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uncomfortable that there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of equality in films and film making, many of the ideas are out of date and the messaging is seldom positive.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.


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:


Considering the benefits of online counselling.

I like to think aloud… in my own head that is. That’s ‘aloud’ to me…

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can make sure that everyone who wants or needs counselling can access it. It seems to me that being able to access counselling via one of the online methods or video phoning methods is a good idea.

What’s most important in counselling is the relationship between the counsellor and client to work together productively.

I believe in making counselling accessible so that anyone who needs it or wants it can access it irrespective of their circumstances, accessibility, income level or available time.

Counselling and Psychotherapy is often only available to those who can afford it, both financially and have the time to invest. Whilst there is something in investing in yourself financially, at the end of the day, if you’re on a low income and need to feed your children, the priority will be the children.

“After a dramatic turning point in my life, I realised that I needed and wanted counselling. I wanted to talk through the things that were challenging me with someone who wouldn’t judge, so that I could make a balanced decision, having considered all possibilities and outcomes. I found a counsellor, had sessions in the evenings, paid a babysitter to look after the children and started the journey. I found a way to pay for it and I am so glad I did. Things fell into place, the kids looked forward to the babysitter coming over and I looked forward to the ‘space’ it provided and I felt as though I was dealing with my issues proactively.”- LM 2014.

Dialogues counselling is able to offer a number of agreed sessions at a concessionary rate, for those who would like to access the service and would not normally be able to. Please feel welcome to email us, we would be happy to discuss this further.

Welcome to the new website……

I’m new to tech….

I’m amazed I have managed to publish this. I’m kind of amazed anyone is reading this.

I want to use this section of the website to communicate more about the service and what we have to offer. What we think, What we stand for, What’s important to us and that sort of thing. I’ll post links to interesting articles as often as I can. Whether you’re a therapist, counsellor, psychotherapist or client interested in psychoeducation, you might find it interesting to follow along.

My particular areas of interest/ expertise are trauma and working with attachment issues.

Let me know what you think by offering feedback either via email or social media and if you’re also a counsellor or therapist, let me know what you’re up to. I am always interested to connect with others- there’s so much learning to be done and we can learn so much from each other.

I read this article the other day. I am interested in negative masculinity and the impact this has on men and their partners and children.

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude”.

– Maya Angelou

It’s true. Generally, I am a believer in the ethos that if something ceases to make me happy (or at least content) then I have the right and the responsibility to do something about it. After all, life Is for living isn’t it? If I can’t quite manage happy, I am at least allowed to be content, aren’t I?

That might mean making a decision to say ‘NO’, making a decision to say ‘YES’ or deviating from a well trodden path.

Occasionally, when we have tried everything or when there truly is no way around, the only option left to us it to change our outlook or our mindset. Change how we view the situation. Counselling can help with this.

Counselling can help us to sort through our feelings and thoughts, explore possibilities and it gives space to ruminate on outcomes and ponder ‘what ifs’. We can’t always do that with the people in our lives because sometimes the decisions we make affect them too and cause change in their lives (there’s a ripple effect) and not everyone appreciates that. People also like to give advice and it’s not always advice that we need- more of a sounding board. IT’s also often biased advice based on their perspective, experience and knowledge of how they see us.

It’s best when we are able to make decisions for ourselves based on what we want and who we are, uninfluenced by anyone else’s agenda. Counselling offers the space to say exactly how we feel and gives the opportunity to feel the freedom of truly being ourselves- if we are brave enough to go there. (That’s one reason why finding the right counsellor is important).

It is only when we have taken the time to explore our thoughts and feelings, that we can look at a situation or circumstance objectively and decide to find the freedom in changing how we view it.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”- Anais Nin