• Julian & Michaela

We have launched. a new Facebook page to complement our Whitley Bay Therapy website and to expand upon the range of topics and links offered by our blog.

Rather than duplicating the content of our website, which is aimed mainly at people considering coming for counselling sessions, we hope our Facebook page will appeal to anyone with a general interest in mental health and well-being.

The page will reflect our professional interests and experience and will focus on topics such as managing anxiety and stress, coping with grief and other life losses and nurturing self-compassion and self-worth.

We are looking forward to using the page as a way of recommending useful resources such as websites, books, videos and podcasts, as well as sharing some practical techniques and strategies, which may help to improve mental health and wellbeing. To follow our Facebook page CLICK HERE.

Gavin was suffering from intense feelings of anxiety about Covid 19 when he first started counselling sessions with Michaela at the beginning of lockdown.

Michaela and Gavin worked together over the telephone for several weeks, exploring his fears and anxieties and gradually helping him to find ways of coping.

Turning to his abilities as an accomplished artist Gavin found an original and creative way of working through his feelings and responses to coronavirus. His solution was to create a visual account of his experiences in the form of a pictorial diary.

Now, as lockdown is being lifted, Gavin’s graphic diary provides a fascinating account of his journey, which you can see here.

If you look closely, you will notice that many of the earlier pictures show dark and disturbing scenes, including nightmares and images of fear and despair. However, as time progresses and Gavin begins to feel more in control and more mentally robust, the pictures begin to convey a lighter, more positive mood – showing humour, a sense of hope and a closer connection to family and nature.

Gavin has given his permission for us to share both his pictures and his story, in the hope that they may encourage someone else to explore and discover different ways of dealing with anxiety. Gavin also feels that it is important to encourage open and honest discussion of issues relating to our mental wellbeing.

As well as being a creative and cathartic experience for Gavin, the visual diary provided him with an ideal way of reflecting on his progress and demonstrated how far he had come in his therapeutic journey.

Despite its many challenges, lockdown provided Gavin with an opportunity to reconnect with an aspect of himself which he says he had neglected for many years. For him this was his artistic, creative self.

We can’t all be as talented artists as Gavin, but perhaps we can find our own unique ways of expressing our creativity – helping us to push through our fears and anxieties and arrive at a more positive place.

Many thanks to Gavin for sharing his story.

Mindfulness is something which tends to be thought of as a solitary state, something we cultivate individually rather than in combination with others. It accompanies the act of meditation or a quiet walk alone in the countryside.

But mindfulness can also play an important role in the ways we conduct our relationships, particularly our relationships with those we are closest to. Help in understanding what a mindful relationship might be like, is provided by couples therapist Harvell Hendrix in his well-known self-help book, Getting the Love You Want.

Although he doesn’t use the term ‘mindfulness’, Hendrix draws a distinction between what he calls the unconscious partnership and the conscious partnership.

Where as in an unconscious partnership we are driven thoughtlessly by instincts and emotions that derive from our past, often meaning we default to childhood responses when differences develop between us, in a conscious partnership we take control over those emotions and conduct ourselves in a more self-aware, considered, and caring way.

For Hendrix the unconscious partnership is one which we go through ‘as if we were asleep, engaging in routine interactions that give us little pleasure’. In a conscious partnership on the other hand we are awake to the pleasures, possibilities, comforts and rewards that a long-term relationship can bring.

Being ‘awake’ in the way described here, as opposed to sleepwalking through life, is exactly what mindfulness is all about. The self-help exercises Hendrix offers for couples in his book can be useful in building a more mindful attitude towards one another and to the ways we conduct our partnerships.