tel: 042 9331803
mob: 086 0381073

Bereavement Counselling

Loss/ Bereavement — admin @ 12:10 pm

The recent loss of a young person has had us here at counselling connections reflecting on bereavement and the process of mourning. There are no words to say to those who have been affected by the sudden loss of a loved one. Shock, disbelief and an inability to process what has happened are initial reactions. We just can’t believe what has happened. We just can’t grasp that we will never again see the person we loved and who is now gone for good. It seems impossible to take it in.

A loss like this can make us wonder about our own position in life. We may question why we would get stressed for example about our personal finances or exam results. What is the point, we may argue in worrying about these things? We could be dead tomorrow. This is a natural reaction to bereavement and can be considered as a sort of anger at the whole world following our loss. There may even be times when we are tempted just to give up; to drop out because there seems no point

One of the things that people say when trying to comfort the bereaved is that ‘time is a great healer’. While this is true to an extent it is not really time itself that does the healing. The role that time plays is simply to facilitate the natural process of grieving. Sometimes this process can become blocked. Some aspect of the loss of our loved one may be too traumatic or upsetting to deal with. At times like this we can bury our feelings and just put our head down and try to plough on.

That is where bereavement counselling may be able to help. The aim of the counselling is to work through the full range of feelings and meanings attached with a loss. Indeed one of the aspects of this process as it develops is that there may be many losses associated with the death of a loved one. There are all the possibilities of what life may have brought and the potential which will now go unfulfilled. Friendship and love are among these losses.

There are often questions surrounding the actual death itself. There may be any number of ‘what ifs’ which we can become preoccupied with. The fragility of life and the often random nature of loss are real fundamental questions which we don’t normally stop to consider but which may be forced on us when dealing with bereavement. These things can be talked about in counselling and gently and respectfully considered. Our whole outlook on life can be changed in this way.

Mourning is a natural process. At times the scale of a loss can cause this process to become delayed or stalled. Bereavement counselling is there to facilitate a movement through the various stages of grief. The idea is to explore and express the full range of feelings about our loss. Sometimes feelings of anger or depression are difficult to get in touch with. We hope that counselling would help with this and we further hope that it would lead to eventually achieving some level of acceptance in coming to terms with the loss.

Counselling Connections, Dundalk.

Addiction Counselling in Dundalk.

Addiction. — admin @ 6:20 pm

Is addiction a disease; a genetic disorder or inheritance or is it a learned behaviour? These are the questions to which there are no clear answers especially when we are trying to work out if someone we know or love is an addict. There has been a lot of research on addiction looking to find answers to these questions but to date none of it has been conclusive.

The AA model of addiction as a disease has been a powerful model and the results speak for themselves. It is the largest fellowship in the world and has saved countless lives. In our work with clients we recommend the support of fellowships or self help groups. They can offer twenty four hour support, knowledge and friendship.

Therapy provides an opportunity to explore addictive behaviour, to provide a safe space to look at the personal experiences that may have brought ant of us to a place in our lives where we may feel a loss of control. Often we find that we have learned these behaviours from our environment; experienced, copied or observed.

They can represent a search, looking for a result, insight, change, control, reward, something to happen. At other times it is the opposite; wanting to block out awareness, to lose control. It may be a desire to numb ones feelings or to take a step back from reality.  Addictions are a way of changing ones reality; changing the mood.

A very simple example of this is the way in which we use food as a reward. In stressful situations people can to turn to food such as chocolate as a comfort to get us through a crisis. Once the crisis has passed food can be used to reward ourselves for surviving said crisis. The same things can apply to alcohol, drugs, food or sex when they are sought to relieve stress or are introduced as a part of our reward system.

We can then begin to create a relationship that shows signs of becoming unhealthy. How many times in our ‘normal’ lives have we questioned our relationship with food or alcohol? How many times have we chosen to stay off alcohol or go on a diet or do exercise in order to control the concerned behaviour? It is this lack of control that determines addiction as a learned behaviour.

When working with addiction we use the behavioural approach. That is to say addiction is a learned behaviour that gets out of control. Recovery is regaining that control either through abstinence or re-creating a healthy relationship with an old behaviour.

Counselling Connections, Dundalk.

Understanding Self Harm…

Self Harm and Suicide — admin @ 1:34 pm

This week at Counselling Connections we turn our attention to self- harm. The word can describe anything from smoking and drinking to eating disorders, from picking at one’s skin or pulling one’s hair out, to cutting with a knife or blade. There’s a lot of it about and while deaths do occur with self- harm, these are usually accidental rather than suicide attempts. There is a general misconception that self- harm is attention seeking. In our experience those of you who self- harm go to great lengths to cover it up. It is generally a very private act, evoking guilt and shame in the sufferer following the initial relief.

We know that those of you who self-harm are trying to deal with incredible emotional pain.  We would like to help you to understand how it has come about that you deal with emotion in this way. Pinpointing the triggers that cause you to harm yourself is key is helping you to overcome your problem.  It has become your way of coping and communicating intense negative emotion and can present itself as an option where there is a history of trauma/abuse. A child who suffers sexual abuse in silence, for example, does not understand and is not able to cope with the feelings arising in him relating to his experience. Anger, shame, guilt, confusion to name but a few. These are frightening emotions when experienced at an intense level. The situation can be further complicated by the silence surrounding abuse, leaving the child with no outlet for how he feels. So he stores it all up inside. Is it any wonder then that he looks for any way he can to release it? It is completely understandable but we can show you a better way.

Those of you who cut will know that diverting your attention to the act of cutting helps to minimise the emotional pain. However you will also admit that the relief is temporary and the feelings you were escaping are still there afterwards coupled with the physical pain of the cut. As adults we have more options than the child in us had. We can seek help and learn a new set of coping skills so that when we feel the urge to cut or self- harm in any way, we can replace it with something more positive. Learning to name emotions and express them with another person is a much healthier way of working through and getting past old hurts. We are not meant to be socially and emotionally isolated. Sharing hurts helps us to deal with them. If you have suffered abuse as a child, you owe it to the child who was you to get the help you need, as you would do if it were a child you know in the here and now. That child, like every child, deserves to be listened to and understood rather than judged and hurt some more.

Memory, trauma and moving on.

Counselling,Trauma — admin @ 3:20 pm

Here at Counselling Connections this week one event that stopped everyone in their tracks for a few minutes was a shower of hailstones. It was Tuesday afternoon and the weather was following a pattern which is normal enough for our little island on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean; we had sunny spells and scattered showers. This has become a well worn phrase for the men and women of the met office as they try to prepare us for what kind of weather the day might bring. The afternoon in question was following this well worn path, sunny and warm one minute and raining the next; nice soft rain mostly.

In a sudden change the clouds quickly became much darker. Then the heavens opened in a ferocious hail storm and even in our fine, solid old building it became hard to hear for the noise of the hail on the roof. It was quite a scene and we stopped what we were doing and looked out and listened to the falling hail. It being a June day in Ireland the sun appeared again within minutes and the streets quickly began to dry. So much so that we decided to take a break then and there and trust that the sunshine would last long enough for us to enjoy a walk around the block.

We love the seasons here and the different weather it brings and we like to play around with what it might be analogous with in our inner lives. Things that we normally don’t stop to notice because we are too busy with our day to day lives are our stock and trade here in Counselling Connections. Then we did stop and notice; we were walking along beside the river that runs past the end of our garden when we noticed that the runoff from the recent hail shower was causing a blockage as the water passed under a small, low-lying bridge. There was a grid there to catch leaves or branches or anything else that might float along.

Examining blockages and going about clearing them up are another of our specialties here. We got to talking about how we can get blocked up in life and in particular how memories can seem to become dammed in this way. Major life events, traumas even, like the larger branches caught in river can fail to pass quietly along with the flow of our memories. They can become stuck and block the flow of other memories behind them. How we remember things and how we later recall them are a big part of therapy. This is doubly so in the case where the therapy is about dealing with trauma.

In what can feel like real moments of revelation during therapy we can successfully come to terms with difficult memories. This can then leave us feeling like we are becoming more open to new experiences. Then we can suddenly experience a whole different set of memories. It seems that our focus on one particular memory or event has taken so much concentration that we failed to notice or to focus on other, perhaps happier ongoing events in our lives. We had become stuck and our memories and the emotions attached with them had become blocked.

By talking about memories and emotions and maybe even getting past our fear and re-experiencing them we facilitate the discharge of these events. They are then free to flow away and no longer cause us to feel blocked up and unable to fully experience our inner self and day to day life. This process is facilitated by slowly recalling and working through life events. There can be storms along the way. A bit like our unpredictable weather we can go through life experiencing both scattered showers and sunny spells. And if there is a bit of a flood after a particularly heavy fall well then a chance to talk it all through in therapy can help to let it drain away.

Counselling Connections, Dundalk.

Counselling in Louth and natural cycles.

Counselling — admin @ 3:56 pm

Here in Counselling Connections this week we were trying to put the right words on a sort of unsettled feeling that we were picking up. It was one of those things that is hard to pin down; a sense that there was something happening that may even have been influencing the mood of the whole town. It was turning out to be an up and down kind of week and we wondered what it might be that was causing this elusive but perceptible effect. Well we got our answer in a vibrant and joyful exhibition of playfulness.

On a walk up to the town we could hear a commotion outside the library and as we got closer it became clear what was happening. Four young ladies from a local school joined together in carefree dance, loudly singing the birdie song with uncontained joy. It was lovely to see the effect of their happiness spreading to passing pedestrians and motorists alike. It was good also to get the answer to our own little mystery. The feeling we were getting in our work was an end of term atmosphere that seemed to be catching. School’s out for summer.

We have noticed before at different time the cyclical nature of our work and how the turn of the seasons seems to affect us twenty first century folk more than you might expect. A big part of the cycle of the year that we have all grown up with is the academic year and it seems that at this time we expect things to be coming to an end. For some of our clients this means beginning to talk about ending their own personal therapy. This may in part be influenced by this external factor of a general feeling of coming to the end of a cycle.

For some it is more a time to pause to reflect, to consider and evaluate where they are going in life and to wonder again how their therapy is proceeding. It is good to ask questions and to keep asking them. Questions like, can my trauma be healed? Or, can therapy help to fix my problems? We ask how we can overcome the grief at the loss of a loved one. Or whether counselling can help with our relationships. Summer is coming, our thoughts turn to holidays, it is a time to rest, to pause and to thing about taking a break form the stresses of day to day living. This is another of those stopping off points, a marker in the cycle of the turning of the year.

A good therapy in our view will fit in with these natural cycles. Sometimes this might mean taking a break to return at a later stage. More often it will involve a pause to reflect, to summarise where we’ve come from and to consider what might be next. If it is part of the academic year cycle we might regard this time of year as a graduation; a time to take a bow and to celebrate the achievements we have made to date. These are personal milestones, advances which can be shared with loved ones. We too can, with a little luck, share in the joy which our local students and students of all ages and of all subjects get to feel at this time of year.

Counselling Connections Dundalk.

Copyright © 2011 Counselling Connection, designed by Aura Internet Services