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Articles and Books





Welcome to my publications on mental health


Growing Anxiety
first published on the Counselling Directory, 15th April 2024

Anxiety is pretty much considered a modern disease or, more exactly, a diss-ease.
A lot of blame is placed on social media. On the hours and hours of screen time, bombarding youngsters with impossible expectations and demands, leading them to feel insecure failures - unless they become like the stars they're taught to envy. I agree there is a lot of truth in that but, if that is the whole story, why do not all youngsters bombarded by such social media develop anxiety? Could there be something more to it? An influence that makes some more susceptible than others? Let's go back to basics.

Our brains are effectively grown as three brains in one, functioning in a general hierarchy and they are grown according to a biological clock - regardless of how well their growing conditions are met. Think of it like a house being built to a deadline, without any quality control - even if elements are not supplied when needed, the house will still be built to the deadline but without the missing things. Maybe the foundations, maybe a window, maybe the roof. Unlike a badly built house, with the brain there is no real scope to add these later. We can potentially add a few psychological boards over the missing windows or buckets to catch drips but the fundamental build will remain.

What are the three brains and how fast are their clocks?
First, we have the reptilian brain, also known as the visceral brain...
Read the full article here: Counselling Directory

Abusers - why do we need them?
first published on the Counselling Directory, 20th March 2024

They put us down; criticise what we do; criticise what we don't; call us useless; stupid; lucky to have them and sometimes hit us physically too but still we love them. “What???”, every non-abuse victim asks in shock and horror. Logically we share their view but we don't stay with our abusers because of rational logic but because of wounds that hurt us long before our abusive partner ever did. Even after escaping an abusive relationship many go right into another. Why? Because the same inner wounds are still there; whether rooted in suffering/witnessing abuse as a child or growing up feeling unloved or unwanted. How do these inner wounds manifest themselves in adulthood? Let's classify them as three things: self-love, self-worth, self-belief - the total lack of...
Read the full article
here: Counselling Directory

Dreams of Happiness - what are they really?
first published on the Counselling Directory, 11th March 2024

We can all dream. Some dream more than others. Some live their dreams. Some dream away their lives. Some could argue: “Why dream at all? Just live your life.” Personally, I've always dreamt, of differing things as I grew up and, for me, dreams were a useful way of thinking and imagining where to go next. Dreams of finding happiness. But what actually is happiness?

For someone lost in a desert, the happiest thing could be finding an old bottle of stale water. For a millionaire, who has everything money can buy, it could be a kind hand on the shoulder. Whatever the case, us humans are all too often hungry for external input.

Once the person in the desert has drunk the water, they will be searching for something more - in their case, it is for physical survival. The millionaire, with the unexpected hand of kindness on their shoulder, misses it when it is lifted away. Does their smile stay in positive memory and gratitude or does it fade again, as they know it is something even their money can't buy and they don't have the social confidence to invite it back?

Both cases could be left dreaming of getting their needs met. So is that what dreams of happiness really come down to?...
Read the full article
here: Counselling Directory

ADHD, Anxiety and Depression -
labels of help or hindrance?
first published on the Counselling Directory, 6th March 2024

Googling “Do I have ADHD” brought 678 million results, many bragging tests for the answer in under 5 minutes. Doing the same for anxiety brought 2,410 million results and for depression brought 3,470 million. The chances are the quick tests on offer will say you do. Are these quick tests reliable? The ADHD Centre responsibly say:

The following test will give an indication as to whether you are experiencing the most common symptoms of ADHD and can, therefore, be an indication of the likelihood that you may have ADHD. However, it cannot replace a full assessment nor should be used to self-diagnose or decide upon a treatment plan.”

Many others do not and, in any case, all too often the results from quick tests are considered a diagnosis by those taking them. In contrast, a formal diagnosis by the NHS can take hours. No wonder then that GPs, faced with an ever-growing mass of 'self-diagnosed sufferers' often take little heed. They've seen it all before, hundreds if not thousands of times. Where does this leave the ones now resolutely clinging to their self-diagnosed label of need?
Read the full article here: Counselling Directory

Parenting - why attention matters
first published on the Counselling Directory, 5th March 2024

The unhappiest generation is what therapists know as Generation Z, born from 1996 onwards. Accurate figures are hard to come by but they have increasing anxiety rates – some 28% according to the Mental Health Foundation; 80,000 have depression and suicide rates have seen a 2020 to 2021 increase of 33%, according to Young Minds.

In November 2023, the NHS stated about 20% of 8 to 16-year-olds had a probable mental health disorder – in 2017 it was about 12%. The MH Foundation also states: 
“50% of mental health problems are established by age 14 and 75% by age 24.”

Whatever the current figures the increase is clear and stark across the developed world, but why? What has changed? I'll tell you something that I've seen change: attention to infants and children, or rather the lack of it.

How many times have you seen a toddler in a pram, clutching a phone or a tablet instead of a teddy bear?
Read the full article here: Counselling Directory

Reservations - why let them control us?
first published on the Counselling Directory, 27th February 2024

I was in a busy restaurant, our booth full, booth to our side full, booth in front of them full too. Yet, the booth in front of us was empty, except for a sign: 'Reserved'. It was empty, waiting - before we arrived and it was empty and still waiting after we left. Why? Because it was reserved. How many of us have spent time doing nothing while being 'reserved' for something better? Yet how often does the better actually come? How many of us have lost years of our lives waiting, reserved, for something suggested, even promised, that never comes? This would maybe be a non issue if we were immortal on this Earth but we are not...
Read the full article here: Counselling Directory

Anxiety is a modern concern
first published on the Counselling Directory, 2nd February 2024

Anxiety is the most searched for mental-health issue and has been growing in prevalence for years - especially amongst the social-media generation, which was blatantly obvious in the teenage circles of my own children. Go back a few generations and it anxiety barely known. In fact, a lady in her 80's saw a poster offering help and you know what she said? “What's anxiety?” Yet today, according to Champion Health in 2023 there were 67% of 16 to 24 year olds suffering anxiety at work. It doesn't matter how illogical someone knows their anxiety is, the feeling is real to them. In our evolution it needed to be. The fight/flight response is a fundamental part of our survival. Tiger in the trees? Don't think about it, flee or grab a weapon. Anxiety is like a prolonged, drawn-out version of that response and can lead to all sorts of negative life impacts - from simply feeling a bit anxious to avoiding work or even society itself. This week, a client finished their therapy for anxiety - cured after 8 weekly sessions. When they first came they were being repeatedly signed off work so you can image the smiles, for clearly the approach wasn't just working but improving - my norm is 12 sessions. What approach? A form of Exposure Therapy. Confess, as an instinctive therapist, I wasn't actually conscious this was the approach being used until tried explaining it in a book, by comparison with beating arachnophobia (fear of spiders), and had a light-bulb moment. “Ohhh. That is what I'm doing.” So, how does it work in practice? In my sessions, on two fronts...
Read the full article here: Counselling Directory

Domestic abuse is about psychology

first published on the Counselling Directory, 29th January 2024

The police tend to ignore everything except physical abuse, for two reasons. First, physical can be visually seen and photographed in evidence. Second, most police officers, to be police officers, have black and white thinking (legal or not); that everyone being abused will come forward and report it – their fault if they don't. No greys. No understanding of the power of coercive abuse, narcissistic control or the needs of the psychologically damaged suffering it. I'm speaking from first-hand experience, as well as from observations about clients who have come for help. Regardless of gender, the modus operandi of both abuser and victim is seen again and again. It's as if abusers are given the same script to work through...
Read the full article here: Counselling Directory


Self-Help Books
'BRS Shorts' - av
ailable on Amazon
These are designed to be easy to read, rather than technical essays.

After abuse - your recovery
Anxiety - 12-step help
Anxiety and Addictions - break the cycle
Depression - bye, bye
Narcissists - identify the abuser

New, full-length book, for therapists, students and anyone interested in understanding human thinking, out in August