How to help somebody who is recovering from an addiction: praise and why sometimes this can have a negative effect.

We must apologise for not put in a blog up since the beginning of the year, Ewhat price can be a bad thingleos counselling has undergone a revamp of its website, which has taken us away from blogging, we intend to rectify this right now with this blog, hope you enjoy.


Recovering from any form of addiction can be hard, we have already discussed in another blog post how one of the overarching feelings that a person has when he or she is recovering from addiction is shame.

Recently while reading a book completely unrelated to counselling, I  was to find an interesting quote in the book  “the practice of practice”(Harum, 2014).The author quotes research carried out by Peter Gollwitzer into the subject of motivation; motivation is certainly one of the key ingredients that someone who is recovering from a substance misuse difficulty or behavioural problems such as gambling, needs.


Often what will happen is, that the person who is recovering, will not feel particularly encouraged by their support system ( the same people that encouraged them in the first place ). Often, a few months into their sobriety or change of habit a recovering person feels de-motivated as encouragement dies down, as people think that they are over their problem. In fact, this is often the hardest part of their recovery, and when relapses happen the most.

What often happens, the recovering person will state their goal to their support system which is often family and friends and people who wanted them to give up drinking, using drugs or number of other things such as, overeating, under eating, using drugs, or any number of negative patterns of behaviour. What in fact Gollwitzer says is that people need “ advance praise”, If we again return to the subject of shame and compare it to praise. Praise can be seen as the opposite of shame, so why wouldn’t a person in recovery want praise instead of Shame, with its added feelings of condemnation and judgement.

Unfortunately looking for “advance praise” can have a negative effect on recovery. Often a recovering person will gush about their goals, to others, and they would often be praised for setting such goals. The reason why a recovering addict would do this is that praise feels good, it fulfils their desire to identify as someone who is recovered, rather than in recovery. What Gollwitzer says is that our imagination is good at hamstringing the, a person who wants to change.

In fact, when somebody has been recovering, a short time their imaginative brain takes the praising which falls on them and tricks them into believing he or she have already done what he or she said he or she would do to recover;They believe that in fact  have fulfilled their goals by staying sober or making change into their negative behaviour but, unfortunately for some people, this can take many years. Moreover, it can also take many years to recover the trust that they had lost when they were indulging in negative behaviours.




Harum, J. (2014). The practice of practice. New York: Sol Ut Press.




Just Look Up

eleos-counselling_just-look-upDuring the summer I was to see something that set me thinking. I was in a large shopping mall; there was a seated area where I was waiting for my wife. A young woman was breastfeeding her baby, under a muslin cloth; nothing wrong with that quite natural but what she was doing while she was breastfeeding her child was looking at her mobile phone.

As someone who teaches anger management, I have learned through my research one of the fundamental ways that we assess threats by looking into the face of our would-be aggressor. We evaluate threats in less than the blinking of an eye quickly making the decision, whether a person is a threat or not a threat.  This response, according to research has found that in early childhood, looking at or mother’s eyes. I wondered, what the young lady breastfeeding her child was teaching her child, what internal message had this baby received from its mother, as she is updating  her Facebook status or text a friend. Experts say

I was recently touched by a post, ironically, on Facebook by a gentleman called Gary Turk, you may have seen this. Turk asked us to look up, from a mobile device, that life can be going by whilst we engage in social media. I urge you to watch this and paradoxically life is as we frantically engage in social media.

I wonder what mixed messages the baby in the arms, of the young lady, engaged with social media, had got from  its mother: who  was too busy engaging social media or texting  even to look at her child  breastfeeding, the most naturally bonding thing a mother can do for its child.



Painkillers may give help to people with suicidal thoughts.

PANews BT_P-14c26646-8ab4-49bb-abc5-6a5e61e6bbdb_I1A recent article in new scientist magazine suggests research undertaken by a joint team of scientists working in America and Israel, have had some success in helping with clients overcome suicidal thoughts. The participants in the study were given painkillers (buprenorphine). The research suggests that there is some improvement in people’s thinking.

In this small study carried out in the US, by this joint team, participants were given the painkiller buprenorphine, because the low risk this carries from an overdose, also, the doses were kept low to carry less risk to the participant. Preliminary results show that people improved their mood on pain relief medication and were able to cope adequately with life.

It is thought that buprenorphine act on a number of opioid receptors in the brain, scientists of unsure which receptors exactly, but there is a promise that giving suicidal patients buprenorphine, may stave off the thoughts of taking their own life’s.

As yet GPs, psychiatrists and mental health professionals have nothing to help clients with suicidal idealization. This research may help thousands of people in the UK. The idea of a pharmaceutical which patients with suicidal thoughts could take to quell these suicidal thoughts has been asked for over 20 years by mental health professionals. Although this research is in its infancy, it certainly shows promising’s signs.

According to the phone helpline charity, the Samaritans   4,722 people in the UK took their own life in 2013, with the largest figure being in the male population at 3,684.

Suicide biggest killer of men between the age of 18 and 34, according to the Samaritans figures.


Your sex is not defined by your brain?

black-and-white picture of brain_eleoscounselling


A recent article in new scientist debunks the idea, of male and female brains. After scanning more than 1,400 brains, scientists at Tel Aviv University revealed there is no difference between male and female brains. Although male brains are known to be bigger, than female brains the features inside that brain do not differ greatly.

The idea that, when a baby boy is developing in the womb, and when testicles are formed these discharge testosterones which defines the brain as male, has now been disproved by research.

When the research group in Tel Aviv looked at 1400 magnetic image residence scans of subjects between the ages of 13 and 85, they found very little variance between male and female brains.

One interesting, spin off from this research is that the team found is that there are variations in the size of brain areas, as well as the interconnections between them. The researchers found 29 brain regions, but in general seem to be of different sizes between people who identify themselves as male or female. These include the hippocampus, which is involved in the laying down of memories and an area of the brain, which is considered to play a major role in risk aversion called the inferior frontal gyrus.

When the researchers looked at individual brain scans they found that they had very few people that have all the brain features they would expect, based on their sex. In fact, across the 1,400 brain scans, the research looked at, between 0 % and 8% of the people had all male or all female brains depending on a definition used in the past.

It is thought that we all somewhere along the continuum, with a mix of brain attributes that would define as individuals.

Researchers at the University of Tel Aviv commented saying that most people are in the middle.


Gender myths

Men are preoccupied with sex.

Many studies have verified that men have more casual sex than women. Nevertheless, the female sexual appetite may be underestimated. Women in general are likely to downplay the use of pornography or masturbation while men tend to exaggerate their use.

Women tend to be bigger gossips than men.

Is a common held belief that women are better communicators than men. The reality is gender difference in verbal abilities is very small. In fact, in some posts specific skills, men outclass women.

Boys are better at maths than girls.

An analysis of 240 studies found that girls and boys are equally matched when it comes to maths. The variable is girls tend to perform as well boys in countries where there is more gender equality.


Is it time you de- stressed ?????

Christmas; a tifogme for re-evaluation, and de-stressing?

Christmas and New Year is often a time when we take a good look at what happened the previous year. Also, it’s a time when we rest, and spend time with our family. But for some this is not so.

As we fast approach the Christmas season, we thought it may be good to look at tiredness, and how there are two distinctive types.

The two types of tiredness are not too dissimilar to different types of clouds, the large clouds you see on a sunny day, or spring clouds bringing rain. The other is the type of cloud that predicts a storm front or sometimes bad weather, high winds, and all too frequent hurricane force winds.

The first type of tiredness is normal, it’s temporary and it comes after you finished a good job. Furthermore, after a time of rest, you bounce back ready to go again.

The other type of tiredness is a type of chronic fatigue, this builds up over many months, of stress and strain. Unfortunately, this type of fatigue doesn’t manifest itself as exhaustion. In fact, it is often masked by frantic activity, alongside impulsive behavior. Here are some of the signs to look out for.

Six warning signs that you’re stressed, and need to rest.



  1. If You or someone you know is finding it difficult to relax over a meal or coffee. They may be a sense that the person has to get on with something, but seems to lack direction or planning.
  2. If You or someone you know is finding themselves checking and rechecking emails, constantly looking, at their mobile phone tablet or laptop.
  3. If Your office desk, or workplace is piled high with literature, that you are about to read, designed to keep, you or someone you know one step ahead of their competitors, but it never seems to get read.
  4. If You or someone you know is not having time off, as it seems impossible to have a break or they may be constantly keep putting off having days off work.
  5. If You or someone you know may be having trouble sleeping.
  6. If You or someone you know, has spent any time “escaping” this may be drinking, eating too much mind sitting watching television.

If any of this sounds familiar? Then maybe it’s time you took some time off and re-evaluated.


Stresses is like boiling a frog


The truth is that stress is rather like boiling a frog, if a frog is put in a boiling pan water, it will jump straight out. The frog knows it’s hot and has enough sense to jump out of the boiling water. But if you put a frog lukewarm or tepid water, put it on the stove and slowly turn the gas up the frog and stay there till its boiled alive.

Stress can be quite like this, sometimes we don’t know we’ve been stressed or tired until we have a break.  Sometimes we can be poisoned by the belief that we are doing good things by working hard, but actually there is a point of diminishing odds.


Can birth order dictate your chances in life?

The idea of, your place in your family dictating your chances in life, re-emerge with several new studies, looking into the effects of birth order, in families.

sibling rivalry_eleoscounsellingFamily order nature or nurture?

Francis Galton, a half cousin of Charles Darwin, first coined the phrase “nature or nurture”. Galton, in 1874 suggested that it was only the firstborn sons that would exclusively, become England’s finest scientists. This may well in the case in Galton’s time. Indeed, firstborn sons would always be the air to any title, money or land in the 1800s. Indeed, if one had been born a first son one may have been raised with a sense of entitlement, to such things, not so today?

Family order dictates your mental health?

One such study looking at the effects of birth order looked at survival rates; one only has to look at the animal kingdom to see that birth order can often have life or death consequences. A study carried out in Norway, which looked at 600,000 people, discovered that the oldest sibling is a greater risk of committing suicide than his or her sibling, with the likelihood of suicide greater in men than in women.

Sibling ranking and IQ?

A further study carried out of 250,000 Norwegian army conscripts, found that the eldest brother in a sibling group has a 2.3 higher average IQ, compared to his younger siblings. An interesting caveat to this study, is the research carried out by Petter Khristiansen, at the University of Oslo. He looked at males whose older brother had died. He found that this affects the IQ ranking of the surviving, next in line sibling; the study’s results suggested that when one moves in sibling ranking, ones IQ rises. Khristiansen, suggests in his study, that this is something to do with University places.

Family order even makes a difference in your  Immune system!

Furthermore, a study carried out by Matthew Perzannowski at the University of Columbia in New York, found that children, aged between four and five, with older siblings, are less likely to go to the emergency room due to an asthma attack, it is thought that a principle called hygiene hypothesis occurs, in effect being exposed to viruses, bacteria and fungus in early childhood may increase the immune system, effectively younger siblings more exposed to pathogens, brought into the home by older brothers or sisters, thus less prone to allergies than their older family member.


Do get angry:it can be good for you!

Anger, is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored, than to anything on which it is poured.”
― Mark Twain


Do get angry:it can be good for you!







What are the benefits of getting angry?

Scientists at Harvard University have recently published research, citing the benefits of anger. In principle they agree with Mark Twain in as much as there are definitely negative effects of anger, but conversely, there are also positives attribute gained from getting angry.

The Harvard university study, that gathered information on emotions of almost 1000 people, nine days after the 9/11 terrorist attack, and came to the conclusion that those interviewed who felt outrage and angered, by the terrorist attack, felt more optimistic about the future, than those who expressed fear of more terrorism. In this context, anger is seen as a positive, inasmuch as, it unites people under a common cause in this case feeling outraged at the terrorist attack. Male participants of the study were shown to have more anger than women, but again were generally found to be more optimistic.

The research found that media coverage of the terrorist attack was reported from a standpoint that would make people angry, and thus less afraid of being hurt by another terrorist attack.

How anger affects   your well-being

Psychologist working at the University of California, Berkeley Dr Brett Ford, whilst studying anger responses in the laboratory found that if research participant was made angry, rather than stress and anxious, they showed a lower biological response, in terms of blood pressure and levels of stress hormones. Ford’s research was added to by Dr Maya Tamir, at the University of Jerusalem. Her findings found that people who tend to feel angry rather than happy, when confronting, someone in a stressful situation, tend to have a higher well-being.

Tamir’s, research revealed that participants who got angry, generally had a higher emotional intelligence; this is counterintuitive to what one would naturally think.

How getting angry  can activate change.

Anger can be looked as a positive force if one considers people such as Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. A good example of this is Rosa Parks, who was ordered to give up her seat in a coloured section of the bus she was riding on  in Montgomery, Alabama, by the bus driver, in order to give it to a white person, because a segregated seating on the bus in the white area was full. Refusing to obey the driver she was arrested. Thus giving birth to the Montgomery bus boycott, which became a symbol of the modern human rights movement. If Rosa Parks had not become angry this may not have happened.




Is individuality dead?

In a recent New Scientist Magazine, an article, posed a question is individuality dead? The author Alex Pentland, stated in the article, that a study carried out by social scientists, using a smart phone app, found some remarkable results.individuality_peer group_eleoscounselling

Using big data, the study looked at mobile phone habits, credit card purchases, and social media interaction, and came to the conclusion, that the driving force between any adoption of a new behaviour is motivated by the interaction with peers.

The article states that we learn more than we think of our peers, the study postulated that social learning pays an equally significant part in us as humans, as our genes or our IQ.

The next time you abandon instructions for a piece of flat pack furniture, or are trying to learn something complex, such as a piece of software, and instead of reading the instructions, ask your friend to show you how to do it, you are, fundamentally, relying on social learning. It makes sense if you think that learning from somebody, who has already mastered the task, can cut out the arduous chore of using instructions and getting it wrong yourself.

The case in point, how many times do you Google or YouTube something to find out how to do it? I know I do this all the time, as often instructions online is straight to the point, and therefore, show you how to get on with the task in hand. I have recently learned to use formulas within Microsoft Excel, the video instruction was clear, precise, and informative. What’s more, it enabled me to complete a complex graph quickly, I know that if I’d of sat and work through a manual, I may have lost patience, not only with myself, but also with the manual.


The study looked at how important individual choices are, compared to shared habits, the researchers looked at patterns of communication and found out that communication is the single most important factor in productivity and creative output. The idea of a collective intelligence is muted in the argument. I do wonder, how much of this will be integrated into the workplace, as it is often the person who shouts loudest gets listened to instead of the quiet person at the back of the room with the bright idea, how many times have you experienced this?

The conclusion of the arguments stated that it was about time we rethought our ideas of individuality, I would argue that some of the greatest individuals on this planet, have been free thinkers and consequently swam against the flow of conventional thinking, if you consider someone like Albert Einstein.

The idea of a collective consciousness is nothing new, the existential philosopher Soren Kierkegaard spoke of the herd mentality. Maybe this is what this article is trying to prove.

Samaritans suggest and new look at the causes of Male suicide

depressed man_eleoscounselling_blog pictureA report released by the Samaritans organisation, in June this year (2015), highlights the problem of men turning to alcohol instead of talking about their problems. What is more worrying, according to the report, this increases the risk of suicide.

The Samaritans suggest that the government should reconsider their response to the nation’s unhealthy drinking culture.

It is well known that the biggest killer of men between the age of 18 and 34 is suicide. What the Samaritans are suggesting is that there should be more communication between mental health teams and drug and alcohol teams. Unfortunately, with recent austerity measures, agencies such as drug and alcohol and mental health teams are being cut to the bare bone. The question here is how one gets men to engage, in talking about themselves (fundamentally, how does one get men talking).

An interesting point is raised in the report, commenting that masculinity plays a great deal in the way men see themselves. The report suggests that men will often compare themselves, to their perceived model of what a man should be, often this can be a distorted image, of a man being powerful, white, rich, good-looking, and heterosexual. The reports suggest that when men are not reaching this model, often they can become filled with a sense of shame guilt and ultimately defeat.

Being a breadwinner is often central to being a man, particularly for blue-collar workers. Frequently, the loss of control due to a depressive episode or crisis will make a man feel chaotic, this often, can push men towards suicidal behaviours in an effort to regain some sort of control over their life. Regularly men, searching for relief from the psychological pain and the feeling of loss of control, will seek out substances such as drugs or alcohol, or both, as a way of coping.

Throughout childhood, boys are taught to be a man, looking to his father for guidelines, for how this is. Undoubtedly some of these messages can be, mixed. Furthermore, if the young boy’s father is not around, some of these messages can come from external forces, such as culture, social media or TV.

The report suggests that men in midlife, often seek out their partner as emotional support, suggesting that the man loses support from his peers after the age of 30. The report goes on to say that men traditionally seek out companionship, in doing an activity, but these relationships can often be superficial.

Traditionally, men have a poor view of psychotherapy/ counselling, coming to therapy only in extreme circumstances. This is something that we at Eleos counselling are working very hard to correct.

At the time of writing, unemployment in the UK is higher amongst men than it is amongst women. Traditional jobs, such as manufacturing are changing rapidly, with the onset of new technology. Added to this uncertainty, such factors as zero hours contracts, temporary employment, and for some, self-employment, to name but a few.

Perhaps one of the ways to engage men in any of form meaningful communication regarding their feelings, is to offer group therapy. The idea of self-supporting groups is not a new one, you only have to think of the 12 step program, and the tremendous support that gives, to see this could work, if marketed correctly.

Traditionally, men in the UK are Conservative bunch, the report suggests that men in the UK are caught between the strong silent type and the new man; being able to speak about one’s feelings openly. At Eleos counselling, we are looking at new ways of engaging men in therapy, rather than being reactive, we would like to be more proactive.

If this article has raised questions for you and you would like to talk to someone, then possibly Eleos counselling can help. If you would like to clink on the link below to be taken to the Eleos counselling main website. 

When your anger gets the better of you.

blog picture_angry farmer_eleoscounselling_ anger managementAnger can be a difficult thing to control, recently at Eleos counselling we are developing an anger management course for young people. We feel this is very important as teaching young people how to control their anger now will reduce the amount of angry incidences, not only in school, now, but later in life, when they have to interact with others, with authority, and form relationships with others.

It’s a fact, the more heated the disagreement, the more our inner pressure gauge goes up this can build up to breaking point, is at this point anger and rage can rear its ugly head.

This reminds me of a short story, I once read, about very religious and God-fearing Quaker farmer who owned a disagreeable cow. Every time he went to milk her it would be a battle of wills.

Early one morning, at milking time, the cow was unusually short-tempered, but the farmer was unwavering in his attitude to ensure the milking session, went, without so much as a bad attitude. As the farmer started to milk, the cow trod on the farmer’s foot with all her bulk. He winced silently, but mumbled under his breath freeing his foot, and then sat back on his stool to milk. The cow, then squished her tail in his face like a long fibrous whip. The farmer just merely leaned away so to avoid the cow’s tail, next she kicked over the milking bucket, by then half full with milk. The farmer started to mutter a few words to himself; but never lost his temper. Once finished with the ordeal of milking this cow the farmer inhaled a sigh of relief, picked up his bucket and stool and as he was leaving, the cow lets off a kick, kicking the farmer against the barn wall, catapulting him 12 to 15 feet. That, unfortunately, did it, the farmer, raised to his full height, walked in front of the cow stared at her big brown eyes and then he shook his long scrawny finger at the face, of the dairy cow, and he shouted, you know I’m a Quaker, but I can sell you to an unbeliever.

It’s not at getting angry, that’s the problem, it’s how we express that anger. Sometimes, that can be inappropriate, telling the boss where to stick his job might cause some relief, temporary, but when you have no paycheck at the end of the month, to pay the bills that may cause you a problem.

If you would like to know more about anger management, then please go to our website at