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


Maybe it’s time to live life like every day was our last?

eleoscounselling_making each day count

Life with purpose.

Undoubtedly, Prof Stephen Hawking has one of the most brilliant minds. He has often been compared to Albert Einstein. Unfortunately, Prof Hawkins has a degenerative disease called motor neuron disease, which is left him virtually paralysed, his famous talking computer has become his voice, and is now instantly recognisable because he is now unable to speak. Fortunately, technology has given Prof Hawkins a way of communicating his brilliant thoughts to the world. Nevertheless, before he became ill, he described his life as pointless, that’s right! Before he became ill, Prof Hawkins, one of the most brilliant minds, to have lived, called his life pointless.

It has been well documented that he drank too much and did very little work, but on discovering that he had perhaps a few years to live Prof Hawkins suddenly became focused, his life suddenly had a meaning.

The meaning of life?

Victor Frankel a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps and eminent psychotherapist, in his book man’s search for meaning says this “for the meaning of life differs from man to man, from day-to-day and from hour to-hour what matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning for a person’s life in a given moment”.

One can often lose touch with what life actually is. If we lived each day as if it was our last, the simplest things would have more meaning. We often overlook the most important things in life in pursuit of personal goals such as money in the bank, a bigger house, bigger car, and a glittering career.


If we were to live as each day was our last, the laughter of the child, a beautiful sunset, the company and love of friends and family or just walk in the woods, would have so much more meaning. It is often said, that the most miserable people in the world those who believe that they have an entitlement; that life owes them something. On close observation, a person like this never seems to be happy, because they never believe they are getting what they deserve.


The Dalai lama in his book the Art of Happiness makes an interesting comment saying that the “true antidote for greed is contentment”.

 Making each day count.

As we come to the close of the year, maybe it’s time to consider what things are precious to us, it is often at New Year that we re-evaluate our lives, and make resolutions for the New Year, perhaps one of those could be making each day count?


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.


The true cost of couples/relationship therapy

On average 120,000 couples divorce, in the UK every year. This would be no surprise to most, but what if those couples had gone to couples therapy, before they started legal proceedings?



The financial cost of divorce and the price of couple’s therapy


The cost of the court alone is £340, with legal fees averaging around £1200, and that’s if there’s no property involved. This figure can escalate if the couple, argue about parental access and who sees the children when and where, and who owns what as far as property is concerned.

On average couples therapy will cost £60 a session. You may say this is expensive, but looking at the cost above, one would say that it’s worth a try before you and your husband or wife embark on divorce proceedings.

Often couples do not have what is called irreconcilable differences, just a difference of opinion. This easy to forget when lawyers get involved that the couple once loved each other, and thus could fall in love again, with each other.

Simply talking to someone about your relationship.

Is often found in couple’s therapy that simply talking to someone that’s not emotionally involved and is non-judgemental, helps the couple to think clearly about their relationship, and map out a new direction going forward. Furthermore, if the couple and up splitting often, therapy allows for all the unfinished business, the couple may have, to be aired.

Of course, if there are children involved, then there’s the emotional wrench of one of the partners leaving the family home, it would be unjust and unfair to put a value on this, but the emotional pain alone, could be avoided, may be, if the couple came to couples therapy.


Returning back to the financial cost, simply doing the maths, if the couple were to have six sessions of couple therapy at £60 per session that’s £360, if a couple get divorced the court fees alone are £340. In the cold light of day, it is surely worth giving couples

therapy a chance.

How long does couples therapy take?

It may be that the couple stay longer, in therapy than six sessions, anecdotal evidence suggests that couples that do have more than six sessions, have a relationship that can be repaired, and differences that can be overcome.

How do I get couples therapy?

If after reading this you feel that you and your partner may need couples therapy, then there are many online directories of local councillors, who can offer couples therapy.



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.


Queue rage: a 21st-century anger problem?

Traffic on Upper Woburn Place in London, England

Traffic on Upper Woburn Place in London, England

Have you been in a queue of traffic, you read the signs, you get the right lane, but then there’s always somebody cutting into the lane at the last minute. Does it annoy you? You’re not alone. When you start feeling your temper becoming frayed because of someone pushing in line, this is an example of a primary instinct one of suspicion.

So what’s going on when I get angry?

Fundamentally, it taps into, what is often called the 3Rs (resources, relationships and residency) the three primary reasons for the feelings of anger, and often rage in people.

Had does someone jumping queues affect me?

Primarily, jumping queue, is seen as an assault on our resources; basically the road is our resource. This gives birth to what is often called “queue rage”. Dr Richard Larson has spent two decades studying the psychology of people waiting in a queue. Furthermore, he, and his colleagues have found that people don’t mind waiting even for prolonged times, as long as the queue is perceived as fair; first-come first-served. Feeling angry about this goes way back to childhood, remember that kid who was always jumping the queue in front of you and the teacher would not see it and  the dinner lady would certainly not.

Road rage can sometimes get out of hand!

Incidences such as, waiting in a traffic queue can often cause road rage incidences, unfortunately people have died in such rages, when things become out of hand.


The feeling of mistrust, is an automatic brain response to unfamiliar people; such is the guy who’s just jumped in front of you, after you’ve waited 20 minutes in line. The survival mechanism of the brain, the limbic system, produces feelings that have evolved over millions of years and are unlikely to go away soon. Although we like to think our brains, as modern, they’re not, they have simply not evolved to trust people, instantaneously.  All you have to think about is your front door bell ringing late at night and somebody making a collection for a not-for-profit group, your response might be is this a scam. We as humans are very adept looking at faces and deciding if we can trust the person wearing the face, although trusted is often felt as instantaneous, it is generated through a complex process that links the feeling part of the brain to the thinking part, of the brain (the limbic system to the prefrontal cortex).

Is getting angry really worth it?

So next time you’re in a queue don’t let your limbic system hijack your feelings. Patients, certainly will win out at the end of the day.

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.

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

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.