HELP! the expert who feels like a beginner

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When a counsellor feels inadequate

Surprisingly, this happens a lot.

Is there more at play here?

Do we, as school counsellors, feel that we are older, wiser and therefore better equipped to know the meaning behind the words we hear?

As an INFJ personality type, I pride myself on my almost psychic ability to smell out when there is more to a story than meets the eye.

Every so often though, I get side swiped!

So, how do we deal with it?

I, for one, am not good at dealing with these feelings. In general, I always feel that I could, or should have done more. I often switch from my extroverted feeling function and wallow in my shadow personality function of the logical thinker.


I try and think about what could have led to the current situation. I will torture myself by reading into conversations, looks, body language, etc until I piece together how the revelations were drip fed to me and create the whole “logical” story. The story I missed!

It’s a grim part of my personality and one which I try and work on as I’m aware that whilst I’m worrying about what I could, should, would have said, I’m not giving my attention to the person who now needs it.

There is no answer for people like us who do these jobs because we care about others, except a wise example that my clinical supervisor once gave me.

“Difficulties we face in our personalities are often caused by the over-active use of a skill we have”

Let me use my situation as an example…

I have a skill and that skill is the ability to genuinely care for others and to support them to be the best version of themselves that they can be. This makes me happy.

Sometimes, I over-do this skill by thinking that I must be the answer to everyone’s problems all the time. Obviously, I can’t because that would be physically impossible. This makes me unhappy.

So, if we imagine an upwards curve, when we are in our happy place, the curve is in an upward motion.

When the curve starts to tip, the tipping point; it begins a downward trajectory.

Think of this like an upturned smile or a down turned sad face.

So after I have wallowed in self-pity for a while, I begin to examine my curve and concentrate on its upwards-turned smile.

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

Where is Your Boat Heading?

It’s INFJ day!



Abuse -the soft signs

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Abuse – what is it and how do we deal with it?

Anyone who has been watching the news this week may have heard the term “Coercive Control”

Coercive Control falls under new legislation which makes it illegal for your partner to abuse you using softer tactics than physical abuse.

The new behaviours which are covered by the law are…

When your partner

  1. Shares indecent images of you
  2. Restricts or denies your access to money
  3. Stops you seeing family and friends
  4. Scares you
  5. Threatens to reveal private things about you
  6. Places tracking devices on your phone
  7. Puts you down
  8. Acts with extreme jealousy
  9. Forces you to obey their rules
  10. Controls what you wear
  11. Makes you do things you don’t want to do

On their own and even if we think of just a few of these things, we may dismiss them as nothing to worry about or we may make excuses for our partner saying that they have issues which means they are a bit controlling but it’s fine we can handle it.

The thing to remember about this type of behaviour is that it is the same as bullying. All bullies need a victim and once they have found the victim, they steadily increase their control over them. The relationship falls into a pattern and before we know it, things have gone too far.

Figures show that 9 out of 10 women who were murdered last year were murdered by someone they knew. A shocking 85% of women were killed in their own homes.

Of course, domestic abuse does not only affect women in heterosexual relationships, it affects men and women in any type of relationship and can devastate lives.

In my job as a counsellor working with young adults, I often come across behaviours which fall into the above categories. I feel it is important to look at how people arrive in these relationships.

It’s easy and nice to have someone care so much about you that they want to do things for you, they may even defend sharing images of you on social media by saying you are beautiful or hunky and they want everyone to see that. But this is not OK!

I am not an expert in this field so if you are reading this and you are in the least bit worried about yourself or someone you know, PLEASE visit the Domestic Abuse Hotline for help and information for victims or for friends and families of victims.

PARENTS – Don’t think this only happens to adults!!!! Please talk to your young adults and help them to understand the definitions of abuse as early as possible so that they can recognise these behaviours sooner. Check out this powerful video…

Also, if you are putting up with an abusive relationship because of your children, you are putting yourself and them in danger.

There is help out there, it only needs to be a click away

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…

Where have all the Spice Girls Gone?

Divorce – what to tell the kids



Gee – a real life story – Part 4

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Gee seemed more settled as the weeks went on and her visits became shorter and more about her latest assignment and her new friends than anything else. She formed “Gee-style” attachments to teachers whom she decided were allowed into her circle of trust and she now had two or three teachers (female) as well as me to talk to when she was feeling anxious or unworthy.

I felt that Gee had created a World around her in which she felt able to cope with the immense stress of 6th Form and the immense stress of not having her Mum around her when she needed it. Things seemed to go along without incident for a while.

And then came Tom.

At first, Gee would mention Tom in conversation with the rest of her friendship group. Soon, they were the talk of the year group, the two love birds who couldn’t seem to exist without each other. Alarm bells rang for me as I knew that Gee was highly likely to form an unhealthy attachment and hearing that they seemed to be joined at the hip concerned me.

Things were rosy for a while and Gee seemed to beam with her new-found love. He was everything she had ever wanted, he was caring, considerate and attentive and he seemed to “get” her in a way that no one else did.

By now, the alarm bells were literally clanging off their hinges!

I battened down the hatches and waited…

Over the coming months, the relationship became toxic for both parties. They argued all the time, he wanted Gee all to himself but she wanted freedom to just be herself. There were tales of infidelity, broken trust, broken phones, endless messages back and forth. The light that had beamed from Gee’s face had gone out.

She had lost a lot of weight, she wasn’t eating properly. Her piercing brown eyes had sunken into her cheekbones. Her clothes hung from her hips and her hair lost it’s shine. A constant enigma to me, Gee had found inside herself the power to achieve against all odds. What I now saw was a broken young girl who had allowed herself to become overpowered and was stuck in a destructive cycle which was also bringing Tom down. What could lead to such behaviour?

Sure, her messy upbringing had played its part. Gee had been exposed to loss and relationship breakdowns. She found maternal affection easily from teachers and from me but the male side of things didn’t seem to be working out for Gee.

She wanted more from Tom than he was ever able to give and she was as incapable of articulating that to him as he was of delivering.

As time went on. Gee reverted to previous behaviours. Telling teachers to Fuck off, skipping classes, even getting thrown out of classes. Her Step dad was informed and eventually, during a showdown between Gee, her Mum and her Step Dad, she was able to say what the real problem had been.

I arrived at work that day to very busy reception. There seemed to be people everywhere, so I signed in and made my way through the people towards my room. As I approached, I was met by the headteacher. “Hey Sarah, can we have a chat in my office please?” Oh no! is always my first response. Over the years I have found myself in hot water with school management and parents over some of my methods to help young adults. I braced myself for a telling off.

“This is a delicate matter. You’ve been seeing Gee now for a while?”

“Yes, nearly two years on and off”

“Has she ever mentioned to you anything concerning abuse?”

“What kind of abuse?”

“Sexual abuse of a minor, Gee being the minor at the time?”

I felt my face flush and my stomach retch. All this time? She had held this burden and never mentioned it.

“No, she never mentioned it” my voice trailed off. How could I have missed this? I knew something wasn’t right, I should’ve seen this.

“Anyway, Gee’s parents are here to speak to me and let me know what happens next and Gee is in your room, she wanted to see you. Is that ok?”

“Yes. Of course. Yes.” I stood and walked out of his office, selfishly wondering what he, everyone else and mostly Gee thought of me for not seeing this.

As I opened the door, she sat there, shrunken into a chair like a child. She looked up at me and smiled.

“Bet you didn’t expect this kind of start to your 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

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

Gee – A Real life story

Gee – A real life story – Part 2

Gee – A real life story – Part 3

Where is Your Boat Heading?

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Aside from being a groovy tune, “Stuck in the Middle with You” has been an annoying ear worm for most of my afternoon. The source, however was somewhat of a revelation for me.

You see, I have been trying to think of something, anything to write that may be of use here on my blog for the last few days. Of course, my day job provides me with endless ideas and information and is nearly always the inspiration for what I talk about. This week, however, I just couldn’t get my brain to get into gear.

It was starting to frustrate me

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Then I received an email. It was from the amazingly inspirational and totally lovely yogi Adrienne Mishler. I subscribe to her You Tube Yoga channel and she sends lovely emails each week which try to remind us that we are all pretty fab just for being human.

This week’s message was all about being in the same “boat”.

We’re all in the same “boat” of life.

Sometimes, we may find ourselves being stuck in the boat we call life.

STUCK! That’s me! Eureka! From realising I was stuck, I became unstuck.

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It led me to think about how our young adults might feel when they are stuck in their own boat of life. Sometimes it might be pretty miserable, and they could feel like there is no escape.

We, as adults can use our experience to help them to understand that the boat will become unstuck and the waves will again take it onto the next section of its journey.

I often refer to the timeline tool and this is a good time to use it. The timeline can easily demonstrate that life changes and continues to move with forward momentum.

Take time to remind the young adults in your life, and maybe yourself that whether the boat is stuck or moving, we are all in it together.

You may also want to add that, sometimes, being stuck is a good thing!

Happy Sailing!

If you like what you’re reading, please hit “like” below and you can also follow me on Facebook or Twitter. Alternatively, please contact me with your thoughts.

Here are some other articles you might like…

Where have all the Spice Girls Gone?

Mapping for the Mind – Quick Solutions for Teens

Dying to Talk???

What label are you wearing today?

Where have all the Spice Girls Gone?

Are females still facing sexual exploitation in 2018??? Yes, unfortunately, they are  not only exposed to it but accepting of it…

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I was left very perturbed last week following a session with one of my young adults. A 14 year old female, she was talking to me about body image and how she compared herself to other girls in her peer group.

Although I was not surprised by this (although, I know we should be!), what she then went on to say left me aghast with disbelief and sitting on my hands to try and restrain myself from getting on my soap box.

“Well, I suppose I should be happy, at least I got rated”

What? What does “Rated” mean? I needed to know and knew I wasn’t going to like the answer.

For those of us who (thank heavens) don’t know, this is a process whereby the boys choose say, 5 girls to “rate” out of 10. Yes, I did just say that…I know, calm down (sit on your hands it sort of worked for me!)

Trying to squeeze one last drop of humanity out of the situation, I tentatively asked what the criteria was for the score… intelligence? funny? nice to be around? strong?

“No, its how good looking you are and how nice your figure is”

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Before I realised what was coming out of my mouth, I was asking her if she knew what the #metoo movement was all about. She nodded and shrugged her shoulders,

“It’s just what goes on though”

Ok, I know we can’t change things overnight but I personally was really shocked that with all the positive female role models out there, we are STILL drawn to pretty, tiny waisted, big boobed visions of perfection and we are STILL comparing ourselves to them and wanting to look like them.

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Please! I urge you all to talk positively to the young ladies that you come into contact with and ask them to embrace their inside qualities rather than their outside view at every opportunity.

Most importantly, lead by example! Be proud of who you are, man or woman and how you impact your World.

If you’re in any doubt about what our young girls are exposed to, go to Google and type “Girls” in the search bar and go to images.

When the Spice Girls kicked and screamed their way into our lives in 1994 they didn’t care what anyone thought of them. They embraced their inner “Spice” and Spiced up the World. Always leading with their Spice Name, whether Ginger, Posh, Baby, Scary or Sporty; they encouraged women everywhere to be proud of who they were, just for the hell of it! and they NEVER allowed boys to get in the way.

Warning…really cool song links alert!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, if you Wannabe more Spicy, you need to Stop allowing other people to define you and Holler your unique Spice name from the rooftops! Ask those silly boys Who do you think you are? and Spice up your life

Like this post? Check out some more below…

What label are you wearing today?

It’s Always the Quiet ones…

Why do I feel this way? Anxiety explained

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