I currently have no availability for either online and in-person sessions until July.
Please email for further information.
We still have restrictions in place at the Guildford clinic, so please wear a mask in the communal area and sanitise your hands upon entry.
Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery (or indeed anything), with lacquer mixed with powdered gold.
It is also a philosophy – the break represents the most vulnerable points in our lives. The repairs to the cracks are highlighted, rather than disguised to signify strength and healing.
This is a wonderful metaphor for embracing the struggle, emphasising that what we learn along the way can change us for the better, leading to a more fullfilling and meaningful life.
Feeling creative? An introduction to Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes (CWTP)
Many years ago, whilst assisting with an Adult Literacy class, my Mother developed a friendship with a large bear of a man called *Sam. Sam was a dustman in his 40’s who struggled with acute shyness and a lack of confidence and self-esteem, so it was a big step for him to enrol in this class. His grasp of reading and writing grew slowly, and she gradually introduced longer texts for him to try. Whilst frustrated and a little bored with the level of the content, he seemed overwhelmed by the longer pieces, so she introduced him to poetry, something she had loved since childhood.
Together they explored her favourite poems, from Wordsworth’s ‘Daffodils’ to Coleridge’s ‘Kubla Khan.’ He blossomed. His enthusiasm and vocabulary grew quickly, until one day he arrived clutching several crumpled pieces of paper, and he nervously presented her with several self-penned poems. With tears in her eyes, she read free-form contemporary style poems describing Sam’s life, relationships, hopes and dreams – he had been liberated. Over subsequent weeks many more followed. He had opened a connection with his emotions, his feelings, relationships and the outside world, which enriched both their lives, and impacted mine.
Whilst training as a Counsellor I was introduced to the idea of thinking creatively as a way of exploring and making sense of emotions, thoughts and feelings with clients. Many people feel anxious and depressed without really understanding why, or just get stuck in a pattern of behaviour.
Creativity can help unlock the vocabulary to express those feelings, and explore issues such as identity, sexuality, bereavement, relationships, trauma, well in fact just about any issue.
As a qualified CWTP Practitioner, I introduce my clients to objects, pictures, poetry, prose, and many other forms to stimulate connections and thoughts, together with simple exercises to explore language, writing in whatever form they feel most comfortable. I encourage free writing, thought journals, music, drawings – any form of creative expression with which they feel a connection.
CWTP is for everyone – grammar, spelling etc are completely irrelevant, in fact it doesn’t even have to make sense to anyone else – it’s just a place to find and express your voice in an environment of non-judgement and total confidentiality.
This speech by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Robert Ebert in 2005, was originally about film, but films are visual representations of words, and it sums up for me how creativity can not only foster self-exploration and offer comfort, but also facilitate understanding and connections to others.
“We are all born with a certain package. We are who we are. Where we were born, who we were born as, how we were raised. We are kind of stuck inside that person, and the purpose of civilization and growth is to be able to reach out and empathise a little bit with other people, find out what makes them tick, what they care about. For me, …writing is … like a machine that generates empathy. If it’s a great …piece of writing…, it lets you understand a little bit more about what it’s like to be a different gender, a different race, a different age, a different economic class, a different nationality, a different profession, different hopes, aspirations, dreams and fears. It helps us to identify with the people who are sharing this journey with us….”
Sam found his voice and identity through creativity, and so can you.
*Please note ‘Sam’ is a pseudonym to protect his confidentiality.
Spring is in the air…
It may be just wishful thinking on my part, but on my morning walk yesterday the signs of spring were definitely in the air. It was brilliant to see the first signs of leaves becoming greener, a few flowers brave enough to go into bud, feeling the sun on my face and the sounds of birds announcing their return home. One of the blessings of this last year for me has been getting out into nature, and more than ever before I’ve felt a connection with the changing of the seasons. Who would have thought a simple thing like going for a walk could provide such a wonderful distraction from the challenges we’ve all had to face.
Never before has there been such a collective acknowledgement in the country for the need for good mental health. It’s not just about recognising how our past experiences and relationships affect our wellbeing in the here and now, that is often the first step to take, but in that recognition reflecting on how we can protect ourselves and be more resilient looking forward into the future.
One of my favourite metaphors is that of the oxygen mask on an aeroplane – in the safety announcement we are told to put our own mask on first before helping others. We can’t hope to support our friends and family, or deal with the stresses and strains of a career, if we’re not mentally strong ourselves.
So how can we do that. Well, just acknowledging that you are struggling is a great first step. Checking in with how you’re feeling and coping on a regular basis will help you identify whether you need to take action.
Some people find mindfulness a good place to start dealing with the difficult thoughts and believe it or not, that simple walk in nature is a form of mindfulness. Replacing negative rumination even for a few minutes and acknowledging the beauty of your surroundings distracts and gives your mind a rest. Believe me it is exhausting to worry all the time and giving yourself permission to take a break is important, in fact a vital move towards self-care.
There are several Apps available to help you if you struggle to manage negative thoughts and feelings including, Headspace, Calm, Buddify, Mindfulness and many more. Most offer 10 minute exercises and it is easy to add these into your everyday routine. We can all find 10 minutes – 10 minutes which could help get you through a challenging day. I often incorporate grounding and mindfulness techniques into therapy sessions.
Acknowledging to friends or family that you are struggling is also an important step, allowing yourself to be vulnerable with others when you’ve stayed strong for so long is difficult for some, but can open a gateway to the human connection which is a basic need in all of us.
Next, reflecting on what you can and cannot change in your life. Accepting that you need to make changes can be hard and Counselling can help you explore a way forward to achieve this.
Finally, be kind to yourself and others, it’s been a bruising year for everyone – what with one thing and another – and there are still challenges ahead, but there is every hope that these experiences have forced many of us to reflect on our lives and make changes for the better. Who knows many could be change for the better and lead us to better more fulfilling lives.
For my ‘in person’ clients attending the Guildford Clinic. Firstly, please be assured I will do everything I can to ensure your safety as my first priority, and that there are no interruptions to your therapy.
I am happy to say we are able to remain open during this latest lockdown as we offer front line mental health support. Anyone who would prefer to transfer ‘online’ please let me know and this can easily be arranged.
If you would like to keep attending the clinic ‘in person’ we have restrictions in place. We ask that masks are worn in all communal areas. Unfortunately, we have had to close the reception area so please arrive just before your appointment, sanitise your hands using the dispenser at the entrance and make your way direct to my consulting room.
The rooms are sanitised and aired between clients, glasses washed and chairs socially distanced. If the weather permits the windows will remain open. I may tweak the start/finish times slightly to ensure there is sufficient time to do this but will let you know individually if that’s the case.
New clients are welcome as ever and I will talk you through procedures at the clinic before our first session.
©2021 Jacqui Hames
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