Distress of disconnection

Mental Health training and consultancy, Person Centred Encounter Group

Disconnection noun – The state of being isolated or detached. The act of detaching one thing from another.

Right now we are all being asked to socially distance and socially isolate. We are told that the only way to survive the Covid-19 crisis is to stay at home; to remove ourselves from friends, social groups, college, work colleagues, non-immediate family, and sports clubs. We are social creatures, pack animals, but now we have to disconnect and separate ourselves from most of the people that support us.

All the normal daily activities and social contacts that help us to feel resilient to distress are now off limits. The daily coffee shop visit, the gossip over a sandwich at lunchtime, the drinks after work, the evening in the gym letting off steam, the Sunday morning yoga class – all of them are out of bounds. But we still have a basic human need for connection – and while the online ‘virtual pub quiz nights’ are not the same, that’s all we’ve got at the moment. So here’s some ideas for keeping sane in these distressing times:

The Social Distancing Festival – https://www.socialdistancingfestival.com/ – Free streamed events showcasing visual art, music, dance and theatre from all over the world.

The Sofa Singers –  https://www.thesofasingers.net/ – The Sofa Singers brings together hundreds of people in real time for 45 minutes of group singing, learning a classic song with some optional harmonies and backing parts.

Online Book Clubhttps://onlinebookclub.org/ – Get reading that book you’ve been meaning to. Join a book club online.

Gardening https://www.rhs.org.uk/ – Good for your mental and physical
health. The Royal Horticultural Society offers lots of tips and advice, from beginners to experts.

Workout and Yoga Videos – https://www.youtube.com/user/thebodycoach1https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene/featured– there’s lots of freely available YouTube workout videos, such as pilates, cardio and strength training online. Most can be done at home with no exercise equipment needed. No excuses.

Couch to 5K – https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/get-runningwith-couch-to-5k/ – The NHS ‘Couch to 5K’ will help you gradually work up towards running 5K in just 9 weeks.

Virtual Tourshttps://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/travel/a31784720/best-virtual-tours/ https://artsandculture.google.com/ – Museums, zoos, aquariums, and theme parks.

Mindful in Minutes Podcast – https://mindfulinminutes.blubrry.net/ – Take time out to practice mindfulness. 20 minute guided meditations.

Cove – Music App – http://www.cove-app.com/Improve your mental health by making music on this app, which encourages self expression through sounds instead of words.

Free Books, Films and Musichttps://www.openculture.com/Huge library of free historical children’s books, films and music. Includes hundreds of free audio books.

Reflectly – Journal Apphttps://reflectly.app/ – Journaling is a good way to reflect, collect your thoughts and improve your mood.

TED Talkshttps://www.ted.com/talks – Choose from over 3,300 x 18 minute video presentations on a range of topics. 

Open Learn – https://www.open.edu/openlearn/education/freecourses – Provided by The Open University, 1,000 free courses across 8 different subject areas. Courses are available to start at any time.

Get Self Help – https://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/pandemic.htm – Free online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) self help and therapy resources, including worksheets, information sheets and self help mp3s to help you through the pandemic.

Random Acts of Kindness –  https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindnessideasActs of kindness promote empathy, compassion and sense of connection with others.

Local Community Volunteers – https://covidmutualaid.org/local-groups/ – Offering support to those who are feeling most isolated, anxious and vulnerable. Sign up to help those in your area.

Share Poetry – http://www.wordstositwith.com/home – The ‘Words to sit with’ collection of contemporary mindfulness poetry and stories – poetry to read, as well as share your own online contributions.

Surviving the Outbreak – https://www.mind.org.uk/informationsupport/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/ – 10 ways you can help improve your mental health and wellbeing if you are worried or anxious about the Coronavirus outbreak.

Stop, Breathe & Think  App https://www.stopbreathethink.com/  – Guides you through meditations for mindfulness and compassion, to help with stress, anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Lots of free content including a series on ‘Calm Coronavirus Anxiety’.

‘The OCD Stories’ – podcast available on iTunes and Spotify – They have an episode about managing OCD in relation to COVID-19.

 

MindLine Trans+

 

MindLine Trans+ is a UK wide service offering a confidential emotional and mental health support helpline for people who identify as Trans, Agender, Gender Fluid or Non-Binary.

They can also be used by family members and friends and to provide signposting to other services and resources.

Most of the trained listeners identify as Trans, non-binary or gender fluid, they are understanding and will listen and offer support. Occasionally cisgender allies may also take calls.

This is a UK wide service, delivered by Bristol Mind and Mind in Taunton and West Somerset

Tel: 0300 330 5468

https://bristolmind.org.uk/help-and-counselling/mindline-transplus/

Opening hours: Monday and Friday 8pm-midnight

Drop the Disorder

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‘Drop the Disorder!’ is a Facebook group for people interested in challenging the culture of psychiatric diagnosis and in supporting non-pathologising ways of understanding and responding to emotional distress. (Jo Watson, Drop the Disorder!)

As a Person-Centred counsellor I display this image on my website so that other people can more easily identify me as a non-pathologising therapist. I believe that “It is the client who knows what hurts, what directions to go, what problems are crucial, what experiences have been deeply buried” (Carl Rogers).

To join the group:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1182483948461309/

 

Gendered Intelligence – Quality of Life Survey 2019

Gendered Intelligence logo
Gendered Intelligence‘s Quality of Life Survey is back for the 4th year, asking trans, (including non-binary, and gender nonconforming) adults in England how good their quality of life is.
The survey will help build up a picture of how satisfied (or not) trans people are with life in 2019. It looks at the positive aspects of being transgender or gender nonconforming, as well as the negative. 
The project looks at what impacts the quality of life of trans and gender nonconforming adults in England, including living standards, mental health, self-esteem, well-being, success and happiness, social inclusion and cultural participation.

Remember to take part in the survey – it’s open until the end of September 2019

Dining Room Dialogues, Autumn 2019

The ‘Dining Room Dialogues’ are monthly, themed, peer-based, interactive group discussions for qualified therapists and trainees or people who work in the health, education and social care professions who have an interest in the Person-Centred Approach. At each discussion a group of 7/8 people meet around a dining room table, with the opportunity to learn together by each bringing our knowledge and experiences.

Each discussion is facilitated by Rachel Yates and Jules Haley. Rachel is a qualified counsellor and mental health trainer with over twenty years of experience of working with alternative “models of madness” (Read & Dillon, 2013) and the person-centred approach to mental distress. Jules is a qualified therapist who has personal and professional experience within a drug and alcohol wellbeing service, supporting people’s recovery journey, and facilitating recovery groups.

The Autumn set of Dining Room Dialogues will develop new ideas and understanding of ‘Ways of Coping’. You will have an opportunity to learn and raise thoughts, ideas or ask questions. It is totally up to you how much you want to contribute and take away, at your pace and perhaps at times based on what is relevant within the discussion to you. Please be aware that although these groups are a confidential space, they are not an alternative to supervision and/or therapy.

The ‘Dining Room Dialogues’ are held in Walthamstow, East London, E17. Each session starts at 11am and we will finish at 3.30pm. A homemade vegetarian lunch, snacks and unlimited good coffee and herbal teas is provided. Please let us know if you have any specific dietary requirements.

Cost is £40 per person/ per discussion group (this includes lunch, summary content notes after the day, and a certificate for CPD). Payment is by BACS in advance. If you would like a place please email:  jules@juleshaleycounselling.com. A list of relevant and interesting reading such as books, articles or videos will be provided before each session for you to look at before the discussion, although it is not an issue if you do not get to it before the session.

 

Dates and themes:

‘Ways of Coping’ – September 2019 to January 2020.

  • Drugs and Alcohol – Sunday 8 September 2019
    • We will be thinking about and discussing why and how people use alcohol and drugs, the concept of ‘addiction’, the effects on them, families and the people around them. Ways to support people who are using alcohol and drugs as a way of coping. Ethics of working with people currently using or under the influence.
  • Self-Injury – Sunday 3 November 2019
    • We will be exploring why people harm themselves, and the links between self-injury and suicide. Our own attitude towards self-injury. The impact on people’s lives and the people around them, and ways we can support people including referral options.
  • Relationship with Food – Sunday 1 December 2019
    • Looking at the difference between problem eating and an eating ‘disorder’. Why people may develop eating ‘disorders’ and the health impacts. Our own relationship with food. How we can safely support people who use food as a way of coping.
  • Selfcare or selfish? – Sunday 12 January 2020
    • We will be discussing what the concept of self-care means to us and the people we work with, and its importance. Self-soothing and the nervous system. Looking at ways in which we may look after our whole wellbeing – physical and mental, and the concept of developing a spiritual discipline (Thorne, 2003).

Sunflower Lanyards scheme – how to show your hidden disabilities in Coronavirus shopping chaos

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This week Sainsburys and Tesco joined Iceland and Booths in reserving the first hour of trading for ‘elderly and vulnerable’ customers only in a bid to help everyone through the Coronavirus crisis. All other customers will be able to shop from one hour later than the published opening time with some stores offering extended opening times.

But how do you go about displaying your ‘vulnerability’ if you have a hidden disability? Do you need a Blue Badge or do you have to show staff your PIP letter? There’s certainly going to be some dirty looks from the over 70s when people with hidden disabilities join the queues for milk, pasta and of course toilet roll.

This is where the free Sunflower Lanyard for hidden disabilities scheme might come in useful. The scheme was started at Gatwick Airport a few years ago. Over 1000 people with hidden disabilities use passenger assistance at Gatwick every month. The Sunflower Lanyard scheme was designed to make sure travellers had an easier time at the airport.

Hidden disabilities can include people with dementia, autism, hearing loss, anxiety and fibromyalgia who may find walking, standing, and queuing difficult, or find the sounds, crowds and lights overwhelming. I have a chronic fatigue condition so know how this can feel. 

Staff have been trained to offer appropriate support when they see someone wearing the lanyard. The scheme was so popular that it was rolled out across all the UK airports, some rail companies and in October 2019 Sainsbury’s and Argos announced the nationwide rollout of sunflower lanyards in all stores, to help customers with hidden disabilities. The Sunflower Lanyard acts as a discreet sign for staff in the store that they may need to provide a customer with extra support such as finding items or giving more time at the checkout. Hopefully it might help you in the current shopping chaos.

You can collect a free Sunflower Lanyard from the assistance desk of any UK airport, or customer services at Sainsbury’s.

https://www.about.sainsburys.co.uk/news/latest-news/2019/07-10-2019-sainsburys-and-argos-announce-national-rollout-of-hidden-disability-lanyard-scheme

 

Join the ‘Dining Room Dialogues’ – a monthly Person-Centred discussion group for counsellors and trainees

Rachel Yates – Counsellor, Walthamstow, East London, E17

Mental Health training and consultancy, Person Centred Encounter Group

Launching the Dining Room Dialogues – a discussion group for therapists and trainees.

‘Dining Room Dialogues’ is a monthly, themed, peer-based group discussion for qualified therapists and trainees who have an interest in the Person-Centred Approach and a belief in a more trauma-informed and non-medicalised approach to mental health and mental distress. It will be a small group of 7/8 people sat around a dining room table, with the opportunity to learn together by each bringing our knowledge and experiences.

For more information see: RachelYatesCounselling.com

If you would like a place, and we expect these will go quickly please email – jules@juleshaleycounselling.com.  

Each discussion will be facilitated by me and Jules Haley. I am a qualified counsellor and mental health trainer with over twenty years of experience of working with alternative “models of madness” (Read & Dillon, 2013). My career has been at St Mungo’s, a homelessness organisation, within a client-facing role where I have led and delivered psychologically informed and trauma-responsive environments based on the person-centred approach to mental distress. Jules is a qualified therapist with lived experience of mental health issues, including the good, bad and ugly ways of coping.

We will develop new ideas and ways of understanding through our discussion together about specific issues, starting with ‘madness’ over a set of three Sundays followed by a set on gender and identity. You will have an opportunity to learn and raise thoughts, ideas or ask those questions that you may have just keep to yourself over the years. It is totally up to you how much you want to contribute and take away, at your pace and perhaps at times based on what is relevant within the discussion to you.

(Please be aware that although these groups are a confidential space, they are not an alternative to supervision and/or therapy.)

Details

Each of the ‘Dining Room Dialogues’ is held in Walthamstow, East London. A homemade vegetarian lunch, as well as unlimited good coffee and herbal teas is provided at the dining room table. Please let us know if you have any dietary requirements. Cost is £25 per person/ per discussion group, payment is by BACS. A certificate will be provided for CPD use.

A list of relevant and interesting reading such as books, articles or videos will be provided before each session for you to look at these before the discussion group meets, although it is not an issue if you do not get to it before the session.

Dates and themes

‘Exploring Madness’ runs from February to April 2019. Each session starts at 11am, finishing at 3.30pm on a Sunday.

  • Paranoia and Unusual Beliefs – Sunday 3 February
    • We will be thinking about and discussing why and how people feel paranoid and hold unusual beliefs. Ways to support and work with unusual beliefs. Rachel will draw from her experiences of 8+ years running a community peer-led Unusual Beliefs group.
  • Hearing Voices – Sunday 3 March
    • We will be talking about what hearing voices is like, think about where the voices may come from, the impact on people’s lives, and ways to support people with this experience.
  • The label of ‘Personality Disorder’ – Sunday 7 April
    • We will be looking at the diagnoses of personality disorder that clients may acquire – the validity, impact and meaning. How we can support someone through exploring the person-centred work of Margaret Warner (Pearce & Sommerbeck, 2013). Client processes at the difficult edge on Difficult Process); looking at the experience of fragile, dissociative and psychotic process. I will drawn on my personal experiences of living with difficult processing styles.

‘Exploring identity’ runs from May to July 2019

  • Non-binary and trans identity – Sunday 5 May
    • We will be thinking about and discussing our understanding and language of gender, trans, non-binary and gender expression. The impact of being gender non-conforming and thinking about ways to support non-binary and trans people.
  • Non-monogamous and poly-amorous relationships – Sunday 2 June
    • We will be talking about reasons why people are in these relationships, issues that they may bring to the counselling room, our prejudices and understanding, and thinking about how we support them.
  • Sexuality – Sunday 7 July
    • We will be looking at how the experience of growing up, coming out and living as gay/lesbian/bi in a ‘straight’ world affects people’s mental health, self-esteem and relationships. We will be thinking about how this can bring them into counselling, and the support they may be looking for.