A view from the client’s chair

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Most of us are aware that if therapy is to be a success it is vital for the client to feel at ease with the therapist. But how important is it for them to feel physically comfortable in the space? The size of the room, the level of light on offer, the position or even design of the chair the client is offered can all play a role in how therapy not only progresses but the path it might take.

Some might say it is a matter of preference. Similar to a mattress on our bed, many opt for the orthopaedic, sensible solution whereas others may be more willing to submit to sinking into slumber every night regardless of the long term damage they may be doing to their posture.

In therapy however, it may be argued that the level of choice given to the client should be monitored more closely with their position in the room being thought about in relation to the nature of the therapy and the chair being positioned by the therapist before the session even begins.

This position therefore can be central to the therapist’s approach and may risk becoming pertinent to the development of the therapeutic alliance. Perhaps it is the chair that provides the foundations for whatever happens next? Whether it be a Freudian chaise lounge or a winged chesterfield there is no doubt the client’s chair plays a role in therapy sessions and perhaps needs to be paid more attention?

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How counselling and therapy helps

The positive effects of counselling and therapy can benefit you enormously. The exploration of your thoughts with a non-judgmental person can make you feel less alone and more in control of your life than you think. Muddled thoughts in a chaotic mind can be challenging, lead to poor choices with the inability to make positive decisions; further leading to on-going misery and a life full of let downs. The collaborative process of counselling, building a relationship that is confidential and unique to you, will help you move forward to achieve what you would like from life.

With a therapist alongside to help share some of those thoughts enables thinking to become more directed and goal orientated with a confidence that change is achievable. You should not feel ashamed of anything you bring to the relationship. Sharing should feel empowering with a zest to inspire change, change that we all endeavour. There are many psychological studies that advocate, with empirical findings, that counselling and therapy lead to overall improved mental, physical and social well-being.

At Citylinks our techniques encompass a wide range of approaches to best suit your needs. We believe that what approach helps one person one can damage another even if symptoms are comparable. That is why we work with your strengths because it is you that knows yourself the best. We support you to make your own decisions with a sense of empowerment that will lead to lasting change, change specific to you and your circumstances. We do not focus on problems. We support you to find solutions to solve your problems.

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Cyber Space

As technology progresses the consensus appears to be that services should follow. With a library of our favourite reads being stored on kindles and CD’s fast becoming ‘things from the old days’, should the face to face contact provided by therapists since 1902 now be reassessed and adapted to an ever growing cyber reality? Is using Skype to facilitate therapy sessions a step forward or a risk of therapists keeping their clients firmly in the dark?

On a practical level there are a number of reasons one might use to argue the case in favour of Skype sessions. It can allow people to choose a therapist outside their geographical comfort zone, using low cost initial sessions to ‘vet’ as many as they choose before deciding on the therapist right for them. It can also save money travelling too and from sessions, not to mention maximising time. As long as the client has good internet connection they can get support from their therapist in the comfort of their own home, at work or even while on holiday with flexibility from the therapist possibly more negotiable due to easier access. Skype sessions can also dramatically increase anonymity, especially if the therapist is located in a different region or even country to the client. This avoids the dreaded situation of bumping into each other outside of the therapeutic space or even in the company of family and friends.

However, at what point did therapy become a ‘practical’ solution to any problem and are we losing sight of the impact virtual sessions might have not only on the client but also on the manifestation of the therapist/client relationship and thus the success of the sessions themselves. Without the initial handshake, direct eye contact or even the close proximity to a box of tissues could the client be left feeling disillusioned or even more vulnerable after therapy? Perhaps without the more traditional experience could we be creating even further feelings of despair once the computer shuts down?

Erika Sanger.

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A resolution for depression!

Resolution or depression?

Erika Sanger

With another year over, the chaos of Christmas forgotten and New Year resolutions already broken it may be now people ponder over what they achieved last year and all the wonderful things they hope to achieve in the year to come. However it is often with these high expectations and hopes for a long Spring that confidence in oneself begins to wane and the dread of achieving very little may set in. It is a well known fact that January brings much depression to many and I wonder if the anticlimax following New Years Eve may be enough to catapult even the strongest of minds to loose focus and sink into the depths of despair. For most the holiday preparations allow us to busy ourselves to the point of distraction and are usually enough to keep any negative feelings at bay. Each menial task can be masked as a effort to make it “the best Christmas ever!” and if we are having any difficulty kidding ourselves what better time of the year to take a seasonal tipple to help the mood. The general consensus is often to indulge during the holidays with a view to abstaining from any caffeine, cocoa, nicotine, alcohol or any other foreign substance which has provided us with comfort and pleasure during the last 12 months and yet live a much more happier life becoming better people all round before next Christmas. These estimations of our ability to deny ourselves with simple pleasure while becoming even more fulfilled however are the exact ingredients one needs to feel a complete failure by Jan 2 and I feel are the ultimate reasons why January could be the most depressing month of any year, hurtling people down a railroad of destruction. If we could just break away from the annual cycle of trying to make life better by denying ourselves the things which keep us sane and turn the new year into a celebration of our survival of another year without leaving any permanent damage to ourselves or others, rejoicing in the wonderful comforts of life by resolving to enjoying them even more this year. In short, rather than cheating ourselves through January with the leftover goodies from Christmas why not keep some money aside to do an extra big shop to indulge in and rejoice in the fact that you won’t even need to share it with any extended family or long lost friends!

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The art of aging.

So you have worked hard all your life and raised a family to become well adapted, happy young adults, possibly supporting them in the beginning of raising a family of their own. In recent years you may have dreamt about retiring and taking life a bit easier but now that it has arrived you may find it difficult to “slow down”. It may prove impossible to break the routine of getting out of bed at 7:00am, even on the weekend and feel it necessary to fill each day with some form of useful activity. These very often involve tasks which have been put on the long finger for many years like DIY or redecorating the house. It appears that many people who have looked forward to this time of life forget that other matters would also have an effect on them, which are very often the issues which are so difficult to deal with during the later years.

Children have grown up and moved on with their lives (as indeed they should-I hear you say) but once retired and finding oneself with some much desired free time it is common for people to experience the empty nest syndrome and all the emotions that come with it. You may ask yourself why it had to happen so fast. Why, now when I have the time to give to them and would love to share more with them they are not here? For many at this stage the pleasure of having grandchildren can help to momentarily fill the nest. For others less fortunate or whose grandchildren live abroad it can become a difficult time and the transition into retirement may provoke strong feelings of loss, abandonment, sadness or even regret. The late morning coffee with friends may have lost its appeal once the conversation is high jacked by hip replacements and cholesterol updates. Just as the once enjoyable game of golf becomes a tedious task of more leisure time when all you crave is an important phone call summoning you to attend something really important. The realisation that phone call won’t come may be a relief to some but to many it may be a shock into the harsh reality that is retirement.

With the rapid acceleration of technology it can be comforting to have a wide range of ways of keeping the lines of communication with family and friends alive. But what happens the older generation who have not kept up with technology? Feeling in the dark can leave many people isolated and very lonely. With the younger generation struggling to get by and support their own young families the question left in many a more mature mind may be what do we do next?

Erika Sanger.
Inspired by a wonderful Dad and Grandad (aka Giggis!)

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Real good therapy!

In an age when everything is available via the internet or delivered to our door are we at risk of loosing sight of the importance of the simple pleasures which have kept us reasonably happy for so long? One of my fondest memories growing up in Dublin was venturing into town and spending a Saturday afternoon in virgin mega stores with my friends. The expedition would be prepared for in the bedroom of whoever had the more lenient parents, while we giggled over swapping clothes, experimenting with makeup and stealing a splash of whatever perfume was available on the way out. To the adults on the bus we looked like over done teenagers with clearly no boundaries at home! But we felt like catwalk models, all secretly hoping the cute guy with the pink hair was working. With an afternoon of listening to music on the headphones provided and riffling through the hoards of cds on display we gained a memorable social and fun experience that no amount of downloading could provide.
As with an avid reader with a passion for not only the contents of a good book but for the feel of it, the smell and unknown history behind a second hand novel and the pleasure of turning each page as the story unfolds while using a precious bookmark to pause surely can not be equalled with a kindle. The story may still be enjoyable but the experience lost.
As we become more reclusive in our hobbies are we at risk of long term damage to our social being? And when we do venture out with friends what happens our psyche when the photos of a great night out become public on facebook? Are we expected to not cringe at the fact that friends we have only met in the virtual world are allowed to trawl through some of our most precious moments? Or do we just post the thought and hope someone out there feels the same?

Erika Sanger

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Baby blues…

The baby blues are something almost every new mum will experience but must not be confused with postnatal depression. Although I have studied psychoanalysis for five years, I am not a therapist or an expert on clinical conditions following the birth of a child. I am however, a mother of two with a wide network of friends with children and can confidently say that once the initial excitement of a new born passes, the visitors cease and you realise the furthest you have travelled in two weeks is to the washing line it is common to feel low. Very often these feelings will be combined with immense guilt and confiding in the wrong person may be met with an attitude of how could you be unhappy at this joyful time you ungrateful woman? If one is ufortunate enough to meet such misunderstanding please reject it and reassure yourself that experiencing sadness, bewilderment, irritability or even despair at this time is as natural as feeling pain during the birth. Other factors such as financial difficulty, lack of family support or generally not being happy with your situation can play a part in how the new mum is feeling. A change in hormone levels, a lack of sleep and a trauma on her body following labor are also huge factors. However, with vast information available on the medical and psychological causes of the baby blues and postnatal depression I am writing this article meerly to reassure any woman experiencing these feelings that she is not loosing her mind or a failing mother and that more often than not the feelings will fade and the job of parenting will become easier. After carrying a baby for nine months and being the only person who knows exactly when that baby is either sleeping or full of beans it is often very difficult to share responsiblity and joy with others once the baby arrives and can leave new mums feeling disempowered and slightly invaded of what was theirs for so long. It is important therefore for the new mum to be supported in her role and allowed to trust her instincts and remain in charge of the general wellbeing of the baby. I would urge new mums to enjoy their new arrival but also to embrace any negative feelings, knowing they are part of the process of bringing new life into the world. To be honest with oneself and recognise how you are feeling from day to day will lead to a positive outcome. Remember who you were before the baby arrived by playing music you love or treating yourself to a new lipstick can also help and when you are ready, accept any help on offer. If the negative feelings don’t subside after a couple of weeks and the low days out way the good then contact your GP or counsellor and start talking.

Erika Sanger

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