A colleague described beautifully to me the other day the power of unspoken communication in families. You know…the looks. The sighs. The eye rolls. The silences. The walking away. Or crowding in. The body postures. The facial expressions. Many of us grow up in one family of origin, others move through several families in the course of their childhhod. Either way, in each family with time we learn the unconscious rules by which we are expected to live, and the consequ
I could get all sciency and talk about 20 seconds of physical contact causing the participants to release oxytocin (the love hormone), giving a whoosh of feel good and improving mood. Or, I could just remind you that a hug feels good, particularly in these days of social distancing when people are taking care of who they choose to have physical contact with. Family therapist Virginia Satir once said “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance.
Discovering unconscious patterns I was teaching at Bishop Auckland College last week, introducing some concepts from Neuro-Linguistic Programming (#NLP) to their Counselling Degree students. I wanted to share one of the unusual techniques we talked about, it can be fun to do, and also be illuminating. Judith DeLozier, an early NLP exponent, articulated many techniques designed to access unconscious wisdom, going beyond what we know and think to what is held intuitively in ou
When people come into therapy to talk about relationship problems, they often feel that there must be something wrong with them. This is particularly the case when it is not the first time that they have had the problem they are encountering. It may feel like a pattern is repeating over and over, and this can be frustrating and upsetting. Whoever and however we are, we naturally, unconsciously repeat the patterns of our childhood relationship experiences through our life.
When relationships end, it can be difficult. Particularly if you did not want things to change. It may be that a romantic relationship is over, or that a friendship has drifted away despite your best efforts, or even that someone has died. In all of these situations, the relationship between you and the other person is over. However, we construct our reality, and despite this change outside of ourselves, it is not always the case that the relationship is over for us interna
I want to talk today about a simple tool you can use to increase your awareness of how the relationships in your life impact your well-being. You can use it to reflect and consider the changes you might want to make, which relationships to prioritise and nurture, and which to let drift or move away from. All you need to do is draw 4 circles on a page, with a little circle representing you in the middle, and 3 bigger circles around it. The first represents your inner circle,
Today I want to talk about the third stage of Erik Erikson’s psychosocial development model, which is one way of explaining the phases we move through psychologically as we grow. It’s relevant not only to parents, but to us all, as it can help us understand some of the places we may have got stuck in the past, meaning the same themes play out for us again and again through adult life. Stages 1 & 2 were about developing a sense of trust in the world, and finding autonomy and
We come to know ourselves through our interactions with other people. It’s a bit like others hold up a mirror to us, we see ourselves reflected in them, sometimes noticing the things that are the same, and sometimes noticing things that are different. Those differences may be benign, just differences. Sometimes though, we may be hurt or wounded by what people do or say. Their actions and our reaction or response lets us know something about our personal values. When we fe
I’ve been pondering Erik Erikson’s theory of psycho-social development of late, which sets out eight stages of development along our way to maturity. Written in the middle of the 20th century, it still speaks pertinently to the issues that present in the therapy room, and so seems worth highlighting. The first stage Erikson talks about is that of the period of infancy, running up to around 18 months. In this period, we learn our orientation to people and the world in a key
Do you ever hear yourself say something, and think you sounded just like someone else? It may be a parent, partner, friend, child, anyone close really, even a character from television! We are an amalgam of all of our life experiences, including all the people we have spent time with, in reality and even through media and the arts. We cannot not be influenced by others, we are relational beings. When we are in tune with another, mirror neurons are firing, we are able to empa