Sometimes the pain is so bad

Sometimes the pain is so bad all you can do is cling on as it washes over you and trust you will be there when it has passed.

When I think of the terrible pain of grief, I think of being caught on the shore in a raging storm. I am clinging to a rock. The wind and waves break over me. As I am buffeted by the wind and the waves try to tear me away, I am desperately clinging to that rock. As I cling to the rock I just hope my grip lasts the storm. There are lulls in the ferocity of the storm. Sometimes the wind drops and is not so powerful. Sometimes the waves do not reach me. The sun may even come out for a short while. I may venture along the shore lines. But inevitably the storm returns and I am clinging to that rock again. Desperately hanging on through the raging of the wind and waves.

For many people, this is what grief feels like. There are times when it seems almost normal. Then there are times when you wonder if you will survive the storm. Most people work out that this is how grief is. They may not understand it is pretty normal to experience this. But they will understand it is their normal for now.

In this picture of grief, there is another object. That is the rock to which you cling.

What is that rock?

For some, it is faith in God, or some higher being. For some it is family. For others it is friends. Someone else may find their rock is a support group or a counsellor. Those rocks tend to work well.

Other people may find rocks that are less sturdy. They usually work for a while but are very unstable rocks and inevitably will fail and you won’t be there when the storm has passed.

As I mentioned earlier, some people find visiting a counsellor is a great rock for them to cling to. It can be helpful to talk to someone who understands grief and will listen rather than tell you what to do or ask you why you aren’t over it yet. Counsellors can help you work through your grief and find a way to move forward. A counsellor can help you find those sunny times and teach you the skills to hold on during the storms.

For those who have not found sturdy rocks, counselling can be very effective at helping you to find a sturdier rock that won’t fail you. A counsellor can teach you the skills you need to cling to that rock and know that you can do it.

When choosing a counsellor, it is important to check that counsellor’s qualifications. There are many out there who say they are counsellors but do not have counselling qualifications. A counselling qualification is a bachelor’s degree in counselling as a minimum. I have a bachelor and master’s degree in counselling. I am also trained in Grief counselling and have extensive experience in these areas. I am passionate about helping people to survive and effectively navigate this experience in their life. If you need help clinging to that rock, call me on 0409 396 608 or email me on nan@plentifullifecounselling.com.au. I am available for face to face appointments in my rooms in Buderim, or for those who live further away I am available for Skype appointments.

Why not call today and learn how to cling to that rock.

The Healer

“A healer does not heal you. A healer is someone who holds space for you while you awaken your inner healer, so that you may heal yourself.” Quote by Maryam Hasnaa

Many people who come to see me tell me how they have battled without success for years to heal themselves of childhood trauma. I understand that. That has been my journey too. In light of that, it may sound like a contradiction to say that you heal yourself, but that is true. We do heal ourselves, but rarely are we able to do that without the assistance of another person.

The other person, the healer, is able to see things you cannot see. They can help you to see those things too. They understand if you can’t see something, you can’t heal it. The healer is able to identify things that are important, that you may rush over because of your past trauma. The healer knows how to help you to sit with those things to allow them to heal. The healer allows you to do that without you being retraumatised.

The healer knows various techniques to help you safely explore and release past hurts. The healer understands that trauma is stored in the body and is not afraid to help you release that pain.

The healer has experience in working with trauma and understands the importance of you finding a safe place to be when working with trauma gets too much. The healer has trained in various proven safe ways to help others heal their trauma. That is who you need to see to heal your trauma.

Healers often have their own trauma history. They understand what you are going through. They care about your and are passionate about helping you heal.

I am a healer. I have my own trauma history and I understand the scars it leaves, the work involved in healing and the strengths those who have survived to this point in life have. I will not tell you about my own history, unless it is vitally important (it rarely is). I will understand the scars you carry. I will respect the work you have put in thus far and will continue to put in to heal. I will look on your strengths that have allowed you to put in that work and also survive and I will be in awe of them. I will show you those strengths because it is possible you have not seen them.

I have trained in many approaches to trauma work. The main training has been with the Blue Knot Foundation in their trauma recovery guidelines. I have learned from some of the great names in Trauma Therapy such as Bessel van der Kolk, Babette Rothschild and Pat Ogden. I am constantly learning new ways to work. I understand the importance of addressing the trauma memories stored in your body.

I am passionate about helping others to live plentiful lives as they recover from past trauma.

I can help you face to face or via Skype. If you would like my help please contact me on 0409396608 or nan@plentifullifecounselling.com.au

Grief – learning to swim

“Grief is like the ocean, it comes in waves, ebbing and flowing, sometimes the water is calm and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” -Viki Harrison

Grief is not easy. It is not easy to come to terms with, to process. It is not easy to manage the expectations of others as to how quickly you should be “getting over it” or how much you should be visibly grieving. The expectations of others complicate something that is already hard.

The main thing about grief is that it is never over. You don’t wake up some day and feel fine. If you loved someone that much, do you want to reach a point where they no longer matter? Most people will say, no. They are afraid of forgetting about the person, of not feeling anything for them.

Losing someone you love will change you forever.

There is the initial overwhelm of grief. Most people understand that, although many think you should be over it quickly. There will be moments when you almost feel normal again and are able to laugh, but they do not last long. Then there is the feeling of disloyalty at feeling happy when someone you love so much has gone.

You are not being disloyal. Grief ebbs and flows like the ocean. There are times when it seems overwhelming and you just want to shut the door and keep the world out. Then there are times when you are able to perform tasks of living as you have always done. Over time, you will find that the calmer times become longer and more frequent and the overwhelming times become shorter and less frequent.

Eventually, you will reach a place where it is possible to move on in life. The pain will still be there, but you will have learned to cope with it, to swim.

Do not expect to reach that place shortly after the funeral. There will be many birthdays, Christmases, anniversaries of their death and other important dates before you will be able to reach the point where you feel able to move forward in your life.

The most important thing you can do as you grieve is to be kind to yourself. Allow yourself the time to feel those emotions. Give yourself permission to have bad days and permission to have good days. Find someone who is willing to listen to you when you need to talk. If you can’t find anyone to listen, or feel overwhelmed, counselling can help.

I counsel many people who have been bereaved. I am passionate about helping people to understand they are normal. About allowing people the opportunity to be heard without judgement. About helping people find the way forward.

I am available for consultations in my rooms and over skype. If you need help call 0409396608 today or email nan@plentifullifecounselling.com.au to arrange an appointment.

Being honest

I grew up in a house with two autistic parents and three autistic siblings. Logical was a constant companion alongside abuse and the frightening uncertainty of a father who at any moment could explode with me as the target. So I grew up with some very traumatic memories and a great sense of being honest – how I interpreted the logical behaviour of my family. Then I lived in the Netherlands for 8 years. I thought I was honest and direct! You haven’t seen direct until you encounter Dutch culture!

In my life and my work, I find the honest, direct approach refreshing. I prefer there to be no ambiguity. No fear of being honest about feelings. Of course, I temper that with consideration for the person I am talking to so will be careful with my language and be respectful of the person I am talking to. Just because someone is doing something different to me does not mean they are wrong. This means we should all be able to speak openly without fear of the other person taking offence, as long as we are respectful. Shaming is not acceptable in my world. So many people I see have had a long history of being shamed. That is something I seek to heal people from. To see they are good, despite their supposed failings. To see that making a mistake is not a sky falling on head occasion. That mistakes happen and there is no shame in admitting them and moving on. That a well adjusted person will appreciate you admitting your mistake and not hold it against you.

Two recent incidents reminded me of this.

The first was about a woman who asked her neighbour to turn her music down. The music was particularly loud and the woman had at first tried to put music on to drown the other music out. She respected her neighbour and did not want to ask her to turn her music down. But the neighbour responded by turning her music up full blast. The upset woman fled the house, asking her neighbour if she could turn the music down as she left. The neighbour was fine about it and promised to have her music down in future. But something happened over the next few days and she found the neighbour pretending to be on the phone when she saw her out walking. Later she overheard her neighbour talking to someone in her backyard misrepresenting what had happened. She was confused and approached the neighbour. The neighbour accused her of being aggressive when asking her to turn the music down, something witnesses denied, and that ‘she was a good neighbour’ and ‘had never had complaints before’. But the woman knew her neighbour had had complaints and the first thing her neighbour had said to her when they first met was that she was a ‘little loud’.

It was obvious this neighbour had an image of herself as a ‘good neighbour’ that was all about her needs as a person, her ego, rather than about any genuine care for other people. This woman had inadvertently wounded her neighbour by suggesting her noise was too loud. That did not fit the picture of the ‘good neighbour’. This good neighbour was happy if everyone let her do what she wanted and did not complain. For her, being asked to turn her music down was shaming. Although she paid lip service to honesty, she was unable to cope with non judgemental honesty and hit back.

Fortunately the woman was able to see her neighbour’s behaviour was about her own insecurities and was able to not become upset by it, but move on. She did seek out the neighbour to discuss with her what the neighbour perceived as aggressive. She told her neighbour she was concerned to clear the air. The neighbour has so far resisted such attempts at honest, respectful communication. Such a conversation is just too threatening to her.

So often in life, we encounter situations where we have not behaved well and are frightened to discuss the situation with the other person. For many with a history of shaming, it is just too threatening and therefore terrifying. Yet respectful discussion of these incidents results in a good resolution and a great deal of personal growth for all involved. If it is too hard for you to discuss such situations you could benefit from counselling.

The second incident was one I observed recently occurring in a queue at a coffee machine. A woman was using the machine in front of a couple who had been waiting patiently while she tried to work out how to use it. As she was using it another woman approached her and asked her how to use the machine. The woman explained it then started using it. The other woman said “I mustn’t push in, I’ll go to the back of the queue”. She stayed with the woman and when the woman was finished she moved in to get her coffee. The couple behind objected to this. They had been waiting 5 minutes and this woman had just turned up. She has even admitted she would be pushing in if she went next, but had proceeded to do so. As the couple said, if she had asked they would have said yes. Her asking would have been respectful and an acknowledgement that she was pushing in. but because she didn’t ask, she was disrespectful and the people rightly objected. It was interesting to observe. The woman knew she was doing the wrong thing, she had already admitted it. But when the couple challenged her she became defensive as though their objection was trivial. Trivialising bad behaviour is often a way people try to justify what they have done. I found it intriguing that this woman knew she was doing the wrong thing, and that she should have asked, but instead of saying “I am sorry, you go next” she turned it into a trivialising put down for the couple. The couple left with their coffees, astonished at this woman’s bizarre behaviour and the woman spent the rest of the day rankling at what she perceived as shaming.

A few words of wisdom:

If in doubt ask permission. The worst that can happen is the other person says no, which you will gracefully accept.

It is not about you.

The sky will not fall on your head or the world end if you make a mistake or do something wrong.

A humble ‘I am sorry’ goes a long way.

Getting defensive does not harm the other person as much as it harms you, particularly when you are obviously the person in the wrong.

People will think more of you for admitting your mistakes then trying to cover them up. The cover up is more likely to lead to the perception that you are untrustworthy.

If you need help, you are welcome to make an appointment to see me, either in person or by skype. I won’t judge you.

Rethinking Trauma: The Third Wave of Trauma Treatment

reposting a blog post by Ruth Buczynski, PhD. NICABM

As someone who’s been practicing for a while, I’ve seen our view on the treatment of trauma go through substantial development. Our research, theory and treatments have all advanced considerably in the last 40 years.

And as I reflect upon this, I’m seeing 3 waves in the evolution of our outlook.

Looking back at when I first began to practice (in the late 70’s) our understanding of trauma was really quite limited. Of course we recognized the fight / flight response ever since Hans Selye introduced the notion back in the 50’s.

But our prevailing treatment option was talk therapy.

The thinking at the time was that by getting clients to talk about their traumatic event, we could “get to the bottom of” their issues and help them heal.

We were aware of the body and knew it held some power. But few practitioners used it in treatment (except the relatively few who worked with Bioenergetics, Rolfing, Feldenkrais, Rubenfeld, and to some extent Gestalt therapy).

But we were very limited in our ability to explain how body work, or for that matter, a talking treatment, affected the brain (and we had very little evidence-based research for it either). We just didn’t have much of a roadmap to guide us where we wanted to go.

That was the first wave.

Over time, researchers and clinicians started to recognize the limits of talk therapy. We realized that talking about a traumatic event held certain risks. At times, we inadvertently re-traumatized patients, especially if interventions were introduced too soon, before the patient was ready.

We also saw the memory of trauma as more often held in the right brain, the part that doesn’t really think in words.

So we began to use interventions that weren’t as dependent upon talking, interventions like guided imagery, hypnosis, EMDR, and the various forms of tapping.

And as the science surrounding the brain’s reactions to trauma became more sophisticated, clinicians grew to understand more about what was going on.

We began to realize that not everyone who experiences a traumatic event gets PTSD. In fact, most people who experience a traumatic event don’t get PTSD.

And so researchers started to develop studies to determine who did and who didn’t get PTSD. We looked for what factors might predict greater sensitivity to trauma.

And we modified our thinking to add freeze (later known as feigned death) to the fight/flight reaction.

Just adding that piece clarified our thinking about what triggers PTSD.

It also began to expand our treatment options to include sensory motor approaches.

And we started to see how more vastly intricate and multifaceted multiple trauma was compared to single incident trauma.

But I believe a third wave of trauma research and treatment innovations has just begun to crest.

And it’s only come recently.

We continue to see advances in the field of trauma therapy that are opening up more effective methods for working with trauma patients.

Because of all the research that’s been done, we are much better able to predict who gets PTSD and who doesn’t. Not only that but we’ve got a good handle on why certain people get PTSD.

And as brain science has revealed how different areas of the brain and nervous system respond to traumatic events, we don’t think so often about whether trauma is stored in the left vs right brain.

We think in terms of three parts of the brain, the pre-frontal cortex, the limbic brain and the lower, more primitive brain. And we’re much more sophisticated in thinking about which part needs our intervention.

We understand that the lower brain can command the shutdown response, totally bypassing the prefrontal cortex, totally bypassing any sense of “choice” for the patient.

And we see more clearly the part that the vagal system plays in this shutdown response.

We understand more of the role neuroception plays in feeling safe.

Knowing how the body and brain react to trauma opens the door for the third wave.

We are now beginning to use techniques like neurofeedback (based upon but a long way from the biofeedback we used years ago,) limbic system therapy, and other brain and body-oriented approaches that include a polyvagal perspective.

These are techniques I couldn’t have dreamed of when I began clinical practice.

But these are powerful tools that can offer hope to those who have been stuck in cycles of reactivity, shame, and hopelessness.

 

I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.

This statement may seem simplistic, but it holds a lot of truth. When overcoming trauma, there are many pathways in the brain that are wired to respond to physical, unconscious, reminders of the traumatic event. But there are ways to rewire the brain. They involve going deep into the body and learning to read the body to detect the triggers of the traumatic memory. They involve releasing the stored memories from the body. They involve learning ways to calm down the fight/flight response the traumatic memory has triggered. In time, they involve the brain learning new pathways. This does not happen overnight, and can take months or even years.

The old fashioned belief that a traumatised person is ‘damaged’ and will never recover is very disempowering. Giving the traumatised person back their power by allowing them to make a choice and to believe he or she can make a choice is vital.

You may choose not to be governed by our traumatic past, but that will not happen overnight. With counselling, you can slowly make the changes that your brain needs to allow you to be who you choose to become.

The Blue Knot Foundation has world renowed guidelines for working with trauma and trauma recovery. I have been trained extensively in these guidelines and am well equipped to work with traumatised individuals. In addition, I have had my own recovery from a trauma history to give me an understanding of what it is like, but also of what is possible.

If you would like to work through your trauma with me, please contact me on 0409396608 or nan@plentifullifecounselling.com.au

The artist is not a person endowed with free will, who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realise its purposes through him. As a human being, he may have moods, and a will, and personal aims, but as an artist, he is “man” in a higher sense: He is “collective man”, a vehicle and moulder of the unconscious psychic life of mankind.

This quote doesn’t just apply to artists. It applies to anyone who sees the beauty in a sunset, who admires the perfection of a flower, who is captivated by the words of a poem, who delights in a beautiful piece of music. We all have the capacity to connect to art. The art that connects all of us in the endless, amazing rhythm of the universe and life. The truly great, timeless art pieces are those that tap into the collective consciousness of all people. When we respond to a piece of art, we are responding to the message of the collective consciousness.

I often use art in my therapy sessions. When asked to paint or draw something, so many people look horrified and say “I can’t paint (or draw)”, but I tell them it doesn’t matter whether they can or not. They can always use stick figures for people. The purpose of the art is to tap into the unconscious. And as a consequence of that process, there is a tapping in to the collective consciousness. What is produced is powerful and, in many cases, illuminating and even cathartic. It is the power of the unconscious mind being expressed.

I love the art that people create in my sessions. The paintings are powerful and beautiful. They express and release so much. Just painting without intention, just focusing on intuition to guide the art work, creates so much that is powerful and healing.

Art provides a different perspective. A way to view life differently. Art can release things a person didn’t realise were there. Art can heal. It doesn’t matter if no one else ever sees your art. It is beautiful.

A man who is unconscious of himself acts in a blind, instinctive way, and is, in addition, fooled by all the illusions that arise when he sees everything that he is not conscious of himself coming to meet him from outside as projections upon his neighbour.

This quote refers to the unconscious or shadow side that forms part of Jung’s theory of personality. Jung theorised that we have a persona that we show to the world. This is the way we wish to be seen by others. Most people have multiple personas. There is the friend persona, the work persona, the parent persona, the child persona, the lover persona to name a few. Our personas express the way we wish to be seen at work, with different friends, with our families and with our intimate partners. Our persona’s emphasise features we wish to have associated with us in given situations and involves accentuating the features we like best in each situation.

Jung saw the shadow side as being unconscious. It was the behaviours that did not fit our idea of how we should live in the world and be perceived by others. He theorised we have aspects of ourselves that we do not recognise and that will motivate our behaviours on occasion, without our being aware of what has triggered the behaviour.

We often see our shadow side in behaviours in other people that we do not like and criticise. Joelle worked as a school counsellor. She became angry with a parent who she felt was neglectful of her child and put him in second place ahead of her career. Her anger at the parent was out of proportion to what the parent was actually doing. Joelle’s teenage daughter came to see me. She was distressed at her mother’s neglect of her and her little brother and her preference to pursue her career instead of care for her children. This was something Joelle was unaware of, yet subconsciously she was. She was getting angry at the other parent when it was she who was the neglectful parent.

Not all shadow sides are so negative. Craig was raised in a family where he was taught never to show sadness. Sadness was seen as an extremely negative thing. So he presented a persona to the world that was happy all the time. He genuinely believed he was a happy person. He came to see me because there were occasions where he had become disproportionately sad about events and had cried uncontrollably. In this case, the sadness was repressed under a rigidly positive persona.

Sometimes, the shadow side is expressed in uncharacteristic behaviour. Other times it is expressed in pain in the body. I see many clients who have stored their repressed behaviours in their bodies.

Other people find their shadow side appears in their dreams. This can be disturbing, particularly if the repressed behaviour is one that the individual believes is wrong.

One thing I teach clients is to become aware of the feelings underlying behaviour so that, instead of acting blindly and instinctively, they can act with full awareness and control of their feelings. As a result of this learning, clients can learn to accept their shadow side.

There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.

Buddhist philosophy, from which mindfulness meditation comes, holds that suffering is caused by our resistance to the things that happen to us in life. If we accept what is and strive to work with it, then we suffer less than if we fight against the things that happen. We think avoiding dealing with the things that happen in life is easier, but it is actually much more difficult because of the suffering it causes. Not just suffering in the present, but suffering in the future as well.

Jung was an avid student of Eastern Philosophies. He considered western thought had deviated from such truths in life and he was keen to reclaim some of that ancient wisdom. Jung believed resisting the difficult things of life blocked us from our connection to our bodies and therefore to ourselves, to our soul and spirit.

There is much we want to hide from: the argument we had with our friend; the way we spoke to that shop assistant (you know, the way that is not the person you like to believe you are); the pain in our knee. We avoid, cut off contact, justify, take medications, to try to push those unpleasant things aside. We change the way we live our lives, we go on great detours to avoid reminders of unpleasant situations, we cut off contact with people we care about, we angrily defend ourselves against the signs we are less than perfect, we take more pills for that knee and never consider there may be another way to deal with it. We tell ourselves everything is fine.

While we hide and suppress our difficult feelings around the things that happen to us, we lose connection to who we really are. We become highly stressed and do not understand why. We become irritable and restricted in how we lead our lives. We become desperately unhappy, an unhappiness that no amount of ‘feel good’ activities or changes in our lives help. We continue to hide and suppress the difficult feelings and our live gets harder and harder.

Jung wrote a lot about our shadow sides. This is the part of us that does not fit the ‘nice’ person we like to think we are. We all have a shadow side. We all need to accept that shadow side. But it is challenging to do that. Meanwhile we hide that side with all the difficult things we are hiding.

If you are unlucky, you will live out an increasingly restricted and unhappy life. And you will never fulfil what you were capable of fulfilling in life. If you are lucky you will end up in a counselling room seeking help to unravel the mess you find yourself in. Then you will be able to explore what is underneath your unhappiness. You will find the suffering within. And you will be able to address that suffering. You will be surprised to discover facing that suffering was not as awful as you thought. If you continue to work through that suffering, you will rediscover the real you as you reconnect to your spirit and soul.

I have many ways I work with people to find a way through the suffering. I use sand play, art, movement and symbols, for those who come to see me. I also teach mindfulness meditation and self compassion as essential skills for connecting to self and others.

If you would like to work with me to find a way through your suffering please contact me on 0409396608 or nan@plentifullifecounselling.com.au to arrange an appointment.

What usually has the strongest psychic effect on the child is the life which the parents have not lived.

This statement has many meanings. The most obvious meaning is the parents who whether knowingly or unknowingly, pressure their children to fulfil their unfilled dreams. This is seen as having a negative effect on the child and the child’s development.

Jodie came to see me because of the damage done to her by a mother who pressured her to do the things the mother could never achieve. This caused great distress to Jodie because she was forced to follow a path in life that was not of her own inclination. She found herself pursuing a career path that she had no desire to follow. After counselling she felt empowered enough to stop pursuing her mother’s desired career path and instead follow her own. She was also able to set loving boundaries around her mother’s behaviour and continue a relationship with her.

Caspar came to see me because his father pressured Caspar’s older brother to follow his dreams to be a professional footballer. The sad thing about that was that Caspar’s brother was not good at football. Caspar, however, was an excellent footballer. Caspar’s father, instead of encouraging Caspar to pursue the dream, instead set out to suppress Caspar’s abilities. He ignored anything good Caspar did and instead celebrated every little thing his brother did, sometimes dragging the same event out to be talked about to cover up mention of Caspar’s achievements. He even told Caspar he was no good at football. Caspar believed his father and felt he was no good at football and suffered from low self esteem as a result of his father’s behaviour. He found he became extremely nervous whenever out on the football field and frequently was unable to play well due to the belief he was making mistakes. After counselling, he started to see his abilities as they truly were and was able to go and play football without being nervous.

There is another meaning to Jung’s saying. That is that parents frequently stop pursuing their own dreams because of parenthood. Life just gets too busy. Of course there are people who pursue their dreams despite the busyness. But many people find it hard to step outside their comfort zones and find the busyness of life with children is a handy excuse to not pursue their dreams. Instead the parent places all their focus on their children. This actually harms the children.

The purpose of our lives is to fulfil them. But if we fail to fulfil our lives by putting our own dreams aside then we deny our lives meaning and risk teaching our children to lead meaningless lives. If our children do not see us following our dreams, they can never learn that they can do this too.

Many people tell themselves they are virtuous to sacrifice their dreams to care for their children. But there is a problem with that. It is not possible to love others if you do not love yourself. If you value yourself so little, you are prepared to give up your dreams, how can you love others?

If you do not strive to fulfil your own dreams, how can you help your child fulfil theirs? If you don’t know how to help your child. If you have never struggled and succeeded how can you understand that struggle does not mean defeat? If you do not understand that, how can you teach that to your child.

Too many parents put their dreams aside and focus everything on their child. They become obsessed with their child. That obsession is seen in the behaviour I mentioned at the beginning of the article.

There is another dark side to that obsession. Patty came to see me because her mother was unable to function without her and never wanted her to grow up. Her mother would take her to school in the morning and hang around. Patty just wanted to play with her friends but her mother would be constantly there. She would constantly ask if Patty was okay, would she be alright if Mum left. Mum would leave and come back to ask if Patty was sure she was okay. Mum would leave again and come back and leave again and come back until Patty would cry and cling to her mother. As she grew up her mother tried these tactics every time she wanted to go out with friends, or on a date, or move away to university and later to get work. She was constantly led to feel she has to cling to her mother, even though she wanted to have a life of her own. With counselling she was able to learn new skills to allow her to set firm boundaries around her mother’s behaviour. She moved away, made new friends and found a partner. She also learned not to fall for her mother’s manipulative tactics any more.

Parents, follow your dreams. You may find that, after your children are born, you may have to pursue them more slowly. But don’t stop completely. Follow your dreams and let your child learn from that. Let your child have a happy, fulfilled parent who does not cling to their child and make every move to stop that child from growing up. Instead celebrate the joy of parenting your child and delight to watch them pursue their own dreams. Instead of being like Patty’s mother, be like Emma who came to see me to find the courage to continue to fulfil her dreams and to balance that with parenting her children.