Can a leopard change it spots?


Can you teach an old dog new tricks?  I’m not really talking about animals, I want to talk about us humans, and can we change?  I believe we can, I have personally experienced this, along with having worked with many clients who have achieved change in their thoughts, feelings and behaviours.


However, it takes time for us to change aspects of who we are, and unfortunately it can take even longer for others to recognise that change.  Think about when we visit our parents or old friends, they often see us in specific limited ways, based on how they perceived us in the past.  Even if we have changed they may try to move us back to what they know best, what we once were, as when someone changes it may not suit the other person. 


Drake, the hip-hop artists, struggled with this challenge.  He saw this vision of himself as a rapper, but for many years he was a child actor, he spent time on a popular Canadian series where he played a young sensitive character, the total opposite of a rap star.  Of course being on television was helpful as a stepping stone, but he faced a real perception challenge, because it was difficult for people to accept him as this brash and confident rap star when only a couple of years earlier they had known him as a very different person.  Drake was extremely patient and deliberate in projecting a specific persona to the world and over time people came round. 


In a similar way it will take time for a person who was a full time solicitor to convince others their career change to stand up comedy. It will take time for a recovered addict to convince others that they are clean, and it will take time for someone who has had a series of failures to believe that there is a success within him or her to prove to others what he or she is made of. 


It is up to the individual to hold strong the vision of who we are or who we want to become, trusting that eventually that others will come around to see that person too.  Our personal transformation can be held back by how others see us, so we have to be careful not to allow others to stifle our growth. 


As Virginia Satir said “we must not allow others limited perceptions to define us”.   We must remain patient; we must remain strong with our conviction throughout our personal transformation.  If we do it’s almost guaranteed that others will come to seeing us in a clear new light.




New York Times

Brain Works Neurotherapy

Calm App 




Bullying in Primary and Secondary School



Bullying, what is it?


 There is no legal definition of bullying. However, it's usually defined as behaviour that is: repeated, intended to hurt someone either  physically or emotionally.


 Bullying within Primary and Secondary School settings takes the form of:


·       Consistent

 o   Verbal abuse, such as name calling or gossiping

 o   Non verbal abuse, such as hand signs

 o   Emotional abuse, such as threatening, intimidating or humiliating someone

 o   Exclusion, such as ignoring or isolating someone

 o   Undermining, by constant criticism or spreading rumours

 o   Controlling or manipulating someone

 o   Physical assault, such as hitting and pushing


I am in no way afraid to admit that I experience my children doing all of the above to each other on a weekly basis, it’s called ‘Sibling Rivalry’ and is in my opinion an important and safe way of finding you place in the world.  Further information in a future Blog.


When children take the above listed behaviours outside the home this is when it becomes a cause for concern.


My main interest whilst researching bullying in primary and secondary school is:


“If the school or another parent tells a parent that their child is bullying another child, why are most of parents reluctant to even consider, never mind concede that their child is bullying another?”


So far, from the research I have undertaken it is clear that if the school or another parent approaches a parent and says that their child is bullying a child, there IS a problem.  However, it would seem that often, parents either go into denial, believe that others are being mean to say this about their child, or the child/children in question need to ‘Man Up’.


Is being told your child is bullying, a personal attack on you or you’re parenting?  Many may feel that the answer to this is ‘Yes’!  I believe differently, I think that if you have been told that your child is bullying another then my concern would be for the child accused of doing the bullying.   There is something worrying this child, I see there is nothing else to do but to find out why your child feels the need to bully another, and then to deal with the concern your child holds in a gentle and proactive way.


If you feel you need support around the subject of bullying be it adult bullying or child bullying please contact me.


Please contact me either by:


email:, or call me on my dedicated line:  07565 879401. 



What is loneliness?  My take on loneliness is that it is:


                        ‘A perceived social isolation.’


If you are experiencing loneliness it wouldn’t matter if you were in a room of family or friends, if you do not feel connected to these people you are likely to continue experiencing loneliness.


Many experts feel that to belong is as fundamental to our life as eating, sleeping and breathing, from researching this subject I agree.  Thinking about belonging from a survival perspective it makes sense for humans (and other animals) to be close and have a connection to others – it makes survival more likely than if we are out in the world toughing it alone.


Whilst practicing as a counsellor I have met many clients suffering from loneliness, many are sadly ashamed, embarrassed or even feel guilty for voicing that they are lonely.  I have heard a number of times clients saying that they have everything; a home, friends and family, money for food and all of life’s necessities.  How can I be lonely?


There have been large ongoing Government campaigns about The Elderly and Loneliness.  However, loneliness doesn’t distinguish between the old or young.  Loneliness has no connection to your age, race, gender or ability.  Loneliness is more about your current circumstances and possibly even your personality.


You could wonder with the internet offering us endless ways to connect with others; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, along with probably thousands of Discussion Boards and Forums, how can people possibly be lonely?  John Cacioppo, director of the Centre for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago, used a simple car analogy for social media; “If you use your car to drive to family and friends houses to be with them and enjoy good times it makes you less lonely, but if you use your car to drive around and watch your friends and family enjoy good times this will only add to your loneliness”.  In many ways social media adds to our feelings of loneliness, as we sit alone watching others who we believe are happier than ourselves.


You may be forgiven for believing that loneliness is purely an emotional experience, unfortunately this is not the case.  Having read research papers from America, England, France & Africa, they show that loneliness and social isolation are in fact harmful to our health.  Loneliness can have similar detrimental affects to our health as if we smoked 15 cigarettes a day, and is worse for us than obesity and physical inactivity (Holt-Lunstad, 2010)



It is important to distinguish between being alone and feeling alone.  If you enjoy your own company and choose to spend some time alone, this is a choice and is clearly important to you.


A great deal of research shows that one way of combating loneliness is to retrain your thinking in how you perceive other people so that you no longer see them as a potential threat or rival, but rather as a potential friend.


If you recognise you may need support in this area please contact me as this is not how your life has to be.


Please contact me either by:

email:, or call me on my dedicated line:  07565 879401. 

counselling and its myths

What is counselling?


British Association of Counsellor’s and Psychotherapist (BACP) definition:

“Counselling and psychotherapy are umbrella terms that cover a range of talking therapies.  They are delivered by trained practitioners who work with people over a short or long term to help them bring about effective change or enhance their wellbeing.”


In my words


Counselling offers the opportunity to talk confidentially to someone impartial, giving a client the space to explore their true thoughts, feelings or behaviours and be supported without judgement.  A counsellor will gently encourage the client to express what is troubling them and as a result of the counsellor’s training will be able to accept and reflect the client’s problems without becoming burdened by them.




The Counsellor will tell me what my problems are and how to ‘fix’ them.


Counselling does not involve the counsellor telling you where you are going wrong and what to do about it.

A counsellor is there to guide you in finding your own solutions.

I whole-heartedly believe and have experienced that we all have our own solutions; I use my skills to help my clients find them.


If I go to Counselling everyone I know will find out.


Counselling is a confidential service; anything that is shared with a reputable counselling cannot be shared with any other person.

Within the Ethical Framework set down by the BACP, and other organisation’s the only exception to the client/counsellor confidentiality agreement is if the counsellor feels that the client or another is at risk from harm.  The counsellor will always inform the client is they feel they need to break this agreement.


How can talking to a stranger help?


Talking to a stranger is how most relationships start.

The fact that a counsellor is a stranger is one of the important aspects that helps counselling to work.

A counsellor is not a part of your day-to-day life; this gives the capability of being impartial with no bias.


Counselling is for people who are weak and can’t handle their own problems.


In truth it’s the opposite kind of person who seeks counselling, being the sort of person who has the strength to face their problems head on.

Seeking help takes courage as you are attempting to address a problem instead of sitting in denial.


Counselling doesn’t work.


Counselling is not for everyone.

Counselling will only work with the client’s input and commitment.

As with other forms of helping (medicine, personal training, diet groups) counselling will only help to a greater or lesser extent depending on the clients commitment.

Some take a dose of counselling but don’t finish the whole bottle.


How do I find a reputable counsellor?


You need to find a qualified, experienced, professionally accredited and insured counsellor.  The simplest way is via:



the death of a loved one.


I have done a lot of bereavement work.  At Daisy’s Dream working with children who’s parent or sibling has died and also with adult clients who parent has suffered for years with dementia and then subsequently died.  This can be akin to a double bereavement, as you grieve for the parent that no longer exists as their personality has been taken by the illness, and then when the parent dies you grieve again.  I currently work with the bereaved families as one of St Michael’s Hospice’s counsellors, and will be beginning as a bereavement counsellor at Naomi House, the hospice for children, this June.


There is no time frame for grieving when I loved one has died.  I have heard many people talk about 2 years being the time for grieving, described as the first year being the worst as it includes all the first anniversaries, and during the second year you can begin to move on.  For one I really don’t think the phrase “move on”, I find it in no way helpful.  This implies that you get to a point of being ‘over’ the loss, where in fact it is widely accepted in my field that a bereaved person can continue to mourn throughout their life to varying degrees.  My dad died 25 years ago when he was 47 years old.  I am now 47 and I have been struck by how young my dad was, and thoughts of how it was for him are with me a lot as we come close to the anniversary of his death.  I am mourning him at this time in a different way to any other time in the past.


When someone integral in your life dies you are not morning just the loss of that person, you are also possibly struggling, depending on the role the person played in your life, with the loss of the role you played in their life, mother, wife etc.  Possibly the loss of social status, are you still a wife if your husband has died?  There can be many complex issues to be seen to when you are bereaved.


Davidson (1988) wrote that:


‘There is no human experience so universal as grief after a bereavement.  It is the aching sense of loss, the anger of unjustified hurt, the struggle to adapt to an unwanted newness of circumstances and the absence of relationship.’



depression, explain?


I often read the Huffington Post.  I like how, as an imparter of what’s currently going on in the world, it doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously.  I read an article earlier today, “Six ways to understand depression for people who don’t really understand it”.  Having myself suffered from depression over 20 years ago, I have heard all the unhelpful things people can say “come on you’ll feel better tomorrow”, “we didn’t have this word depression in our day, we had to just get on with life”, “stop being so dramatic”, “what have you got to be depressed about?”, and on and on I could go.  I totally resonate with most of the author’s descriptions in the article, but most of all “The “night before dread”” and “The “robot driver”” are near perfect descriptions of how I felt for many years.  Please see a link to the article below.


The article also reminded me of a couple of other short passages, which I have found helpful over the years.


“Depression isn’t the illness of a single body part, something you can think outside of.  If you have a painful back you can say ‘my back is killing me’, and there will be a kind of separation between the pain and the self.  The pain is something other.  But with depression the pain isn’t something you think about because it is thought.  You back pain might hurt more by sitting down.  If your mind hurts it hurts by thinking”  (M, Haig, 2015)


“Depression is not selfishness, even though many people see it as such.  If your leg is on fire, it is not selfish to concentrate on the pain, or the fear of the flames.  So it is with depression.  People with depression aren’t wrapped up in themselves because they are intrinsically any more selfish than other people.  Of course not.  They are feeling things that can’t be ignored”.  (author unknown)


I hope the above helps at least one person in having a better understanding of those who suffer from depression.