Toxic positivity- when looking on the bright side doesn’t quite cut it.

Toxic positivity- when looking on the bright side doesn’t quite cut it.

In a world which feels increasingly alarming, the quickest way to feel more grounded and positive is to take stock of what is right and good around you. Books such as the classic manifestation bible The Secret by Rhona Byrne reinforce the notion that with gratitude and awareness of what we already have we can naturally create more of what we want or need. Want more money? Count your blessings for what you already have and ask the universe humbly to grace you with more. Want to change your course in life? Notice the different avenues that are already available to you and keep an open mind. Simple right?

Practices such as listing ten things that you are grateful for every morning and evening is a great way to flood your brain with positivity and puts us in a frame of mind where we are tuned in to all the wonderful things we already have in our lives, even if it something minuscule such as ‘I woke up healthy, I have people around me I love, I have money to afford my morning cup of coffee’. In a society that increasingly cashes in on tragedy and fear, seeing the bright side of things can make a huge positive impact on the way we see the world.

The flip side of this however is the notion that, much like good thoughts can manifest good things, bad thoughts can also manifest bad things, which can in turn sometimes put us off even considering the not so pleasant aspects of life. Our brains are very good at creating shortcuts and generalising. We like to place things into categories or use stereotypes, so as to access information quickly, and because of this we are predisposed to sort good and bad things into different categories. But as we all know, life is never black and white, and instead is a whole technicolour of grey.

While a great way to introduce more positivity into our day to day living, one set back of focusing entirely on the good that is happening in our lives, and shutting out the bad, means that we are susceptible to ignoring the very real things that are not so perfect. Denial and avoidance of the darker side of reality is a very effective defence mechanism and can in some instances keep us safe, but at other times can make life actually more difficult.

Long term avoidance of nuance can leave us vulnerable as we are not gaining the resilience we would normally get when dealing with hard to cope with situations. While in a crisis it may be more important to focus on what is going right, or what we do have control over, when the crisis is averted it is still important to take stock of the events of reality and see what can be learnt from what has happened. Being able to tolerate the darker sides of life is a valuable skill which is necessary to equip us for times when we are in a corner and have no option but to work our way through things.

Sometimes this idea of ignoring things and hoping for the best can be a throwback to our childhood, where we felt out of control and so focussed on only the things which didn’t feel too scary to cope with. Growing up in a situation where there was no space to acknowledge the bad things going on, else it might be to the detriment of us either mentally or physically, can end up leaving you in a place where you are not entirely honest with yourself about how life is panning out. As adults we are in a more privileged position to be able to look back from relative comfort and see that maybe some things growing up were not ideal, but we can find the tools now to work through difficult situations.

Feeling able to cope with stress, being able to adapt when circumstances change and understanding that it is ok when things are less than perfect are valuable life skills which can be built on over time. If you are feeling increasingly as though you can’t cope with life’s ups and downs why not get in touch with The Henry Centre, Southend where there is a team of therapists who will be able to guide you through past thought processes and build resilience for the future.

Different types of Therapy at a glance

Different types of Therapy at a glance

Beginning the process of finding therapy can be a bit of a minefield. As well as considering cost, time and if you click with your therapist, there is also the fact that there are many different types of counselling which needs to be added into the mix. While the term therapist or counsellor can be used for a whole myriad of therapeutic disciplines, some types of therapy work better for different problems. Today we are going to have a very brief roundup of a couple of the more common therapy types which may be helpful when considering what type of counselling would suit you best.

First up is CBT. This is the therapy type which is most commonly offered by the NHS and is usually available in short courses of around 6-12 weeks. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a technique used to rejig how we think and respond to situations and will often involve homework to practice between therapy sessions.

Rather than talking about where the problems you are having have come from, CBT is more concerned with changing how you respond to stressful situations and help you to essentially condition yourself to cope with problems in a more manageable way. CBT is a great way to overcome day to day anxiety and unhelpful habits, such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and help lesson symptoms from unwanted thought patterns. It is also something that can be used on a day-to-day basis, either integrated into another therapy type or as a standalone process.

The Psychodynamic approach is the type of therapy people often think of when they imagine traditional therapy and it is rooted in the idea of there being a subconscious layer to our brain. It is mainly concerned with looking for patterns in behaviour and looking back at when these patterns formed and what purpose they serve both then and now. Working closely with the idea of the subconscious- most commonly associated with dreams and ‘Freudian slips’, it explores the idea that we may have feelings or emotions driving our behaviour which may not be rational or indeed conscious to us. Exploring where these unconscious responses originated from can help us figure out why we respond to things in different ways and if these responses or coping mechanisms are still useful to us in our adult lives.

While CBT is great for coping with the symptoms of mental health problems, Psychodynamic counselling is interested in finding out where these symptoms have come from and what coping strategies we are using to try to cope with day-to-day issues. In a psychodynamic setting it is likely that a therapist will ask you lots of questions about your childhood memories, what your family dynamic is like and what your understanding of your past and present situations are. This type of therapy also works to create an environment where you can be curious about looking at these situations in different ways and challenge unhelpful thought patterns.

Humanistic therapy is also another common type of counselling, though differs from the previous two somewhat. This type of therapy does not focus on the client’s past particularly and instead looks at what is going on for them in the present. For the most part, Humanistic therapy uses empathy and unconditional positive regard to foster a safe space for the client which allows for complete openness and honesty to flourish. It places the client at the centre of the interaction and listens carefully to the experiences of the client without any criticism, only interest. While Psychodynamic theory suggests that we are all a product of our environment and experiences, the Humanistic approach takes into account the personal differences we have and helps the client to find their own authentic self. This type of counselling can often feel empowering and help to remind us that we are in charge of our own destiny.

Often the reason you come to therapy has an influence on what type of therapy would serve you best and it is worth remembering that one type of counselling does not fit all problems or indeed people. Therapy is a big commitment, both in a time and monetary sense and so it is important to choose the right therapist and the right therapy type for you.

If you feel that you would like to start your journey into counselling but are not sure where to start, why not get in touch with The Henry Centre in Southend and take a look at the different therapy options available that might work best for you.

 

How to choose the right therapist

How to choose the right therapist

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How to choose the right therapist

How to choose the right therapist

 Making the first step towards getting help with your mental health can feel like a massive one. Many people have the mentality that they should somehow be able to cope with whatever life throws at them and that asking for help is either a sign of a failure to do that or an imposition on others. It is not uncommon to hear clients rubbish their own experiences and claim ‘I have nothing to worry about, other people have it worse’, when of course that is not the point at all.

 Talk therapy is a great cathartic tool to help understand past trauma, notice unhelpful patterns, process difficult life experiences and so much more. It is however a big commitment, both in time and money, and so it is important to invest wisely.

 When the time does feel right to seek help it can sometimes feel confusing knowing just where to start. Often the best way to look for a private therapist is to search via the online counselling directory which will allow you to search for therapists in your local area, or to look for private practices near to where you live or work. This directory will give you the option of searching for therapists who work with specific issues or to filter your options by the type of therapy training they have. At this point it might be an ideal to have a look at the kinds of therapy available and consider what might work best for you. Are you looking to find coping strategies- which may be best suited to CBT, or deeper talk therapies such as Psychodynamic or Integral.

 

Qualifications & Experience

 Surprisingly the term ‘counsellor’ or ‘psychotherapist’ is not a protected term in this country so there can be large discrepancies as to the quality of therapists out there. One counsellor may have done a quick online course, whereas another may have had 3 years of teaching and have had to have a certain number of hours working with clients as a trainee to qualify. The only way to find out the extent of a therapist’s training is to look at their credentials, ask them directly or choose to see someone at a practice where all staff need to be a certain calibre to work there. 

 Qualifications such as MA in counselling or a higher education training programme where the therapists have practical, on the job experience means that you will be getting a higher quality of therapy. Therapists may then go on to specialise in certain areas or undergo extra training which complements the qualifications they already have.

 As well as checking qualifications it is also best to look for a therapist who is registered or accredited with a governing body, such as either the BACP, UKCP or BPC. These governing bodies will only allow those with adequate training and practical experience to be registered with them. It also works to safeguard the client, as if there are any problems in the therapy room that need to be flagged up, a governing body is who you would go to with a complaint.

It is worth keeping in mind that if you are a parent or guardian looking for a child therapist you will need to check that they are both trained to work with children and adolescents as well as having a full DBS check.

Chemistry

Some therapists will offer a shorter, free first session as a form of assessment, so that you are able to get to know each other and speak about what you want to get out of therapy before committing to long term work together.  During this time, it is a good idea to relay what you would like to get out of therapy and the kind of experiences you are working with as your therapist may need to have more specialised experience in order to provide the best quality care. In the case of a therapist not feeling like they have the skillset to work with the issues you are facing, they will often signpost you to a more relevant service. This in no way means that therapy is not right for you, or that you somehow cannot be helped, just that you might not get the best quality of therapy from that particular person.

The last thing to consider is purely whether there is chemistry between the two of you. Therapy is a very intimate space and you need to feel as though you are comfortable to speak freely and openly about anything. If you feel at any point there is a sense of judgement or that your struggles are not being understood then don’t feel bad about switching therapists. Even if your therapist ticks all the other boxes, if you feel like you are holding back or are being made to feel uncomfortable do not feel bad about telling your therapist you would like to end with them.

 

The Henry Centre

When considering looking for talk therapy why not consider The Henry Centre, Southend. With a range of therapists, each with specific specialisms, who all are fully qualified and registered with the appropriate governing bodies, you are bound to find the right fit for you. Have a browse through our therapist’s profiles and start your journey into therapy today.

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