Psychotherapy and counselling is an interactive process between a professional and a client. Through the experience of an interpersonal relationship, people are enabled to explore and develop an understanding about themselves. Therapy provides an opportunity for people to explore their strengths, abilities, how they would like things to be different, build confidence and make changes to their lives. Having a greater awareness and clarity about your values and the direction in which you would like to move forward, can lead to a more meaningful and fulfilling life. Counselling and psychotherapy take an holistic view taking into account your mind, body, emotions, behaviours, relationships, family dynamics and spirituality.
During the first session Jenny will discuss with you your concerns and hopes for therapy. Through getting to know you Jenny will be able to tailor therapy to meet your needs. You will leave your first session with a greater understanding of what has been happening and some ideas about how therapy will be useful for you.
The length of therapy is different for everyone depending on the extent of the issues. Some issues will be resolved in just a few therapy sessions whereas other concerns may require longer- term therapy.
Personal relationships create intimacy when each person feels understood, loved and cared for. The ability to be open about our feelings and experiences throughout the painful and sad times as well as the happy times can create the strong emotional connections seen in genuine intimacy and strong relationships.
1. Connection - connect with your heart, values and each other regularly
2. Initiative - communicate well and be creative with future plans
3. Fun times - plan times to connect with each other that are fun (eg. dinner, movies, walking, hobbies, family outings, friends for dinner, sprituality, physical intimacy)
4. Flexibility and mindfulness- being able to shift between values letting them guide and inspire you
5.Communication - include being present, good listening skills and validating your partners feelings.
6. Respect - understand you are two seperate people and can have different values and opinions
7. Compromise - give and take sometimes, showing interest in what each other enjoys
8. Space - schedule in time for yourself ... (not too much!)
9. Notice - Take note of what is going well - do more of it!
10. Compassion- Remember your human and there will be times you need to make amends - take care of each other as you do this.
When relationships become stuck, Relationship Counselling can be a good way to work through issues. You can also learn new skills and strategies to move forward together and strengthen relationships.
Next time you plan to walk somewhere – set aside enough time to walk a little slower and take in your surroundings…the sights, sounds, smells and your breathing. If you mind wanders (and it will) bring your focus back to the breath or back to your surroundings
Tip – some people find it helpful to notice one thing at a time – try noticing how your feet touch the ground.
If your stress and anxiety is impacting on your life, getting professional counselling and coaching can be useful - helpng you to consider any triggers or events they may have or still are adding to your anxiety and also working with you to decide on ideas and strategies to help you to move forward.
Mindful Parenting – Jenny Drayton
Our hectic lives can place families under enormous stress and often people lose sight of just how stressed they have become. Stressed out parents can result in stressed out kids, and families will often find stress leads to more tension and arguments. This can sometimes become a pattern that takes hold within a family unit leading to behaviours in our selves as parents and our children that work against our values, are destructive to our relationships and our ability to parent well enough. Research shows there can be a psychological impact on children who are exposed to high levels of stress.
So why are we hearing so much more about the importance of living and parenting mindfully?
Neuroscience has had a lot to do with this! Stress impacts how our brain and our kids brain’s function. Two important parts of the brain are affected when we stress. The prefrontal cortex helps us to pay attention, think positively, problem solve, work and learn efficiently. The other part of our brain protects us from danger and will move into action – fight, flight or freeze. The more hectic our lives are the more constantly this part of the brain is stimulated, inhibiting the development of the prefrontal cortex.
The wonderful realisation about mindfulness and parenting mindfully is that it can positively impact the ways our brains and our children’s brains function. Mindfulness takes practice and many families incorporate mindfulness strategies into their daily routines to get the best results. Starting off can seem daunting, as does the idea of getting back into exercise – however taking some small steps towards mindfulness is better than taking no steps at all. Your brains neural pathways in the prefrontal cortex will be strengthened supporting a more strong, efficient and clear thinking brain.
An increasing amount of research over the last 20 years has pointed to the usefulness of mindfulness in dealing with stress, improvements in health and wellbeing and enhancing interpersonal skills leading to improved performance including relationships.
Mindful parenting is unique to each and every family. It takes into account the challenges that arise, that every day is different and the differences between individual children and adults. Mindful parenting helps you to makes decisions from an emotionally stable position rather than a reactive state of mind where the decisions we make sometimes may not be in our child’s best interest.
Being attuned with ourselves through mindful awareness and self-compassion provides us with skills we can pass on to our children. Being present, in the moment and in tune with our children allows us to open up and be aware of their emotional and exploration needs.
Parenting strategies that work for you and your family can be utilised more efficiently when mindfulness strategies are in place and your child’s attachment and exploration needs are being met.
Secure attachments will provide a child with a sense that for most of the time you are a person they can come back to who is kind, caring, wise and strong. Having this strong emotional connection allows the child to explore the world, knowing they can come back to a place of unconditional love and someone who can help them to understand the world around them and their place in it.
Studies have shown that securely attached children are more mature, less aggressive, less disruptive, less needy and are more empathetic during the later years of childhood. There is also a tendency for them to have higher self-esteem and long-term relationships.
Parenting mindfully helps parents to make the best discipline choices they can with more chance of the positive outcomes they are hoping for - instead of setting parents up to fail.
Mindfulness takes into account that we are all human – doing the best we can for our children and families. While it helps us to take the best possible action it also allows us to have compassion for ourselves when we have a bad day and don’t make the best choices.
While mindfulness itself is not a type of discipline - it supports us to understand and take care of our thoughts, feelings and emotions – and in turn teach our children this very valuable skill.
Mindfully being in the moment when we are with our kids helps us build strong meaningful relationships and helps the family build resilience to cope with the stress of modern day life.
Jenny Drayton is a Psychotherapist and Couple and Family Therapist providing mindful parenting coaching, individual, couple and family counselling. Her work with families incorporates mindfulness approaches including solution focused therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).
Practicing mindfulness - Jenny Drayton
Find something in your surroundings such as a flower, an autumn leaf, or an object of interest and give it your full attention. Notice the size, shape, texture, colour including the different shades of colour etc. The more time you spend noticing the more you will see. If your mind wanders acknowledge that, bring your attention back to your object and remember to breath.
This mindulness practice can be done anywhere ... while you are waiting for a bus or waiting in your car for the kids to come out from school.
Waking up Mindfully - Jenny Drayton
Waking up to the sound of an alarm and jumping straight out of bed is a sure way to kick in fight or flight mode - and get the adrenaline pumping!
Set your alarm a little earlier - give yourself time to stretch and wake up... take the time to notice what the weather is like and consider your plans for the day!
The more in tune you can be with your values and how you want to live your life - the better your chance of starting your day in a meaningful way.
Take action ... you might find yourself dressing in your gym gear and heading off for an early morning walk or giving yourself some time to enjoy breakfast!
Pregnancy, Anxiety and Yoga - Jenny Drayton
In a study involving pregnant woman and yoga - results showed there was a reduction in anxiety levels and stress hormone levels after just one class. This reduction was maintained over the 8 week study. Two groups of woman were given questionnaires examining their anxiety levels, depression and anxiety related to pregnancy. Stress hormone levels were measured through blood tests. One group of woman took part in yoga sessions each week while the other group did not attend yoga. Blood tests were taken after the first and last yoga sessions.
After just one yoga session the pregnant mothers showed a 33 percent reduction in anxiety levels and a 14 percent reduction in stress hormone levels. While this effect showed no further increase over the 8 week period it did demonstrate that just one yoga class can achieve a positive reduction in stress levels for pregnant women. Dr James Newham - research associate at Newcastle University's Institute of Health and Society, described the research by saying, "We have now gone some way to prove that it can help". He said, "It was not a small effect either. This has the potential to really help mothers who are feeling anxious about their pregnancy". Source - Depression and Anxiety
New Parents and Creating a Balance - Jenny Drayton
Creating a balanced lifestyle as new parents adjust to their baby requires being mindful, particularly around time spent for themselves and as individuals. This along with the support of family and friends can help you take care of yourself - most importantly giving each other time out to have a little bit of "me time", sleeping when baby is sleeping and getting nourishing meals ( this is where family and friends can come in very handy!).
It is normal for things to sometimes feel overwhelming. A small percentage of mums and even dads can experience post natal depression. Being listened to and talking about how you feel with a professional counsellor, child health nurse, doctor, friend or family member may provide the support you need and lead you back to the joys of parenting.
Parent Wellbeing and Physical Health – Jenny Drayton
Getting out in the fresh air, experiencing a change in environment and going for a walk, is a great way to increase the serotonin levels in your brain and feel better!
Although this may not seem to come easily for many new parents – once you take the first step and feel the benefits the rest is all about being creative. The following are some ideas mums and dads have shared:
· Mum or dad taking the baby for a walk and giving each other time to themselves
· Going for a walk as a family
· Mum or dad taking care of the baby and letting each other go for a walk by themselves
· Meeting up with other parents with baby’s and enjoying each others company as you walk
· Joining or starting up a mums/ dads and bubs walking group
· Getting assistance from family and friends to get out for a walk by your self or as couple.
Our wellbeing and feeling good is directly related to physical health… so to stay active include a healthy diet. Keeping it simple with fresh vegetables, salads, fruit, yoghurt, whole grains and nourishing soups will help to sustain you.
Burning the Candle at Both Ends? Try a Little Kindness!
For some people over business can be managed by learning how to say no…. for others being overbusy may provide a way of avoiding issues they may not wish to deal with. While avoidance can sometimes work for us - it may also be an action that leads us to a path of self-destruction.
Self compassion and taking steps to take care of ourselves, may not only change our lives for the better it could improve your relationships with family, friends and colleagues. Being aware of the warning signs may help you to take action and increase the chances of living your life in a more meaningful way. Some people are not aware they have become overbusy or caught up on something that could be draining their resources. The following are some of the signs to watch out for – we may experience some - or all of these.
· Foggy mind
· Difficulty making decisions
· Nightmares or unusual dreams
· Accident prone
· Mental confusion
· Unexpected emotions such as anger and sadness
· A sense of loneliness
· Poor listening skills
· Difficulty focusing or jumping from one thing to the next
· Painful thoughts, feelings and experiences repeating themselves
· A sense of being detached from – instead of connected to others
If this sounds like you or someone you know, professional counselling may be useful. For some people who push through these warning signs, feeling panic stricken with symptoms such as a racing heart may be the first thing that leads them to seek help.
Taking time to reflect on your values, that is, how you really want to live your life - can often be the first step towards living a more fulfilling and meaningful life. Mindfulness strategies can compliment this process. Putting aside a 15 minute time slot somewhere in your day in a nurturing environment to practice some mindfulness strategies is a good start. Mindfulness can help people to stop, notice and be in the present instead of being caught up in their thoughts, feelings and sensations. This can free us up to think clearly – and to consider the direction we want to take with our lives.
Anger and Relationships - Jenny Drayton
We all express a variety of emotions at different times in our lives. It is normal for people to express their anger throughout their lifetimes however anger is one of our emotions that can have a detrimental affect on our wellbeing when we express it or receive it in a way that isn’t effective and safe. Generally, anger hides other emotions such as frustration, anxiety, fear, helplessness or hopelessness. If we allow the person who is angry to express their true feelings, for many people, the anger will often diminish.
The cost of communicating our anger in a way that isn’t acceptable can be high and an indication that you or your relationship is struggling.
Anger in relationships does not have to be extreme for people to seek help – in fact professional help is more likely to make a difference the less extreme the anger problem is.
Warning signs that indicate professional counselling could be helpful could include some or all of these:
· Frequent fighting
· Frequent outbursts of anger
· Chronic irritability
· Physical violence
· Threatening, hitting, pushing, shaking, squeezing, punching, kicking, choking
· Denying anger or blaming your partner for it is a significant sign that help is needed
Most importantly – if anger outburst become cyclical - that is, there are angry outbursts followed by remorse and this is a cyclical pattern that keeps repeating itself – then remorse is not improving the situation!!
Professional counselling with a counsellor who is helpful and where the sessions lead to change could take you on a journey that leads to a more fulfilling and meaningful life.
Changing Times for Grandparents and Families - Jenny Drayton
For those lucky enough to have grandparents still on board - it is now more important than ever for families to come together to work as a team.
While parents are going back into the workforce to secure their careers and stay skilled for employment into the future - there is also a push for grandparents to continue working well past their 60's.
What does this mean for families as they try to establish strong family connections?
In the past grandparents have often provided a caring role to their families - which has also helped their children to return to work without the hefty fee's of childcare. With pressure now on both parents and grandparents to continue working, many families pull together as a team.
Nurturing good realtionships and teamwork require family members to be mindful, taking a step back to ensure all family members feel respected and supported. Good communication skills, respect, flexibility and boundary setting can be useful when parenst and grandparents are both juggling career and family responsibilities.
Grandparents can still play an important role in their children's and grandchildren's lives. The rewards and benefits that come from these relationships "when they work well" include...
- Secure, loving attachments for the children - with family who will continue to be part of their life jouney and
- Nurturing, respectful, caring and loving relationships with all family members.
Sometimes families can become overwhelmed with juggling different responsibilities. Family Therapy can provide families an opportunity to come together and develop strategies that will work for them and support them to come up with ideas to continue to taking care of themselves.