Meeting with Compassionate Counselling UK, The wonderful Heather.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting with Heather.  We had an amazing conversation about her role as a counsellor.  Heather is the first person I have spoken to who has a professional qualification and is running a page to help spread some hope and inspire others.  As you will see we had some common interests and discovered a shared love of books! 
Heather has an amazing page full of useful information and can also direct you to her professional services if needed.  All of her details are available over on her page Compassionate_counselling_uk on Instagram.
Heather specialises in counselling which is person-centred, so it is focused all on you, and she goes on to explain more about this as we spoke.   Hope you enjoy reading our little chat, and please feel free to pop on over to her page to check out the content she is sharing. 

Hi, and welcome.  I think I explained previously why I was writing these blogs; did you have any questions before hand?

No, I don’t think so, I’m just grateful for the opportunity:)

I am grateful that you have given me your time, so thank you.

I have a few questions which I would like to ask, but it’s really just a bit of a chat, to get to know you, how you came about starting your page, and what your hopes are for the future is that ok?

Yes of course.

So, I know from your about me post you are a person-centred counsellor. How did you come about going into this field? What was it that drew you to this?

Well, I have always struggled with anxiety and during school my mental health gradually got worse. I was bullied a lot and lost a few close family members suddenly so it all took its toll I suppose you could say. I was diagnosed with depression and panic disorder and I used to self-harm, so I have been through a lot over the years. I have also seen a fair few counsellors in that time, and I didn’t feel the right connection with them, and I didn’t feel supported to be perfectly honest. So, I wanted to go into counselling to help and support people who are struggling, because I have been there too, and I know how much of a difference feeling listened to and supported can make. I wanted to be there for people and give them a different experience than I had.

The focus is on the working relationship between client and counsellor in person centred counselling, this is one of the main reasons why I decided to train in this field. Being able to be there and work with the client to help them to help themselves is very rewarding.

I like that you were able to take your own experience, despite it not being the most positive and turn it round to promote your own strengths.

As a result, you are where you are today, and that is amazing.

Thank you, I just wanted to be able to be that support for other people.

How long have you been a counsellor for?

I did 7 years of training, which included both a psychology degree and 2 counselling diplomas. I qualified fully in 2019 but I have been a volunteer counsellor whilst I have been training for the past 3 years now. I decided to try to set up my own private practice earlier this year.

I also used to be a volunteer counsellor for ChildLine which I loved.

That is a long training programme, and a lot of commitment. It definitely shows your passion for the role.

Yes, I am deeply passionate about counselling and raising awareness of mental health.

What was it that made you decide to start up your Instagram page?

Well, I had been thinking about it for a while as I was thinking about starting up my own private practice. Since I had a lot of free time during lockdown (as lots of people did!) I decided, with some encouragement from my sister, to do it and set up my Instagram page.

I wanted to promote mental health awareness, show people that it is ok to not be ok and that there is hope out there. As well as promote my private practice.

Your sister sounds like a good support.

Yes, she is, I do have a lot of support around me.

“Being able to be there and work with the client to help them to help themselves is very rewarding.”

@Compassionate_Counselling_UK

Since you have had your page going, have your views, or practices changed in anyway?

My practice is constantly developing and growing I would say, rather than changing. It is important to keep learning and keep developing yourself as a person as well as a counsellor.

I have learnt a lot from other counsellors and mental health pages on here, there are so many!

Yes, there are, it is amazing how many pages there are with experiences, and knowledge here.

Have there been any standout moments for you in your career that you can share?

I have been fortunate to work with lots of different people who have had a wide range of mental health problems but mostly I have worked with people suffering from anxiety. I had a client previously who was a single parent and was suffering with anxiety due to a past abusive relationship. I worked with her for a good few months, but her progress was inspiring, she was inspiring!

Hearing success stories is soooo nice.

I will never forget working with her, she wanted the support, she wanted to change, and she did it for herself and her child and she “found herself again”.

That is amazing,

Yes, I was so grateful to be a part of her journey.

I was going to ask what is it that keeps you motivated, but I feel like that is probably your answer.

Yes, definitely my clients are my motivation. I just want to be able to continue to support people through counselling for as long as I can.

That’s a rather good motivation.

I think so too 🙂

If you have the motivation to keep going, and you enjoy it then that’s an amazing recipe for success.

“I want to spread more awareness of mental health and the message that there is always hope.”

@Compassionate_Counselling_UK

So, with your work, keeping your page up to date and active, how do you keep yourself balanced? After all it is all important, and so is your own mental health. So, what do you do to keep yourself grounded?

Oh, good question! For me, yoga really helps to keep my mind clear and focused. It helps me to destress.

I also try to get outside when I can for walks in nature, it helps even more when the sun is out, but as we know in the UK that isn’t always the case 🙂

I am also a book lover! Reading helps my mental health a lot actually, I love the escapism they bring.

Getting outside is great when we can.

oohhhh what are you reading at the moment?

I have just finished reading a book called “The Golden Sea” which is book 2 of a series called The Mapmaking Magicians by Emma Sterner-Radley. I am currently reading “Inhibited” which is a complex fantasy by Cerynn McCain.

I am a very eclectic reader.

ooohhh I’ve not read those; I may need to do some research. (when i have finished my course)
I love reading and writing so I read literally anything.

Me too, my bookshelves are jam packed with books I still need to read, but i am always buying more!

Same here, I have an e-reader, but it is not the same as an actual book.

Oh no I completely agree! Although I do read some books on my phone through apple books, nothing beats the real thing 🙂

lol definitely. Literally the sofa, blanket, book, I am sorted. My kids can leave me there for hours.

I just need to get them to read, I have one reader so far. I guess it’s better than none.

You can do it! It is just a question of finding the right book! 🙂

Yes, I agree

“I want to show people that it is ok to not be ok and that there is hope out there.”

@Compassionate_Counselling_UK

I have a final couple of questions for you if that ok, then I will let you get on with your day.

Unfortunately, they are not about books or reading.

That can be for our next conversation.

What a great idea!

What are your best hopes for your page and even your having your own practice? For the future

My hopes are to be able to reach more people who are in need of counselling and mental health support. I want to spread more awareness of mental health and the message that there is always hope. I would also like my page to keep growing and for people to enjoy my posts.

I would like to keep learning, growing, and developing myself and my practice as well.

I love that, it is hard to get the support, and the fact that you want to be able to provide that support and make it reachable is amazing.

Literally would like nothing more.

And finally,

what key message would you want all the readers to hold on too?

That there is always hope and support out there, it is just about holding on and finding it. You are loved, you are cared about, you are not alone ❤️

I love that. Thank you.

I do not have any other questions for you.

you are freeeeeeeeeeeee.

Thank you so much for inviting me for this chat.

Amazing.

I think a book talk definitely needs to happen!

And yes, a book talk most definitely has to be arranged.

Thank you so much x.

So, a massive thank you to Heather for sharing some inside information on herself and showing us the importance of having some down time, and also that we all have a story.  Our own story doesn’t have to define us, it can build us and give us strength to help others and develop us in ways that at times we not imagine.  Watch out for some joint book reviews, as I have a feeling, they may be coming this way soon, now we have discovered a shared love of books, I can’t help but wonder what the vast array of genres spread across our bookshelves, I am very much looking forward to that conversation.  Don’t forget Compassionate_counselling_uk is only on Instagram, you can click on the link anywhere in this post or from my page.  Thank you for reading.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

My Scared Butterfly.

To my amazing butterfly,

I know you are feeling scared at the moment, you’re facing something that is completely unknown to you.  I wanted to let you know that being scared is perfectly fine, don’t be afraid to share this with those around you, you definitely won’t be alone.  You will be able to manage this because you are an amazing person with a wealth of knowledge and if you can believe in yourself just a small amount compared to the amount you believe in those around you, you will be just brilliant.

I know that you feel guilty, like you could have done better.  Or even prevented this from happening.  You always say that things happen sometimes that are completely out of our control.  Do you think this was one of those things?  You couldn’t have prevented it really could you?  That guilt is natural, but what if you converted that guilt into another emotion?  How would that feel?  Try remorse? Try saying to yourself “I’m really sad that happened but I couldn’t change it, so instead I’m going to do this.”  Remorse will lead you to recovery easier than guilt, it will lean you towards steps to change, encourage you to move forward.  Feeling guilty about an event will keep you in that moment, for a long time.  Being sad that something outside of your control has happened is alright, it doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you compassionate and caring.  Qualities of an amazing individual. 

I know you might be feeling lonely, like no one would truly understand the feelings and emotions that are going through your head.  Those confused thoughts of anger but fear you have, of worry in case you say or do something wrong.  The conflict between talking to seek advice and, talking and risk losing friends.  Of being judged, labelled or excluded.  The concern of having the reality check of having to re-prioritise some of the most important things in your life and not knowing if you have made the right decisions, never knowing if this is a risk that will be worthwhile.  Please feel reassured that you aren’t alone, because whatever the time of day or night someone really is there for you, to listen to you, to hold your hand, to give you that much needed hug, supply you with a tea or coffee, and to just sit with you and listen to you.  You really will never be alone.

That disappointed feeling you have, because you wanted to react in a different way that you felt was the right way.  Those initial emotions and feelings that you allowed to surface, that you now regret. That you wish you never felt because you feel they were wrong.  They weren’t wrong, they were all good, they were all the normal things that everyone feels and you managed everything so well.  Your really should be proud of your skills.  Look at how you took the next steps, how you looked at everything rationally, how you thought about everything slowly and calmly.  Are these things to really feel disappointed about?  I didn’t think so. 

When all these feelings and emotions take over, overwhelm you, and are then mixed up with the addition of responsibility, love, respect for another, and experiences of others that you know it can create such a confusing atmosphere in your head.  Sometimes it can seem more than a fog or a cloud.  More like an electrical storm cloud, because unlike a normal cloud it’s not just blurry, it’s painful and can seem like the wrong turn will create a super charged ripple effect through the entire sky.  

In order for a storm cloud to be so effective though it needs to have something to conduct the force behind it.  By taking everything slowly, one step at a time, and having the realisation that you are the calm in that storm, you are in control of the direction of those lightening bolts, it will soon disperse.  All storm clouds have one advantage that they don’t know about, they stop you seeing too far ahead.  This means you can only ever focus on the step in front, so you see, that cloud is daft.  It’s helping you to stay on track without even realising.

So, to my amazing butterfly who is reading this, I hope you can see the way through, because you really are beautiful and strong enough to face this.  Remember to let that storm cloud help you, it will clear, but only if you can allow yourself you take it one step at a time.

I believe in you. 

Butterflies With Rainbows

Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

Meet Kate, AKA Creature_of_Kindness.

On the 7th April I had the amazing pleasure of talking with Kate.  Kate is the face and voice behind Creature_of_kindness on Instagram.  We got talking about lots of different things, including managing our own mental health, while juggling studies and work.  Kate has a passion for helping, and to spread kindness to all.  As well as managing this page using her own experiences, she also has been studying law and working.  I was so impressed at how Kate finds time for it all, plus finding time to have a chat with me, but she did and here is how it went.

First things first, when did you start your page? and how did you decide the name for it?

I started on the 13th of January this year. The name was probably the hardest part, especially to find something that’s not already in use. Creature of kindness just popped into my head and because my ethos being the page was really to spread a bit of kindness it just felt right.

I love the name, and that it feels right means it encourages motivation as well.

Thank you!

What was it that made you decide to start your page?

Honestly, it was quite spontaneous. I’d been thinking about doing something to keep me occupied during the third lockdown and it was actually my boyfriend that suggested making an Instagram page to share some of my experiences and lessons I’ve learned. After a few days of thinking about it I just decided to go for it. I guess it was kind of a gut feeling telling me to just go for it.

That is amazing.  Your page has grown a lot since January, what is it that keeps you motivated?

“I’d love to continue to make posts and build my page so that I can reach more people and spread some love and kindness.”

@Creature_of_Kindness

The growth of the page has been so unexpected and I’m so grateful for all the support and positive feedback I’ve received for it. I have connected with some amazing people and pages on here and getting to know their stories has been incredible. I also find it quite therapeutic for me to share some of my experiences and thoughts and if it helps even one person or I can make someone smile then it makes it all worth it.  Meeting with others and getting to know their stories has been a highlight for me as well, I have to admit.

Other than the sharing of experiences, what have you been pleased to see with your page? is there anything that stands out to you?

I love seeing so many people dedicated to ending the stigma around mental health and promoting a world where everyone is kinder to themselves and others. Especially during lockdown after what has been an incredibly tough year for everyone, it’s restored some of my faith in the world.

It is so nice to see, and you are playing a massive part in that as well with your input too.

Thank you, and likewise with your page!

Thank you.  So, with the concept of your page being about promoting positive mental health, how do you manage on days which are difficult? we all have them after all,

I have found that deep breathing and grounding techniques work really well for me when I’m feeling particularly stressed or anxious. I’ve also been working hard on shifting my mindset and looking at things in a more realistic and helpful way, instead of listening to my anxious or negative thoughts. I also try and be proactive about my mental health and set myself up on the good days, so I’m better equipped to handle the bad ones.

That is really useful, and great that you have learnt what helps you.  What are your best hopes for your page in the future? where would you like to see it going in the future?

Honestly when I started the page I never even imagined getting this far! I’d love to continue to make posts and build my page so that I can reach more people and spread some love and kindness. I’d love to collaborate more with other creators too.

That sounds like a great hope. collaborating with others is brilliant to help build stronger messages and spread awareness I find. how about you?

Yes definitely! Especially teaming up with someone who has a different experience or maybe knows more about a particular subject than me so we can share knowledge.

Definitely, sharing knowledge and experiences is so valuable.  I was wondering, is your page your full-time role?

I’ve actually been doing it alongside university, but I finished uni last week so I’m going to have a bit more time to spend on it until I go back to work.

oh yes, I remember you said you were studying.

So, I’ve just finished studying law and my hope is to go into criminal law (a bit of a contrast from this page which may surprise people.

That sounds sooooooo interesting.  Thank you so much for talking with me,

Lovely, thanks so much! I really appreciate you writing this about my page.

It has been so nice getting to know you, and more about your page. I am excited to write this up.

“I love seeing so many people dedicated to ending the stigma around mental health and promoting a world where everyone is kinder to themselves and others”

@Creature_of_kindness

So Kate has a page full of inspiration, hope, and empowerment.  You can take a look at her account here on Creature_of_kindness.  You will find some self-care tips, along with some helpful words on mental wellbeing.  I am so excited for the future of this page, and what posts are to come.  I hope that you can all gain some strength from this page as I have done.

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

“I’m Sorry?”

I was once asked the question “why do you apologise so much?” and I couldn’t answer it immediately.  After a little while my response was simply “I’m sorry.”

It has taken me a long while to figure out how to write this blog, for a number of reasons.  Some of which I will explain to you here.  Some of which, I need to work on a little more before they can be spoken about.  You will understand as you read on.

Why did I apologise after being asked that initial question?  Well, the truth is I had no idea what else to say at the time.  Saying sorry ended the conversation, it meant that I didn’t have to answer it anymore.  It didn’t mean that I wouldn’t stop thinking about it though.

So, when I was recently asked a more specific question of
“Women who have been victims of domestic abuse apologise so much, you used to do that too.  Why is that?”
I didn’t apologise (yay) but I wasn’t able to offer an answer.  The response to this question I had, it was all in my head, but something was stopping me from speaking.  However, I wanted to apologise (so so much) for not being able answer it, instead I managed to respond with;
“I’ll write about it.”
So that’s what I am doing.

I never really understood or recognised how often I apologised until I started to make an effort to stop.  No one asked me to stop saying sorry, it did bug a few people, but no one ever made a big deal out of it.  For me this was a good thing.  I know not everyone is this lucky, and that can make it even harder to understand, because at the end of the day it is our natural instinct isn’t it, if someone is upset with us, we apologise.  It is a vicious circle.

“We are all a work in progress.”

@butterflieswithrainbows

Let me start with why I am writing this, why was I the one being asked that question in the first place?  One of the reasons of this is because (and admittedly for some of those reading this, it will be the first time they may see me ‘saying’ this) I can explain why victims of domestic abuse apologise an awful lot because I am one.  I have lived that life, and those experiences.  The feelings which boil up inside of you that can only be fixed by apologising can only be felt in those scary situations which not many people want to discuss.

What is it about the word sorry that provides someone like me with so much reassurance and safety?  Well for starters it is just that.  It is a safety word.  In so many ways.  The word sorry has provided a level of protection to me.  In times of desperation, it has diffused arguments and ended conflict before it escalated.  At the time I felt the need to apologise, it was my responsibility, and that there was no one else to blame.  The only person who needed to say sorry was me, so I did.  Before long I was apologising for everything.  I was apologising to everyone.  When I say everything and everyone, I mean it.

Stuck in traffic – I’m sorry.  Even though there is nothing I can do about it, but I was sorry it was there.
Going on a break at work – I’m sorry.  Despite the fact that this is a requirement, a necessity and no one else had a problem with it, I was still apologising for going.
Standing in front of someone else in a line – I’m sorry.  It is a queue system, but I was still sorry that I was there first, and I would be served first despite the logic telling me otherwise.

I have many other examples which I am sure you have as well, these are just some of the simpler ones.  It highlights the point though that after a while the need to apologise becomes so automated, that even when the logical part of your thinking is telling you there is no need for it, the emotional part of you takes over.  It continues to tell you that you need to apologise, that you don’t deserve to have that break because it means other people have to cover you for the 30 minutes while you eat and pee.  You are not entitled to be served first even if you did arrive earlier than others, and you caused that traffic because you didn’t really want to go to where you were heading anyway.  This is what the abuse does to our brains, and it changes the way we think, the way we interpret our thoughts.  Most of all it changes the way we feel.

You may be reading this and thinking ‘I don’t apologise that much’ but if you were to stop and think about it, and I mean really think hard, how often do you reckon you say the word sorry in a conversation? Or in a day? Before I wrote this, I had one conversation and it lasted 2 hours ok.  I said sorry 8 times!  That is an apology every 15 minutes!  Apparently, I am not apologising as often as I used too, so I wonder how much I used to say it.  I may quiz some of the people I speak with about this.  Now this 8 times in 2 hours is 1.5 years after leaving the relationship I was in.  I still hold onto my safety net now.  I expect many others do as well. 

When you have been made to feel like every wrongdoing in the world is your fault for any length of time, of course you are going to apologise.  It is going to take time, sometimes before the word sorry comes out of my mouth I manage to ask myself what is it I am apologising for?  That extra few seconds gives me the opportunity to decide is it in my control? Is it really something that I need to say sorry for?  Did I cause that traffic jam?  Did I make it rain on us on the school run?  Do I really need to say, “sorry I am late”, or should I reword it to “thank you for waiting.”  It isn’t always successful.  It is a start, piece by piece my safety blanket will get smaller, and gradually that 8 times in 2 hours will become 6, then 4, then who knows. 

Having a period of time when a different view on the world is forced upon you takes it toll.  It can impact you in such a short space of time, yet the recovery from it can take much longer.  That is ok, everyone is different, and their steps are different sizes and are taken at much different paces.  If like me, you have learnt that saying sorry will give you time, and peace then that’s what you will remember.  The trust needed to be able to retrain that thought has to be able to be built first, the feeling of stability and reliability to know that it is ok to not apologise. 

Using the word sorry as a way of avoiding disappointment or criticism, then of course accepting praise, and compliments is going to be incredibly hard.  Knowing that you don’t have to apologise before hand for ‘not being good enough’ when you really are much better than you realise will take time as well.

“What is about the word sorry that provides someone like me with so much reassurance and safety?”

@butterflieswithrainbows

One of the hardest things to realise and understand to those that say sorry a lot, and those that hear it a lot from others is, do we really need to understand why it is that we apologise so much?  No, not really because it isn’t going to change anything.  We can’t stop it, there is no magic switch to turn off all those feelings and emotions.  Do we need to be ‘fixed’? No, we are not broken, or damaged, so there is nothing there to fix.  Have we recognised it within ourselves?  Even if it’s just a small realisation then that is amazing.

We are all a work in progress.

The question we need to be asking ourselves is, how do we know we are progressing?

Photo by Ben Mack on Pexels.com

Hope VS Fear

Decisions are hard, knowing where to start is the hardest of all.  Choosing whether to allow to let fear lead you, or hope lead you is one of those things that you and no one else can choose.  Sometimes the outside can be deceiving, and what may seem easy isn’t always the best.

What does it mean to allow fear to lead us? How different is it when hope steps in and takes the wheel for a while? 

Hope needs a helping hand, needs quite a bit of motivation to get it going.  They are like buddies and tend follow each other around.  

Part of recovering from any form of trauma, life event, life blip, illness, whatever you wish to ‘label’ it, (we will touch on labels another time, that’s a whole other post in itself) is realising that you need to learn.  I don’t claim to know everything, or indeed want to know it all.  I am still learning how to find hope as well as you are, and I trip up sometimes.  I don’t always have the motivation, and I need days where I stay in bed.  I do however know the importance of not staying there, only from having done that, seen the consequences, and dealt with the aftermath of an incredibly frustrating amount input from A LOT of services that I didn’t really want or need.  I learnt what I needed was to hold on to hope.  Whereas before I was holding on to fear. 

So, what’s the difference? 

What are differences between the paths that hope, and fear can lead us down?  

“Hope can come in many shapes and forms, and sometimes disguised in plain sight.”

@butterflieswithrainbows

Following the path of fear is easy.  It always seems to be the easy option in my experience.  The simple choices, you know the ones I’m talking about.  The ones which in the heat of the moment make sense but that little feeling inside of your gut tries to deter you.  That feeling you ignore and push aside.  The choices which you make in that moment seem so right, but the fall out is painful.  The consequences catch up with you and that path which seemed so attractive to begin with, and so easy to travel down becomes an extremely dangerous one indeed.  The phrase “living life on the edge” becomes more literal as each choice and decision becomes a risk, everything becomes a necessity to cancel out the consequence of the previous choice.  The path of fear is no longer attractive, the beauty of it fades as it soon has you entrapped and feeling like there is no way out. 

The path of hope, from the very beginning never looks attractive or welcoming.  Why would a dark, lifeless, empty, lonely path be something anyone would want to walk down?  This path as unwelcoming as it looks from the outside has its advantages.  They are difficult to see unless you are brave enough to start walking along the very untrodden path.  Finding the courage and energy to take those first steps can be really hard.  So, what can you expect if you choose this option?  Well for starters, you can expect a lot of ups and downs.  You can expect that there won’t be any quick answers, that the journey you are about to take will be long, emotional, tiresome and at times stressful.  It may also be lonely; does that mean it isn’t worth it?  Not one little bit.  The difficult road, with the unclear endings and answers that have to be hunted for will be the most rewarding journey.   The obstacles you overcome to uncover those glimmers of hope, all of which piece together, creating this magical art piece for you to work towards.  

“What does it mean to allow fear to lead us?”

@butterflieswithrainbows

Even if this path of hope has been the hardest one to travel along, and it’s left you with bumps, bruises, scratches, and knocks all over.  You get to find the motivation to keep you going, to explore your journey, and decorate your path with your own identity along the way.  There will be many opportunities to meet amazing and supportive people.  To learn and discover who you are and uncover your strengths.  

The choice of both paths is there for the taking, the decision is up to you.  Both will be laden with challenges; the outcome though is dependent on which you choose.  Fear or hope? 

What path would you choose? I know there are times the easiest option is the most tempting, especially when feeling drained, emotionally exhausted and feeling the need for a quick solution. It is these times we all need to remember that it is ok to stop, breathe, take a few minutes and if needed ask for support, advice or just for some time. Hope can come in many shapes and forms, and sometimes disguised in plain sight. Not always along the most attractive path.

Photo by Frans Van Heerden on Pexels.com