Wednesday, 16 December 2009

look after your mental health presentations

I did the 1st mini presentation today to a 4networking group at newcastle quayside. The feedback was really positivenad several people spoke privately about what measures they will put in place/already have in place. There was also some open discussion which really helps to get this vital topic into the public psyche and to remove the "us & them" aspect/taboo around mental healthcare . Encouraging one on 6 Jan 2010 at 4network newcastle airport.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Every Good Question Is A Gift.

I came across this article written some time ago by my Supervisor of many years who is now retired.

I hope you enjoy it

"I was recently delivering a management training course and one of the exercises in the early part of the programme, consisted of the participants thinking of questions to ask me - anything as long as it wasn’t too personal. The purpose of the exercise was for them to get to know me and for them to practise their skills.

One person asked me the following question:

“What were my ambitions for the next ten years?”

In trying to answer it, I realised most of my future plans and ideas were focused on my family and my ambitions for them. I really hadn’t given my own future much thought in the recent past, although this wasn’t the case a few years ago, when I was very focused on my future goals. In fact one of the reasons the question left me with a blank, was I had achieved so many of my goals, but hadn’t set new ones. At the same time my family were considering their future and so my thinking was aligned with theirs. This was a complete revelation to me. Before I was asked the question it is not something I was aware of.

The question was a good one because it changed my thinking. The questioner, through his question caused me to consider aspects of my life to which I had not paid much attention. He also caused me to notice what I was focusing on in my life and of course, what I wasn’t focusing on i.e. ME. Needless to say, I went away and gave it a lot of thought. I was so grateful to that man for prompting me to think about those parts of my life to which I had paid insufficient attention- and of course, I thanked him for his question and told him how useful it had been to me.

And all of this was the result of just one question.

A number of people will think that the person benefiting from a question is the questioner- as they gain information about the person. This may be true to some extent, but the real beneficiary of a good question is the recipient. This is why every good question is a gift - a gift which costs nothing except some thought to formulate one which will be helpful.

Through NLP we know that asking good questions is an important skill as it allows the person receiving the question to take a different perspective on themselves and their life. It may even, as it did for me, allow the person to reflect on aspects of their life which prior to the question, was just a complete blank.

During therapy, counselling or coaching, asking good questions is exactly what the therapist, counsellor or coach should be doing; asking the sort of questions that maybe the client hasn’t asked themselves. They would do this in order to move the person’s thinking, enabling them to take a different perspective of their issue or problem. This is why during a good session the client will go away with lots of new ideas and new ways of tackling their issues, and if it has been done well, will have seemed to have been effortless on the part of the therapist or coach.

However asking good questions doesn’t just have to be for these professional situations; many of you will be parents. What questions can you think of which might cause your children to think in a different way?

So it’s good to ask questions - as long as they are good questions- ones which make the other person think in new and different ways.

Using questions to model success

We can also ask people questions to find out how they do something. Say for example, you notice someone do something which impresses you. Perhaps you see them write a letter in difficult circumstances such as after a bereavement, or perhaps you are aware they have handled a meeting or telephone call well. All you need to ask them is :-

How did you do that?

In order to answer the question, the other person has to think about exactly how they did do it. It may be that until you asked the question they hadn’t thought about it. By asking the question, you have prompted them to consider how they achieve their own success. This moves it from unconscious awareness to conscious awareness, and there will inevitably be some learning for them. And you will learn too. You will learn how they achieve success, in order that you might replicate their success in your own life.

In NLP we call this modelling. The example given is one of fairly simple modelling, but nevertheless, it can be a very valuable and useful learning method.

So, for example, next time one of your children does really well at school, you can ask them:

How did you do that?

By asking the question you will find out, but more importantly you will be helping them discover how they achieve their own successes - with the hope that once they have discovered this for themselves they will model themselves and repeat that successful strategy every time. Without knowing what makes for success of us, it becomes a hit and miss affair; sometimes we get it right and sometimes we don’t. Once we know our own successful strategies we can repeat them, knowing they will work for us.

So in conclusion, you have seen that by asking a seemingly simple question you not only give yourself some information but also help the other person to think in new and different ways - and just maybe, you might be helping them make some very positive changes to their life. In my case not only did it encourage me to think up some new goals for my life, but it also gave me the idea for this article. Truly a gift indeed!

So, how could you use the ideas you’ve read about in this article?"

Susan Gill NLPt Psychotherapist. Retired UKCP Registered.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Look After Your Mental Health!

I've just finished a great book called Mood Mapping by Dr Liz Miller.
It's easy to read and full of helpful information about our moods and how we can learn to manage them better. Here's an example that forms the basis of a forthcoming presentation.(with kind permission from Liz)

Many people get stuck in a cycle of anxiety & depression.

Unresolved anxiety over long periods of time is exhausting.

Exhaustion leads to depression.

Depression causes us to slow down or even stop altogether…this can lead to a partial recovery.

Often our performance is impaired during depression and if nothing really changes then the whole cycle starts over again.

The cycle of stress & anxiety followed by burnout & exhaustion and depression is all too common…perhaps even more so in a difficult economic climate especially for business owners/self-employed?

Happily there are a few things you can do to break the cycle:

Your surroundings

Get comfortable & curl up for a while
comfortable clothes & surroundings and make time to give yourself a cuddle

Spend time listening
Turn off the tv/radio etc. Go outside and listen to nature's sounds like the birds/wind/sea etc
Go classical
Even if you think it's not for you give it a go. Listen to some of the popular classics for a change from your usual music.
Watch the sky
Remember how you used to watch the clouds as a child. Do it again! Get connected with nature.

Your physical health

Take a step back
Avoid exhausting yourself. Make time to relax. remember to leave enough fuel in the tank to get you home.

Have a massage
Speaks for itself. Our physical wellbeing is linked to out mental wellbeing.

Walk in the night air
Probably a better summer option although if you wrap up warm....
Focus on the sonds you can hear from nature and your surroundings.

Go herbal
Many people find marjoram, lavender or rose on or near a pillow aids a good night's sleep.

Your relationships

Tell people how you feel
If people know how you are feeling they are better able to relate to what is going on. Very few people lead even, trouble free lives.

Choose the right friend
Who understands your situation. Choose the friend you need the most when you need them the most. If you spend time listening too their moods may rub off on you.

Use social networks
Another way to stay connected with others. email, twitter etc. Let's you know you're not alone and those around you can help you too.

Get physical
Nothing can replace getting together with others. Pats/hugs etc are very important to us and positive moods are contageous.

Laugh with people
"laughter is the best medicine" has been around since Hippocrates...follow his advice!

Your Knowledge

Assess you expectations
If your expectations & standards for self & others are too high then you and they will always fall short. Be realistic.

Stop before you become too tired
Just because you can doesn't mean you have to! leave something in reserve.

Create a little quiet
Spend some time each day doing something you enjoy. Allow yourself to be distracted by something that catches you imagination....allow yoor brain to swithch off.

Expand your mind
Spend some time each day finding out about something just for the sake of it. Indulge your curiosity!

Your nature

A powerful way to quiet the mind and focus within. There are many simple & free  "how to" guides.

Be creative
Keeping a journal, painting, dancing, making music...etc

Stroke an animal
another means of connecting with nature...even watching a fish swimming around can be soothing.....just avoid the urge to stroke it!

Further reading:

Mood Mapping, Dr Liz Miller

Counselling for Toads, Robert de Board

One evening, an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.

The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The grandson thought about this for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

psycho what?

I've been running a short presentations over the last few months looking at the range of psycholgical services available. Explaining in brief the role of psychiatrist, psychologist,psychotherapist, consellor, coach. It has been a real eye opener for many. Also, many people are concerned to leran that the current lack of regulation means that untrained people can set up as coaches and work with clients presenting with clinical issues including anxiety & depression. This leaves clients & practitioners alike in a vulnerable position. It is generally felt that regulation will be a good thing. Would you have someone to fix your boiler who is not corgi registered....probably not! To make sure people are appropriately qualified/trained look at the ukcp, bacp, bps websites to find someone near you. If you are motivated to change and you find a therapist you can relate to & trust remarkable results can happen relatively quickly.