Alison Sutcliffe Counselling & Psychotherapy in the Catford, Forest Hill
& Sydenham area

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Therapeutic Groups & What They Can Offer You

If you're contemplating joining a therapeutic group then the article below, and accompanying video seen here, might be of interest.

The video below captures the full article that is published on Counselling Directory


Blog. Feelings

Feelings & Their Role in Our Lives

I've recently been reading a lot about feelings.

One of the big struggles, that I feel like I see within many of us, is around the feelings we associate with the feelings that we experience e.g. feeling bad about feeling bad.

Linked to this is being afraid to experience our feelings as they do not fit the image we have of ourselves e.g. if I allow myself the time to feel sad that means I am *insert something with negative connotations*.

I found a whole load of quotes that cover how our feelings are our allies; how our feelings are valid and how our feelings are likely to transform if we allow ourselves to experience them fully.

I've pulled out my favourites to share here. All quotes originate from The Courage To Heal by Ellen Bass & Laura Davis:

'…we all need feelings. They are useful messages from which we gain insight and the ability to make wise choices. Feelings, even painful ones, are our allies, telling us what’s going on inside, and often, how to respond to the situations in our lives.'

'When you open up to your feelings you don’t get to pick and choose. They’re a package deal. … To feel, you have to be open to the full spectrum of feelings.'

'I found the fear of feeling and the stress of suppressing my feelings were more painful than the feelings themselves. Some of the feelings - especially the old ones I had to relive - were just as awful as I thought they’d be, but they didn’t last forever.'

'It is reassuring to understand why you feel a certain way or where that feeling originates, but that’s not always possible. Even if you don’t figure it out, the feeling still counts.'

'Paradoxically, the best way to get rid of a feeling is to feel it fully. When you accept and express a feeling, it often transforms.'

'When you’re working with long-denied feelings, the transitions won’t happen as quickly as they will with contemporary feelings, but all feelings, once released, eventually change.'

'Panic is what you feel when you get scared by your own emotions and don’t have the skills to calm yourself down. Or when you’re trying like mad to suppress feelings or memories. Although panic sometimes seems to come out of the blue, there is always a trigger.'


Anxiety – let’s make friends with it

Our anxiety is there trying to alert us to danger – maybe we should make friends with our anxiety to see what it’s trying to tell us?

The video below captures the full article that is published on Counselling Directory


Struggle With Depression

If you, or someone you know, feels that they might be depressed or have depression this TED Talk is for you. Kevin Breel is a comedian and activist who shares his struggle with depression and his further struggle with society’s stigma around this. Kevin shares the side of him that is seen: the popular sports captain winning academic awards…and the side that gets hidden away: the teenager who almost took his own life.

Kevin’s view that “we all struggle and we all suffer” is one that I agree with. I recall reflecting on something similar – at the time it felt like everyone around me had ‘something going on’ that was making life in some way difficult. Was I managing to only see the issues and difficulties? Was I somehow tuning in too strongly to the dark and ignoring the light? I realised I was just becoming more aware of how things were for most people in general…I was becoming more aware that, as Kevin says, “we all struggle and we all suffer” at times…that is just what life is. Life can be amazing and wonderful and it can also be a struggle. And struggling with depression or anxiety or whatever else that life throws at us does not make us weak…it simply makes us human.

The world that Kevin wants for us all is one that I want for us all too…one where it feels okay for us to celebrate the great parts of life alongside it feeling okay to say “I’m going through hell”.

Kevin’s talk is open, honest, powerful and full of hope.


Blog. Choosing

Choosing A Counsellor

Choosing the right counsellor can feel like an important and potentially daunting process…

It is very important that you feel safe and comfortable with your counsellor. Research tells us that how well you relate to your counsellor is likely to determine how successful your counselling is (Cooper, 2010).
For me it was a journey in learning to trust myself as, when I was looking for a counsellor independently, I didn’t get the right counsellor for me first time around.

With my first counsellor I found that I was sharing my feelings and thoughts and at times I’d feel disconnected…like I wasn't being 'got' at the level that I was striving for to allow me to feel safe to open up. Very occasionally I felt like I was being labelled and put into a box…I can understand how this can feel reassuring at times however, at this time, this wasn't the case for me. I wondered whether this was what counselling was like? You know it’s not like it’s supposed to be easy I told myself.

I questioned myself for a little while and then figured I needed to trust myself, take a chance and make a change as somehow it just didn’t ‘feel’ like a good fit to me. This in itself felt like a pretty big step as I was learning to trust my own sense of things.

Despite being scared, it felt like I needed to let my counsellor know that it didn’t seem to be working between us. My heart was pounding with nerves… And then I let them know how I felt…and they completely accepted my perspective and experience. Where was their anger at my 'rejection'? Where were the fireworks? This was an eye-opener for me…I could honestly and openly let someone know how I felt about our relationship and it would be ok…that experience in and of itself was so helpful.

I found my next counsellor through a colleague and pretty much as soon as I contacted her it felt right. Now I’m not saying that you need to have a ‘love at first session’ encounter with your counsellor but it is important to potentially contact a few different counsellors, trust your instincts, ask the questions you need to and not be afraid to say “sorry this doesn’t feel like a good fit for me”.

P125 Cooper M (2008) Essential Research Findings in Counselling and Psychotherapy: The Facts are Friendly 1st Edition, London, SAGE Publications Ltd.


Blog. OnlineCounselling

Is Online Counselling For Me?

Online Counselling can be great for you if you might find it difficult to get to an appointment at the same place at the same time each week. Online Counselling might work for you if feel a little intimidated at the idea of meeting a counsellor face-to-face. Some therapists also offer the option of Online Counselling via email or online chat - if you find it easier to express yourself via writing than talking then Online Counselling might be the way forwards.

If you feel you’d benefit from sitting opposite someone in a room, seeing and feeling their reaction to what you’re sharing immediately, then maybe Face-to-Face Counselling is better suited to your needs?

I’ve written about this subject further in my article exploring Online Counselling published on Counselling Directory.


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