An Idiot’s description of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT as it is lovingly known was the buzz word of the noughties when I was studying counselling.

This was largely because the NHS had decided that it provided an evidence based way of treating mild to moderate mental health issues.

The name really explains what CBT is…

Cognitive or cognition; the brain’s way of understanding and processing things

Behavioural; the resulting behaviours

Therapy; support to change negative behaviours

There are many ways in which therapists work with clients and CBT practitioners take the practice to a much deeper degree than we’re talking about here.

I am sometimes asked about CBT and how it can help. CBT has it’s uses particularly for trauma, fears or phobias and to challenge negative thinking.

For a much better explanation than I can provide, read what Mind say

CBT is like starting to go to the gym but instead of training muscles, we’re training the most important of all our organs, our lovely brains!

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There can be very quick results for us when we challenge our negative thoughts and investigate them. If we’re honest with ourselves, we know whether our thoughts are logical or not and CBT can be a great gateway to looking at inbred behaviours which do not serve us well.

CBT does, however, require some input from the person wanting to apply it. The best way to get the most our of CBT is to try and introduce it into our lives as a way of thinking. This takes time and devotion but it’s well worth it when we see the results which can include managing our anxiety and depression effectively

If you feel that you may be suffering from anxiety or depression, please do one of the following…

  1. Tell someone – a friend or family member. Sometimes verbalising what is going on in our brains can be a great release and telling someone you trust can help to share the burden.
  2. See your GP – in the first instance, you can get advice and a diagnosis. Also, if necessary, medication that you may need.
  3. Make a journal – write down how you are feeling. Amazingly, this can be as effective as talking and is especially helpful if you are not a natural talker
  4. Stay healthy – its a cliche but diet and exercise really do help. Watch sugary foods and try and eat plenty of fresh food rather than processed. Also, a 10 min walk each day can help with well-being. Does a work colleague fancy a stroll around the block at lunchtime? Could you organise a “walking meeting”?

For more information about CBT, contact the NHS Online where you can also find out about registered therapists.

If you like what you see here, please hit the “follow” button, leave me a comment below or contact me directly.

You can also see what I’m up to on Twitter and Facebook

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Why do I feel this way? Anxiety explained



Gee – The end of her beginning

New beginnings…

I didn’t hear from Gee for a while although I had reports from other teachers that she had been back to school to collect belongings, projects etc. She had expressed to some of her teachers that she didn’t know if she could do it, move away, live life on her own.

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I had given Gee my details as I often do with students when they leave school. I explain to them that I work privately also and if they ever need to see me, to get in touch. It’s always a difficult choice for me as I know I must charge for my work, but I also know that my fee is more than most of these guys earn in a week. For that reason, I am always willing to be discretionary with my charges.

One day, I received a garbled email from Gee explaining that she had been on a night out with a friend and had driven into town, intending to leave her car and collect it the next morning. Gee’s friend had fallen out with her boyfriend and was about to walk home alone. Gee stopped her and they made their way to Gee’s car to shelter from the cold rain. Gee was not able to drive as she had consumed too much alcohol. Gee had started the engine to get the heaters to work and…yes…you guessed it! A knock on her window, followed by an argument with a police officer, resulted in a night in a cell!

Gee was horrified about what had happened and hadn’t known where to turn.

She ranted about how her Dad already hated her and would hate her even more now. He would never want anything to do with her again. Her chances of going to Uni and starting a new life for herself were now over. Her life was a total mess and what was the point!

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As I read the words, a mixture of fear, affection and anger bubbled up inside me.

We had come too far for her to hit that self-destruct button now!

I immediately emailed Gee and asked her to send me her phone number so I could call her.

A few minutes later she answered the phone, crying and panicking. I stopped her in her tracks…

“Gee be quiet and listen very carefully to me!” She did as I instructed. “Now, where are you?”

“I’m still in town” she sulked, “may as well go straight to a pub and get hammered now!”

“Don’t you DARE do that!” I ordered. “Now listen to me, get yourself a coffee and call your dad”

“B-b-but he-he hates me” blubbed Gee

“I’ve never heard so much nonsense in my life! That man has stuck with you through thick and thin, more than lots of biological dads do. Now get on that phone and give him the chance to prove me right!”

“But what if…”

“He gives you a massive bollocking? Take it! You deserve it! Gee managed a snivelling giggle

“Guess you’re right there”

“Now, I’m going to keep my phone available and I want you to call or text me when you’ve spoken to him, understood?”


“Do you mean it?”

“Yes, thank you Sarah”

“Don’t thank me, get yourself sorted!”

As I rang-off I wondered if I had gone too far. Had I used the fact that Gee trusted me to make her do what I wanted? What if Dad really did throw her out? Oh well, no going back now.

Working with young adults is nothing like working with children or older adults. They demand a total and utter presence and they demand every last drop of anything you have to give. Never seeming to give anything in return, they test out all of their emotions on you and expect you to stay strong. If you don’t, they leave you for dead; if you do, they welcome you into their World and it’s very hard to leave.

Gee had an innocence and gratitude about her that I had rarely seen, and I knew this had to have been demonstrated to her at some point and my guess was that it was her Dad that had developed her sense of trust and loyalty.

A little while later, Gee texted me to say she had spoken to Dad and he was on his way to collect her and sort things out.


The next time I was aware of any activity from Gee was when I heard that her Dad had loaded up his van and taken her to Uni.

Gee emailed me from time to time to say how much she loved Uni and how much she loved the area. I felt a real sense of pride and hoped and wished nothing but happiness for her.

After some months, the emails changed mood and Gee started to say she hated Uni and didn’t know how long she could stay there for. Christmas was coming so I encouraged her to stay until then and see how she felt when she got back.

The last email I got from Gee was to say that being away from home had helped her to realise that it wasn’t her home town she needed to escape but her own worries and insecurities. Gee now realised that she could indeed survive on her own, she was capable of making new friends and surviving independently.

The biggest thing that Gee had realised though, was that the very things that she had perceived as her issues were her greatest strengths.

Her family and friends.

“I feel like everyone has changed” she said. I knew that no one had changed except her.

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As I bring you up to date with this amazing story of resilience and growing self-acceptance, Gee has achieved a 1st in her initial degree assessments and, much to the annoyance of her Uni lecturer has decided to transfer to another Uni close to home, so she can be with her Dad and her brothers.

Good luck Gee!!

Much love xx

Oh, and by the way, you never did pay me! xx


If you like what you see here, please hit the “follow” button, leave me a comment below or contact me directly.

You can also see what I’m up to on Twitter and Facebook

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Gee – a real life story – Part 5

Gee – a real life story – Part 4

Gee – A real life story – Part 3

Gee – A real life story – Part 2

Gee – A Real life story

Fear of Failure or Success?

We talk often about fear of failure and how this can stop us from moving forward, taking risks or even trying in the first place.

But what if what we really fear is success?

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Why do we overthink our next move?

Why do we place roadblocks in the way of our next move?

Could it be that we are scared that we may actually succeed?

For a long time, we have talked about facing our fears and doing it anyway and there have been many successful books written about how to achieve our dreams and goals.

Recently, I wrote a tender submission for a substantial amount of money. The Tender is to provide mental health services to children and young adults. I turned the requirements of the Tender on it’s head and wrote a bid for what I believe is really needed.

I felt empowered by my bid as in the back of my mind, I knew it would more than likely fall at the first hurdle. Then I was brought rather swiftly back to earth when my husband asked me

“What will you do if they accept your bid?”

After some laughing and dismissal, I decided to think about it and fear overtook me! Anxiety started in the pit of my stomach and rose through my body, coming to rest in my burning cheeks.

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Why am I afraid? What is it that I’m afraid of?

For me, it was a fear of failing at success!! What if I won the bid and then couldn’t do the job or didn’t do it well enough?

Then it was a fear of change. My life would change, I would have more work, I’d be busier… scary

It made me stop and think about the young adults I strive to support to achieve. They are encouraged very day by the amazing educators and support staff in schools.

Often I challenge a fear of failure which is debilitating a Year 11 or Year 13.

But what if I challenged their fear of success? 

What are you scared of? When you are taking your final breaths, what will you wish you hadn’t been afraid of?

If you like what you see here, please hit the “follow” button, leave me a comment below or contact me directly.

You can also see what I’m up to on Twitter and Facebook

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Gee – a real life story – Part 5


Gee proceeded to tell me that she had been sexually abused by one of her older brother’s friends when she was much younger. The abuse had gone on for a while and Gee had told noone.

She would later tell me that she truly thought she would not be believed and that everyone would side with him. Like most victims of abuse, he had made Gee feel so helpless that the option of telling anyone and seeing their reaction would be shameful.

Her fault.

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Things moved very quickly, the police became involved and Gee underwent hours of questions

The perpetrator was arrested and pleaded guilty to the charges. Gee was overwhelmed.

In my work, I often see the most awful circumstances create the most solid and beautiful state of growth and I solemnly believe that there are very few instances that we experience in life that do not serve us in some way… in the end.

This was demonstrated rather dramatically with Gee.

She slowly got her mojo back…and more!

Her and Tom’s already rocky relationship had been further damaged by the abuse declaration. Tom was angry with the World, a World where someone could do this to anyone, let alone the love of his life.

Unfortunately for them both, their relationship was not yet mature enough to weather this storm. And yet it was Gee who made the decision to end it.

Then she made some more decisions.

Gee applied to and gained a place at a Uni far away from where she lived. (Yes – Uni! The girl who nearly didn’t make it through her GCSE’s)

Gee wanted to leave the World behind and start afresh. I felt in my heart this was what she needed and hoped she was able to call on that strength and resilience when she needed to.

The time had come for our final session…

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We were both nervous and full of anticipation. I was trying to remain professional knowing that for Gee this was going to be difficult.

I had tried to do a lot of work with her about how people move through life and have relationships that end but this wasn’t always a bad thing.

This girl had not only suffered loss, the key loss being the support of her mum who had moved away from the family; she had also never seen the joy of a healthy relationship and how she could play her part in it.

For Gee, leaving school was going to be unbearable.

She came and sat down, a cheeky grin on her face. I returned her smile. She was uncomfortable and squirmed in her seat. I felt uncomfortable too but I had to take charge of the situation.

“Here we are” I said, looking at Gee

“Yep! Here we are” her eyes widened

“How do you feel?” I ventured



“You know why”

“Yes I do, but you also know that this has to happen to enable you to move forward”

Gee was silent, she played with her bag like a much younger child would.

“Will I ever see you again?” She blurted

“Well I’m sure we’ll bump into each other at some point and besides I’d love to know how Uni goes.”

“Would you meet me for coffee sometime?”

“I’d really like that Gee but as long as we both understand that I’m not your counsellor anymore”

I could feel my clinical supervisor’s raised eyebrow burning into the back of my head.

“You see, do you remember what I said about how we make a journey through life and people are part of that journey? Well hopefully, you can see that we can continue our journeys separately but with a shared interest to see how each other is getting on”

“I don’t want to get you in any trouble”

“You won’t”

With that Gee stood up rather unexpectedly and gathered her things.

“Can I have a hug?” she asked

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“You? Hug? But you don’t do hugs!” I laughed

“I do with special people”

We embraced, and I held her tiny back in my hands.

“You’ll be amazing” I whispered to her “But you have to let yourself do it!”

We separated, and I followed Gee to the door of my room. She didn’t look at me.

“See you for coffee soon then” She quipped as she strode back to her lesson.

She didn’t look back, I suspect because she didn’t want me to see the tears in her eyes.

Just as well, she would have seen the tears in mine too.

If you like what you see here, please hit the “follow” button, leave me a comment below or contact me directly.

You can also see what I’m up to on Twitter and Facebook

If you liked this article, here are some more you might be interested in…

Gee – a real life story – Part 4

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Gee – A real life story – Part 2

Gee – A Real life story

Welcome back to the World

As we yawn snivel and cough our way through January and Christmas is a distant memory we have the amazing opportunity to look forward with thanks and appreciation.

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I can personally resonate with this. Today is my son’s 22nd Birthday, a happy day and a day where for some reason every year (it must be a mum thing) I am taken back to the day when he came into our World. A day for me to look at him and remember how proud I am of the young man he has become.

Its been a little harder for me this year as we suffered the loss of my mother in law just before Christmas and this week my Nan passed away. Added to this, our beloved dog, Gypsy is battling with a liver tumour.

So, how do we find it within ourselves to move forward with excitement and an inquisitive mind?

Many of my young adults have had a tough time over Christmas and have found comfort in being back in the school environment. For them, its been difficult to muster the enthusiasm needed to face a new year when they haven’t seen a great year before it.

Here are some handy tips for bringing a little bit of hope into our lives for a while…

1.Give thanks

Take a few minutes to write 5 things you are thankful for. For each person this will be different and no matter how small its still significant. Here are mine…

5 things to be thankful for

2. Allow time for thoughts to flow

Good AND Bad. All too often in life, we run away from thoughts or feelings that feel difficult. It’s no surprise that they don’t go away but they stay and fester, causing dis-ease which can be emotional or even physical.

Find a quiet spot and allow yourself up to 15 minutes where you will not be disturbed. Close your eyes and concentrate on your breath for a minute or so.

Let the thoughts come and just… think them, good or bad

Instead of making a judgement on them, try and see where in your body you experience them.

Locate the physical sensation and experience it fully.

Try and link the feeling to the thought and get to know it. This will help you to be with the feeling rather than working against it.

Note how you feel.

3. Set a goal

It could be one day, one week, one month, one year ahead.

The goal could be as large as a career change or as small as saving for a treat.

Plot a plan and work towards it in small steps.

Setting a goal can help you to look forward to the future rather than focusing on the past.

I wish you all a happy healthy 2019

My goal is to cuddle my beautiful pooch every day…


If you like what you see here, please hit the “follow” button, leave me a comment below or contact me directly.

You can also see what I’m up to on Twitter and Facebook

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