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  • Brainwashing Clients

    In the wake of the publicity around Prince Harry’s book ‘Spare’, and the allegation that Prince William accused his brother of being ‘brainwashed by therapy’, I’m tempted to say ‘if only!’. On the other hand, I have some sympathy with Prince William’s alleged viewpoint. Let’s unpack this subject. Firstly, why do I say ‘if only’? I’m being facetious by saying if it were so easy brainwash our clients perhaps we’d save them a lot of time and money. It isn’t easy sitting for weeks, months or years at a time whilst a client purports to desire a change in behaviour whilst doing the opposite. But having attended therapy for years, I know my own changes were not easy. And I’m so grateful that my therapist never exhibited frustration at my resistance. Just as you wouldn’t push a little child into the deep end of a swimming pool without arm bands and lots of encouragement, nor would any therapist worth their salt try to crash through a client’s defences - developed for good reasons, usually in childhood - and attempt to force a change before they were ready. When change happens, it often happens incrementally. This is due to the nature of the brain and the ego (who we believe ourselves to be) and the ego’s astonishing will to survive intact. Making change is difficult. Period. Good psychotherapists put aside their own agenda and take the view that they don’t know what’s best for the client. The client knows what’s best for themselves. At some level they know. And although it might sometimes appear that wrong choices are being made, therapists must hold a position of humility and curiosity. We may wonder with the client what might happen downstream if they were to make this or that decision, and so on. But we need to remember that the client has a soul and that soul has its journey and what may look like a mistake to us might be the perfect healing journey that client needs to undertake in order to develop a particular quality or set of qualities to help them become more whole. To individuate. Gestalt therapy refers to the process of individuation (or becoming whole) as ‘selfing’. Selfing is a dynamic process. So, when we respond in the same old way to challenging situations (choosing to avoid confrontation, for example, or choosing full-scale confrontation as opposed to calm dialogue), we are in a very real sense avoiding our wholeness. When we take a leap of faith and choose a different way of responding to challenges, we are ‘selfing’ - taking a step towards becoming whole. So, back to Prince William’s alleged viewpoint - can therapists brainwash clients? Can they influence their clients? Of course! People can be influenced by many things - nature, nurture, our experiences, our friendship groups, what we choose to read and so on. So when we are in crisis and reach out and find a therapist in whom we place our trust - yes, of course there is the potential for undue influence. Psychotherapy training is about not influencing our clients. It’s about providing the right environment, holding space and allowing clients to find their own, best way forward. Ideally, we therapists are like Sherpa guides - we know the terrain, we have plenty of experience of the territory in all kinds of weather, we can to some extent suggest the best paths to take. But we don’t direct or decide. The route, the speed, the stops en-route, changes of direction - all these are the client’s decisions. We assist the explorer as best we can. In the therapy process, we do this by asking open questions (questions not requiring a yes/no answer) and allowing the client to explore their inner and outer worlds without interference from outside influences. However, some people are very receptive, searching for somebody authoritative to make decisions on their behalf. This can be alluring for some therapists and there’s a need to avoid being unconsciously recruited by clients wishing for this.

  • The Coots' Nest

    I wrote this in the Spring of 2012 and I can still feel the impact of the experience now. I thought I’d share it as I continue researching death, dying and grieving for my Matter of Life and Death workshops. The nest was eye-catching. Balanced on the rudder of a moored canal boat, twigs were woven together with rubbish - strips of blue, green and red plastic. A waterbird recycling project. Mummy and Daddy Coot - taking turns to sit on their five eggs - quickly became a canal-side sensation, with the birds growing accustomed to amateur photographers and commentators discussing the nest, its construction and the commitment of mother and father Coot to their eggs. Onlookers eagerly awaited the sight of the baby coots. In London, where etiquette discourages eye contact, the coots drew us together for a while. We gathered on the towpath to photograph the birds, their colourful nest and their eggs, to allow ourselves to be captured for a while by nature in the midst of a busy city. The prosaic became poetic, as we waited excitedly for an anticipated new life - beauty emerging from a pile of rubbish. How those little Coots and their five little chicks brightened the last few weeks of a dull, rain-sodden Spring. But today the nest is gone. I cover my mouth in horror. My breath becomes shallow and rapid. The adult coots are stamping on freshly-gathered twigs with their oversized webbed feet, determinedly re-building their vandalised nest. Of their five little babies, there is no sign, and as I frantically cast around hoping for a sighting, I hear someone say “Shame they nested through weeks of rain and then their chicks get eaten.” As if punched in the stomach, I exhale sharply, then feel a horrible soreness where my heart is. I wipe my tear-filled eyes with my hand and flee the scene as if distance will help. And as I trudge heavily back to work I feel the familiar sensation of shock as I wonder how I didn’t see this coming. How I never see it coming. "I learned that every mortal will taste death. But only some will taste life" (Rumi)

  • Goodbye 2022

    As the year draws to a close, I offer you my first blog. What’s on my mind today? Love - and dogs. On Boxing Day my neighbour, his little Staffordshire terrier in its harness, ready for a walk, waved goodbye to a couple of Christmas guests in their car. As he strode off the dog turned around and stared, aghast, at the visitors’ car about to leave. His daddy gently tugged on the lead to encourage him to keep walking and the dog pushed his paws into the road in a Disney stop. “No!” (I voice-overed) “I thought we were all going together! I don’t want to go with just you daddy!”. No stiff upper lip. No promises of not leaving it so long in future. No “Phew, thank God that’s over for another year…”. Just genuine doggy remorse that his expectations were not met. Thirty seconds later, he was feeling better as he sniffed the local lamppost for new and interesting smells. The resilience! Today I’ve been watching dogs in the park. Not one without its tail wagging. Each and every one seemingly thrilled to meet new friends, old friends, two-legged and four-legged, it seems to matter not. Everything is a source of amazement, but not for long. Then they’re onto the next amazing thing with barely a backward glance. How much easier life would be if we could be more dog. Relishing the moment, throwing ourselves into relationships with complete abandon. Grieving endings briefly and then moving on to the next lamppost. I know we can’t. I know the human brain is more complex and it needs to reconfigure itself after a loss. I get it. But as I prepare to say goodbye to 2022, I’ll be looking for my own metaphorical new lampposts. Grateful to have had 2022 when so many didn’t make it through. Intent upon relishing 2023 with every ounce of my being. Wishing everyone who reads this a Happy New Year and leaving you with the words of Meher Baba (February 25, 1894–January 31, 1969) Love is essentially self-communicative: Those who do not have it catch it from those who have it. True love is unconquerable and irresistible; and it goes on gathering power and spreading itself, until eventually it transforms everyone whom it touches. Lynn

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  • Multi Modal CBT Training | Lynn Somerfield | Psychotherapy & Counselling

    Multi Modal CBT Online Training Course Multi Modal CBT Welcome to my new online training course, Multi Modal Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. I continue to offer my conventional training course delivered over three days (see my Workshops page for more information), but have now developed the course into an online/video version. ​ This Multi Modal CBT Course is easy to use within an integrative approach and delivers an added-value aspect which enables a finely tuned targeting of the presenting issue. ​ My focus in this course is on teaching interventions and techniques. We will examine thoughts and beliefs and discover how these are connected to emotions, moods, imagery, sensations and behaviour and how to effect change. We will explore the behavioural, sensory, affective, imagery and cognitive modalities, learning how to diagnose and treat the root of the issue. Throughout, we will look at ways of adding a creative dimension to help clients to integrate their learning. ​ The course is intended for psychotherapists and psychotherapists-in-training, counsellors and student counsellors, life coaches and other interested parties (members of the public). ​ To access and purchase this online Multi Modal training course, please visit my Vimeo Page or click the button below. Vimeo Multi Modal CBT Course

  • Resources | Lynn Somerfield | Psychotherapy & Counselling

    Resources Resources Introduction Welcome to my resource page, where you will find a variety of useful resources I have made available to all visitors to my website. ​ I also have a library of Premium Resources that I use with, and make available to, my current clients. A list of these resources can be viewed here . When I begin working with a new client, I ask them to register to access my 'Client Hub'. Once approved, clients are able to access the Client Hub where they can update their personal information and access the library of Premium Resources. ​ Whilst the Premium Resources are not accessible to non-clients, the freely available content I make available on this page will be managed and updated regularly, so bookmark this page and pop back soon! Resources Available To All Website Visitors CBT4 ABC Form A chart showing how it’s not the activating event that triggers the consequences but your beliefs. Download CBT5 ABC Belief Monitoring Similar to the ABC form, but a different layout you may prefer. Download CBT6 Changing - Benefits versus Costs A form when you’re considering a big change, assisting you to lay out the pros and cons of the situation. Download CBT8 Questions to Challenge Faulty Thinking A handout listing some of the ways we can challenge our 'faulty thinking' -- once we've established what faulty thinking is (unhelpful thinking). Download L1 Optimising the Therapy Hour A leaflet from me to you, with some suggestions as to how best to proceed once you’re in therapy. Download M1 The Brain and Change We live by habit when we’re no longer aware of what we’re thinking, doing, or feeling; we become unconscious. A handout on why change is so hard. Download M3 Body's Alarm System A handout on what happens when we are facing dangerous or frightening situations and why some peopl sometimes seem to overreact to stress. Download M6 Stress What stress is. Download M7 Body's Alarm System Information on how the body copes with stress. --- Q1 HADS Scale Questionnaire A questionnaire to help measure how anxious or depressed you are. Download Q4 Locus of Control Handout to help you discover how strongly you believe you have control over the situations and experiences that affect your life. Download TA5 OK/Not OK Matrix The positions or attitudes we take as a way of getting through our lives. Download Premium Resources for Registered Clients The list of Premium Resources shown below is accessible by my current clients via the Client Hub. Log In to Client Hub CBT1 Coping Self Talk for OCD Sufferers Once you’ve established some of your intrusive thoughts, the triggering situations and the associated faulty beliefs and thinking errors, you can begin to challenge these faulty ideas generated by your brain when it’s in OCD mode. CBT2 Challenging Faulty Beliefs A form to help when you are plagued by faulty thinking — this chart helps you measure the level of belief, label the type of faulty thinking that’s at play and to substitute it with a more helpful thought. CBT3 ABCDE Thought Record A CBT form to help you challenge your core beliefs once and for all. CBT7 Faulty Thinking A list of different types of thoughts which we can label as ‘faulty ‘because they’re not helping us to develop helpful behaviours. CBT9 Theory A Theory B Worksheet and Example A handout which can be useful when we need a new perspective on a challenging situation. L2 Privacy and Data Protection Statement My statement to clients outlining the framework to which I adhere in order to protect your privacy. L3 Dream Interpretation Guide 2018 A guide to dream interpretation using just one of the ways we can interpret our dreams. Freud said dreams are the royal road to the unconscious. Making a note of your dreams and bringing them along to your therapy session will prove extremely beneficial. M2 Feminine and Masculine Polarities A sheet with some adjectives to describe the difference between feminine and masculine ways-of-being; try to avoid the cry of ‘stereotyping’ — this needs a discussion to accompany it! M4 Cycle of Experience Gestalt A handout explaining the cycle of experience, which, when interrupted, is sometimes call 'unfinished business'. This handout will help when exploring and working with the ways you interrupt your own cycles of experience. M5 Masculine versus Feminine A sheet with some adjectives to describe the difference between feminine and masculine ways-of-being; try to avoid the cry of ‘stereotyping’ — this needs a discussion to accompany it! M8 Genograms A handout to help you draw your family genogram (an emotional and psychological family tree). Q2 Impact of Events Scale An brief questionnaire to measure how much a troubling or traumatic event has impact you. Q3 Modality Profile A questionnaire to help you explore your stronger and weaker modalities - behaviour, feelings, sensations, imagery and thinking. TA2 Stop The Drama Triangle An illustration of the so-called ‘Drama Triangle’ an unconscious psychological game in which we either play Victim, Rescuer or Persecutor - and how to stop it/get out of it! TA3 Drivers Behaviours we adapt in order to bring about a desired result from other people — can be positive or negative. TA4 Ego States Ego States are a consistent pattern of thinking, feeling and behaving. Parent, Adult and Child ego states and the interactions between them form the foundation of transactional analysis theory. TA6 Life Script Components A summary of the building blocks which comprise our life script, written before the age of seven and then unconsciously acted out for the rest of our lives, unless we make it conscious. TA7 Types of Script Written’ before the age of 7, our life script then goes unconscious and — because it’s not conscious — it rules the roost! Have a look at this handout to see what type of script you may have been acting out, all your life! We can change our script. TA8 Injunctions Injunctions are things we were told as children — verbally or non-verbally — that we must or must not do. These injunctions then become accepted unconscious rules which affect our adult lives. TA9 Life Script Development According to Transactional Analysis, by trial and error, during childhood (before the age of 7, we develop a 'life script' which is made up of certain building blocks. This life script - with a beginning, middle and end then goes into the unconscious and dictates how we live our lives. We can change it. TA10 Rackets A handout drawing on the Transactional Analysis model explaining how 'racket emotions' can be used to cover up feelings not favoured by your family or culture of origin. LIST-Premium Resources

  • Dream Guides| Lynn Somerfield | Psychotherapy & Counselling

    Dream Guides Introduction to Dream Guides We all love to hear good stories. They amuse us, unite us, distract us and help us make sense of our own lives. Think of the number of people reading books, settling their children down at bedtime, reading fairy tales to them (often being asked to repeat old favourites), of the vast amount of money spent on churning out films and TV series to keep us entertained with dramas, fantasies, sagas, comedies and tragedies. Dreams, too, are stories. We’ve been fascinated by dreams for thousands of years. Every night we have several dreams. Some people swear they never dream, others only remember fragments and some remember them in great detail. Your dreams send a cascade of symbols, motifs, images and coded messages to you, messages about your life that are often not available to your conscious mind. Your dreams offer up a vignette of the state of your life as it is right now. ​ Download my 'Dream Guides'. One guide a general dream interpretation guide, and the other is a Gestalt Guide to Dream Interpretation. Just complete the simple form below to receive your free Dream Guides. Please subscribe me to future communications and offers. Your personal details will remain confidential and will never be shared with any party outside my therapy practice. Download Wisdom tells me I am nothing Love tells me I am everything Between the two my life flows Nisargadatta Maharaj | Hindu Guru Teachings | 20th Century

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