wires with crocodile clips on the end that can join the three parts together.

Once joined together information is flowing freely between the different parts of the BrainBox or brain.

Now bear in mind that the main job of the brain is too keep us alive. It is in charge of all other parts of the body. It is in the control seat.

We know from brain scans that information enters the brain through the emotional part (hard disc drive). This is extremely sensitive and designed to detect anything that the brain perceives as danger. If it does detect anything IT (rather than you) perceives is dangerous it can disconnect from the thinking part of the brain and immediately send messages to the basic operating system to get you out of that dangerous situation. At this moment in time we do not need our thinking brain to be in gear we just need to respond. The operating system will send chemical messages to the important parts of the body required for our survival. It will speed up our heart rate, increase our breathing and provide us with the adrenaline to run or fight. This is often referred to as the fight or flight response. Just imagine for a moment a lion came into the room or a tree was falling. This is not the time to be thinking about the sex of the lion or it’s country of origin. We don’t need to know about the type of tree falling, we just need to very quickly get out of the way or stand up and fight. Not that I recommend fighting with a lion or a tree for that matter.

Where things go wrong is when the brain is too sensitive, a bit like a car alarm going off when the wind blows. Severe anxiety or anger, times of heightened emotional arousal, will start this process off, disabling our thinking part of the brain and rendering us temporarily stupid. Luckily we can’t stay in this state for too long, as the brain knows this itself would be detrimental to our health.

I believe those suffering with OCD, among others, have exceptional brains that are just working too hard. At some point (which may be or may not be known ), the brain will have decided that a particular action, stimuli, external or internal thought is of severe danger. Often the sufferer, with the thinking part of the brain attached, will be able to understand how irrational this may be but the brain has been programmed so well into its own perception of danger that it will disconnect from that thinking making the person do whatever he or she needs to de to remain safe.

I believe once a greater understanding of this is achieved, and the BrainBox provides an excellent visual and kinaesthetic metaphor for this, then progress can be made very quickly.
Various strategies can be used to quickly reconnect the thinking part of the brain including breathing and visualisation techniques.

Can you think of any times when your thinking brain has disconnected? Perhaps you have become very angry and said things that later (when reconnected) you’ve regretted? Perhaps you have been anxious before an exam or job interview and your mind seems to have gone blank? All this is perfectly normal. Your brain has just detected something which it has perceived as being dangerous and done something about it. This might have included making you feel physically sick or unwell to get you out of the situation.

Sometimes the brain has just been wrongly programmed. It has learnt that something is very dangerous or required for its survival. This happens with phobias or addictions.
The BrainBox can help with understanding these programmes, that often cause severe difficulties both physically and mentally. Take smoking for example. Most addicted smokers know the risks but find it very hard to give up. Imagine the brain being so strongly programmed into thinking it needs nicotine for its survival. Your intentions to give up are great but once the nicotine levels in your body start to drop your brains alarm systems go off, you disconnect from your thinking part of the brain and reach out for the fag packet. Once your nicotine levels have risen you thinking brain reconnects and you are left wondering where your resolve to give up disappeared to.
The same thing can be said for sugar or alcohol cravings.

As soon as Colin wakes up I think I will explore how to put all this into a YouTube video. Remembering the starfish story, if I can make a difference to one person than that’s a worthwhile thing to do.

Have a good day

Deborah x

Goodbye France and hello to a new chapter in my life.

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As we sailed away from France and towards England, I started to think about the future and a new chapter in my life. It is still hard to believe how far I have come in the last few months and how nine months ago I was blissfully unaware of quite how drastically my life would change. It just goes to highlight, how we must never take what we have for granted, especially as far as our health is concerned. This journey has been a difficult one at times, not just for myself but particularly for my close family and friends. Writing this blog has made the journey bearable and the support I have received, because of it, has provided me with the strength, hope and willpower to battle on. Some of this has come from complete strangers or long distant relatives, and through their comments and those from my nearest and dearest,  I have conquered many a dark night. There have been times were I have felt so poorly, that I doubted I would ever recover or be strong enough to leave my sick bed, never mind travel to a different country. Slowly I have started to feel like my old self, but alas my old self is no more. Today, the career I worked so hard to achieve, seems more like a distance memory and  as each day passes, I mourn for the person I once was and the people I have left behind. But I must and will look at the months and years ahead as an opportunity. New adventures are to be had and there is life in the old dog yet. My cancer is now in remission, statistics state that I am likely to be here for between 18 months and two years but I have never been one for statistics and I have beaten the odds in many of the paths I have taken before. So I am counting on my remission for lasting for 10 years, that should give the very clever people a good chance in producing a drug or learning a new method for beating this rather inconvenient host that has decided to bury itself deep within my bone marrow. So what’s next? Well there are a couple of things for sure, 1) I do need to earn some money even if its just enough to help us scrape by and 2) I am going to make damned sure its doing something I enjoy and that ensures a good work life balance. Not that I haven’t always loved my job but there is no going back to the old days when work took first place more often than it should. I will look back with pride at the things I have achieved. From a very young age I wanted to make a difference to people’s mental health. Mental illness can be so debilitating and it is so often surrounded by mystery causing ignorance and fear. If I have only achieved in changing a few people’s attitude towards mental illness I will have done what I had set out to do. But I think I have done more than that and I know I have always been true to my purpose and calling. During my NHS career I have worked within mental health, with both adults and children, with a range of disabilities that has spanned from those suffering from a lack of confidence, to those that have required sectioning and the most powerful of medications and even with those requiring Electro Convulsive Therapy as a last resort. I have spoken out when I have felt something to be wrong and put my neck on the line more times than I care to remember. Looking back I wouldn’t change a thing, the job satisfaction I have had is worth far more than the financial rewards I may have gained working in the private sector. Knowing that I have made a difference is much more important than the varies accolades and awards I have achieved for doing so. Besides this I have riches beyond monetary value, a loving husband, mother, sister, brother and two beautiful daughters and now the most adorable grandson. Aunts and uncle’s cousins, nephews, good old friends and a whole big bunch of new ones. I have a beautiful home surrounded by countryside and except for the few lingering unwanted guests, I have on the whole relatively good health. So now that I am retired I have new paths to follow and journeys to have and to be quite honest I have learnt a fair few things thanks to cancer. The biggest lesson of all is that I am loved it has taken me over fifty years to get there but it’s true, I am loved by many and it feels good.

THANK YOU, yes I mean you, and you and you and YOU and you and You, you too and most of all YOU!

Deborah x

PS chapter one of the new me, my new life has just begin.

My experience with the NHS

Somebody has asked me recently if my treatment was any better because I worked for the NHS.  The answer is NO, for a start not all of them were aware of where I worked.

My treatment throughout this whole process has ranged between good to excellent. The best part was being treated within a specialist hospital. The Univercity College London Hospital (UCLH), has it’s own cancer centre. It is a fairly new building, opening about a year ago. The building was well thoughtout and the environment is spacious and airy with plenty of natural light coming in. It makes for a good place to work, (I asked one of the nurses) as well as a relaxing place to visit as a patient. This makes a difference to the staff and they all seemed very calm, professional and caring. The service I received there was excellent. If I am being really picky, there are a few areas for improvement I suppose. The hospital has a patient portal system. This is a website where you can log in with your hospital number and find out when your next appointments are and leave messages for the people you are working with. This is fairly new and does seem to have some teething problems. The information is often wrong or out of date. I think, like any data base, it’s only as good as the information that is fed into it. So often I would be told of an appointment time by my specialist nurse and that would then differ from the information on the system, so I soon learnt not to trust it. Other than that my treatment has been faultless. All the doctors I have seen have been professional and friendly. I felt that I have been treated as an individual and have been given time whilst my wishes have been heard and respected. The nurses have also been excellent, nothing has seemed too much trouble and they have always done their best to make sure I have understood the procedures I have had to undertake. I have also been given excellent written information which I have been given time to digest and then I have been asked if I have had any questions. When I had my harvesting done, lying there for six hours allowed me to observe the nurses practice. They were short of staff the day I was there, and extremely busy but even so, I observed them to always wash their hands and put new gloves on in between each patient they attended to. They were professional but friendly at all times and a credit to their profession. Janet, my care co-ordinator and a research assistant, working alongside the doctors on the trial, has always been very supportive and ensured appointments were made at the most convenient times to allow for the journey time we had to make. At all times she kept us fully informed with the appointments and procedures I needed to undertake. For example yesterday I received an email from her explaining that I would need another bone biopsy carrying out. She asked if I would rather be sedated or not, clearly explaiming the pro’s and cons of both. She then said she would organise the appointment for after the party.

Locally I have been supported by the palliative care team, working for Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust. Yet again my treatment has been excellent. The nurse assigned to me was at all times extremely professional but also friendly and approachable. Nothing was ever too much trouble as she supported both Colin and I through some difficult times. She arranged for my medication to be changed and ready promptly for collection at my local GP practice, co-ordinating with my GP and the hospital. Louise also managed to set up more appointments with my psychologist when she recognised the need. My psychlogist was also extremely professional but helpful and accommodated my needs by visiting me at home and then organising appointments at the local Hospice. The support I have received at the Hospice has also been wonderful, with the doctors there spending 45 minutes listening and working alongside both Colin and I to plan the best course of action to holistically manage my pain. They also have and still are providing me with regular reflexology sessions.

So looking at the health service from the other side I couldn’t feel more proud. I was a reluctant patient and making the transition from nurse to patient was a difficult one, but at all times I have felt confident and comfortable with the support and treatment I have received.

 
Thank you to all of you who have been involved in my immediate care.

Deborah x

The good news is …

..I am feeling much better than I was prior to yesterday, because of my morning visit from Louise, my new Palliative Care Key Worker. Following an assessment of my current pain levels, Louise increased my pain killing drugs and prescribed Oramorph which Colin collected from the GP in the afternoon. This has already made a difference and although they knock me out somewhat, I was able to sit and enjoy a meal with Colin last night, in much more comfort. To be honest I think I have been putting up with more pain than is necessary. I don’t like to make too much fuss and I was thinking that pain is just part and parcel of what you need to put up with when you have chemo, I also worry about taking too many drugs, but when you think about it, it’s a bit late for that really as I already take an enormous amount of medication anyway taking a few more, with the result being better pain relief is a no brainier really. Louise was very helpful and she informed me that I can apparently access all sorts of free therapies including reiki, reflexology and massage, whilst I am receiving treatment. The sad thing is I need to go to the hospice for these. I was also a little distressed to read the Palliative Care leaflet that states it is for people with cancer and other life limiting diseases. I reminded Louise that my life was going to be as long as everyone else’s and that I don’t do that dying thing, it really isn’t very solution focused in my humble opinion. I remember visiting the hospice in my professional capacity and thinking it was the one place I would never want to go, not because it wasn’t lovely there and filled with the most caring of staff, but for me I could only see one way out and that was in a box. I do however need to have a rethink and just like I have got to love and appreciate the Macmillan services so must I for palliative care and the hospice. These services are not just for the dying but act as support for hmmm ….(I have to think here) those who might just need it and their families. It really is quite a thing to get my head around especially as in mine I am still a healthy girl in her twenties, unfortunately my body and the mirror often remind me otherwise. If you do however need to make use of any of these services you will be even more grateful for the NHS and the fact that these are readily available to you. In my opinion the nurses who work in this area are very special indeed. Did you know that it is even possible to call on the Palliative Care Team at the weekends and late at night? I really do hope I never need to but it is so good to know they are there.

Well back on a much lighter subject, I am really looking forward to my visit to the spa today. After the original fuss that was made I think the Sanctuary Spa will ensure today is a very special experience for both myself and Kate, I just hope I don’t fall asleep in there. They are providing us with lunch, body massages and complimentary manicures. I am a little embarrassed though after listening to what Kate told them on the phone, honestly she apparently told them that I had met the Prime Minister and that I was a very important person among a host of other things! I shall wear my wig and a pair of dark glasses to hide my embarrassment. Following our spa experience, we might even manage a short wander around John Lewis depending on our energy levels. I am a girl who loves to shop but Kate isn’t so keen, so luckily for her but sadly for me, I probably couldn’t manage more than one store, if that, in my current state of health.. Colin and my dear friends Sue and Angela, in all seriousness, suggested I use a wheelchair, (apparently they have them to borrow in John Lewis) honestly I don’t think I am at that point yet! Still a good time will be had, whatever.

Will let you know how it all went tomorrow.

Don’t work too hard whilst we are busy relaxing!

Deborah x

Will they or won’t they..

…give me chemo today? I must admit not having received it on Monday I really noticed the difference as I was soon back to my excitable old self. I do appreciate I need it so it can get on with doing its job but it was good to get a glimpse of what it might be like when I am in remission.  I have a little way to go yet though and 1-3 more cycles of chemo to endure.  If only I could say I”m OK now lets not bother with the rest. Never mind perhaps they will just give me a reduced dose today  so the side effects will be kept to a minimum. I do hope so as we are going to see the CC Smugglers playing at the Letchworth Arts Centre on Saturday night. I think there are some tickets left if anyone else fancies coming along for a preview of the band who are playing at my charity birthday party in July.

So back to which therapy?
Two for the price of one today!
Starting with ….good old fashioned counselling?
Counselling is sometimes used as an umbrella term for a range of different therapeutic approaches.  The word ‘counselling’ or ‘counsellor’ covers a broad spectrum, from someone who is highly trained to someone who uses counselling skills (listening, reflecting back what you say, or clarifying) as part of another role, such as nursing.
I am using the term here to mean a style of talking therapy delivered by a trained professional.
Counselling provides a regular time and space for people to talk about their troubles and explore difficult feelings in an environment that is dependable, free from intrusion and confidential. A counsellor should respect your viewpoint while helping you to deal with specific problems, cope with crises, improve your relationships, or develop better ways of living. Time is given for a trusting relationship to be developed.
Despite the name, counsellors don’t usually offer advice. Instead, they help you to gain a better insight into your feelings.  They do this by listening to what you have to say , and reflecting and clarifying with you what you have meant by these words. They may notice and point out any incongruent inconsistencies. For example if you are talking about a happy situation but your body language is showing a different story.
Sessions usually take place once a week. Making this regular commitment may give you a better chance of finding out why you are having difficulties.  Some people stay in this type of counselling for many years.
In general, a counsellor will listen to you without butting-in or imposing their own values and beliefs on you. They will give you the space to explore your thoughts, feelings, or behaviour, whatever they are. People can find it helpful just to have their concerns taken seriously.
For me personally, although I think there may be a place for this type of more longer term counselling, I am not sure it works as well as some of the other therapies that offer shorter term solutions. Maybe I want a quick fix? I have spoken regularly throughout this blog about the importance of time and for some people, having more time to reflect on their situation and explore for themselves a way forward is perhaps helpful?
And of course, there is no such thing as one-size-treats all approach to therapy. Every person and their life experiences make them unique. This means that the approach taken to help you through what you may be struggling with should also be unique and should be customised to meet your needs.
Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy.
Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, apply theoretical and clinical knowledge developed over the last hundred years. It grew out of the work of the famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, who began developing his therapeutic techniques in the late 1800s.
In psychoanalytic psychotherapy, the therapist is not directive and will not usually give advice.
The process involves the therapist following and paying attention to whatever the client presents and offering their understanding of this, including possible unconscious influences. The aim is to enable the client to think in new ways about their life and thereby to find their own solutions to problems.
The therapeutic relationship is the foundation for this method and requires commitment and responsibility from both the psychotherapist and client.  The aim is to work together to make sense of the clients’ emotional life and ways of functioning.
The work makes links between present and past as well as emphasising the clients’ here-and-now experience. Exploration of the conscious and unconscious aspects of the therapeutic relationship (also known as transference and countertransference) makes this work different from other therapies or from talking to a friend.
Through non-judgemental understanding and interpretative work within the therapeutic relationship, clients  can recognise underlying meanings of dreams, conflicts and fantasies and the way in which thoughts and feelings are expressed and resisted. This understanding enables new choices to be made, and the fulfilment of individuals’ unique potential.
Psychoanalysts and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapists complete theoretical and experiential post-graduate training following a professional qualification. They are required to undergo their own psychoanalysis or psychoanalytic psychotherapy as part of their training, which enables them to understand distress and symptoms, and be mindful of the possibilities of their own personal biases.
As you can perhaps see, there is a wealth of experience,  theory and evidence behind this type of therapy and I have a great deal of respect for the training, and hard work that the therapist has undertaken in order to best support their client.
So the choice is getting greater, tomorrow I will explorer one of my favourites, Human Givens Psychotherapy and of course NLP.
Have a good Wednesday, not long till the weekend now, but don’t wait until then go out and enjoy today.

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Deborah x
PS. I have noticed a reduction in comments , are you still out there? Perhaps I am just waffling on about subjects that are interesting to me but are not what you want to be reading about. I can talk about other things rather than mental health but I am not sure talking to myself is necessarily a good thing? So do let me know if you are still there.

Which therapy is best for me?

Oh dear it’s another early start for me as I avoided taking a sleeping tablet last night. I have however still had 5 hours sleep which, for me, is pretty good going and I have at my disposal a day of succumbing if need be, but I do hope not.

I have been thinking about mental health, as I usually do, and the minefield of different types of therapy and therapists out there. How does one choose which is best for them. I of course have my own ideas and preferences but these are based entirely on my own experiences and my personal  map of the world.

This blog post would be far too long if I were to tell you even a little about some of these in one fell swoop so I shall do so over the next few days.

I shall start with sharing my own journey into therapy and why and how I have come to the conclusions I have. Please do remember these are not necessarily the right ones they are just MY beliefs and like I said based on my experience of the world so far. I am forever in training and learning more, so develop new thoughts and ideas as I go along.

Many years ago, person centred counselling was the buzz word and therapy around, and I took up the opportunity to train undertaking a diploma in counselling at my local college. As part of the training you go into therapy yourself.

I will be explaining more about what each therapy contains in a little more detail in the days to come, but generally this type of therapy is one where you sit and talk as much or as little as you want , and the therapist skilfully listens and reflects back, clarifying what they think they have heard. Some people go into this type of counselling for many years.

When working as a specialist nurse for children, mostly teenagers, who had been in care, I
listened to their experiences of counselling, and decided for myself that there must be a better approach to helping this group of young people. Many of them had told their stories over and over again to numerous social workers etc. Some of the young people were now living semi independently alone in their own bedsits. They often reported how unhelpful they found it to go and sit with a therapist where they felt they had to bring up there past yet again and then return to their homes to mull it over. They also reported that they were looking for more practical advice and support rather than someone to feedback what they think they had just heard. I felt fully in agreement with that and was anxious about the effect some of this therapy was having upon them. This is what led to my journey into finding out more about Human Givens (HG) and completing a diploma with the Human Givens Institute to become an HG therapist. During this time I managed (quite a feat I must say) to get hold of some funding to employ two qualified human given therapists to work with this group of vulnerable young people. This produced some excellent results and some very positive anecdotal feedback from the young people themselves. HG therapy is short and quick and does not require the client to go over their story in great deal or in fact at all in some circumstances. You will just have to wait a few blogs to find out more!

As I was coming to the end of my HG training I stumbled across Neuro- linguistic programming (NLP) and as I have previously explained in an earlier post.

https://mymyelomajourney.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/nlp-and-my-personal-journey/#comments

I found this personally life changing. NLP to me, is more of an attitude and a deeper understanding of what is happening in my mind and body as well as the external world around me. For me it is a toolbox of different techniques drawn from, or very similar to, a number of other therapies such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Narrative Therapy , Psychoanalytic Therapy and Human Givens. NLP uses a range of techniques to help the client and the therapist gain a better understanding of their own world and resources, helping the client to move forward in their lives.

The biggest difference between the traditional therapies and the newer therapies like HG and NLP is the scientific evidence to back these newer theories up. However both of these are going through much research and analysis and the evidence is stacking up as to the positive impact they are having, so I hope they will soon be fully accepted and more respected by the scientific and academic community. All I can share is that for me personally and from what I have seen and experienced with my clients the techniques have had good results.

Since setting up a small team of mental health advisors and employing two excellent Clinical Psychologists I have been very lucky enough to listen and learn a little from them and their views and experiences. I have also experienced the support from a Clinical Psychologist on my own recent health journey as I tried to come to terms with my diagnosis. I learnt from them the importance of knowing and understanding something about my narrative. The story of my life to date and why this might be important in understanding the here and now. So I have a much more respectful view of why sometimes this may be appropriate.

At the end of the day , I believe it’s back to that old sage TIME. For me it is all about giving myself and the client time to think and explore together their resources and the best tools I have to share with them in the given time and situation being presented. Therapy is not something you do to some one else it is a journey you go on together with the therapist acting as a guide along the way. I believe you come into therapy to change your future not your past, but having a greater understanding about how your past history may have influenced your thinking today can be the key in helping you move forward.

So we have lots to explore together and over the next few blogs, I will talk in more depth about the different approaches and types of therapy you can access to help you with this.

On a different note, today I hope to bag up all the lovely scarves and hats that have been donated so far, ready to deliver to the Macmillan Centre next week. I shall make sure I get some photo’s to show you.

I also hope to have a visit to the wholesaler’s and start to better organise all the gear I have collected for the Village Secret event. So not much time for succumbing today I just hope my body agrees!

Have a happy day.

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Deborah x