How good is your tool kit?

It didnt matter

People often ask “what can counselling do for me? it’s just a chat, right”?  Well, yes we do chat, but I have used the ‘building a toolkit analogy’ which helps explain…

So, consider the scenario.  You need a new door knocker.  Off to Bunnings we go, get past the Sausage Sizzle, straight to the door knocker aisle.  There they are, all 5,000 of them, gleaming with shiny stuff, different fixings, different knocks, different styles.  The wonderful expert comes to ask “what are you looking for – functionality or design?” A fair question and one which you had not really thought of.  You like the heavy brass one but realise it may need a drill, a bigger screwdriver, some brass bolts and a spirit level to install it.

This is like the first session in counselling.  Establishing what you really need and why you want it.  What has worked before, what has not worked so well.  What would an alternative approach be like? Do you have the skills and mental energy to grow?  What gets in the way?

The next stage is to work out what tools you have already.  These are your resources, your problem solving skills, your network, your family, your strengths and your barriers.  These tools are usually already in the tool box, maybe hidden under the gardening gloves, perhaps needing an oil and a good dusting.

Working with a counsellor can help you realise what you have, and what you can build upon.   It is a good way to establish how strong the tools you have in place are and what needs to change to get to where you want.  You may want to consider new tools.  These could look at further education and research, coping mechanisms, new strategies, asking others for support and guidance.  You may wish to set new goals and work out how you are going to stick with them and see them through.

Self-efficacy is about building upon beliefs of capability and in the case of the door knocker exercise, can start at the door and lead to building a new extension (which often happens – expensive door knocker, right?).

Working through issues in counselling is about considering the task and how it evolves.  How you put yourself back together again.  Something to be proud of.

You’ll have a new tool kit too.

What are you going to build next?


The new “selfie”

In the UK, it is Mental Health Awareness week.  This falls in October for Australia.  Not that it matters when and where given that the internet helps us be aware whichever country we reside.

It’s all good though.  A lot of celebrities and Royals are talking about it and allowing “average” Jo or Joe to feel normal and comforted that life can be a struggle sometimes and that it’s OK.  In recent years, we have certainly moved on in terms of talking about mental illness and mental health support, yet suicide is on the up.  It seems we are missing a trick, maybe.

Also on the up is the need to be just perfect, whatever perfect is.  We have become a wonderland of beauty and selfies.  We do all sorts of things to be beautiful and then we put pictures up on social media.  Of ourselves.  And usually on our own.  Imagine Mona Lisa doing that?

According to Ann Steele’s article (see link) there are some great reasons behind the selfie.  They define you.  They provide a space to be part of the selfie tribe.  They allow you to say whatever you want the viewer to see and understand.  A good selfie, with the right angle (there’s a technique to this I understand) and good lighting, chin up, etc., we look fantastic.   And whilst this is all good, it’s a bit short lived.  Until the next selfie, that is.  Click here for more info…

For me, I’d like to link mental health to mental wealth and call that the new selfie!  If you made a small investment in yourself, you can gain rich rewards.  Shoving the niggles and the struggles and the “I’M FINE” statements to one side do not often melt away.  They need to be talked about, managed, dealt with.  And when you’ve dealt with those, look for other selfie tasks you would like to tackle.  And grow.  And feel better about yourself.

So.  As this is seemingly timely and we are in mental health awareness mode after all, have a quick check on yourself and decide if your inner selfie is happy.  If not, talk to someone, no matter how trivial you think it is. 

Let’s not be “average” or “I’m fine” anymore.  Let’s be Mona and find inner peace.  She has always held a healthy debate…. personally, I reckon she’s smiling.

Mona Lisa Selfie

The stigma of “counselling”

For some, it takes a lot of courage to seek a counsellor.  Often thoughts of weakness arise, that they can’t cope.  Which can be known as shameful.  And often it’s the beginning of something they have hidden or shunned before.  Which can be painful.  The journey into the unknown is scary.  But once the journey begins, it gets easier.  

The relationship between client and counsellor is the key ingredient here.  Is it easy? Sometimes yes, often, no.  Is it worth it?  Possibly.  I say possibly as it depends on so many variables but in most cases, it’s a YES.

Look at stigma and the negatives which come with it – as others’ perceptions, not yours.  

Embrace, release and be vulnerable.  There’s the strength right there.

Will it be easy- Nope...Worth it-Possibly...

5 Steps to Positive Change


Happy New Year!

Is it though?  Does this picture look familiar?  Every year, the beginning of January tends to put us under pressure to write the traditional list of “New Years Resolutions.”  These usually involve tasks to better ourselves; to reset the gauge; to change something; to give up something, to do something fulfilling and enriching!  And it all starts off with such good intentions yet how many of these life goals are actually achieved during the year?  The truth is, hardly any are even carried through by the end of January.

This itself, leads us into a state of failure!  Until next January 1st, that is.

Let us take a step back and imagine the energy “bowl” you are starting with – it is often empty by the time 31st December arrives.  Before we try to refill the bowl, have a think and look at what is most important to you and reflect back on these areas:

  1. You.

Overall, how was the last year for you?  Did you enjoy it?  What irritated you?  What went well for you?  What would you like to change this year?  Who do you need to help you?  Think about the strengths you had to find to overcome any difficulty.

  1. Happiness.

Who gave you happiness?  What made you feel fulfilled?  What gave you purpose?  Build on these thoughts and push on with more.  If you find you didn’t reach much happiness (let’s face it, 2016 was a pretty dire year for many it seems), draw upon times when then they did.

  1. Goals.

Are they realistic?  Making goals manageable ensures you create small wins.  Small wins create mastery and lead onto bigger wins.  Bigger wins enable bigger goal creation.  Start with something you can achieve and build upon it.  Make the goals SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed).

  1. Being Accountable.

Tell a trusted “someone” your hopes and dreams for a positive change in 2017, this means they may be able to see how you are doing; join you in encouragement or even challenge any reluctance you may face.

  1. Keeping the bowl full.

For every imaginary chocolate M&M coming out of the bowl – oh that’s called life – keep in mind that challenges arise and then goals need to change and adapt.  Rearrange your goals accordingly and regularly.  Don’t set yourself up for failure or disappointment and don’t give up.  Keep the bowl full – you can’t feed yourself or others from an empty bowl.