As the “beast from the east” hit the UK the extreme weather unusual not only for the time of year but also for many years, has affected people in terms of safety, disruption to travel, loss of earnings and much more. However for me, born and raised in the North East of England I remember a common phrase “the North wind doth blow and we shall have snow” and we did, lots of it.
At Julie Twist Counselling in light of the adverse weather conditions for two days, some face to face sessions were cancelled and rearranged to the following week without charge to Clients and Supervisees. It was a decision made taking into account weather warnings not to travel unless necessary and the importance of their safety alongside my own however, rather than viewing the impact of cancellations as a negative, I choose to view the situation in a positive light.
Over this period of time, I found my thoughts turning to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as for many their basic psychological needs such as food, safety, a roof over their head, heating etc., will not have been met for one reason or another.
Yes I had to leave the car at home but rocking the hat and wellie look walking to the shops meant I saw people I’d not seen for a while providing the opportunity for a good catch up. Getting the bus into work for a couple of days was more than ok; I chatted to people whilst waiting for the bus whom I would never have met had I driven to work. It’s surprising once we get chatting how much of a small world it is and how much we have in common with each other.
Yes I lost part of my income due to the cancellation of sessions but aside from acknowledging the fact my basic needs are most certainly met, it gave me the opportunity to catch up on some of the “boring” behind the scenes work of running a business and being more proactive on social media.
However more importantly, it has provided the time and opportunity to write more articles for my website, something which I really enjoy but has somewhat fallen by the wayside lately. Having several ideas and topics for writing new articles, I was initially unsure which one to start writing first, that was until I looked out of my window at home and saw the beautiful snow drifts……
When I was a Lass
I was taken back to childhood thinking the amount of snow dealt to us by the beast from the east wasn’t too bad compared to the more frequent, heavier snow conditions which I remember quite often lasting throughout the whole of winter. Growing up in a house with only a coal fire, no central heating meant waking up to ice on the inside of the bedroom windows let alone the outside. As we lived in a house opposite a field, it was also common for drifts to be as high as the bedroom windows and all too often we opened our door to a wall of snow.
Only twice do I remember being sent home from school as a result of the heating not working. Our day regularly began with porridge made with hot milk for breakfast before setting out for the walk to school with lovely homemade ginger beer. Despite the cold this was such an adventure in itself, walking up the drifts, down the drifts and sometimes getting lost in the drifts and having to be pulled out.
As a family, we would clear pathways to our house and neighbours houses, dig our car out of the snow (quite often higher than the car itself), before setting off on foot and again through the drifts with food for the elderly relatives in neighbouring villages. On our return we would then play out in the snow sledging, building snowmen, throwing snowballs, making snow angels, walking the dog etc., making the most of our time in the snow.
As this weather was more of the norm for us, we were prepared, always dressed appropriately and of course, there were of times when our car journey had to be abandoned followed by a long walk home or to relatives houses.
Power cuts were also very common hence always having a stock candles to hand and whilst home made broth cooked on the back to back oven, we toasted bread and crumpets on an open coal fire listening to the radio (PP9 battery operated). We played games such as Monopoly, Drafts, I spy and card games; all bringing out our competitive side and quite often for the one’s not happy loosing briefly going in the “huff”; we would at times bring out the photo albums laughing as we recounted our shared memories and experiences.
All pre mobile phone, pre internet and pre social media meaning at worst we were unable to watch TV which on reflection was a small price to pay in return for such quality times spent with family and friends, all of which are fond memories of my childhood which I will always cherish.
The choice to see the beauty of the beast
Whilst growing up I was oblivious to the psychological impact derived from this human interaction however, as an adult and as a result of my training I am now aware the human brain is wired for interaction with others, and it’s now crystal clear how these life experiences played their part in my needs being met and the positive effect they had on my psychological wellbeing.
It’s also been refreshing to see over the past week on both TV and social media pictures and videos of so many families spending quality time together and adults in touch with their inner child sledging, snowballing and building some really impressive structures in the snow.
I decided to see the beauty of the beast from the east in the beauty of the view from my Counselling room (above) at The Manor House in Sedgefield; the beauty of the snow drifts out of my window at home; the beauty of camaraderie that evolves in times of adversity both locally and nationally, which as a child and growing up was the norm for me and so refreshing so see that it still lives on in society today; something I hope continues for many years to come.
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When choosing a Counsellor for the first time there may be uncertainty regarding the counselling process and what to expect from counselling.
To get you started Julie has provided ten questions you may wish to ask:
Does the Counsellor have a current DBS Check (formally CRB Check)?
What counselling approach does the Counsellor use?
What qualifications and experience does the Counsellor have?
Does the Counsellor receive regular counselling supervision?
Is the Counsellor a member of a regulating body?
Where the Counselling sessions will take place?
Does the Counsellor offer a face to face consultation?
What are the terms of confidentiality?
Does the Counsellor keep records?
How much are the fees for each session?
Generally speaking, a Counsellor will be happy to answer any questions you may have and provide as much information about the counselling process as possible.
Choose a Counsellor belonging to a Counselling Register approved by the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care . Counsellors are required to meet high standards before being accepted on the register.
Finally, research has shown the Client and Counsellor relationship is significant for successful therapeutic change to occur. Therefore, it is important for you to choose a Counsellor you feel is right for you.
Try these 5 motivational tips to help you re-evaluate, make changes and set new goals.
Family, friends and colleagues
Try to spend more time with the people, who motivate and inspire you, this will have a positive impact and enhance your energy levels.
Make small changes
Look at the main areas in your life such as health, relationships, work and how you spend your spare time.
On a scale of 0 to 10 (0 = unsatisfactory – 10 = satisfactory); score each main area and identify which one you feel would most benefit from change and start there.
Consider whether or not you want your goal to be realistic and achievable or if you would prefer to set a more challenging goal. Try to link your goal with positive emotions. The more desirable your goal the more attainable it will be.
Believe in yourself
If you think that you cannot do something, the chances are you won’t. If you think you can do something you are more likely to succeed.
Try to enjoy the process and reward yourself each time you achieve your goal.
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As a man you are driven by society’s script of the ‘hunter gatherer’ and ‘provider’ with a desire to protect your family.
You have a competitive edge and you want to achieve everything you set out to do and to succeed at every level.
You are self-reliant, independent, strong and tough; asking for support is a sign of weakness. You may well feel your masculinity is under threat even at the very thought of counselling, which in turn could trigger feelings of inadequacy, shame or failure.
So why on earth would you want to see a Counsellor?
Let’s look at the alternative
Over time your problems may well escalate and there is a good possibility you will increase risk taking behaviour, drink more, take drugs, become depressed, isolated and be in a frequent state of anger, anxiety or stress thus, adding to the pressure.
Eventually something has to give and in time you may also notice physical symptoms such as headaches, migraine, stomach pains, backache, loss of libido and other unexplained physical symptoms.
Your health will deteriorate and your personal and professional relationships will be affected.
So why wouldn’t you want to see a Counsellor?
Men and mental health
1 in 6 men experience domestic abuse 
1 in 8 men are diagnosed with a common mental health disorder such as (but not limited to) anxiety and depression 
Men are 3 times more likely to report frequent drug abuse than women 
Men are more than 3 times likely to become alcohol dependent than women 
75% of people who take their own lives are male 
The amount of men seeking counselling is increasing
A small scale survey carried out by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy  revealed 62% of BACP members had a higher percentage of male clients compared to 5 years preceding the study.
Although I did not take part in the above survey, I concur with the findings and have noticed a steady increase in male clients; particularly since working in private practice accepting independent referrals.
At the time of writing this article in 2014, I estimated 45% of my clients were male. That said, the percentage has continued to increase and currently fluctuates between 60% and 70%; suggesting men really are talking more.
Your opportunity to talk
Rather than sticking your head in the sand hoping your problems will disappear, counselling provides you with an opportunity to talk about and offload your problems with a trained professional in a confidential environment.
When you engage in therapy with Julie, she will not judge you, she will accept you unconditionally and she will not only listen to what you say, she will actually hear what you are saying.
It takes courage to ask for and accept support; to engage in counselling is strength not a weakness.
Counselling in itself can be tough; after all you will be focusing on and talking about your emotions however, once you overcome the initial reluctance to see a Counsellor you will notice the benefits; your quality of life will improve.
Looking from the outside in, all is not always as it appears to be.
Everyone’s experience is unique to them, so rather than judge,
endeavour to keep an open mind.
As the festive season approaches many of you will be looking forward to the cheer and wonder of Christmas.
Leading up to Christmas you delight in the planning and preparation; putting up the decorations, buying food and choosing gifts for family and friends. At times you may feel a little anxious and a little stressed but overall there is an air of excitement.
You are looking forward to engaging in family traditions passed down from generation to generation, spending time with loved ones and celebrating the festive season together.
However, there are also many of you who do not share a love or enthusiasm for Christmas.
Some of you may have no choice but to spend Christmas apart from family and friends who either work or live in different parts of the country or overseas.
For some it is as a result of separation or divorce and you will possibly be facing the prospect of either limited or no face to face contact with your children.
If you have lost a loved one due to bereavement you may be spending Christmas alone or you may be with friends and family either way, your loved one will not be with you.
For those of you who are in an abusive relationship, you will know domestic abuse escalates during the festive season and the anxiety and fear will steadily increase as Christmas approaches.
There are of course reasons other than the ones mentioned above why some of you do not want to celebrate Christmas and it is highly likely you will not be the only one wishing it over before it has began.
For those of you who do celebrate the festive season and happen to notice any of your friends, colleagues or employees who do not share your enthusiasm and cheer, consider the fact they are being bah humbug for a reason – a one which they may never share with you.
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