How to Improve Communication with Your Partner

It is well known that communication is the foundation of any strong relationship. When partners can communicate effectively, they are better able to understand each other, resolve conflict, and build intimacy.

However, communication can be difficult, especially when partners have different communication styles or when they are dealing with conflict. If you’re looking to improve communication with your partner, here are some tips:

  • Understand your own communication style. What is your natural way of communicating? Are you direct or indirect? Do you prefer to talk about your feelings or do you tend to bottle things up?
  • Learn your partner’s communication style. How does your partner prefer to communicate? Are they direct or indirect? Do they like to talk about their feelings or do they prefer to avoid conflict?
  • Find a common ground. Once you understand your own and your partner’s communication styles, you can start to find a common ground. This means finding ways to communicate that work for both of you. Think about how your different, or even similar communication styles might keep you stuck? Speak to your partner about the differences in your communication styles and think together about how you can move past any blocks these may create.
  • Be respectful. Even if you disagree with your partner, it’s important to be respectful of their opinions and feelings. This means avoiding name-calling, insults, and other forms of verbal abuse.
  • Be present. When you’re communicating with your partner, avoid distractions such as your phone or the TV. Make eye contact and give them your full attention so they know you are listening.
  • Listen actively. Pay attention to what your partner is saying, both verbally and non-verbally. If you are unsure, ask questions to clarify what they’re saying. You can check you understand by reflecting back what you’ve heard to make sure you understand. This will show genuine interest in and concern for your partners needs.
  • Use “I” statements. “I” statements are a way of communicating that helps to avoid blaming or accusing your partner. Instead of saying “You always do this,” try saying “I feel hurt when you do that.”
  • Be open to feedback. If your partner gives you feedback, try to listen without getting defensive. Ask them to explain what they mean and how you can improve your communication. Be willing to make changes based on their feedback. If the feedback is difficult to hear ask for 5 minutes out to gather your thoughts and process what is going on for you before resuming the conversation.
  • Be willing to compromise. No two people are exactly alike, so it’s important to be willing to compromise. This doesn’t mean giving up on your own needs, but it does mean being willing to meet your partner halfway.
  • Seek professional help if needed. If you’re struggling to improve your communication, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. A therapist can help you learn new communication skills and resolve any underlying issues.

Improving communication with your partner takes time and effort, but it’s worth it. When you can communicate effectively, you’ll build a stronger, more fulfilling relationship.

If you are looking for a therapist to support you and your partner then you will find one here on our UK Counsellors Directory, Click here to search.

5 Common Concerns About Therapy and How to Address Them

Image of a brick wall with the words 'growing concerns' written on it. Credit for image:

If you’re thinking about therapy, you’re not alone. Millions of people seek therapy each year to help them with a variety of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and stress. But what if you’re not sure if therapy is right for you? Or, if you are sure that therapy is right for you, but you have concerns about the cost, effectiveness, communication, privacy, or accessibility of therapy?

Here are five common concerns about therapy and how to address them:

1. Cost

Cost is probably the number one barrier to people accessing the therapy that is best for them, i.e. the service they would choose if money wasn’t a barrier. Some people struggle to even comprehend being able to afford therapy at all, especially in the midst of a cost of living crisis.

Suggestion: mention any concerns you have about what you can or can’t afford at the very first point of contact with any potential therapist. Be clear about your needs are and what is manageable for you. All therapists should be willing to address this directly with you. If the therapist can not offer therapy at a price that works for you then they should at least acknowledge this and/or suggest some other therapists/organisations who might suit your budget. They may also have a sliding scale which they could offer you, or they might come to an agreement with you. For example, if you’ve recently been made redundant then they might offer you a reduced rate until you find another job and can afford to pay their higher fee. No therapist should shy away from talking openly about money. If you can’t afford therapy at all, which many people can’t, then you do have some options. You can access Talking Therapies via the NHS – your GP surgery will have details on how to access you local service. There are often local charities who offer therapy, such as Rape Crisis Centres and MIND (although waiting lists can be long), and there is the Free Therapy Network who may be able to help.

2. Effectiveness of therapy

“Will it work?” is a question many people ask themselves when looking for a new therapist. It is, after all, an often expensive investment to make for yourself.

Suggestion: talk to your therapist about what your expectations are and what you aim to achieve from therapy, what your goals are. You should feel comfortable enough with any therapist (it’s the therapists job to ensure you feel comfortable!) to raise any concerns you have. Your therapist should listen to your concerns and help you to move forward in a way that is best for you. Ask your therapist if you can try a few sessions to see if they are a good fit before you ‘commit’ to the process. You can also ask how they will support you to move on if you don’t feel they are the right therapist for you. Remember a therapist should always work with your best interests in mind, and if they’re not the right person for you then they should be open to supporting you to find someone who is.

3. Communication

It’s not uncommon for us to hear from clients about contacting potential therapists who they never hear back from, not even so much as an acknowledgment of their email! We believe this is poor practice. Even if a therapist has no availability, they should never ignore it when anyone reaches out to them.

Suggestion: in your initial email you could consider writing something similar to the following: ‘I have been struggling to find a therapist, and many have not responded to me. If you have no availability, I would appreciate it if you could make any suggestions about what my next steps might be. Thank you.’ We know this is frustrating, but it may help.

4. Privacy and confidentiality

Understandably, many people worry about the privacy and confidentiality of their therapy sessions. As a rule of thumb EVERYTHING you tell your therapist should be confidential with a few exceptions. Firstly, all UK based therapists will usually tell you that they might have to disclose what you tell them if they believe you or someone else is at real risk of harm. This shouldn’t involve talking about suicidal thoughts/feelings or even about self harm – you should have somewhere safe to explore those thoughts and feelings – but only if you intended to act on it. This would also apply to information shared about any child being harmed. Aside from this, all therapists should receive clinical supervision to ensure they are working safely and ethically and so they may speak to their supervisor about your work together. Aside from these two reasons, therapists should never talk to anyone about you unless you ask them to. For example, you asked them to write a letter for support for a disability benefit. If a therapist ever did feel they needed to break your confidence then they should, when possible, speak to you first before they do so.

Suggestion: if you have concerns about this then ask your therapist what their policies are about privacy and confidentiality and to give some examples of how they will protect your personal information. Most therapists will have a ‘client contact’ which covers this which you can ask to see before you meet with them. Also, feel free to ask your therapist how your information is protected should they be using third part Apps.

5. Accessibility

Many clients experience difficulties accessing the therapy services they need. This can be due to many factors regarding the suitability of a therapist. For therapy to work for you, it is important that you find a therapist who best ‘fits’ your needs, and all therapists should be open to talking with you about this. It is okay to seek out a therapist who is Black, Gay, Trans, working class, disabled, etc. It is acceptable to want to work with someone who understands your culture, background, sexuality, etc. and who you think will be able to relate to your personal circumstances best. It is okay to want a therapist who ‘gets’ your social and political needs as well as your emotional ones. After all, the two are often intertwined. Other factors relating to accessibility include cost, disability and lack of availability when living in rural or remote areas.

Suggestion: be open from the first contact with any potential therapist about what you require from therapy. Any therapist should be comfortable discussing this openly with you and be able to provide suggestions on where to go next if YOU decide they are not the best option for you.

Therapy can be a valuable tool for improving your mental health and well-being. If you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.

Here are some additional tips for addressing your concerns about therapy:

  • Do your research. There are many different types of therapy, so it’s important to do some research to find a therapist who is a good fit for you. Our article ‘How to choose a therapist’ can help.
  • Ask questions. Once you’ve found a therapist, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask about their experience, their qualifications, their approach to therapy, and their fees. You should feel comfortable talking about your concerns with your therapist.
  • Trust your gut. If you’re not comfortable with a therapist, it’s okay to find someone else. Therapy is a personal journey, and it’s important to find a therapist who you feel comfortable and safe with.

If you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our therapists here on the UK Counsellors directory – click here to find a therapist who is suitable for you.

Remember, you’re not alone. Millions of people seek therapy each year, and it can be a valuable tool for improving your mental health and well-being.

How to Overcome a Panic Attack

Panic attacks are more common than you might realise and can be very distressing regardless of it being a first attack, or one of many. They involve sudden and intense episodes of fear that can cause a variety of physical symptoms, such as a racing heart, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, and sweating. They can be very frightening and can make people feel like they are going to die or lose control.

If you have had a panic attack, you may be wondering how to prevent them from happening again. There are a number of things you can do to manage panic attacks and reduce your risk of having another one.

Here are some tips:

  • Learn about panic attacks. The more you know about panic attacks, the less scary they will seem. There are many resources available to help you learn about panic attacks, including books, websites, and support groups (see the list below).
  • Identify your triggers. Once you know what triggers your panic attacks, you can start to avoid them or develop coping mechanisms for dealing with them. Common triggers include stress, caffeine, alcohol, and certain medications.
  • Practice relaxation techniques. Although not suitable for everyone, relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and meditation, can help to reduce anxiety and prevent panic attacks for some people. There are many different relaxation techniques available, so find one that works for you and practice it regularly.
  • Get professional help. If you are struggling to manage your panic attacks on your own, it is important to seek professional help. A therapist can work with you to help you find the best and most effective coping skills for you.

Here are some UK based organisations who help with anxiety:

  • Anxiety UK is a charity that provides information and support to people who suffer from anxiety. They offer a helpline, a website, and a range of other resources.
  • Mind is a mental health charity that provides information and support to people with a range of mental health conditions, including anxiety. They offer a helpline, a website, and a range of other resources.
  • No Panic is a charity that provides support to people with panic attacks and agoraphobia. They offer a helpline, a website, and a range of other resources.

Remember, you are not alone. Panic attacks are relatively common, and there is help available. If you are struggling, please reach out for support. You can find a suitable counsellor here via our UK Counsellors Directory.

How to Manage Conflict in a Relationship

Conflict is a natural part of any relationship. It can be caused by a variety of things, such as different values, goals, or ways of doing things. While conflict can be difficult to deal with, it can also be an opportunity to learn more about your partner and grow closer as a couple.

Here are some tips for managing conflict in a relationship:

  1. Choose the right time to talk. Don’t try to have a difficult conversation when you’re both tired, stressed, or angry. Wait until you’re both calm and able to focus on the issue at hand.
  2. Listen to each other’s point of view. Really try to understand where your partner is coming from. Don’t just listen to respond; listen to understand.
  3. Avoid name-calling and insults. It’s important to stay respectful, even when you’re angry. Name-calling and insults will only make the situation worse.
  4. Focus on the issue, not the person. It’s easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment and for an argument to follow. But it’s important to remember that the issue is not about who is right or wrong; it’s about finding a solution that works for both of you.
  5. Be willing to compromise. No one is going to get everything they want in every situation. Be willing to compromise in order to find a solution that both of you can live with.
  6. Seek professional help if needed. If you’re unable to resolve the conflict on your own, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. A therapist can help you and your partner learn how to communicate more effectively and resolve conflict in a healthy way. You can search for a relationship counsellor here on our counselling database.

We understand that conflict is never easy, but we also know that it doesn’t have to be destructive. By following these tips, you can learn to manage conflict in a way that strengthens your relationship.

Image shows a couple holding hands over a cup of coffee, taken from:

Here are some additional tips for managing conflict in a relationship:

  • Take a break. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or angry, it’s okay to take a break from the conversation. Go for a walk, take a few deep breaths, or do something else to calm down. Once you’ve had a chance to cool off, you can come back to the conversation with a clearer head. Make sure that you explain to your partner that this is what you are doing and that you are not ‘walking away from them’. This way they know you will return to the conversation once you feel able to do so.
  • Be specific. When you’re expressing your concerns, be as specific as possible. Don’t just say, “You never help out around the house.” Instead, say something like, “I feel overwhelmed when I come home from work and the house is a mess. I would really appreciate it if you could help me out with the dishes and laundry.” This make take some practice, and that is okay.
  • Be open to feedback. Just as you’re sharing your concerns, be open to hearing your partner’s concerns. Don’t just listen to respond; really listen to what they have to say.
  • Be willing to change. If you’re both willing to change, you’ll be more likely to resolve the conflict. Be willing to compromise and meet your partner halfway.

REMEMBER: Conflict is a normal part of any relationship. But by following these tips, you can learn to manage conflict in a way that both strengthens and deepens your relationship.

Having Conversations About Death Anxiety – the fear of dying

Brief Description:

Discover the reasons for death anxiety, including the patient’s response, the family’s response, why it is so difficult to have these conversations with loved ones and where to get help if you find it difficult to have these conversations.

The occurrence of death anxiety

Many people who have life-limiting illnesses use their time, at some point, to reflect on their behaviour and purpose in life, and often feelings of death anxiety comes up as well during this time.  This rise in feelings of the fear of dying is natural and perfectly normal.  And people in this situation typically need someone to process these thoughts and feelings with because if often brings up big life (existential) questions about their purpose and identity.  For some, they end up having to re-think their purpose or integrate a new sense of identity.  The fear of dying brings up big feelings within themselves, about themselves, but also brings up big feelings about their relationships with family and friends.

Why this work to help alleviate death anxiety?

The services I offer have been borne out of the needs of people I have come across in my places of work in the primary healthcare and secondary social care sector as well as in the community.   I hope that what I write will be, not only of interest, but of benefit to you or people whom you know within your networks.  I also hope that this website will be an interactive space whereby people can comment and respond to the blogs I have written, so that a community of shared wisdom grows here.  I have been working in the field of trauma, loss, grief and bereavement with different age groups for over 25 years.

And it is always a pleasure to create a space for people to be emotionally connected to a deeper part of themselves in order to grow courageously stronger in themselves and in their connections with others again in more deepening and meaningful ways.  I find it very fulfilling and satisfying work to help people find ways of coping and alleviating their spiritual and emotional pain, worries and anxiety.  In my work in companioning and supporting people in hospice care, I would come across people who were scared of dying – for different reasons.  So, I would have a conversation with them to explore what their ‘death anxiety’ was about and the reasons will vary.

Reasons for death anxiety

  1. a) unresolved guilt for having done or said something they should not have done or said:

Should they try to broach the subject again many years on?

How would they bring it up again?

What if it brought up old wounds for either of them?

What if they were not effective in resolving the matter this time around?

  1. b) unresolved conflict:

What would the consequences be of not resolving it?

What impact would it have on the current and future generations after they died?

  1. c) the process of dying:

Will there be physical pain?

Will they be able to cope with the pain as their body deteriorated?

  1. d) existential concerns:

What would happen to them at the moment of death?

  1. e) family concerns:

What would happen to their family and how will they cope (or not) without them?

This blog relates to the Transition Companioning service I provide at  If you would like more information about this service and how I could help, please go to the Transition Companioning page.  You can also subscribe on the Home page to receive more blogs about this topic and other related topics.

Patient’s response to death anxiety

There are many, many reasons why people might be anxious about dying.  These concerns, worries or anxieties can be quite strong, and understandably so, because the transitioning of the spirit out of the body at the point of death is a significant rite of passage.  Having or talking about death anxiety is not something to be ignored or dismissed lightly, because for some, it can become a spiritual crisis.  This can leave people feeling ill at ease, restless and sometimes with manifestations of physical symptoms that can’t be diagnosed and ‘cured’ with medical interventions.  Predominantly, this anxiety is about uncertainty.

There are many uncertainties in life – some are relatively minor in the grand scheme of things, such as worries about exam marks; some of them are major, such as who to marry, if at all, or what country to live in.  But death anxiety is a much bigger anxiety because it is about the Great Uncertainty of what will happen to our spirit and soul when it leaves our body.  What happens to our animating energy that keeps us upright, moving, working and laughing?  If you have ever seen a person in an open casket, that question hits you immediately.  Where does that animating spirit go and what does it do after it leaves the body?  These are fascinating questions.  And worthy questions to explore in terms of where the dying person would like to go and what they would like to do after their animating spirit leaves their body.

Family member’s response to death anxiety

Friends and family members might, understandably, find it uncomfortable to talk with the dying person about their death anxiety – for various reasons:

  1. they don’t want to upset the dying person any further with such talk
  2. the relationship itself could be fraught with tension and has been that way for many years
  3. family estrangement
  4. a family member may have a different kind of spirituality from the dying person and so may not have a similar spiritual language in order to converse in a way that can be understood between them
  5. they may not have the knowledge or the practice-based experience of having these types of conversations

It can be hard to know how to respond.  So, even if the topic is brought up in discussion, some people find themselves discussing it in a hurried fashion, without many pauses for deep reflection in order to help the dying person process their emotions.  After all, no one wants to see a loved one in distress or in a state of anxiety so the topic could be discussed quickly then ‘swept under the carpet’.

Why is it so difficult to have conversations about death anxiety?

Recently, I came across two comments from different places in the community setting which came from daughters who were concerned about their parent’s death anxiety but didn’t know how to broach the subject with their parents.  One person was commenting about it on Twitter, so I didn’t have an opportunity to say much in response (given the limited letter count!)  The other person, who reached out to me and commented about it, was someone I knew from the NHS (National Health Service) so I was able to have a longer conversation her.  I reassured her by asking if she had attempted to broach the subject before her parent died, and if her parent had said yes to having death anxieties, would she know how to respond?  She admitted that she wouldn’t know how to respond.

Having a conversation about matters such as death anxiety, the spiritual world in the afterlife (and whether there is one or not), forgiveness and being absolved of any lingering guilt that the dying person might have (which some people crave & need) is not the kind of skill set that most people have developed and honed over their lifetime; not unless it is specifically part of their job and/or training as a spiritual care provider.  So why beat yourself up over it, I asked her.  That seemed to help in alleviating her guilt about missing the opportunity to have ‘the conversation’ with her mother before she died.

Getting help for death anxiety

But for some, the very idea might nevertheless be too close, too emotionally raw, too uncomfortable a discussion to have.  And there’s nothing to be embarrassed about, nor feel guilty about.  It simply isn’t a topic that some people relish discussing.  But for those who have entered this specialised profession, this is very meaningful and satisfying work.  From my professional experience, I have found that these opportunities to discuss a person’s death anxiety has provided emotional regulation and perhaps even healing for the dying person.

If you know of someone who might benefit from a conversation or two to alleviate their anxieties about dying, so they can be more at peace within themselves before transitioning out of their bodies, then have a look at the Coaching page for more info.

If you know of someone who might benefit from having regular, longer, ongoing conversations as they near the end of their life then have a look at the Transition Companioning page for more info.

As I continue to blog, I will be writing about issues that you tell me concern you and each aspect of the services I provide on my website.  If you would like to receive more of my blogs or to ask a question that you’ve been wondering about then please subscribe on the Home page.  I might be able to refer to or address it briefly in a future blog.

Further Reading

If you would like to read more about this topic, here is another article you could read

Written by Santou Carter – to view Santou’s CTUK directory listing, please click here.

Letting Go of Being Right – Why it’s Important in Your Relationship

Written by Geoff Lamb – UKCP Registered Therapist specialising in working with individuals, couple and groups (5 min read)

There are areas in life when it’s really important to get things right – if you’re a brain surgeon or an air traffic controller for instance. Even then though, the importance isn’t personal, but a matter of others’ safety. In relationships, being right really isn’t that important. Neither is it personal, but so many couples I see spend a lot of time and energy arguing about who’s right, often about quite trivial matters such as how to load the dishwasher correctly, but sometimes about more serious things like money, sex and how to educate or discipline the children.

To blame the couples themselves isn’t helpful and misses the point. The culture we live in supports what’s called ‘dualistic thinking’. In other words, things are either right or wrong, black or white. If I’m right, then you must be wrong and if you’re right I must be wrong. Apart from the fact that most life situations just aren’t like this, it’s the significance we attach to being right or wrong that’s most damaging for couple relationships. This is when it becomes personal. It doesn’t need to be, but somewhere along the line, many of us have learned to value ourselves according to whether we’re (seen to be) right or wrong. It’s not just about getting something wrong, but about being wrong, in other words there’s something wrong with us if we’re seen, or even thought, to be wrong. Our whole being is on the line.

You’ll know if this is the case with you if you find yourself either needing to correct your partner if they say something which suggests that you did something wrong or were wrong about something or you find yourself needing to justify why you did what you did.

‘But’, you might say, ’don’t you think it’s important to correct your partner if they’ve clearly misunderstood something you did or said or maybe didn’t understand why it was so important or justified?’

Perhaps, but just observe what happens when you’re in this kind of situation – notice particularly where your attention is. What you’ll mostly find is that your attention isn’t on your partner or even what he/she said, but on the uncomfortable feeling of being misunderstood, on whether what he/she said is true or what you’re going to say in response. If your partner responds to you in a similar manner, then you have a situation in which neither of you is listening or feels listened to. Responses to this vary, but often, when we don’t feel listened to, we speak louder or longer, or both. Communication becomes impossible.

If you can let go of being right, then something different can happen. There are two possibilities. You may have done or said what your partner is talking about and it may have had an impact on him/her. It’s also possible that you didn’t. If you’ve let go of needing to be right, it doesn’t really matter which it is. Letting go of this need means you can listen in a different way, with curiosity rather than defensiveness. The focus is then not on whether what your partner is saying is true or not, but on your understanding of where they’re coming from.

So, how do we go about letting go of being right and what might get in the way? The answer is that it’s not easy and it’s probably not a good idea to let this become another thing you have to get right! Recognising when you’re doing it is probably the best place to start. Most of us won’t be aware of it when it’s actually happening, mostly, as I’ve said, because our defences have been triggered and we feel under threat. Afterwards, though, it can be good to take some time to reflect on what was actually going on for us. What were we defending and how was this being threatened? Becoming aware of how defensive we’re being in our arguments with our partner will eventually lead to change, especially when we combine this with a commitment to doing something different.

As for what gets in the way, there can be a number of things. Some people might think that, unless both partners in the relationship are committed to this kind of awareness and doing things differently, it won’t work and there’s no point. This seems logical, but it’s only partly true. It’s probably easier if both partners are committed to the same goal, but don’t let that put you off. If you’re ready to let go of being right and your partner isn’t, trying to make or even persuade them could be counterproductive. The message they’ll hear is that they’re ‘getting it wrong’, which could well trigger the very defences that are making your communication so difficult in the first place.

The best advice I can give is, don’t wait for your partner. Do it for yourself. There will be two consequences. First, if you start to listen to your partner with curiosity rather than defensiveness it’ll be very difficult for them to sustain an argument with you about being right. Second, and this is something that can get in the way, in order to listen differently and to let go of your need to be right, you’ll need to find a different way of valuing yourself. This isn’t easy. In fact, it’s actually very challenging as it means going against our culture and often our upbringing. It is very liberating though, not just in our relationships, but in the rest of our lives.

Two more points. The first is that what I’m talking about here isn’t compromise or ‘agreeing to differ’. These may both have their place in business and politics, but they won’t, in themselves, improve a relationship while the defensive communication I’ve been talking about is still in place. All that happens then is that the need to be right just goes underground and surfaces in more negative indirect forms. Examples of this are the ‘I told you so’ moments I’m sure we all recognise and the relationship becoming transactional, where, because I’ve compromised on this, it’s now your turn to let me have my own way about that.

Finally, I’m clearly writing this as a couple and individual therapist. If it was as simple as following the principles in this article, or in some of the many self-help books available, I’d be out of a job. It isn’t. It’s a good start, but sometimes we need support, either as a couple or an individual, with spotting our own patterns as they occur and feeling safe enough to do something different. This is where the help of a qualified and experienced therapist can be invaluable.

To view Geoff’s Directory Listing, please click here.

How to help build your child’s resilience.

If you are a parent of someone who is close too or cares for a child then you’ll know how upsetting and daunting it can be when it comes to mental health issues, especially if we have any worries or concerns.

One way we can help our children to deal with what life throws at them is to help them to become more resilient.

Resilience is a child’s ability to cope with an event that is often challenging and brings about change, such as changing school, death of a loved one, divorce, etc.

In times like this it is perfectly normal for children to experience some stress and anxiety and as parents/carers we can do an awful lot to help them through it, to learn new skills and ways of coping that children can carry forward with them into the future.

So what can you do to help?

I’d like to offer you 5 suggestions for helping children to become more resilient.

Here we go….

(1) Feelings

Let your child know that ALL feelings are ok, that there is no right or wrong way to feel, even feelings they may consider bad such as anger, rage and sadness.  Help them to recognise that feelings will pass is time.

So when you ask them how they feel and they say, ‘angry’ you could say something simple such as, ‘You’re feeling angry right now. I understand that considering (insert whatever they have experienced here) and that’s ok, I’m pleased you can tell me how you feel.’

This will show your child that you have heard them, you understand them and it is ok for them to feel however they are feeling.

(2) Respect their right to independence

This can be tough for both parents and children in some ways as although we need to have rules to protect our children, we also need to get the balance right and give them enough space and freedom to grow into mature, responsible and confident young people.

It’s important to allow children to make their own choices and decisions and sometimes they will make mistakes but what this does is gives them the opportunity to learn from experience and gives them room for emotional growth.

(3) Socialise

Children are social creatures by nature and it’s our job as parents and carers to ensure that our children spend enough time with others to learn the social skills they need as they move through life. More so, by building friendships and trust with others will give your child a circle of people they can talk too, to learn from and to turn to in times of need.
So arrange those play dates, get in touch with friends or family you haven’t seen in a while and go spend some quality time together.

(4) Relaxation

In this hectic world of technology and fast moving just about everything, it is important for children to be able to switch off sometimes. Ensure that your child has a range of activities available to them that can help them to unwind such as reading a book, colouring in, playing outside or having a bath. Their little minds need to switch off sometimes too.

(5) Help others

Children can learn a lot about themselves through helping others. Helping others can help childen to develop a sense of who they are, how they matter and how they can make a difference in the world.

Some ideas might be to volunteer at a local charity (with adult supervision), raise money for a charity of their choice or as my own son asked recently, ‘can we take part in a litter picking day so animals don’t get hurt by it?’

Giving back makes us feel good about ourselves, children included and it is particularly good for children who are struggling with self-worth.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these tips to help build your child’s resilience and have in mind how you can put them into action now.

If you have any questions or anything you’d like to add please do leave a comment below.

Written by Maria Albertsen –

An Introduction to Trauma Therapy

Trauma therapy can help people recover from a wide variety of traumatic events, such as: war, natural disasters, terrorism, rape and sexual abuse, domestic violence, car accidents, being a victim of crime and witnessing distressing events. People often begin looking for trauma therapy when they are wondering if they have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) but you don’t need to have been diagnosed with PTSD to seek more specialized therapy.

What is PTSD?

PTSD is the name for a collection of reactions and experiences you may have in the weeks following a traumatic event. It is completely normal to feel distressed following a trauma and developing PTSD does not mean there is something wrong with you. It simply means that you may need some help with processing what happened to you so that your mind and body can fully recover. It is important to remember that PTSD responses are NORMAL RESPONSES TO ABNORMAL EVENTS.

A person with PTSD or Complex PTSD (C-PTSD) will have experienced or been exposed to actual or threatened: death, serious injury, and sexual violence. This can be in a number of ways: direct exposure, witnessing the trauma, and indirect exposure to the trauma through the course of professional duties (e.g. psychological therapists, first responders and medics.)

Responses (or symptoms) associated with PTSD:

  • Sleep problems
  • A sense of foreshortened future i.e. a pervasive and persistent belief that you will not be alive for very long. Due to this, you may struggle to think in the long term.
  • Hypervigilance (being constantly on alert) & increased startle reflex
  • Reduced tolerance to noise
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • More emotional and more intense emotions which may lead on to big emotional outbursts
  • Avoidance and numbing of anything which may remind you of the traumatic event. This is also having a profound impact on your day to day living.
  • Reliving the trauma through nightmares, flashbacks and intrusive memories.
  • Difficulty remembering all or significant portions of the trauma
  • Risk-taking or risky behaviours.

These responses need to have been present at least a month before PTSD should be diagnosed. It’s worth bearing in mind that children and young people may present differently so if you have any concerns, you can discuss those with a mental health professional or GP.

What is Complex PTSD?

C-PTSD most commonly develops after prolonged or repetitive events from which escape is very difficult or impossible. For example: Repeated childhood sexual or physical abuse, domestic violence, slavery, torture and genocide.

It has the same core features as PTSD but there are 3 additional characteristics present.

  1. “Severe and pervasive problems in affect regulation” (6B41; ICD-11): This is extensive problems in managing mood and emotions, especially to unexpected or spontaneous events.
  2. Persistent difficulties in maintaining any beliefs about oneself as having any worth. As well as deep feelings of shame, guilt, or failure that are related to the traumatic event.
  3. Persistent difficulties in sustaining relationships. Difficulties in feeling close to others. This is pervasive and cause significant impairment in the person’s function in multiple areas; personal, social, educational, occupational and any other important areas.

Both PTSD and CPTSD have dissociative aspects; most often depersonalisation and derealisation

What therapy is available?

You may have heard a few therapies mentioned when you search for trauma therapy. With a few exceptions, most therapy approaches can be trauma-informed. It has always been the case that the relationship ad how you feel about the therapy that is the most important factor in the level of success following a treatment. So often it is a bout find a good match with you and therapist, how you like to work, and what you’re capable of doing at this moment in time. For example, if you are finding it hard to concentrate and focus right now, the best approach might be one where the therapist is able to provide a framework you can work with.

  • Psychotherapy; Cognitive Analytical Therapy – helpful for deeper analysis of trauma
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (useful for helping to identify destructive thought patterns developed in relation to the trauma)
  • EMDR – helps to reduce PTSD responses
  • Person-centered therapy – helpful for going at own pace
  • Mindfulness – helpful in remaining in present and reducing stress

Some exceptions:

If you experience dissociation as part of your PTSD/CPTSD, mindfulness is not advised. Mindfulness mimics many aspects of dissociation. You can, however, learn grounding techniques which are the foundation of mindfulness. Ask your therapist to teach you some or search online to get an idea of what they are.

If you have Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) then EMDR is NOT advised by the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation unless the counsellor is knowledgeable in the treatment of dissociative disorders. When being used to treat DID a modified version of EMDR is used. This is not routinely taught. It is okay to ask a counsellor what their credentials are. Your safety is paramount and no EMDR of any kind should be happening if the person receiving treatment isn’t stable or is unable to have internal cooperation between the identities to allow for dual awareness.