Blog Posts

Free anxiety treatment

Posted by on Apr 28, 2016 in Blog Posts | Comments Off on Free anxiety treatment

On the subject of free treatment This blog post is the first in a long time, as many of you will have noticed. There are a few reasons for this but they’re not so important. I’ve spent many years working with people who suffer from Anxiety and Panic in its various forms with its various labels and I continue to do that in the third sector as an individual and group therapist. A couple of years ago I became a bit disillusioned with the concept of online self help. Not because I don’t think it can be amazing, but because I was encountering some individuals in the field of self help who were so far away from their public personas that I wanted to distance myself from it all, and them. In doing so I experienced the space to continue to practise, but felt somehow that I wasn’t really ‘there’ for the people who were purchasing the online process in the way I would ideally like to have been. The state of anxiety is such a stressful and isolating one, and I know having something or someone to hang on to can make the most enormous difference, but being that person, and being in that role is something I’m only comfortable with in a low key way. I cringe at self-promotion, I smirk and snicker at gurus with the best of them, and frankly being an online ‘expert’ is just not for me. I’ve spent time thinking about how to reconcile myself to providing a valid service, making a living at something I’ve spent many years and many pounds becoming as informed and educated as I can about, and offering what I think is everyone’s basic entitlement to information about what generates GOOD mental health. I’ve never shied away from saying that I feel that the mental health treatments offered by the NHS and indeed many private practitioners as being impoverished, not through intention, people really care, but waiting lists, generalist approaches and diagnostic notes on medical files are just the tip of the iceberg, not to mention unwanted meds and side effects. I know that this is controversial and I don’t want to fight with anyone or be a radical campaigner, I just have experienced many clients having had their mental health blips (that we all have at some point in life) turned into an illness, ailment, pathology, often they experience losing them their autonomy, choice, rights to employment at times and stigmatisation (despite equality laws being implemented). All this has led to the realisation that I prefer to work at the coal face, with people who find their way to me somehow, some way, usually by word of mouth. My solution to my discomfort about ‘peddling another self help treatment’ is to do what I’ve always wanted to do, and that is, set it free. Give it to those who need it, and let it go. I hope those of you who use the process benefit from it as I have and as my clients have, and most of all, I hope you take your life back, reclaim the workings of your own mind/brain/body, and thrive like mad on this crazy, lovely, frustrating, perfect planet. In the words of my mindfulness tutor Choden, we are all a mess, a compassionate mess is the best we can aim for, and that from a man who chose a monastic life for many years is not bad advice from where I’m sitting. Let yourself be a compassionate mess and the rest will take care of itself. Lots of love Gill...

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Cultivating Self-Compassion

Posted by on Jul 30, 2014 in Blog Posts | Comments Off on Cultivating Self-Compassion

Cultivating self-compassion The cultivation of self-compassion isn’t something that most of my clients are focussed on when they step through the door for their first session.  Most people come (understandably) with the desperate hope that I will rid them of the anxiety or panic that has been plaguing them.  Whilst relief from the anxious state is at the top of the priority list, it’s also important to realise that when we are stuck in states that we don’t like or that make us feel bad, we are often really mean to ourselves.  Those of you, who have already worked with me, will know that there is an added and welcome by-product to using the NPR treatment approach to recovering from anxiety.  During the process of recovery, you also develop a healthy and loving connection with your previously abandoned self.  This isn’t some touchy feely self help claim, it really is a natural function of coming to understand that no matter how anxious you are, your body and your mind are not your enemy. All living creatures are designed to move away from what is uncomfortable or painful, so when people find it impossible to move away from the anxious state being created by their survival brain and body, they often begin to feel angry, critical and frustrated with themselves.  The consequence is that on top of already feeling distressed and anxious, people begin to feel useless, helpless and worthless, due to the unkind way they respond to their thoughts, their bodies, in fact their whole selves.  It doesn’t help that other people respond to the anxious state with disbelief, frustration and impatience, confirming to the sufferer that they are doing something wrong and are disapproved of.  All of this can lead to depression, and isolation. Realising that we have a choice about how we respond to and treat ourselves comes as a revelation to most people.  But once we realise that we can turn towards ourselves, even the bits we don’t like or enjoy about ourselves and our experience, and offer ourselves the kindness and patience we would show a dear friend, something begins to change.  Recovering from anxiety and retraining the brain is undoubtedly an inevitable consequence of using the NPR process.  Becoming your own best friend is just one of the added bonuses....

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States and Phases

Posted by on Jul 30, 2014 in Blog Posts | Comments Off on States and Phases

Phases or States The physicist Andrea Sella points out that in physics and chemistry there is a tendency to use the word phase rather than state, which is to distinguish the possibility that there are structurally different arrangements of matter, such as in a solid, there will be orderly arranged atoms, in liquids there is more mobility and in gas the particles are further apart.  The different phases take place as a result of the varying conditions of energy and it’s interactions with the matter itself, such as with water, the conditions dictate the temperature of the water, through a whole range of states, from ice, to liquid, to steam, not ignoring all the subtle differences in between.  This theory of matter always being in a different phase dependent on the environment seems really relevant to me with regard to the function of anxiety. I realised as I was listening to the physicist talk, that describing anxiety as a ‘state’, although preferable to an illness or disorder, seems too solid a description. What I have observed is the fluidity of the experience of anxiety, as it ebbs and flows, quickens and slows, softens and intensifies, based on what we are encountering or thinking.  The word state might imply something more ‘fixed’ rather than a responsive and active process going through many different phases on a moment to moment, reactive basis. When I work with people they sit in front of me and before my eyes they experience shifts and changes, which are not fixed and solid.  Depending on how they, think, perceive and react to their experience, the set of physiological and emotional sensations that make up the phenomena that we call ‘anxiety’ is in constant flux.  This helps us to realise that the anxious experience itself is not something we need to be stuck in, it’s an experience to which we can bring about shifts and changes, as we learn to interact in ways that allow the solidity of the sensations to soften and dissipate, just as ice melts into water and then dissipates into steam as we alter the conditions that we impose upon it.   What conditions are you imposing upon the anxious experience right now?  Try bringing warmth, allowance, acceptance, just for a moment, and observe without judgement any shifts that may be beginning to take place now. ...

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Self-Compassion

Posted by on Jun 26, 2014 in Blog Posts | Comments Off on Self-Compassion

Cultivating self-compassion The cultivation of self-compassion isn’t something that most of my clients are focussed on when they step through the door for their first session.  Most people come (understandably) with the desperate hope that I will rid them of the anxiety or panic that has been plaguing them.  Whilst relief from the anxious state is at the top of the priority list, it’s also important to realise that when we are stuck in states that we don’t like or that make us feel bad, we are often really mean to ourselves.  Those of you, who have already worked with me, will know that there is an added and welcome by-product to using the NPR treatment approach to recovering from anxiety.  During the process of recovery, you also develop a healthy and loving connection with your previously abandoned self.  This isn’t some touchy feely self help claim, it really is a natural function of coming to understand that no matter how anxious you are, your body and your mind are not your enemy. All living creatures are designed to move away from what is uncomfortable or painful, so when people find it impossible to move away from the anxious state being created by their survival brain and body, they often begin to feel angry, critical and frustrated with themselves.  The consequence is that on top of already feeling distressed and anxious, people begin to feel useless, helpless and worthless, due to the unkind way they respond to their thoughts, their bodies, in fact their whole selves.  It doesn’t help that other people respond to the anxious state with disbelief, frustration and impatience, confirming to the sufferer that they are doing something wrong and are disapproved of.  All of this can lead to depression, and isolation. Realising that we have a choice about how we respond to and treat ourselves comes as a revelation to most people.  But once we realise that we can turn towards ourselves, even the bits we don’t like or enjoy about ourselves and our experience, and offer ourselves the kindness and patience we would show a dear friend, something begins to change.  Recovering from anxiety and retraining the brain is undoubtedly an inevitable consequence of using the NPR process.  Becoming your own best friend is just one of the added bonuses....

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Anxiety

Posted by on Oct 25, 2013 in Blog Posts | Comments Off on Anxiety

Anxiety is a state, not a mental illness, nor a psychological disorder. There is a social, cultural and medical story that prevails at this time in human experience, and that is that many of our minds are somehow broken, everyone is becoming mentally ill and that the solution to that is to prescribe medication. This isn’t an opinion; it’s a fact borne out by the number of prescriptions for anti-depressants being doled out with alarming regularity. This story is keeping both the pharmaceutical companies and the psychiatric/psychological profession in business. I think that for the health and survival of our species, we need to challenge this view. This view didn’t fit with my experience of anxiety in any way, and it also doesn’t fit with the experience of my clients. When I first experienced the anxious state I instinctively knew that something had happened in my mind and body, like the flicking of a switch that had transformed it into a different mode. It felt unpleasant and intense, both physically and psychologically, but I knew that if I could find the key to this switching on then I could find out how to switch it off again. The anxious state is really the ‘fight or flight’ state. The fight or flight state normally switches on and then switches off again once it has served it’s purpose. As the NPR process will teach you, the difference between the anxious state and the fight or flight state is that the anxious state outlives it’s purpose. Due to how it is triggered and how we react to it, we prevent it from switching itself off again until we learn how to do so. As a final year Psychology student at the time that the switch switched on inside me, my search began in the Psychology books and journal articles. Here I found all sorts of labels, PTSD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Floating Anxiety, OCD, Panic Disorder, but other than recommendations of medication, exercise, a healthy diet and distraction techniques, there was nothing that explained how the anxious state occurs, or how to change it for a better one. This in itself was very frightening as I felt that if the Psychology world didn’t know how to help me, then who would? None of this was very pleasant, but I am grateful that it happened, because the journey that I was about to go on would not only lead to my own return to a balanced state, but would also give me the ability to help others get there too. My first confirmation that it was possible to alter the state of anxiety was when I went for a hypnotherapy session; this was at the suggestion of a kind counsellor who didn’t know how else to help me. The hypnotherapy session was simply an induction script read out by the therapist that talked my accelerated brain into a place of calm and quiet. The effect lasted for a short time, which was disappointing at the time, but this turned out to be my first useful clue in the search for a solution. I thought, if someone else can talk to my mind and change my state, then so could I. I trained in Hypnotherapy, with Paul McKenna, and at the same time was introduced to the subject of NLP, Neuro Linguistic Programming; a creation of Dr Richard Bandler and John Grinder. I went on to train in NLP with Richard Bandler, John Le Valle and Michael Neill, and finally learned more about the human mind and psychology than my university degree had been able...

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Neuro-plasticity

Posted by on Sep 21, 2013 in Blog Posts | Comments Off on Neuro-plasticity

Neuro-plasticity N-P-R and Neuro-plasticity, theory and practise finally meet. It has long been assumed by practitioners of Neuro-linguistic programming, that we all hold a conceptual map of experience in our minds via which we navigate our lives. Alfred Korzybski made the statement, ‘The map is not the territory’ meaning that the map is just a representation of our reality and experience, but it isn’t the reality itself. Just like a normal map of the world, the map is a scaled down visual representation of the real world that we can use to navigate our way through the real geographical area. Click here to learn more Our conceptual map houses our beliefs about ourselves, our world, other people etc, based on the experiences we have had, and where we have been before. No one could create a normal map of the world without first going and seeing where it all was. Only what was seen and experienced got put in the map. No one map is the same as another, as we all experience the world through our own unique set of senses, and according to our individual experiences. That’s not to say our maps don’t have a lot in common with other maps. I believe that we also have societal and cultural maps, from which we operate, but more about that in a later post. If you have ever played one of those computer games where you start as a character in a virtual space you will grasp this very easily. As you move around the space a ghostly map will emerge on the screen that shows you where you have already been so that you can either retreat back to the safety of the known, or expand the map by venturing further with your character around the virtual environment causing it to grow ever more complex and vast. What you find is that once you have covered the territory available in the game, you are then limited by it. You can’t go out of the boundaries of the map to find treasure or slay virtual enemies, so you operate within the constraints of it. In real life, our maps can operate in a similar way. We experience our world through our senses and perceptions, our actions and interactions; this creates a map of our experience that includes memories of the outcomes of previous actions and experiences. If we have painful experiences that we don’t want to experience again, these can become the boundaries over which we won’t step because they don’t feel safe. They are self imposed limitations that operate mostly at the unconscious level and we only become aware of them when we try to step over them and feel a discomfort and lack of safety. The map is reminding us that last time we did this, something hurt, something negative resulted, so lots of us learn to remain within the safety of it. NLP practitioners have long recognised that this map is not fixed; there are no real boundaries. New experiences and ideas can overwrite old ones to expand the map creating new territory for exploration. The map can grow and reorganise itself eternally when you know how it operates and what to do to change it. NLP therapists teach people how to do this. Questioning your map and altering the parts that don’t help you to experience life as you want to is fundamental to change, and the latest Neuro-scientific findings are turning out to be as useful as the conceptual map theory in the area of change and growth. Neuro scientists have been fighting...

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