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.




How do I help somebody who is living with an addiction? Part II


As mentioned in our last article thinking. again, of how one views addictions can, indeed help the person you love and want to help. Thinking of addiction as a compulsive behaviour rather than a disease or a character flaw can reap benefits when trying to help somebody with an addiction. An addict is not blind, a significant amount of the time they feel ashamed and guilty of what they’ve put their loved ones through. Someone with an addiction will convincingly tell you they are trying to stop or will never drink or do their addictive behaviour again, but will often do their behaviour nevertheless. On the surface, this looks like an outright lie, but at the heart of it, they are trying to stop. Often, the drive to relieve psychological pain it too much great; thinking of addiction as just a bad habit is a wrong assumption.

Another assumption often made, by people trying to help an addict or someone with a compulsive behaviour that if they try hard enough, they can fix the person with the addiction. Often this will cause the addict to lie about their addiction all the more, this lying is a source of shame, causing more psychological pain pushing them more and more into that addictive behaviour.

Something to  bear in mind, for anybody helping somebody with an addiction, is that guilt and shame are powerful drivers for addictive behaviour. Furthermore, if the addict, is lying that does not mean that they no longer love you or respect you. Fundamentally lying is a part of addiction. Often, addictions are driven by a powerful and necessary drive to fight against a sense of helplessness.

A way of understanding this is to imagine a person trapped in the cave, and battling out of the cave with a broken wrist. This is not self-destructive is just a sense of overwhelming powerlessness and the need to battle, that helplessness.

This article originally appeared in counselling directory


An act of kindness in a hard-nosed world.

Abraham_Lincoln_November_1863It Is often thought that we have to be hard-nosed to be successful in this world. Often people perceive kindness as a form of weakness and vulnerability. Nothing could be further from the truth. An act of kindness signals an incredible inner strength that is often never fully appreciated by others.

The story goes that Abraham Lincoln was hosting a dinner party at the White House. One of his guests poured his coffee into his saucer and blew on it before drinking. I’m sure you can imagine the fine ladies and gentlemen seated nearby were horrified at this social faux pas. Nevertheless, the story goes that, for a moment, the room was filled with an embarrassing silence.

Amazingly Lincoln took his own coffee poured it into his saucer and for the rest of the evening drank it straight out of the saucer, surprisingly everybody in the room followed suit. Therefore, one small act of kindness saved the White House guest an unbelievably embarrassing situation. This thoughtful gesture of one of America’s finest if not the finest president sets an example of kindness.

An act of kindness in life

It wouldn’t be surprised find out you never heard of Stephen Grellet, a French-born Quaker who died in 1855, a relatively minor historical figure except for these few lines which are likely to be remembered forever “I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I do or any kindness that I show to any human being let me do it now”.

Who can you be kind to today?

Each day we have an opportunity to show a small act of kindness to people whether it’s spending a moment talking to someone and asking them how they really feel, rather than be satisfied with a “fine”.

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.


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.


Overindulging at Christmas: is your brain fooling you?

overindulgence at Christmas_eleoscounselling blog



As we are fast approaching the season for overindulgence, overeating and over consumption of alcohol. We thought it would be good to look at how food alters your mood.

Latest research in mood and food


It has been well recognised and researched, that certain foods, can alter your mood, but how much of that is actually true? In recent research published by Prof Kathy Magnusson at Oregon State University.

Prof Magnusson’s research has found that feeding animals, a sugary diet can cause changes in their gut bacteria, Prof Magnussen found that there is a direct correlation to cognitive ability- the ability to adjust to changing situations, and diet.

The significance of this is important, as your gut bacteria, actually weighs as much as your brain. It has been postulated that these microbes can actually affect your mind. Research carried out, using rats and mice, found that when rodents were fed a particular food type (a broth), containing a microbe that is linked to reduced signs of stress and anxiety It was found that the mice show less signs of stress, the more signs of well-being; this particular microbe is known to release an anti-anxiety neurotransmitter GABA.

Two reward systems, in food consumption: one based on mood the other based on want

Scientists have found that we have two basic systems, regarding food one of them is hunger, the other one is reward, the hunger system, is generated by hormones from your gut, and from fat cells, which sends information to your brain, telling your brain that you are hungry. Conversely, the reward system is more concerned with the type of food you eat, the key to this is a dopamine pathway which seems to respond more strongly to foods which are high in fat and sugar, scientists postulated this is because historically, certain types of food would only be available at certain times of year, and the and sister would stock up on, high calorific foods knowing that it would be unavailable later on in the year. Unfortunately, our modern environment, has an abundance of such types of food high in fat, sugar and calories. When studied in an MRI scanner, researchers found that certain areas of the brain light up when certain foods are offered, these are usually high in calories and thus greater activity in the brain’s reward center.

Do your genes predict that you will be obese?

An interesting byproduct for these studies, is that scientists now have discovered that the hunger and reward system are not too dissimilar, as there is now a growing awareness of how interconnected they are. Genetics has a lot to do with, our propensity to overeat, maybe something to do with a gene called FTO; strongly linked with weight gain. Scientists predict that there is a 70% increase in becoming obese should this gene be present in a person.



A recent study also showed that people with a higher level of a hormone called ghrelin, which is released by the gut, when we become hungry, also has a great deal to do with increased weight gain. The study found that, an increased level of this hormone, tells the brain that you’re still hungry, even after you’ve eaten.

MRI studies of this group, with increased levels of hormones, of found something quite startling, in that, this group of people’s brains responds differently when they show pictures of food, with increased activity in the reward area of the brain; the reward pathways and these people have been shown to be weak. Thus the drive to seek out more and more food.

Think again before overindulging

So, at this time of overindulgence, is interesting to bear in mind whether you are actually hungry or not, or is your brain fooling you.



Retail therapy? The truth about shopping addiction.

There’s no such thing as a shopaholic right?



You will often hear people call themselves Shopaholics but what actually is a Shopaholic? Although it’s not classified, as an addiction, in the DSM 5, (diagnostic and statistical manual revision 5; the Bible, for medical, and psychological illness.)  There is certainly some evidence to support, the idea of compulsive shopping as an addiction, so much so, that the DSM, may have cause to reclassify their diagnosis.

Oniomania, or shopping addiction, is considered to affect 8% to 6% of UK adults, that’s approximately 8 million people. The idea, that shopping addiction affects women more than men, is supported by research. Nevertheless, if you include, sports equipment, electronic gadgets and computer accessories and software, etc., there is also a prevalence of addictive shopping within men.

The popular idea of shopping being therapeutic, and the idea of being a Shopaholic as something humorous, soon falls away when you consider the real consequences of this compulsive behaviour. Often, the addict is left with crippling debt, severe depression and anxiety. More often than not, as with other addictions, the person with the shopping addiction will start to lose the respect of their loved ones, because of their addiction. Thus increasing their sense of loneliness, which in turn causes the Shopaholic to re- engage in negative or addictive behaviours.

So what drives, shopping addiction?

As with some other addictions, shopping is an easing of negative emotions or psychological pain such as anxiety, sadness, worry and, indeed, loss and loneliness. Shopping, for the addict, as with other behaviours provides an escape, from those feelings which at times can be overwhelming.

Much like any addiction, purchasing and owning, material items, can make the addict feel complete, and give them a sense of euphoria that makes them feel “normal”.

A study carried out at the Tilburg University in the Netherlands found that often loneliness, is one of the key components, of addictive shopping, and tends to make people more materialistic; the study found, there may be a link between hoarding and compulsive shopping, but the two disorders are unique in themselves.

So what is the solution, to shopping addiction?

What’s the answer to shopping addiction, is it simply to reject the inherent need to accumulate material goods; fundamentally is our stuff really that important to us, as human beings?

Letting go of some material possessions is akin to a traumatic event, since for some people this is like letting go of a part of themselves. Disaster victims who have had their homes swept away, often report confusion of identity, in brief their possessions gave them a sense of self.

How do people with compulsive shopping, seek help?

So how does someone with a shopping addiction overcome the anxieties, and concerns of life, without compulsive shopping? Talking to professionals, such as a psychotherapist/counsellor can assist a person becoming, more in contact with themselves.

Often people, will follow the same pattern, having insight into breaking patterns in life is one of the key components, in psychotherapy/counselling.

Having someone to talk to, who is non-judgemental, is a completely unique environment, and one, that has helped thousands of people. This is fundamentally what counsellors/psychotherapists offer.

If any of the issues raised in this blog resonate with you then maybe it’s time to see someone, who can help you such as a psychotherapist /counselor.





Trauma the roots of depression

trauma_eleoscounselling_the growth of depression


One only has to open up the paper to see the devastating consequences of war and the refugees spilling into northern Europe from war-torn countries. Some of these, if not all will be victims of trauma. Alas, you do not have to be a refugee to suffer trauma.

The long-term effects of trauma.

Trauma can be a devastating shock to one’s psyche. Trauma can be linked to physical, sexual, and verbal attacks, or witnessing such attacks. People who have been raped or have witnessed a rape, witnessing a murder or catastrophic accidents, and even people who have been victims to benign medical procedures, have been known to suffer the effects of trauma.

Furthermore, an incident of shaming or an emotional or verbal attack, can leave its effects.  One can also be traumatised after the breakup of a relationship, or a bereavement.

Trauma can shape people’s beliefs about themselves, or life in general. Trauma induced beliefs can be such as “I’m never safe, “no one will love me”, “Love is incredibly dangerous”, “it’s my fault”, “I’m defenceless” thoughts such as these can affect how people, feel about themselves such thoughts can cause depression.

Sometimes a person’s beliefs are based on something that was true at the moment of trauma, such as a feeling of helplessness, this can translate into a general feeling of powerlessness.

Beliefs that are formed due to the consequence of trauma are stored without contextual information. Therefore, a moment of helplessness at the point of trauma can be translated into the core belief that “I am always helpless”. If the person doesn’t get a chance to talk about the traumatic event, and express their emotions regarding this they can carry on holding this belief, for many years, if not for life.

Trauma can be linked with depression

Dramatic events, associated with trauma can turn a moment of helplessness into a person’s belief system. Therefore, it makes sense if people who suffered a traumatic event can suffer from depression, this is amplified by the feeling of powerlessness and this can be translated into the rest of their lives.

If trauma occurs in childhood, such as witnessing a parent being abused by another parent; often the case of domestic violence. A person can be often be left with the feeling of hopelessness, and lack of power, which they had as a child, watching a parent being abused.

So painful are these memories that the person can often develop coping strategies, which become part of their belief system.

Beliefs such as, “I’m a weakling” can become part of the person’s core beliefs, living with this can be difficult, especially for a man, as societal and individual family cultures may say that men have to be stronger than women.

How trauma can define your life.

Returning again to the child who has watched mother being abused by her partner. This child may develop the core belief that they are a coward. Such a child may start picking fights and engaging in risky behaviour at school. Such behaviours will give them a euphoric feeling of control and self-confidence, furthermore, give them a form of relief from the pain of the feeling of their core belief that he or she is weak. Such euphoric feelings can be gratifying and help, he or she’s, desire to avoid any form of shame, therefore they carry on taking risks and engaging in risky behaviours.

In taking such risks he or she starts to form a new identity about themselves, risky behaviour will often get a child in trouble, when they come up against the rules, especially in the education system. This means that kids, such as themselves, are inevitably being pulled into each other’s orbit. Therefore, this makes them hard to do well at school, developing an identity as the tough girl or boy, who is not to be messed with. Often this will lead to, brushes with authority, such as the police, social services and probation.

Beliefs formed at that moment of trauma can come to shape the decisions the victim will make, in later life, such as who he or she will date, what employment, he or she goes into, where eventually they live, and ultimately what company they keep; who their friends are.

The point of realisation: how psychotherapy/counselling can help.

At some point the trauma victim may realise that he or she is depressed, perhaps when a close friend dies from an overdose, or a man or woman they love leaves them, when their behaviour becomes unacceptable, or it could be when they, themselves, overdose, and end up in a hospital A&E.

It is at this point, in the victim’s life that the causes of depression, may be uncovered, this is often when the victim is persuaded to enter psychotherapy/counselling, sometimes this is not the case and the cycle is repeated many times over. In unravelling the victim story, they may become, angry, not only with themselves but also the perpetrator of the trauma. Sometimes this anger is inward turned, and self-hatred can develop over the years, sometimes the anger is at themselves through, taking risks over many years, despite the consequences. Ultimately, their depression began when they watched their mother being abused. When, that trauma is resolved, only then can extricate themselves from responsibility,  realise it was never their fault, coming to the conclusion that they were a child and at that moment freezing was the only thing they could do.

Freedom to redefining oneself after therapy.


At this moment, this moment the victim often has the liberty to redefine themselves, and who they are. Knowing deeply that they were not at fault, as complex of these scenarios are there are many more examples of trauma, but ultimately talking about how you feel, with a trained professional, can help the victim move on, with their life’s.


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.

Plug into your virtual therapist?

An interesting article appeared in the new scientist by reporter Samantha Murphy in the article Murphy suggests that the interactive role-playing game “second life” could offer an innovative way of working for psychotherapists/counsellors. In the piece, Murphy suggests that an avatar; a virtual caricature of oneself, could see clients in a virtual office.eleos counselling_second life_article picture

This may not sound as far-fetched as one would imagine, think of the advantages, the client could log on from anywhere in the world and have a virtual therapy session, at any time of day or night.

The article did make some interesting suggestions, on how this may help clients. One suggestion was working with clients with phobias such as agoraphobia; in severe cases the client would not be able to leave the safety of their own home, but using a virtual space the client could experience what it’s like to be outside, whilst in the comfort of their own home. The article suggests that the therapist may be able to guide the client through stressful environments and help them manage this in virtual space. Effectively, the therapist could create stressful environments and help the client manage this using their avatar (their virtual person).

Another interesting suggestion was that it might be able for the psychotherapist councillor to reconstruct stressful environments for sufferers of PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder). Here again, the therapist would construct a virtual moment in time and help the client work through this in virtual space. Using virtual reality the client can really work in   the moment and the here and now. With the ability to be able to freeze time, in the virtual world, the therapist would be able to ask the client how they feel at that moment. Of course, how this all looks and how the therapist would hold professional boundaries in this virtual world is yet to be decided. Another factor, to be considered is would people, embrace new technology such as a virtual world quickly, or will this be a passing idea, time will only tell.

This is certainly pushing the boundaries, Eleos Counselling is very interested in embracing new technologies and has done since its inception in 2013. How working in virtual reality will really look like is yet to be seen, but please watch this space and we will keep you updated on our progression into the world of virtual reality.