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A collaboration with my lovely colleague Dr Pippa Mundy for BBC Wales on line: anxiety v covid.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-52680174

Privileged to be offering emotional support to WAST; Welsh ambulance Service Trust and their paramedics, ambulance drivers, and office workers, together with Frontline19, offering emotional support to all health care professionals.

The word ‘normal’ for many of us signifies ‘usual’, ‘natural’, ‘routine.’ Yet the world we are  currently living in feels anything but normal to many of us. In struggling to retain any semblance of normality we have been forced to enter into this new existence of COVID-19, home-schooling and working, self-isolation, social distancing  on the one hand and compulsory interaction with family on the other,  exercising in front of screens whilst  communicating through them. Is it any wonder with little control over our lives many of us report feeling overwhelmed by a sense of heightened anxiety, hyper vigilance, fear and loss of meaning?

In the world of trauma, an emotional response to a distressing event in our lives that causes us to no longer feel safe in our environment, covid-19 ticks all the boxes. We know it’s a virus that currently has no vaccine, is highly contagious and can lead to death. These facts alone may invoke  fear, uncertainty and anxiety. So  surely, it’s completely ‘normal’ to feel disconnected from reality?

Research tells us that psychological overwhelm and anxiety towards a real or perceived danger causes our threat system (or as I call it, tricky brain), to automatically respond as it was ecologically primed to do. Individual responses are  subjective  and   how we respond is dependent  on our personal resources, resilience and historical stressors.

If we logically look at what’s happening it can be reassuring to understand that this temporary new ‘normal’ isn’t based on the memory of an event that happened in the past, triggered by  something in the present. Instead it’s a natural response to life’s events.

  • Our patterns of behaviour, social connections and freedom of choice have been changed.
  • In many cases sources of income have been withdrawn.
  • We’re exposed to actual danger - especially our frontline workers.
  • Those with additional medical needs may feel ignored/isolated
  • Our basic physiological needs may not be met; food, shelter, sleep etc.

Taking all this into account it’s understandable our tricky brain will respond, alerting our threat system, causing anxiety and stressful symptoms to take over.

So how can we help ourselves stay well to help prevent future mental health issues developing?  

  • Creating balance is very important to our physiology. Positive distraction is beneficial and the opposite of avoidance. Avoidance maintains our anxiety, but creating a distraction – however briefly - allows our tricky brain to recognise a lowering of anxiety meaning we can function more logically and rationally.
  • Grounding (describing our environment/an object, counting etc) will bring us back to the present day if one feels disconnected from others or reality.
  • Exercise, pet interaction, baking, journalising, art, puzzles, games, connecting through social media links, phone conversations, visualisation, imagery, sensory perception & re-living nostalgic memories.
  • Understanding what’s happening to us physiologically and psychologically from a reputable source that isn’t based on speculation or catastrophising. Limiting our amount of news coverage to bite sized chunks and interspersing it with positive distraction.
  • Communication; maintaining contact as much as possible with loved ones, friends, neighbours, colleagues and sharing our fears, can help dilute our anxieties.
  • Acknowledging the thoughts and feelings we have with curiosity, no matter how challenging can help to lessen their intensity. Paying attention to them and understanding their origin can be helpful in creating a balanced state of mind.
  • Being compassionate and kind to ourselves as well as others gives us a sense of purpose and makes us feel good.

There’s no doubt that going forward another ‘normal’ will take the place of this one and some of us may seek professional help to try and make sense of our world and re-set our buttons.  And some may not. It’s important to understand we can’t control what happens with the corona virus or  the economy, but we can control how we respond to it. As Plato said…..“There are two things a person should never be angry at: What they can help, and what they cannot”

Research from:

The Body Remembers & The Body Remembers Volume 2; Babette Rothschild

Maslow’s theory of self actualisation

I am currently offering free video group  support for those who may be emotionally affected by covid-19. As a qualified, experienced therapist I can offer  a safe space to share thoughts, feelings and fears with others who are experiencing similar emotions. Giving a voice to what we are feeling can often dilute the emotions attached, allowing us to better understand what's happening to us so we can function in a more balanced way. In addition to offering you unconditional compassion and empathy I can also suggest ways of helping with anxiety that may allow you to feel less isolated.
 
Group sessions will be available via zoom on the following dates:
 
For key workers: Friday 24th April 11-12.30pm & Tuesday 5th May 2-3.30pm

For non key workers: Friday 1st May 11 - 12.30pm

 
If you wish to take part or have any questions please email me on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so I can forward the necessary information to you.

How quickly everything changes from one month to the next, and this has probably been the most challenging for all of us. Covid-19 has meant change for everyone, some of which can be really positive, but some really tricky to adapt to. Forced to spend time together, working from home and home-schooling may be frustrating as we try to adapt to boundaries, space and levels of tolerance. It can also lead to exploring new ways of communicating, learning and finding out about each other. Being forced to spend time apart, and not allowed to be with loved ones who are poorly can be devastating, isolating and anxiety provoking, and Heart 2 Hart Solutions is joining many others in offering a telephone and virtual support service for those experiencing any symptoms of stress and anxiety related to covid-19. Trauma therapy is my speciality, however during such challenging times trauma processing is not advised. Instead, stabilisation techniques to help with anxiety and functioning can be really helpful in confidence building, and finding some control in a life that at the moment seems uncontrollable.

Please see the counselling services page for further details and email me with any questions.

We have also collated our report for the 'Living with fibromyalgia 'project and I presented it to a group of Occ Health doctors last week. There was a lot of interest and support for future projects, and whilst funding options have been slowed down so far due to the current situation, I'm still very keen to pursue this further. Our current fibro group are resuming meet-ups virtually this month with me on a bi-monthly basis as they feel a need to stay connected. Which is lovely.

Breast Cancer Now have stopped all face-to-face contact until the end of June which is disappointing to our secondary group, and it's hoped they will be offered a similar on-line  service shortly. I miss my lovely bunch of ladies!

In the meantime, I've volunteered to help with psychological support for key workers, paramedicas and ambulance drivers. Hundreds have volunteered so my services may not be needed, but it feels so necessary to offer support when they are showing such courage. Huge respect to them all.

In the meantime, keep well and safe, be sensible, and be kind to each other.................

I'd just like to share this podcast of Dr Rangan Chattergee interviewing Dr Gabor Mate. Although Dr Mate is primarily an addiction and trauma specialist the common themes linking both Doctors' work revolve around the mind/body relationship, and the importance of understanding the psychology of the mind when working with physiological/medical conditions.  I find the reasoning and scientific evidence behind Dr Mate's rationale compelling, some of which was mirrored in our pilot scheme on living with fibromyalgia.
 
This is definitely a coffee and cake podcast! Enjoy.

After almost a year of piloting 'Living with Fibromyalgia', an educational group therapy project by our 'Counselling with Cake' initiative, my colleague and I have collected the data from our amazing bunch of 7 ladies. Oozing with determination and a willingness to learn how to embrace acceptance and change, our lovely group of ladies all showed distinct improvements in how to manage the psychological impact of their condition. I’m currently collaborating with Doctors and Health Care Professionals, adapting and tweaking the format, and looking into funding options to enable us to offer this model to many others who are ‘living with’ a chronic health condition. Feeling very proud of, and inspired by such an incredible bunch of ladies……they all deserve a standing ovation.

I can't believe it's nearly Christmas! I'm completely in denial......!!

This time last year I was writing the programme for our first educational group therapy, 'Counselling with Cake', that began in February. December sees the last session, and we are currently collating the evidence to show what psychological improvements were made. In the Spring of 2020 I've been asked to present our findings to a group of occupational health doctors which is very exciting, and I'll be applying for funding shortly to help with future projects.

Babette Rothschild is a leading trauma Psychotherapist in the US, and I completetd her 12 day somatic training earlier this year. I was delighted to be asked to assist on her 2 day trauma programme in London last month which was a great experience. I00 students learnt the basics of her trauma programme and how to integrate it into their work through a series of practical exercises and theory and I was assisting with those exercises for their learning.

The new secondary breast cancer campaign has been launched together with the merger of the two charities, to form one all encompassing charity, Breast Cancer Now. Controversial, this campaign is particularly hard hitting, as women living with this disease speak of what is lacking in their care. It's had mixed reactions; sadly there is a need for the campaign to be direct enough for those in government to sit up and take notice, although many women living well with secondary breast cancer feel a little disempowered. Certainly a contentious issue, and the ladies in my secondary group are still debating the pros and cons.

It will be interesting and exciting to see what 2020 brings.......Have a good Christmas everybody.

It's been a busy Summer, so I thought I'd share a few updates with you. Private clients are continuing to show positive responses to the somatic trauma method of therapy, learnt through Babette Rothschild's training, which offers the psychotherapy and counselling of traumatised clients a safer, more successful method of treatment long term. I'm also proud to have been asked to assist in one of Babette's courses in London in October, 'Making Trauma therapy safer', which introduces her approach to this work - another great learning experience......
We are due to collate our evidence from the wonderful ladies in our fibro group in the next couple of months. Progress has been so positive - of course there have been enormous challenges as well as many moments of hilarity, and I'm immensely proud of what these women are achieving. I really hope we can find a way of funding for further groups like this......it's been an incredibly uplifting, humbling and emotional experience for all involved.
Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now have merged to form the largest supporting charity for those with primary and secondary breast cancer in the UK. My secondary breast cancer group of sassy ladies are continuing to raise awareness of the need for secondary nurses in Wales. Currently we have one nurse, compared to over 60 in England which is pretty appalling. We are on a mission to create change:-)
For any further information - or help with methods of fundraising for educational group therapy for those living with a chronic medical condition please e-mail. Happy Autumn:-)

This year has been so rewarding for me, as I've continued to meet so many inspirational people. I've now completed Babette Rothschild's Somatic Trauma course in London, and this means I am offering a different method of addressing trauma; one that feels kinder to my clients and gives confidence, courage and self belief to those who have felt isolated, fearful and vulnerable. It works with the effects of the trauma not only in the mind, but within the body, and the importance of thorough and effective stabilisation is what makes this so successful. I'm looking forward to applying this to my medical trauma work especially, and have seen excellent results so far.

Our 'Living with fibromyalgia' group is still going strong; in fact we've extended this until the end of the year as we're seeing such positive results. Our incredible bunch of ladies are learning how to manage their symptoms in a healthier way, and I couldn't be more proud of them all. The next step is the search for funding once we've collated our clinical evidence....... watch this space!

Enjoy the rest of your Summer.....

BACP Registered - Heart 2 Hart - Professional counselling and talking therapy service in Wales

Heart 2 Hart Solutions Ltd.

Practising from:

Cyncoed Medical Centre,
Dartington Drive,
Pontprennau,
Cardiff.
CF23 8SQ

Tel: 07903 457245

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Counselling and Emotional Support | In a one-to-one setting | In a group environment | For patients & healthcare professionals