Emotional Freedom Technique

EFT is a Mind/ Body tool, its’ centuries old and it works by clearing physical and emotional blockages from the energy system.

EFT is gentle, non- invasive and has no side effects.

If that sounds a bit too ‘WOO’ for you, I completely understand but energy medicine has been around for Eons, long before Westerners were treating illnesses with a ‘one size fits all’ approach of pharmaceutical drugs*. Energy medicine was brought to the West in the 1990’s by Roger Callahan who developed a system called Thought Field Therapy® which Gary Craig later developed into EFT.

I was first introduced to EFT by a therapist of mine a number of years back and what I really like about it is that it is really effective when used to heal the effects of trauma. As a therapist who works with people who have had traumatic experiences, what’s even better is that clients don’t need to recall the trauma (which can be re traumatizing) in order to use EFT to heal from it.

This is also especially helpful if a client is unable to recount the memory of their trauma.

A traumatic event is defined as any psychological or emotional response to an event(s) or experience(s) that is (are) deeply disturbing or distressing. We typically think of rape, a serious accident or natural disaster when we are talking about trauma.

Bessel Van Der Kolk states that “Trauma is specifically an event that overwhelms the central nervous system, altering the way we process and recall memories. Trauma is the current imprint of that pain, horror, and fear living inside”.

It could be one incident or many over a prolonged period of time. It could have happened recently or a long time ago.

Many people are unaware that they have experienced trauma but are living with stress responses and bodily reactions in day to day life nevertheless. You might feel ‘out of control’, unsure of what’s happening to you or why, and you may be locked into a vicious cycle of self-medication with food, sex, shopping, gambling, alcohol, drugs or anything that brings temporary relief.

If you have been unable to form close satisfying relationships, you’re having terrifying memories, nightmares, flashbacks, avoiding situations that cause you dis- ease, emotional numbness, a feeling of disconnect from yourself and others, or you’re self-medicating with drugs, alcohol, other risky behaviours, or you have no memory at all of pockets of time or parts of your life, it may be linked to trauma.

The effects of having experienced trauma can be far reaching and long lasting without help to overcome it. It can really negatively impact on relationships with partners and children. You might feel depressed, you might feel irritable, angry and struggle to know what to do with those feelings, finding that you ‘snap’ at the people you most care about with little or no warning. You might withdraw yourself from others, feel debilitating shame, or fear certain situations, you’re not sure why and you feel uneasy. You feel as though the pieces of the puzzle just don’t fit together properly.

Trauma really impacts on confidence and resilience and it holds people back in life. It’s impossible to explain to others what’s happening if you don’t understand it yourself. Anyone close to you may want to help and support you but your behaviour may push them away. It can feel very difficult to admit that you’re struggling.

It is possible to heal from the effects of trauma.

EFT can be used to relieve the effects of trauma and PTSD. It is also helpful with a multitude of other issues like pain, anxiety, stress and phobias. It is simple, effective and quick and it works by calming the Amygdala, which is the part of the brain that is fired up when the body experiences trauma.

EFT interrupts the neural pathways in the brain, it decreases blood flow to the Amygdala and increases Endorphins. Encouraging coherent thought and balanced brain activity and therefore restores a sense of calm.

I have found EFT to be a very helpful tool when used with Psychotherapy and Counselling and if you would like to know more about EFT please email me: talktodialogues@gmail.com and we can arrange a chat.

Violence Against women and Girls

Personally, I am so tired of hearing and reading about the murders of more women and children in this country (and anywhere actually), at the hands of men who could have received help before things ‘got out of hand’.

As Vera Baird states in Alexandra Topping’s article in the Guardian this morning, “‘low level’ offending against women and girls can mark out a predatory attitude… which can speedily escalate if not tackled”.

Misogyny or the hatred of women, idealised power and control and toxic attitudes towards women are undeniably at the root cause of this unprecedented pandemic of violence against women that we are all witnessing.

When will it end?

It will only end when society wakes up and realises that male violence will end when men stop using violence to satisfy themselves. The murder of Sarah Everard taught us women what we already know. If someone is intent on murdering us, they will find a way to do so. Depressing as it is, and some have been lucky, but even if we tell friends where we are going and when we will be back, this will not stop men from being violent.

We need to listen to women. We need support for parents raising children, pro-active interventions for boys that challenge toxic masculinity, we need to champion all positive role models in sports, education, business, ecology, science, spirituality, we need in depth long term treatment plans for perpetrators of violence, we need prison rehabilitation programmes for men who have used violence- with proven outcomes. We need to look at how women are ‘used’ and portrayed in society and adjust the sway, we need to educate girls to notice negative influences, behaviours that can be subtle and attitudes towards them and empower girls to believe in and support each other.

It is only when our governments, (who are still, largely men), recognise what’s happening, acknowledge what the root causes of violence are and begin to value women and our experiences by listening to us and learning from us, that lessons will be learnt and changes will be made that will benefit men and women.

Positive change will happen when Governments invest fully in Psychological therapies, mandatory programmes that teach men about how to manage their behaviour and alternatives from using violence that boys and men will be more content in their lives, society will feel more equal, and women will eventually begin to feel safer.

Pledging funding to organisations supporting victim/survivors is great and much needed but if we really want to end this pandemic, we need to prevent boys from growing into violent men in the first place.

If you have been affected by any of the issues I have raised here, please feel welcome to get in touch by email: talktodialogues@gmail.com

I work with victim/survivors of male violence and I also work with men who are violent.

P.S- I know not all men use violence, I know women can use violence too and I know that not all boys will grow into violent men. I am talking about the ones that will.

Creating positive change

As Summer changes to Autumn here in the beautiful South Pennines my mind wanders and contemplates a return to well-trod routines… I love routines because feeling a sense of achievement and ‘getting stuff done’ is both essential and important to me. However, when routines become more about ‘doing more’ and ‘being less’ I begin to feel out of kilter.

Being out of kilter can be a feeling of being off balance, strung out or stressed. That energy has to go somewhere and it could come out side-ways at the people that least deserve it if it isn’t caught in time.

For me the permission I give myself during summer to have a really good break helps me to re set and keeps me on track. During Summer I naturally spend some time reflecting on how I am using my minutes, hours, days and months and I choose to change things if I’m feeling stuck or if the things I am doing are no longer of benefit.

If you have school age children you might be contemplating a return to the rush of that routine and wondering how you are going to fit everything in again. I know what that’s like. Maybe you’re looking forward to them going back so you have more time. I also know what that’s like. Or maybe you’ll feel directionless and lost when they aren’t around during the day. I also know what that’s like!

Please know that you can change anything you want to, whether it’s a physical action, a behaviour, a way of life, a thought- anything.

When I feel like I need a change… I find a way to make it happen.

Because doing what you’ve always done won’t make change happen and neither will hoping someone else will do it for you. And BTW doing nothing is still making a decision.

There’s nothing wrong with doing nothing as long as you’re happy.

So this is about the desire to make change happen even if your mind is telling you can’t for some reason.

Whilst you may genuinely not have time in your current routine, it is possible to change your routine to create more time. It’s a question of digging deeper.

For me digging deeper means assessing my priorities and sometimes- getting up earlier in the morning or asking for help. I realise I may not be popular right now! But seriously, no one is going to do it for you and it’s so empowering to be in the driving seat of your life.

So I ask you, is there an aspect of your life that you’d like to tweak or change and can you dig deeper in order to make it happen?

Email me for information on my new 6 week daily practice to create positive change in your life.

Relationships

A holiday this summer seemed the kind of luxury that was out of reach for many but to be able to take a break from the normal routine and mix things up a bit can be hugely beneficial.

If life is feeling mundane, any perceived loss of freedom can add extra pressure to relationships and people may look to distractions in the form of excessive alcohol use, gambling, porn addiction and over eating which are all common coping mechanisms for feelings of unhappiness.

Achieving ‘down time’ at home is not always easy and if there is seemingly nothing to look forward to feelings of boredom, loss of excitement, loss of motivation and zest for life can dominate.

There is no doubt that the Covid 19 pandemic has created a move towards life online but a less ‘connected’ life. Others lives can appear easier, more interesting and more exciting when processed through a filter. This is of no help at all if we are feeling unsatisfied with our own life.

So it can be of no surprise that there has been a rise in relationship breakdown. Unfortunately our throwaway society feeds us messages that tell us we ‘should’ be happy, we deserve to have what other people have and that happiness can be achieved externally. Often the grass appears greener and it’s easier to point the finger of blame at the people in our lives. It takes self-awareness to look inside at our own negative feelings, take responsibility for them and explore ways to change them.

To truly connect with others takes an investment of energy, time and patience. We need to be present. Relationships require us to commit to considering the needs of others, not to the detriment of our own needs, but as a priority. Giving your time to listen and understand someone’s perspective is a valuable thing and this is the kind of work that is rewarding, feels positive and fosters a feeling of connectedness and strength within a relationship. Disagreements and constructive arguments can all be beneficial if greater understanding is gleaned afterwards.

It’s always good to talk things through. Even when it’s tempting to clam up, sulk or brush things under the carpet. Couples counselling can help provide the safe environment to work through difficult to talk about issues.

A relationship requires maintenance much like a car needs servicing and counselling provides couples with the space to air any unspoken feelings. It keeps the relationship on track and ensures both partners needs are openly communicated, considered and empathised with. Giving adequate time to the functionality of a relationship and nurturing love is critical if a relationship is to survive long term. It’s also a very proactive step in committing to the happy continuation of a couple’s lives together.

Ask me about my Eco Walk and Talk sessions…

Are you considering counselling but feel that sitting in a counselling room doesn’t do it for you? For some people the thought of counselling face to face or online 121 is intimidating, too intense or anxiety inducing.

I wanted to take a moment or two to talk about the Eco Walk and Talk sessions that I’ve been doing, they’ve become quite popular (and not just because the weather has suddenly improved!).

I decided to offer these kinds of sessions to some clients for whom face to face therapy was challenging and off putting. I believe that everyone who wants counselling should be able to access it and it seemed to me that for anyone for whom the counselling room feels intimidating might benefit from being in the therapeutic environment that is nature.

Walk and Talk sessions aren’t for everyone and often there is value in whatever feelings are brought into the counselling room. They can be talked through together and worked through but for people who would not otherwise seek counselling because the room is a barrier, I feel this type of session is a beneficial alternative.

Come rain or shine being amongst nature offers the most incredible healing environment. I challenge anyone not to feel better after a stroll through long grass, under the bows of aging trees or through trickling streams.

Women in films

I am really passionate about working with women and empowering women and girls. The continual undermining of women and abuse of women as sex objects that exists in popular films, media, online, in pornography and the sexual entertainment industry is extremely damaging to how men view women and to women themselves and I wonder whether we are all so conditioned we hardly notice it.

Watch any mainstream film with a certification of 15 or over and watch how women are portrayed. How much female nudity for example do you see compared to male for example?

Who plays the lead role and how are they portrayed? I’m not saying there aren’t enough women actors in lead roles, it isn’t as simple as that. I am talking about the way women are portrayed in films. Even if the female character is the lead often their strength is depicted through their sexuality and I can’t help but think that films are made mainly for a male audience. Not surprising as the majority of film directors are still men.   

This depiction of women in films continues the gender stereotyping of women and continues to peddle to idea that sex sells and that women’s bodies exist for the pleasure and benefit of others.  

I’m not a film expert or particularly knowledgable about media but I am a woman and I have watched a few films. I’m uncomfortable that there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of equality in films and film making, many of the ideas are out of date and the messaging is seldom positive. It’s disappointing to see so many variations on the same themes, when there is so much potential.  

You might be thinking, what’s the big deal, this is so minimal compared to what’s going on in the world but I’d disagree.

At the root of male violence against women is a massive issue about how women are perceived in society and continually disempowered. People look to the media, Kids are impressionable, and what they read and see forms the basis of how they see themselves and the views they have of others. The media has a huge role in taking responsibility for the types of content in the material they produce.

The sliding scale that is male violence against women begins with cat calling in the street, lower pay for women, discounting of the kinds of qualities associated with being a woman, sexualising women and girls, discounting and undervaluing the caring professions. It extends to stalking and the kinds of physical abuse that spring to mind on first thought and then murder.

It’s time to demand change. Women have grown up expecting to have to protect ourselves against the behaviour and actions of men, quieting ourselves down and fading into the back ground so that we don’t attract attention and risk harm. Women expect that we must protect ourselves from the unwanted attention of men when we are out at night, walking to the shops, picking up our children from school or taking physical exercise. Why should we have to when they could just STOP.

I for one are tired of how women are portrayed in films and I want things to change. Let’s not allow our voices to be silenced, let’s play big and support each other into positions where we can facilitate positive change. Men, be our allies and support women into positions where we can add to the conversation and together we can all benefit from the diversity.

Male Violence Against Women an important read.

How many more women and children are going to be murdered by a partner/ boyfriend, husband or ex before the government and wider society begins to take the pandemic of male violence against women seriously and fund more work to prevent it from happening?

Let’s not be afraid to talk about this openly and call it what it is. Look at the stats and tell me it isn’t as big an issue as we think it is. It is, it’s as complex an issue as it is simple and I’ve wanted to write for the website on this subject for some time.

It isn’t enough to ask ‘Why doesn’t she just leave?’ This shows how little we know and care to find out about the issue if our answer to it is to blame the victim. When will we begin to challenge the abuser and instead ask ‘Why doesn’t he stop?’

By the way, the use of the word ‘victim’ is insulting to the strength and endurance of survivors who are all too aware that to leave will place themselves and their children at greater risk of harm from this man. Women are at greater risk from their abusive partners after they have left a relationship and they know this because they live with the threats.

When women have children with men, can they ever be free of them if they do leave the relationship because courts often support the rights of abusive men to have contact with their children.

By the way, the abuser starts out as charming, they don’t show their abusive behaviour from the off. Instead they select a partner who is appealing to them. Often women who are kind, gentle, caring and forgiving as these women are the easiest to dominate and abuse. They only begin to show this behaviour after the woman is in some way trapped. They might be married, have children, in some way be enmeshed financially, it’s no longer as easy as just getting up and walking out. And let’s be clear, men are choosing to behave in this way because it gets them what they want. They can choose to change it too.

Let’s also remember that our society disempowers women routinely and empowers men and so many women don’t recognise behaviour as abusive when they first experience it because as women many of us have been conditioned from birth to be quiet, kind, gentle and compliant.

I demand that all men take responsibility for their behaviour and call out inappropriate behaviour when they see it amongst friends, peers, colleagues and family members.  It’s about time men grow the courage to stand up and say they are done with having to conform to what it means to be a man too. We all have the ability to reflect on our behaviour and it’s long overdue.

Our government and wider society have enabled a patriarchal system where men are continually excused for all kinds of poor behaviour and treated as though they have special rights. In careers where men still earn more and where women still feel the pressure to do the lion’s share of the parenting and house work as well as having a career and where men are exonerated for being good fathers if they do the school run, change a nappy or juggle the food shop with the kids in tow.  If these are their own children, it’s not babysitting, it’s parenting why should the woman be expected to do it all just because they are a woman? A man raising his children as a single father is held up in society and receives respect and women are routinely looked down upon and considered ‘less than’ when they are single parents.

Could it be that there is a belief that it is somehow the woman’s fault that she became a single parent?

I believe so, the continual undermining of women and abuse of women as objects that exists for others is extremely damaging to how men view women and to women themselves.

Men, stand with women as our equals, let’s all look at ourselves and let’s all move forward respecting each other, building on our individual strengths and shrug off these out of date gender norms.

I write empowerment programmes for girls and women, to raise awareness of abuse so that women can recognise the signs. Please email me for more details.

Choosing a therapist

I’ve had quite a few enquiries this week from prospective new clients and it reminded me of when I was choosing a therapist for the first time and embarking on this journey quite some time ago now.

It takes a great deal of courage to consider beginning in therapy let alone taking the first step to contact a therapist. I guess if you’re reading this you will be looking at my website and you may possibly be wondering if I would be a good therapist for you to work with.

If you’ve found me on Counselling Directory or Psychology Today, then you may have also read my profile on the BACP website. Hopefully you’ve also had a look around this website and got an idea of how I work. This is essential. I’d even suggest approaching maybe three therapists that stand out, having a consultation or initial chat with them before making any decisions. Being a member of a large body or organisation is important as high standards of work and ethics are critical. As a client you’ll want to be choosing a therapist that has both experience and a reputable qualification and on top of that you’ll want to find someone that you feel you connect with initially.

Counselling is so much about the relationship between the client and the therapist and it does take time to develop that relationship. You’ll know if you’ve found someone you can work with by listening to your inner voice or gut instinct. Your feeling of safety with that person is essential to the work you’ll do together so do follow your instincts and take your time to find the right therapist for you. A good therapist will listen and to their client and will be open to talking together about whatever comes into the session.

If you’re considering therapy and you’d like an initial chat with me, please email in the first instance and I wont hesitate to get back to you as soon as possible.

Best wishes, Jo.

Lockdown challenges

I was thinking a bit about some of the challenges many of us are facing right now and wondering how many of us are focussing on the positives?

I know I haven’t always been. But if I stop to think and look around me, working remotely has allowed me some additional balance in life and I wonder how I managed without it.

I crave a feeling of normality, much like anyone else. I wonder if that feeling will ever return? In the meantime, where is our focus and how do we try to begin to notice the positives when we are surrounded by limitations, challenges and depressing stories.

For me find it helpful to limit my access to the news. I’ve re discovered a love of reading and I get outside as much as I can. I love nature walks.

Walking in nature truly allows me to feel alive. It provides clarity of thought and space to explore whatever’s coming up for me.

I love working with people, I find people inspiring. I learn so much from working with people- about others and myself. Connecting with people is so essential to human wellbeing, and during this time of increased isolation it’s critical that people stay connected to those close to them in any way possible.

Look for opportunities to connect in new ways, try to be creative and explore new ideas and new past times. Invest your time in activities that allow you to move your body and if you can take that activity outside, that’s even better! Try to do things that raise your energy levels rather than deplete them.

If you’re someone who feels they have no one who they feel connected to, You wont be alone in feeling that. Many people have lost touch with friends or relatives due to family ruptures and disagreements. For many, lockdown has highlighted a lack of authentic relationships, absence or difficulties that perhaps were not evident in the general hubub of the light of day before.

There is opportunity there though. Seek out new connections, find old friends, work on your own self development. Just because it’s like this now, doesn’t mean it always will be. Your life is your own and you can steer it in any direction you choose.

If you would like to chat with me about setting out on a new course in your life, send me an email. I can help you focus on what you want and support you in taking the steps to get there.

talktodialogues@gmail.com.

Happy New Year!

I’ve had a restful break, I hope you have too. It felt really important for me to take some time out to connect with and check back in with myself after such a challenging year.

And we are still being challenged aren’t we? I haven’t heard of a single person who hasn’t felt challenged beyond what they’ve felt they could cope with. These are unprecedented and unimagined times. On the whole we are coping and finding new ways of being resourceful and maybe even finding some positives, if I dare to say that?

It never ceases to amaze me how resourceful human beings can be. I hear incredible stories all the time of people being kind, caring and generous to those who are struggling and unable to cope. Often human beings shine in the most adverse conditions.

I am choosing to focus on the positive here. I know this isn’t the case for some. I urge you to show kindness and offer support, if you are able, to anyone who appears to be being challenged beyond what they are able to cope with.

And if you’re the one really struggling I urge you to reach out for help. Is there someone: a family member, friend or neighbour who you could ask to help you?

Counselling can help. If you’re considering approaching a counsellor it’s important to find one that you feel able to work with, so feel welcome to take them up on their initial offering, whether that’s a brief chat, consultation or introductory session.

There are fewer limitations as sessions are online and so counsellors are experiencing opportunities to work with clients further a field than ever before. If you’d like to enquire about my availability please email:

talktodialogues@gmail.com.