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.



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”.

Love the most enduring thing.


Sad passing

Within the last week, I was to hear about the sad passing of a childhood friend’s father, he had been unwell for a short time, finally passing away, after a short stay in hospital. It may be a sign of my age, but I’m attending more funerals than I am weddings, these days. The man in question really invested in his family, particularly taking an active interest, in my friend’s hobby.

I’d often wish my own father was like this, actively engaging with his sons and having a common bond with them, such as a hobby.

Recently I have been struck by a posting that has been put on Facebook. Which was a copy of the last words of Steve Jobs, the Apple supremo. In which he talked about his work, his wealth and his fame as being worthless, realising that his own pursuit of wealth had made him, what he calls a “twisted being”. Jobs talks about love being the most enduring things, in life.

Paraphrasing Jobs, he talks about material things being lost, but the only thing that will endure is love.

Investing in family

My friend’s father invested in people, particularly his sons. He was a very practical man, but always had time for people.

In 1924 Bill Havens were almost guaranteed to win an Olympic gold medal for canoeing in the Paris games. Nevertheless, with this in mind, he was to learn that his wife was likely to give birth to their first child, whilst he was away competing. His wife was keen for Bill to attend the games, but Bill didn’t want to miss the birth of his first child. Bill was to stay at home and watch his first son Frank being born. There were times when he wondered whether he would have achieved his gold medal, but never regretted seeing the birth of his first child.

Just like my friend’s father, Bill poured his life into his son. After 24 years the Olympic Games were being held in Finland. This time it was Bill’s son Franks turn to compete for the gold medal, in canoeing. Frank was to telegraph bill with this message “thanks for waiting around for me to be born, I came home with the gold medal”.

 Are you neglecting family?

For Bill Havens family always came first. As with Steve jobs, Bill Havens realised that accolades tarnish, the same way the gold medals do. Are you neglecting your family today? If so think about it, neglecting them may have grave consequences?

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.



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.



What is the real price of therapy?

eleos counselling_the real cost of therapyHave you ever wondered about the real cost, of therapy? Or rather how much does it cost if you have a problem and don’t come to therapy, or support your employee in accessing therapy? A recent report by the mental health foundation; the U.K.’s leading charity working with the needs of people with mental health problems, shine some light on this question.

Often as therapists, we are told that we cost too much, with the average price, locally in my area of £50 for a 50 minute session, one would feel quite justified in thinking that that is a reasonable hourly rate, considering the type of training, therapist undergoes, as well as supervision, continuing professional development (CPD and maintaining an ethical and competent practice; all of which are mandatory requirements for psychotherapist /counsellors.

How much does not come to therapy cost the UK?


So how much does it cost the UK in a whole not to come to therapy? According to the mental health foundation 3 in every 10 employees, will have a mental health problem, in any one year.  According to the office of national statistics the average small company employs around 250 people. So that is 75 employees each year, in an average small company, with a mental health problem. It’s hard to work out how much productivity is lost, but having 75 of your employees suffering with a mental health problem each year is staggering.

The real cost of mental health!


According to the mental health foundation report, stress-related sickness accounts for £4 billion worth of lost revenue, for UK Inc. Of course is hard to really quantify this as many people suffer in silence. Having a mental health problem is not like having a broken leg, there are no visible signs, but there are definitely effects.

If we look at work-related stress, this is more common than one would think, with a recent survey carried out, canvassing 270 company line managers in which 88% of them claim to have moderate or high levels of stress in their work, and with 39% of those surveyed claiming to have an increasing level of stress over the past year. Although stress is a necessary part of everyday life. Without a doubt, some level of stress is good, for us as humans. Moreover, on the other hand, excess stress can be the principal cause of many other health problems, apart from the obvious effects such as, impaired judgement, lack of decision-making and exhaustion, stress can be the start of other health problems, such as depression.

So how does this all relate to therapy, if companies, line managers, and employees were more enlightened into the benefits of the talking therapy generally, this could save companies a great deal of money. One only has to look at the figures above to see this has validity, supporting someone with the cost of therapy, furthermore, this can send a big message to employees, inasmuch as they are would be supported through mental illness, and thus be ready to talk about this more openly, if they feel they can come forward and asked for help, reducing the stigma of mental health.

Simply being heard, by a non-judgemental, compassionate, professionally trained therapist can help people quickly recover from mental health problems.

The real financial cost to therapy?


Anecdotal evidence would say that most people generally need roughly 6 to 12 sessions before they feel as if they’re able to cope with the problem, whether that be stress, marital or relational breakup or a recent bereavement or loss.

Simply doing the maths, on average, 12 sessions will cost £600. The loss in productivity, for small companies, for a person who has a mental health problem alone must be double this, if the person with a mental health problem is making mistakes, and having to be carried by other members of his or her team, this could have a knock-on effect, in morale of others around the person with the mental health problem.

In an ideal world companies would have an “on call a professional counsellor/psychotherapist” who would look after the mental health of the workforce.


Just doing the maths for an average company of 250 people, 75 of which have a mental health problem, offering them psychotherapy/ counselling for 12 sessions a year would cost on average £45,000

Time to rethink?

Maybe it’s time to rethink our attitudes towards psychotherapy,/counselling?




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.





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.


The sober truth: are you drinking too much?

This week Alcoholics Anonymous celebrates 80 years of helping people with alcohol problems. The 12 step program originally eleos counselling_alcohol_counselling_12 step program.started by two men stockbroker Bill Wilson and an Akron surgeon merely known as Dr Bob, revolutionised help for people with drug and alcohol problems, the 12 step program has been adopted in many treatment programs, throughout the world.

The 12 step program helped millions of people stay sober. Problem drinking can affect anyone, from any strata of society, from the lowest to the highest jet setting international businessman or woman.

This week the Daily Express highlighted the increase in middle-class, middle age drinking, in women. What is not widely known in the UK is that you are actually binge drinking if you double your units, simply put if you’re double your units that is three units daily for a woman and four units daily for a man, your binge drinking. To ground this in real terms, for a woman if you have eight 125 ml glasses of wine, of 12% proof alcohol you are binge drinking.

This article is not meant to be anti-alcohol rather a plea for more sensible drinking. Alcohol can often help overcome embarrassment, depression, and stressful situations. This can set up a wrong relationship with alcohol, as it can be used as a crutch to help overcome stress, depression and social embarrassment. Using alcohol as a crutch can set up a reliance on alcohol in demanding situations, this could be a beginning of a problem.

The increased rise of home drinking has masked the fact that one could be drinking more than one should, the idea of three fingers of whiskey, is not unheard of as an example of how hard it is to monitor your drinking when you’re just pouring it for yourself, especially after the third glass.

A lot of people justify binge drinking saying that everybody else is doing it, yes everybody is. The increase in people being taken to A&E with drink -related injuries has increased dramatically, and so has the increase in people trying to find help for their drinking.


Here are some questions to ask yourself, if you think your drinking is becoming problematic.

  • Have you been missing work because you have a hangover, or to go drinking?
  • Have you driven after you have been drinking?
  • Has close relationships suffered due to your drinking (do you find you are arguing with your partner more).
  • Have you ever tried to give up drinking and those attempts have been unsuccessful?
  • Have you been drinking for long periods of extended time, more than you intended?

If some of the questions about above are yes, maybe you have a problem with drinking.

Does substance misuse cause mental health problems?

Alcohol and drug addiction have historically always been linked to mental health problems. Mental health problems do not necessarily cause addiction. Nevertheless, some mental health problems, addiction-black-and-white-depressed-depression-drugs-Favim.com-428367exclusively those which have not been diagnosed quickly, can cause alcohol and drug problems, for the person with a mental health difficulties.

Having a depressive disorder can cause a feeling of being overwhelmed by life, social isolation, sleeplessness, a feeling of psychological unconnectedness, and thus the person feeling this symptoms’, will often self medicate with either alcohol or drugs, in order to feel some relief from these feelings.

Recently a paper published in the Lancet has linked skunk cannabis misuse with a 24% increase first incident psychosis. The research was specifically aimed at people with no diagnosis of mental health problems before using the drug. Effectively, this shows a link between using a drug and a mental health problem. For some, this would not be a revelation, as often people have anecdotal evidence, knowing someone close or in the close circle of friends, who suffered a mental health problem and has used or in the past used drugs or alcohol.

One research paper by the University of Lancaster has linked the use of skunk marijuana and people who are self-medicating for symptoms of bipolar disorder. An interesting comment was made in this research saying cannabis use increase when somebody was in a positive or manic mood.

In fact, smoking marijuana can make depression worse. Temporary relief may be found in a line of coke or a drink, but when the chemicals, except the body depression can worsen to a new low. These so-called “withdraw depressions” happens after somebody has come down from using drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, many people do not experience chronic symptoms at first. Furthermore, the depression felt from using recreational drugs and alcohol can lead people to reuse, can lead into a problematic cycle.

These symptoms can be made worse when somebody who is on prescribed medication uses drugs or alcohol. Mixing Street drugs and alcohol with prescribed drugs can be deadly, putting the person in danger.

A question often asked for people with an alcohol or drug problem is “did my drinking or drug taking cause me to have depression?” It Is often the job of a psychotherapist/counsellor to help the client find the source of the depression. Furthermore, gain insight into the possible causes of their problems. Whether that’s passed problems unresolved, or fear of failure in the future.


It is often the case client who comes to therapy for an addictive problem are able to track back to when he or she first felt depressed, and gain insight into why they turned to their drug of choice, whether that be alcohol or street drugs.

At Eleos counselling we have had many years helping clients with depression, and a drug or alcohol problem.  We work in a Humanistic  way to help the client  come to terms with life’s hurts and the wave come to cope, if you would like to know more, please click on the link below and you will be taken to the Eleos counselling website.