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  • A life with dogs: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

    Why I'm writing about my life with dogs I wanted to write about living with dogs and my experience so far, and it felt fitting to do this for National Pet Day 2024. It's worth mentioning that I am not a pet behaviourist, qualified trainer, or vet, but I am writing this from my experience of researching and learning how to look after my dogs, as well as advice I have received from professionals. There are an abundance of resources out there to care for animal companions but not so much about how to look after yourself when we are faced with the numerous challenges being a pet owner can bring and the impact this can have on the whole household. So, lets dig into the good, the bad, and the ugly side of living with dogs! The Good (A.K.A. The "worth it") - Firstly, they are freaking adorable. Each of the dogs I've known in my life have had their own character and personality. It's suggested that humans are prone to a "baby schema" where infantile features draw us in and provoke a nurturing response, true of human-animal interactions - There is much research that being around animals can help in the management of our wellbeing. Simply petting a dog can reduce our stress and helps release dopamine as a response. Not only that, dogs also have a positive influence on our physical health too from noticing when we're not feeling well to being able to be a medical animal and in some instances saving lives due to their responses. It has also been recorded that dogs can help with socialisation of humans with numerous instances of building up confidence and helping humans to relax. The unconditional love we can receive from our animal companions is unmatched. They are there for us no matter what state of being we are in and this is something that can be a constant comfort for many of us whilst we have their company. Having animals as company gives us routine and commitment to follow for another living being. With chronic illness this can be a minor inconvenience but also a need too! Exercise is also a benefit of owning dogs in particular, though can be true for other animals too. Playing with, training, and the walking - The Bad (A.K.A. The minor inconveniences) - There can be some minor downsides to having dogs around, like having to take them out for toilet business or for walks in the rain, wind, snow. Though I actually enjoy this sometimes! Poop machines. Honestly, dogs are just real poop machines 😂And when you have more than one dog this can feel like a constant and smelly job. Commitment to training & care no matter your mood or state of being. There isn't a "day off" with animals. Early mornings/late nights/mid-night toilet outings are part of the job. The financial aspect can be a big'un. I would say this can jump between inconvenience and devastating depending on the reason for the financial impact and your financial situation in general. This is definitely something to consider when opting for a life with animals. The Ugly (A.K.A. The devastating) - Whilst we may love our dogs unconditionally and sometimes see them as a type of child in the household, we do have to remember that they are dogs for both their sake and your own. They are different to us, their ability (as far as we know) to process things in the same way as us isn't matched, and so often we may find that we have projected our own thoughts, feelings, and experiences onto our companions complicating situations - I say this from experience! Guarding. Dogs are pack animals who tend to guard over resources when there is a fear that they are scarce. It was once believed that there was one dominant dog in the pack, however it is now believed that the dominance can be fluid between dogs and between resources too. For example in my dogs, Freya is definitely more dominant with toys and food as to her those resources are worth fighting for, however Arty is very much people focused and feels we are a resource worth fighting for and so guarding can happen. Fights in dogs - guarding can then lead to fights between dogs, or if a dog is poorly socialised they can end up being more prone to fighting with other dogs on walks. Learning your dogs signals and body language is so important in preventing fights before the dogs behaviour escalates. Stigma - there can be stigma around reactive dogs and dogs in general. Muzzles are something that can be beneficial for any dog to be trained on how to wear (as we were informed by a behaviourist) as if your dog were to break their leg, most likely a vet will want the dog to wear a muzzle when examining due to the risk of biting from the pain. And even though muzzles are a good thing for dogs to know how to wear, when a dog does wear one to help with their behaviour and anxieties, it can be seen that they're dangerous. Death is the hardest thing I have been through with my animals. It is inevitable, and yet something that you can never fully prepare for at the same time. We can only do our best with what we have for our animal friends, and making the decision between quality of life, care, and death is an impossible decision and one which haunted me for a long time after my first dog. Rehoming is the second impossible decision that is made with animals. Sometimes, our situations change beyond what we imagined they would be and we have to make a decision to give up our animal companions in their best interest and our own - even though painful. My story I have always known a life with pets; birds, hamsters, rabbits, a guinea pig, and dogs. My first dog was a Westie named Snowy and he was my dream - I had always wanted a dog and one day this became a reality. He was with me for 15 years, through some of my darkest days, and losing him absolutely devastated me. A couple of years later and we got Arty, another dream. He is more determined in his terrier instincts but is very clever and follows commands (mostly). We then introduced Freya 3 years later. Another dog of the same breed and has the same dad as Arty too. There was definitely a big adjustment period, figuring out their signals, body language, and training them in living together, but mostly we got there. However, they both have anxious behaviours which can cause reactivity, guarding, and disagreements between them both. I often say, when they are left to themselves they are fine, but as soon as a human is involved we trigger a response. Having two dogs is the first time for both myself, my partner and thus having an occasional multi-dog household for the rest of my family is a learning curve too. Unfortunately, this has led to some tension in the family where dogs have had spats and led to cut contact. So, we are trying to now be even more proactive dog "owners" than we already were and have a vet trained behaviourist working with us to further our knowledge and training - it is always nice to hear we're sensible, responsible, and good "owners" with what we already had in place and our current knowledge. This is the nutshelliest of nutshells I could do, it all goes a lot deeper than this, but much of it is ongoing or will be covered below. How to cope Deciding to share your life with animals is a big decision and not one which should be taken lightly as it does come with its challenges and can bring up a lot of emotional impact along the way, such as: Worry tends to be the biggest emotion for me. Whether we are doing the right thing, whether they are okay, if there's anything we're doing wrong, if we've made the wrong choice by introducing another dog etc. Shame in letting the dogs down and being seen as a "bad dog owner". Frustration in the training and will of the dogs themselves - similar to therapy, we have to meet them where they're at. You can't force training onto a tired dog! Anger when they do get into a fight, both at the nature of it but also at ourselves for not preventing it - hindsight and all that. But there can also be lots of wonderful emotions and feelings too; joy, laughter, happiness, relaxation, love, care etc. Ways that have been helpful in coping with what comes up for me: Remembering they are dogs! This is the biggest one for me. I love them like they are my animal children but they are dogs and need to be treated as such. Still with care, love, and affection, but knowing their temperament, nature, and behaviours. Focus on what's in your control - other peoples perceptions and reactions are not in your control, and whilst this may be hard to experience, you can only control how you behave and respond to situations. Knowledge - Reading and research has been such a comfort and useful tool for me. Arming myself with what can be useful in different situations has helped my confidence and soothed my anxiety too. Though try not to dwell on this and become obsessed with it, you can't know everything and that's okay too. Remembering they are dogs again - we can have high expectations for our animal friends but they can't always live up to these and that's okay. A mindset shift for me with Arty and Freya is remembering they are living with each other due to my own decisions and we can't expect them to get along all the time so some level of guarding and snapping is expected! And it's then my job to manage this as best I can. Putting your wants down and focus on their needs - I love my dog cuddles, but when I am seen as a resource to my dogs, cuddles aren't always the best things to offer them, and so my want of this needs to be second to the dogs needs and wellbeing. This doesn't mean I can't still give them fuss and attention just not excessively! If you have one dog this may not be too much of an issue unless your dog then starts guarding you towards other humans. Asking for help - don't be afraid to ask for help. As I mentioned earlier you can't know everything so if you're in any doubt get your dog checked over by your trusted vet, go to training classes, and speak to a behaviourist if needed. Acknowledge, sit with, and process your emotions - therapy has been a huge help for me in being able to lay out my emotions and be with them. It can be draining to be putting new training, measures, and routines into place. Dog's need consistency and it can be hard, especially when other things are going on in life! This has been especially true when family tension has broken down and erupted.... Remember that there are still good times. For us, the good times far out weigh the bad. And whilst the bad moments may fill us with all of the difficult emotions, they do pass and are fleeting. This may be different if your dog has caused harm to another being, but you can get through it day by day. This has been my motto in all the hardship "slowly, slowly" and "day by day". Breathing and relaxation have been useful when I have found myself feeling stressed and overwhelmed. They help to slow the body down as well as grounding back to the 'here and now'. Reality checking with trusted friends and family about the situation at hand and how you're managing it all. This can be good reassurance but also good for managing your expectations of yourself and the dogs. Is there anything you'd add to this? Snowy, Arty, & Freya:

  • How to cope with Anxiety

    What is anxiety? Anxiety is a natural human emotion in response to a stressor or situation. A small amount of anxiety every now and then is normal, it is part of our stress response, and a way in which our body functions, however when anxiety becomes a feeling you experience constantly and/or severely, it can be part of a mental health condition like General Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Social Anxiety Disorder, etc. Bearing in mind that, just because you feel anxiety doesn't mean you have a disorder. So do speak to a medical professional if you are concerned about how often and the intensity of the feelings you're experiencing. What does anxiety feel like? Anxiety tends to have an impact on our physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioural responses e.g. Physical - palpitations, feeling hot, sweating, shaking, tremors, dizziness, nausea, headaches... Cognitive - worrying about small things, ruminating, getting stuck on an intrusive thought, worrying about the anxiety itself, your mind racing with 'what ifs'... Emotional - feeling scared or fear, feeling irritable, feeling overwhelmed.... Behavioural - avoiding people, withdrawing, asking for reassurance, picking fights/arguments with others.... Anxiety will feel different to each person, you may find you have all of these corresponding symptoms or only a few. For me, anxiety feels like a raw emotion; when it's intense it feels like it's a buzzing feeling coursing through all of my body, I feel like I'm shaking even though I may not be visibly shaking, I can get a chest pain which feels like a tightening heavy feeling, I get palpitations, and I can have an on set of dizziness. I tend to feel overwhelmed with my thoughts and unable to concentrate on anything. It's like my body and mind are running on overdrive and I am not in control. When it's general anxiety on a proportionate level to the situation I'm in, I may feel my heart racing and I may shake but I tend to be able to slow my thoughts and body down to feel in control. What causes anxiety? Noticing your triggers can be helpful in managing your anxiety as you can have a plan for how to cope with it. There are many things which can set off anxiety, and again this will be individual to you. Our past tends to have an influence on our ability to cope with anxiety - if you have had a challenging, traumatic, and difficult upbringing without any support in place then you will be more likely to experience anxiety on a intense level or faster than someone who had support in place. I look at it in terms of our capacity. If we have been modelled and taught how to regulate and process our emotions growing up, our capacity & tolerance for stress and life events will likely be larger than someone who wasn't allowed/taught to regulate or express emotion. Therefore, not only does our past have an influence on our ability to cope with anxiety, but so do our current life events. Someone who has a larger capacity will be able to withstand a larger proportion of stressful events than someone struggling with capacity. Things like, our health, our cognitive functioning, our home environments, our working life, our finances, our family support, our friendships and relationships, and any addictions, all have an impact one way or another on our anxiety levels. Holmes and Rahe, created the stress scale when looking at peoples health. They gave stressful life events differing scores on their general 'stress levels' and how this impacts us - When I think of capacity, this is what comes to mind. Humans tend to have a reaction to change, even when it is inevitable. This reaction can be one of excitement and embracing or it can be one of anxiety and avoiding. If we then have multiple of these live events coinciding with each other, it will have a bigger impact on us, even if we don't notice or acknowledge it initially. Our tolerance and capacity for stressful life events will be different to the next persons, but as the saying goes, "there's only SO much someone can take before it breaks them". On top of all of this, there can be the smaller day to day things that set off anxiety in us. For me things like having "too much" mess in the house makes me feel restless and anxious, having a list of chores but not having energy to do them, knowing I have to make an appointment - particularly medical ones, being out in public in busy spaces etc. When I think about these day to day type triggers they all have some link to past narratives I've internalised or linked to past traumas. So, take a moment to think about how you noticed anxiety when you were younger - was it something you noticed? Was it something that was feared and avoided or was it something you were supported with and had soothed? And now think to your current life, do you express your anxiety? Do you notice it? What does it feel like? Do you notice anything going on in life which is setting it off? When we learn to notice the triggers, we can learn how to soothe ourselves in stressful and anxiety provoking situations. Until then, we can look at how to manage the anxiety when it occurs. How to cope? As with all coping methods, it is not a one size fits all and so you might find everything recommend works for you, you might struggle to find something that works, or somethings might work one day and not the next. The main thing is to keep trying - some methods take time and practice, so don't write something off after one try. Beathing - Yes, yes, I know, breathing techniques are pushed a lot, but they can be really effective in grounding you and slowing your body and mind down. There is the "box breathing technique" which is to: Breathe in through your nose deeply for X amount of seconds, filling your stomach. Hold this breath for X amount of seconds Breathe our your mouth in a controlled flow for X amount of seconds Hold your empty stomach and lungs for X amount of seconds And repeat for as long as is needed. The reason I have written "X amount of seconds" is because this will be different for your own capacity. I don't have the best lungs and so for me I tend to do 4, 4, 4, 2 and I find this works well for me, but this might be too short a time for others. So play around with it to find something which is comfortable and works for you. I would also suggest doing breathing in a controlled and mindful way to help slow the mind down. Bring your attention to your breath rather than your thoughts. Focus on the counting and the feeling of breathing. Ideally you would be in a quiet and comfortable space too, however this is also useful to do in the moment and so can be done wherever you need to. Grounding - Similarly, to breathing techniques, grounding is a way to bring your focus back to the here and now within yourself. The most popular grounding technique for anxiety is the 5,4,3,2,1 method. Name 5 things you can see Name 4 things your can touch Name 3 things you can hear Name 2 things you can smell Name 1 thing you can taste This brings the focus onto your current immediate environment as well as distracting your mind by getting it to focus on a task. It also engages your body to ground it by engaging each of your senses. Movement - For me breathing and movement are my most effective ways of coping with anxiety in the moment and I tend to combine them. That buzzing feeling is lessened by doing some gentle stretching or standing up and shaking all of my body. Yoga can be a gentle way of doing this, especially if like me you aren't able to do exertive exercises due to chronic illness - Alternatively, any type of exercise can be useful in helping ease off some of the symptoms of anxiety - running, walking, boxing, rowing, dancing, martial arts, pole dancing etc. Writing - journaling, free writing, letter writing, mood boards, bullet journals etc. all of these ways of writing and expressing yourself can help ease the feeling of anxiety. There is something in the process of getting it out of your head and into written words which is cathartic. I prefer to do this the old fashioned way with pen and paper, but I do also find that typing out notes to myself on my phone is just as effective and accessible when on the move. Talking - talking to someone helps. This can be your support network of friends, family, colleagues, managers, unions, HR etc. or it can be a professional like a therapist or your GP. Check out my availability here - Relaxing - meditation, yoga, bubble baths, naps, etc. Being able to calm your mind can help ease anxiety. If you find your mind racing too much try a transition exercise to try and train your mind into shifting states: What my colleague called the "Power Animal" technique: Imagine your anxious state - describe it. Now think of an animal that resonates with this state of being Imagine your relaxed, calm state - describe it. Now think of an animal which resonates with this state of being. When your feeling anxious picture your anxious animal, now slowly breathe into the belly of your calming/power animal. e.g. for me, my worked up anxious state is a crocodile, it feels rigid and hard to move, I feel stuck in myself but going too fast at the same time. It feels vicious and on the attack. But my chilled out relaxed animal is a sloth. It's slow, peaceful, resting, sleepy, doing its own thing. So when I get stressed out I imagine myself as that crocodile, rigid and stuck, but then I do some deep breathing, allowing the air to fill my belly and picturing it changing into the big sloth belly, I loosen up and inhabit that animal "form". All of these ways of coping are all well and good for the short term anxiety, but longer term and intense anxiety will need a mix of coping techniques as well as some practical support too - which can be done in therapy or by yourself with support from others. Break things down into small manageable chunks - try to reduce the overwhelm and take things one step at a time, starting with the smallest of steps. If you're too anxious to leave your house and see other people, the first step might just be thinking about what you would wear. And slowly over time you would build these steps up. Set aside time to worry - If you are ruminating all the time over everything, challenge yourself to only have 30 minutes a day to focus on these worries. Plan that time and set it aside. If you start to notice you are ruminating outside of this time, try to acknowledge the thought and tell yourself to focus on it later and bring your focus back to whatever you are doing in the 'here and now'. Try to think about your situation with compassion and a different perspective -Take a step back from yourself and ask yourself what would you tell a friend if they came to you with this worry? Would you like more suggestions? Download my Coping Plan here. Essentially you have a few steps in how to cope with your anxiety on a whole: Understand your anxiety - speak to your GP and/or mental health professional for support in doing this. Learn how to cope with it - find healthy ways in which you can ease your anxiety symptoms Learn how to manage it - find ways to reduce the stressors and situations setting off your anxiety Some final notes... Crying is a natural regulation response, you're allowed to cry! You can't do everything, all the time, at 100% at least not for long. Remember it's good to rest. You are human, you are not perfect. Try to give yourself some grace and compassion 💚 Anything else you would add, let me know in the comments :) Further Reading:

  • What to expect from Therapy

    This probably should have been one of my first posts, but it's been interesting to see how this varies in Private Practice as well as the similarities; this post will explore what therapy is like in general, what to expect, and how this happens in my sessions (this will be different for each therapist - thankfully! #diversityisbeautiful). I will be approaching this predominantly from a private practice therapist view, though there will be cross over with free services from NHS, charities, organisations. I'll be covering: Initial Contact Consultation/Assessment First Session Therapeutic Relationship Themes/Focus Structure, Consistency, & Boundaries Confidentiality In Between Sessions Endings Initial Contact Check out my post about how to find the 'right' therapist for expectations on the search aspect. Once you have found a few therapists you're interested in contacting it's time to actually make that initial contact; The way of contacting a therapist will be personal to them, as to what they offer. Most will have an email and/or phone number to call and enquire about sessions, but there are so many ways to make initial contact nowadays. It may be that you can book your initial consultation via a website or directory listing. This will normally involve giving some details for contacting and maybe some detail about what you're enquiring about. You can see an example via my booking page here. Alternatively you may be able to email phone, text, DM on Social Media, or WhatsApp the therapist directly. Regardless, it is important to have some space when making the initial contact as it can be a vulnerable moment. If you're making delayed contact (email, booking system, text, WhatsApp, DM) you can take some time over what you want to include details wise and outline what you're looking for. Be sure to check your spam for replies too, unfortunately this can happen with replies. Making immediate contact (phone call, live chat) may need you to make space before to note down things you want to ask or get across, time for the conversation with the therapist, and some time afterwards to ground yourself and check in as it can be intense depending on the questions you're asking, but also from any emotional build up the search and contact makes. I wish I didn't have to type this out, but please also prepare yourself for the potential of no reply from some therapists - though do check your spam folder often as emails can wind up there too. In addition, there is the possibility that the therapist you've contacted isn't able to take you on as a new client, so there can be a chance of not being able to have sessions with your chosen therapist. This 'no' can be for so many reasons (full schedule, conflict of interest, topic being out of competency, no longer practicing etc.), but it may be hard to not take it personally, so do prep yourself for potential feelings around rejection, especially if you know this is something you're sensitive to. Consultation/Assessment I can only speak of my own consultation in detail but I will try to give examples of how this might vary for other therapists - hopefully they tell you what to expect before you meet them. My consultation is a 45 minute session allowing space for us to talk in a little more detail about what you would like to get out of therapy, what might be going on for you at the moment, to talk through the counselling contract and manage expectations around what therapy will look like, and then I also leave space for you to ask any questions you might have. I do ask for payment on this at a reduced rate as it does take time to prep and be with you in the session, but other therapists might offer their consultation as a 'free first session' or a free 15 min phone call. I prefer to have a little more time to have the space to talk and take our time exploring what our sessions might look like before we just jump in - but everyone works different and that's why checking out a few therapists is important to see who you connect with. The consultation is a chance for both of us to get to know the other a little more so that we can make a more informed decision on whether we would like to go forward with sessions. I don't tend to use any questionnaires or scores but you may find that therapists ask you to complete one for the consultation. This is more used in therapy which is more goal orientate or in organisations where they need to show that the therapy is working in a more tangible way. First Session The first session may be filled with a few more questions from your therapist than normal as it is a chance for us to understand and clarify what's going on for you. It can take time for the therapeutic relationship to build up and so the first stage is very much around exploration and understanding. You may get straight into the content you bring to the sessions in the first session and this can leave people feeling vulnerable once the session is finished. I always try to check in with my clients at the beginning and then at the end of each session as a way to ground you but also to have a routine in keeping the session boundaried. I find this especially important in our first session as it allows you to get a feel for what our sessions will look like going forward but also because a consultation can bring up ALOT of information, feelings, emotions, and thoughts that have to be contained in a short period of time along with the contracting and questions, so it's good for me to check in on how it was for you after our consultation so we can look at how best to manage containing the emotions and feelings in future. I would recommend giving yourself some space after you first session, and all sessions, so that you have a bit of breathing space before going back into your day to day. Therapeutic Relationship The therapeutic relationship is not like other relationships in life. Whilst it is two way to some extent, most therapists won't bring their own 'stuff' to your sessions in terms of self disclosure. Some approaches mean that your therapist won't even answer "how are you?" as they want to be a complete blank slate in the relationship, meaning you won't know anything about them. Other approaches are a bit more relaxed on this and so your therapist may disclose information about themselves - this is done with you in mind, i.e. self-disclosure should be for the benefit of the client. You will have your own preference on this, so this may be a question to ask in your consultation with the therapist. I tend to do some self-disclosure where it feels appropriate. I do also share a fair bit of myself on my therapy socials, but again, I do this with my follower in mind - what I share is within the context of being for the followers benefit. The therapeutic relationship takes time to build, and it will be used within your sessions too. The relationship is there to be a consistent safe connection to model how you want to be in the 'real world' out of the therapy room. Your therapist will be empathetic, non judgemental, actively listen, and hold you with unconditional positive regard in order to let you explore what relationships mean to you, how you relate, and have a chance to practice how you want to be with others in your life. It is your chance to practice a healthy relationship! As you can see, the therapeutic relationship is important.Having a good therapeutic relationship has been found to be the biggest factor in having a positive outcome from therapy. We have supervision in order to make sure we are keeping this relationship boundaried, professional, and working in your best interest, because if we stray from this as a therapist it can have a negative impact. The relationship built should allow you to voice if you feel your therapist is wrong or if something said doesn't sit right with you. Ruptures can happen, as therapists are human and mistakes can be made, but if the relationship has a strong base, these ruptures can be a great chance to experience resolving conflict in a healthy way. With all this in mind, if you find your therapist isn't holding you safely, you feel like your feedback isn't being taken on board, or you feel your therapist is acting inappropriately please do look to raise these concerns with their Professional Membership Body, PMB, (currently counselling isn't regulated in the UK which can cause problems if you're looking to complain and your therapist isn't part of an organisation/PMB - check out my post here for more info). Themes/Focus You may chose to have a theme or focus for sessions. This will be different for the approach of therapy your Therapist follows. More solution focused approaches (CBT, SFT, ACT, DBT) will have a focus for your sessions. You might find that you have a structure to the sessions with a clear path of what you'll be doing. When I had CBT for my pain management I was given a handout which explained what we'd be doing in our 6 sessions. I had homework to do in-between each session to put what we talked through into practice. The sessions were very much about guiding me through the handbook, gaining understanding on what the process meant for me, and then putting it all into practice. This can be really useful and productive for those looking for ways of coping with a specific 'problem', however for ongoing deeper work it isn't always as effective. More client led approaches (Person Centered, Humanistic, Existential, Psychodynamic) might ask you what it is you'd like to get out of therapy, but it is then very much in your autonomy to get there. You will bring the topics to each session, your therapist will then help you explore this in the session. Integrative approaches tend to find there way somewhere in between these on the spectrum of client led or solution focused. I love being integrative, whilst it means I'm not a 'specialist' in any one approach, I am able to adapt to my clients preference of how to work and gives more flexibility on the timeline of sessions. I have found that most sessions tend to be client led to begin with as the rapport is building up, and then as more has been explored and understood there is a process of 'moving forward' which then brings in some of the practices used in the solution focused approaches. Structure, Consistency, & Boundaries Structure, consistency, and boundaries are important for therapy. We've already talked about boundaries in this post so far. Boundaries should be outlines from the offset of any therapeutic relationship. Therapists who are part of a PMB will have an ethical framework to follow which outlines the boundaries, so if you're ever unsure on if something is okay in therapy, you can ask your therapist or check out the framework yourself. Consistency is part of the ethical framework in terms of modelling the health relationship, and this goes both ways. It is important for you to be attending your sessions consistently as well as the therapist being able to be consistent in the space which is offered. As mentioned before, we are human, so there will be nuances to this as well as modern life not always allowing for weekly sessions. To me, the main part of consistency is to be engaged - this includes being in contact with your therapist if you're unable to attend, as well as your therapist being consistent in there engagement too. I am transparent with my clients from the start in having chronic illnesses which can lead to cancellations on short notice, however I always try to offer an alternative to meet each week where possible. As for structure, this goes hand in hand with consistency and boundaries. My prefered structure for sessions is to have them weekly at the same time and day, however this isn't always possible, and so a flexible structure is still just as valid. The theme throughout all of this, is collaboration with your therapist on what works for both of you. Confidentiality Confidentiality is one of the biggest factors in therapy. As a therapist we do what we can to offer you confidentiality in sessions, this means checking our software is as confidential as can be within the limits of our competencies, making sure our sessions are held where others can't over hear, keeping any data we collect secured and anonymised, etc. Every session should be held in a confidential space where all of what is said is kept between the two of you. The biggest section of my contract is around confidentiality, this is to explain what I do to keep sessions confidential, but also to explain where confidentiality may be broken. Sometimes we may need to break confidentiality in compliance with the law. This isn't always straight forward and can be a judgement call on the therapists side as to whether a break in confidentiality is the right move going forward for those involved. The overview of this is if someone is in immediate harm - whether that's the client themselves or someone else (abuse, terrorism). My take on breaking confidentiality is to do this in as much collaboration with my clients as possible. I will always try to talk to my clients about what breaking confidentiality might look like and what the next steps will be. It is never easy to break confidentiality on either side of this relationship! If you're ever worried about what you want to talk about leading to a break in confidentiality it is always worth talking about what this might look like with your therapist. A general rule I've seen in organisations is if you have a plan to end your life within the next 24 hours and intend to act on it then this would be a time to break confidentiality and raise the support for the client to crisis services, however your therapist may have a different take on this. In Between Sessions Following on from confidentiality, if you were to meet your therapist in a public space (online or in person) the general take is that your therapist won't acknowledge you to keep confidentiality in tact, however if you want to say hi then you can. I have a section in my contract to cover this as well as a digital policy for online spaces. Other types of contact in between sessions will vary from therapist to therapist. Some therapists may set 'homework' that you are able to send to them inbetween sessions ready to discuss in the next session. Some therapists allow you to text/email/message them with different things that come to you as part of the ongoing relationship. Generally speaking, I don't contact my clients outside of sessions unless it is to rearrange sessions, notify of holiday, or for something important. But as with everything there are nuances to this where I may know of a resource that would be useful to a client that they are happy for me to send to them outside of sessions. In order for confidentiality and boundaries to be kept in tact, it is advised that any contact outside of sessions is discussed with your therapist so that you are both on the same page and it can be contained within the therapeutic relationship. Endings Endings can happen for many reasons in therapy. Hopefully the ending is because you feel your work is done and you're ready to go on without sessions, however this isn't always the case. How you end therapy is up to you, as part of therapy is empowering you in your autonomy. Therapists may outline what they expect in regards to an ending - for me I ask for 2 weeks notice so that we are able to wrap up the work we're doing, the client can experience a 'good' ending, and we can review the work done too. You have every right to end sessions with your therapist and you can do for whatever reason it is (not connecting, complaint not acknowledged, feeling unsafe, feeling you've got all you can out of the sessions, feeling ready to end sessions etc.) Sometimes though, it may be that your therapist needs to end the sessions. This can be for an unlimited amount of reasons and will very much be up to your therapist to explain where they feel able. The most common reasons (I've seen) are health related, change of circumstances, or due to a conflict of interest that has arisen. Endings are delicate, the hope is that we can offer you a 'good' ending as most endings in the world can be painful (break ups, bereavement, ghosting). Your therapist will be as congruent and transparent with you as they can with the ending on their side, and we ask the same of you when you finally feel ready to end. Summary Therapy is different for everyone. It is a relationship between you and your therapist which is what works for you. Your relationship with your therapist will be different to their relationship to their other clients. Therapy is YOUR space. It is to support, empower, and heal you. It helps you explore your past and move forward into the present, preparing you for your future.

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Other Pages (14)

  • Privacy Policy | Emily Duffy Therapy

    Check out my digital policy here

  • Emily Duffy Therapy | Counselling Online | Queer, multiamory/non-monogamy, fat acceptcance, mental health support

    Emily Duffy Therapy I offer one-to-one online counselling sessions for residents of the UK. Majority of my work revolves around identity and exploring who you are as a person, whether that's within your 'self' (e.g. sexuality, gender, neurodiversity, mental health etc.) or who you are within your outside world (e.g. relationships, within your job, after losing someone close to you etc.) ​ I have professional and lived experience in my areas of work. I work collaboratively and with informed consent around the approaches/methods we use in sessions. Check out About Me and How I Work for more info. ​ I am happy to talk through any questions you may have, I also have Frequently Asked Questions here . ​ Get in touch on the details below Email me at - or Leave me a voicemail** or WhatsApp me on - +44 (0)7508387585 **Note - I will only return your call if you leave a voicemail. If you don't leave a voicemail I will not return contact. ​ ​ Emily Duffy Therapy is located in Waltham Cross, Herts, England Leave a voicemail WhatsApp me Email me Ready to book in? Click here. Home: Contact Check out my Instagram

  • Resources | Emily Duffy Therapy

    Resources Here I will upload any documents I create that could be helpful to your wellbeing management or your own therapy practice. Resources for coping Resources for therapists Free resources for coping Thinking of donating in return for a download? Any money that is donated will go towards subsidising low-cost sessions to clients in need. Coping Plan Free to download This is a guide for putting your coping techniques into a plan of how to use them and when to use them. The guide also includes some popular exercises and tools for coping. Download The "Mememotions Wheel" A fun adaptation on the Emotion wheel using memes Click here If you're wanting some sites covering further services for Chronic Illness, LGBTQ+, Non-monogamy, Neurodivergence, and Mental Health, check out the signposting here Free Resources Resources for Therapists & Counsellors Bundle Templates Guide Spreadsheet Logging £20 BUNDLE - Guide & Spreadsheet Add to Cart More info £5 Editable Templates Only Add to Cart More info Private Practice Start-up Guide £17.50 A 55 paged guide for starting up Private Practice in the UK. It covers: naming the practice, setting prices, contracting, consultation, policies, finance, ways of working, supervision, and more. It also includes all of my policies, contract, client form, & safeguarding procedure. EDITABLE TEMPLATES - found in attachments within the PDF file. Add to Cart More info Logging Spreadsheet Template £5 A template for a spreadsheet set out to log your client hours, notes, supervision, CPD, resources, and email templates. Add to Cart More info Therapist Resources Bundle Templates Guide Spreadsheet ST - in the UK "I purchased the private practice guide and spreadsheet. The spreadsheet alone is worth its weight in gold. As someone who can used excel but not create formulas this is the perfect resource. It keeps log of all of my hours, when I have been paid and what’s outstanding. I can record all of my supervision as well as CPD. For someone new into PP. it’s invaluable and a great visual to see how far I have come."

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