Mock mayhem!

This week has seen the usual rise in anxiety amongst the young people I work with. Mocks are coming!!!

Here are my 3 top tips…

1. Mocks are good! They are a dress rehearsal for the real thing. Use them to track your progress whilst you still have time to put things right

2. YOUR best IS good enough. As long as you do the best you know you can do, you have done enough. More than your best is humanly impossible

3. Don’t use your last result as a benchmark. It’s likely you hadn’t even completed your curriculum or still haven’t done so… if that’s the case, how can you get a 9?

Again, humanly impossible!

Check out my tips for coping with anxiety here…

Anxiety – Some practical tips

And some other useful bits and bobs here…

Mindfulness – What is it?

Why do I feel this way? Anxiety explained

Please contact me or comment below if you have any questions, or, better still if you have some tips on strategies that have worked for you.

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Gee – A real life story – Part 2

Following the success of the first part of Gee’s Story, I feel honoured to share her next chapter with you. It’s almost impossible to sum up in a relatively short blog post, the trials and triumphs of Gee and many others like her but i’ll give it a try.

Please also look out for another inspiring story coming soon – Chantelle’s Story

Year 11

Year 11 for Gee started out in much the same vain as she had ended Year 10. She was sulky and complained about her awful summer break. She was glad to be back at school.

There were still problems for Gee in school and she was dodging lessons and shouting at teachers who were trying to get her back into them. Patience for Gee was wearing thin and, with GCSE’s looming, I knew that her chances of exclusion were high.

I decided to work through a timeline with Gee. This is a method I use often with young people as it can help them in many ways to make sense of events in their lives and can also help with less talkative students. For more information see my article on timelines.

Gee’s timeline revealed that she had lived in Basingstoke and Devon for her early years and moved to the Midlands around the age of 8. Her early childhood had, it seemed, been largely uneventful.

The last two years, however, had been too traumatically eventful. The extend of which I would not discover for another two years. As it was, what she revealed explained a lot.

At age 13, Gee’s parents had started to have a lot of problems and they had to move to a new house. At the same time, Gee was visiting her Nan in a care home regularly and her granddad collapsed and was ill in hospital.

Just before Gee’s 14th birthday, she was told that her Dad was, in fact, not her Dad and that she had a different Dad to her two younger brothers with whom she was living.

From her 14th birthday onward, things seemed to spiral. Gee’s Nan died and Gee wrote and read a poem at her funeral, a big step for any 14 year old.

Her Mother and Step-father split which resulted in a court case for custody of her two younger brothers.

Finally, the icing on the cake, Gee was being bullied at her previous school and moved to this school; her last chance.

In the space of 10 minutes working through the timeline, it was easy to see why Gee was a mess.

There had to be something inside of her, something that had grown within her in those early happy years that was inside waiting to fight back and break through the blackness that now resided in her mind.

I felt Gee’s sense of hopelessness as she told me that she had discovered that her biological father had been abusive towards her Mother, due to his own awful childhood. “That’s my Dad…am I like him?” she asked.

Her Mother had told her during an argument in a crazy moment of anger that she was indeed just like him.

I had a vision of a desperate child, helpless and suffocating as giant shovels of dirt were falling over her head. With each shovel, she was disappearing, and I knew it wouldn’t take many more to lose her altogether.

Then something happened…

Gee told me that her Mother had left the area and had told her and her brothers that she didn’t want any contact for a while. Surprisingly, rather than the final shovel for Gee, this was to prove to be the hand that she needed at the time to pull her up.

As sad as it was for Gee to have lost contact with her Mother, it took away a lot of the emotional angst that she felt, and she had to help her Step-father who was struggling to work and provide for them all. I felt this gave her some focus when she needed it.

Within a couple of weeks, I saw what I always knew was inside of Gee. She was a strong, kind girl; committed to making things right for her family, whatever form that took. A light had been ignited inside of her and she shocked everyone with her determination.

Gee announced that she was going to pass her GCSE’s! A naturally clever girl, she had missed so much work that this was a tall order. She had been predicted D’s in most subjects. Gee also announced that she wanted to stay on in 6th Form as school was the only place she felt safe and happy.

We looked on, helpless spectators, willing her through it. Teachers stepped up and gave her extra help, even those she had told to “Fuck off” seemed to have been placed under her spell.

The time came for Gee’s GCSE’s, she got through every single one. She continued to see me until the school broke up in July. Then came the anxious wait…

If you like what you see, please follow me here on wordpress or twitter or Facebook

Here are some more articles you might like…

Time for time

Gee – A Real life story

What label are you wearing today?

It’s Always the Quiet ones…

Time for time


Using timelines has been an invaluable tool for me with all of my clients but I find it works particularly well with young adults.

Image result for timeline
It is a simple tool which I feel can benefit you if you are trying to make sense of events with a young person. I can work well with those who have been through a parental split or have friendship or family issues.
The way I use timelines is to draw a line down the middle of a page and start with the first memory. I make notes on either side of the line as the young person lists the events. Key events (good or bad) can be accentuated with underlining or circling and as more thoughts flow through, it can end up a rather full page which can include drawings, references etc. For confidentiality, I cannot show a picture of a timeline I have drawn but I’m sure you get the idea.
The timeline can serve as a powerful tool for discussion and young people like to relate to the comments made and will often think of other relevant events as they go through it.
Another positive with the timeline is that it can be a good tool to show patterns of behaviour and when and where they may have started.
Obviously, my use of timelines is often an in depth look at lifestyle, family etc. but the principle can be used for most issues which may arise for discussion with support colleagues.
Give it a whirl and let me know what you think?

Other articles you may find useful…

Divorce – what to tell the kids

What label are you wearing today?

Why do I feel this way? Anxiety explained

Gee – A Real life story

If you like what you see, please follow me on twitter and Facebook

Divorce – what to tell the kids

As promised, following on from the first part of Gee’s Story I’ve put together some tips for dealing with divorce and separation when there are kids involved…

relationship failure problem sad

Photo by Pixabay on

Human relationships don’t always work – fact.

So, what do you do if you find yourself in this situation and the time has come for you to separate from your partner?

Tough enough for the two of you, not to mention logistically, you’ll most likely have assets to divide which can be messy but the most important and difficult part of your separation is your children.

Whether you have children together, a blended family, grown up kids; whatever the dynamics, you need to ensure that the kids have enough information to make informed choices about where they want to live etc.

I’ve spent many an hour with young adults whose parents have split and I’ve used the information they’ve given me to create my top tips for parents…

1.       Don’t lie -kids are far from stupid and they will always find out in the end; and when they do, you’ll be the bad guy even if you thought you were doing the right thing

2.       Don’t make things complicated – as I mentioned earlier, it’s complicated enough for you but the kids only need the facts which affect them. Think carefully about what you share, Do the kids really need to know that you’re going to have to change deeds and documents?

3.       Don’t over-share personal detailsDo I need to add to this? The last thing kids are interested in is their parents love lives. A breakdown of any relationship will often be due to many factors on both sides and kids don’t need to be dragged into this.

4.       Don’t talk the other person down – leading on from my last point, one of the most common moans that I hear from young adults is that they hate listening to one parent slagging the other one off. Not a good look parents!!

5.       Do listen – as hard as it may be for you to listen to your kids telling you that they love both of you and really can’t decide where to live or where to spend time; listen to what they are saying. Kids often change their mind as they grow. It may be just as hard to hear your kids saying they don’t want to spend time with your ex and you’ll probably be the one to have to communicate that. If kids feel listened to and understood, it’s the first step to sorting things out.

6.       Do have a life – I mean a life outside of your children. As a newly separated parent, it’s important that you look after your own well-being so that you can give back to your kids. Join a club or start a hobby, even take time to read a book or watch a favourite film. Try not isolate yourself from the World and don’t use the kids as an excuse.

Finally, I’d like to point out that kids get over separation far more quickly than adults do. What upsets them is the aftermath. This is because young adults have not yet developed the part of their brain which creates empathy, so they are largely still focused on themselves. They will relate any event to how it affects them.

“I get that Mum and Dad have split up but why do they have to keep arguing and going on about it”

If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard statements like this, I’d be a rich woman!

For more information please contact me

Please follow me on Facebook and Twitter

Other Articles you may enjoy

Why do I feel this way? Anxiety explained

Anxiety – Some practical tips

What label are you wearing today?

Gee – A Real life story

Gee – A Real life story

I feel blessed to be able to do a job I love and to have met and continue to meet the super heroes that share part of their journey with me. The icing on the cake for me is that a few of these amazing individuals have agreed to share their stories with me.

I’ll be chronicling their stories in short bursts but will also make their full stories available on this site to devour and enjoy.

I hope that these stories will help teenagers who are in crisis but also educators and parents who want a chance to delve into the lives of young adults.

I am in a unique position to see a person as they really are. No pretence, no fear of disappointment, “no holds barred”.

I’ll also be following up the stories with information and help and advice for those who may be able to identify with some of the stories.

A quick disclaimer here… the following stories have been written with the knowledge and permission of the young people concerned. Names and some details have been changed to protect their identities and to maintain confidentiality for them and their families.

For my first Story, I’d like you to meet Gee.

What can I say about Gee… She’s smart, funny, awfully hard on herself, crazy, creative, strong, independent. She literally crawled and clawed her way through school and is now studying at University! Gee wanted me to tell her story as an inspiration to others and also as therapy for herself. She’s excited to see herself through the eyes of another.

Without further ado, please meet Gee.

Gee’s Story


Gee first “stropped” into my life around 4 years ago when she was on the verge of exclusion for her behaviour. A miserable Year 10, teachers and support staff had tried everything to get Gee to engage. I noticed very quickly that a lot of the staff liked Gee and wanted her to succeed. After a couple of meetings with her, I understood why.

Gee had a quiet determination about her. She was stubborn, barely spoke, constantly ducked out of lessons and didn’t seem to care what happened to her. Looking into her conker-brown eyes which were framed by endless black lashes, I saw a deep soul. It would be 3 years before I really knew more about Gee’s problems or before I would come to know the real “her”. I’m not sure, even now, if I or anyone else has, or will ever really know her.

Of course, this immediately became interesting to me and I wanted to help her reach her full potential.

Our first few sessions were quiet. Gee spoke exceedingly quietly and would cover her mouth making it even more difficult for me to hear her.

“No one understands” would become a stock phrase of Gee’s.

“Help me to understand” would become a stock phrase of mine.

We plodded through the last few weeks of year 10, I tried all the tricks in my toolkit to help Gee to open up, but I never gave up on her, and she never gave up on me. I was always honest with her and as time went on, I felt a maternal affection for her which I sensed was lacking in her life.

Gee’s relationship with her mother was strained. She had never known or met her father who was abusive towards her mother. Gee had two older brothers who had grown up and left the family home and two younger brothers who were the product of her mother’s relationship with Gee’s Step Father. The relationship had broken down and Gee’s Step Father took on a flat nearby, so he could still see his kids. To Gee’s disbelief, this included her.

Finally, things came to a head with Gee and her mother. Her mother threw her out of the home following a bitter row. Gee had nowhere to go and her Step father took her in. Gee’s mother would not speak to or have any interaction with her 15 year old daughter. The only person she had in the World was her Step father.

As Year 10 came to a close, I had little hope for Gee making it through Year 11. We agreed we would work together when she returned to school in September. That was when our journey really began.

If you feel that you can identify with Gee’s story so far, check out my tips for anxiety  and a look at what causes anxiety. Also what to look for when teenagers are unhappy.

Look out for my blog covering hints and tips for parents who are separating, coming soon.

Alternatively, check out some articles of interest here

Attachment “disorder”

Personalities and how they affect us


Please follow me on Facebook or Twitter or for more information, please contact me

What label are you wearing today?

If there’s one thing I can’t abide, it’s labelling!

We all do it, I do it. It seems to be part of our DNA in fact it arises from our need to identify similarities amongst our species so that we can make connections.

Often it has the opposite effect…

He’s gay

She’s got an eating disorder

They’re weird

We also label ourselves and I see this every day with young adults.

I’ve got anger issues

I’ve got anxiety

I’m depressed

I’ve got identity issues


Young adults are often told this by parents, medical professionals and society. Some wear their “issue” like a medal of honour, others see it as a ball and chain.

I have a solution…take it off! Give it back!

You are YOU sometimes at certain points in your life you will experience issues of every kind.

You can choose to collect your neck adornments and end up being weighed down by them, or you can give them back, dump them, drop them.

Give it a go … feel lighter