My Summer Experience Internship…

Last year when the pandemic hit I was worried about the opportunities that would be out there for students like me. I found myself with a lot of free time with nothing to do. So I went out in search of some experience that I could add to my skill set.  

Amongst all the chaos of our ‘new normal’ I applied for a summer internship at Relate Bradford. It was safe to say this was a new experience for both Relate Bradford and I, as we were all adjusting to our new workplaces at home. I started my internship during the lockdown period and worked from home on tasks set to me by the CEO and my supervisor. I also had the chance to work on projects I was interested in so I was very involved. I worked on administrative responsibilities and even produced a new volunteer handbook amongst other tasks. As I began working at Relate I learnt so much about mental health, working relationships and just my colleagues in general. I was proud to be a part of a charity that was set on driving real change and helping people to become happier individuals in society. 

Although I was an intern I always felt like a valued member of the team, and was able to become an asset to Relate Bradford by helping them with the knowledge I already had but also learning from everyone around me. I was able to excel at Relate Bradford because of the support and encouragement from everyone. In fact I did so well that I was asked to stay on as a volunteer. Which I gladly accepted. It was a pleasure working at Relate Bradford, going forward I cant wait to see what will happen next.  

Sofia

Human Resources Management (HRM) at the University of Bradford

Let’s Talk About Sex…

‘All couples go through phases where they don’t have the time or energy for regular sex. If this has become the norm and you would like to rediscover your sex life, Relate’s Sex Therapists can help you communicate.’

It’s natural to want better sex with your partner and sometimes there are specific reasons for your difficulties. Don’t be embarrassed about it, ask for help.

Typical problems that cause anxiety and often real distress might include Erectile Difficulty, one or both partners have ‘gone off it’, inability to orgasm or climax, difficulty with penetrative sex, pain on intercourse, sexual compulsion.

Sex therapists are trained couple therapists who have gone on to specialise and offer this sensitive but rewarding area of therapy. This means that they are accustomed to a wide variety of sexual and couple difficulties. You’re in good hands.’

Tamara

Clinical Supervisor, Relate Bradford

A World Mental Health Day blog from Faye… ‘Feeling Vs Thinking’

Can we think our way out of our Anxiety and other emotions?

Often in Practice and especially during the Covid Pandemic, I’ve worked with clients who are feeling immense anxiety, among many other intense emotions and feelings, which they want to get rid of immediately. If you have ever felt the gut wrenching, impending doom of anxiety, then you will know that to want rid of this feeling is a pretty reasonable request. Though lately I have been wondering more so than before, if as a society we all too often try to think our way out of our feelings. How often do we allow ourselves and others, to sit with our feelings and receive the message that our bodies/senses/gut/instinct is relaying to our minds?

With CBT, or ‘Cognitive Behavioural Therapy’, being a very popular choice of talking therapy at the moment, (and no wonder with its impressive recovery rates of over 50% and 67.4% showing reliable improvement[1]), it’s no surprise that thinking our way out of our emotions can sometimes seem the ‘rational’ choice. Is the rational choice the right choice when dealing with emotions that can be anything but rational?

When working with clients I often use a tool called the Hot Cross Bun[2], which was taught to me in Relate training. It is a CBT intervention, which means it’s about ‘thinking’ our way around this problem, right? Well not quite, as the cognitive element is only a quarter of this intervention, with the other 3 parts being made up of ‘behaviour, physiology and emotions’. Often clients will realise that a big part of their anxiety response is any one of these other elements, and this can be quite a revelation for somebody who believes their anxiety is ‘all in their head’. How could a person possibly consider what they physically or emotionally feel when there is a deafening inner narrative warning them all day long that the friend of theirs who they usually trust, actually hates them, or if they go to the supermarket today they will definitely be infected with Covid.

What might happen if we remember that we have more avenues to pursue to decode these non-linguistic signals, than what thoughts we have? I have found that some clients have realised that their bodies physically remember and signal information way before their brains have caught up and put it into the context of a thought. It may be a smell, a texture or being in a certain environment. Some clients default into a certain behaviour, i.e. withdrawing, even when the client wants to take part in what they are isolating themselves from. This causes confusion, as their head is telling them to do it but their body is saying ‘thanks, but no thanks!’ Then, there are emotions in themselves, begging to be acknowledged but often told they’re unwanted, unneeded and a bit of a pain in the backside to be honest; completely denying a part of themselves as a whole person.

It is important to remember that all of the above belong to us as whole human beings and are all as valid as one another. Our bodies work with us not against us, and though sometimes the signals can be faulty, for example in cases of C/PTSD, they are all messages to our being, that let us know what we need in that situation and when we might need to slow down and listen before making a hasty decision based on thought alone. So next time you have an emotion and you find yourself trying to think you way around it, feel what’s physically going on, pay attention to what you do and lean into those feelings that can’t be put into words and you may find you have a much better picture of what is going on within.


[1] https://digital.nhs.uk/news-and-events/news/iapt-2018-19

The Body Keeps The Score, Bessle Van Der Kolk, Penguin Books, 2014

[2] Relate YP Certificate Training Material, Relate Institute, 2019

Faye

Counsellor, Relate Bradford

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog and any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of Relate Bradford.

Resilience…

  • Acknowledge being overwhelmed – know that it will pass, that it is temporary, and that it does not define you. It is not permanent. Try to objectify the situation. 
  • Compartmentalise your mental load; do you need to attend that meeting, read that email, do that research? What is enough? 
  • Remind yourself  that mistakes and setbacks are part of living. People survive them and so will you. 
  • Put your energies where you have most impact; get to know the difference between what you can and what you can’t change. 
  • Choose your response. Cognitively, deliberately, knowingly, adjust your response from despair. 
  • Take small steps towards change. 
  • Whatever it is, GIVE IT A GO! 
  • Take detachment breaks from your circumstances.  Move away from them by reading, watching something, exercising, talking about something else with someone. It will be less stuck when you look again. 
  • Show yourself compassion. 
  • Keep that positive image of your future; research shows that those people who keep a healthy visualization are more successful. 

Tamara

Clinical Supervisor, Relate Bradford

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog and any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of Relate Bradford.

Still Here To Help

During COVID-19, we are still here to help and our clinicians are currently providing web counselling and telephone counselling, from 9.00am to 9.00pm Monday to Thursday and 9.00am to 3.00pm on Friday’s.

You can contact us by:

Email: Information@relatebradford.com

Telephone: 01274 726096

Due to the current situation, our telephones are staffed on reduced hours, on a two weekly rota. Due to holidays over the next two weeks, please see below:

Week commencing 2 November 2020

Monday: 10.00am – 5.00pm 

Tuesday: 10.00am – 2.00pm

Wednesday: 10.00am – 2.00pm

Week commencing 9 November 2020

Monday: 8.30am – 3.30pm 

Wednesday: 8.30am – 3.30pm 

Friday: 8.30am – 3.00pm

Thank you.

A new counselling offer to young people, families and couples from low income households, in Leeds…

Our Relate family are ending the week on a high. For the next 6 months we are providing free telephone/online counselling support to young people, families and couples from low income households across Leeds. Made possible by £32,000 from the Coronavirus Community Support Fund (thank you!)

WE ARE TAKING REFERRALS: information@relatebradford.com.

Please share widely – offer ends 31 March 2020 (subject to availability).

#CommunitiesCan #stillheretohelp #covid19support #relationshipsmatter #NeverMoreNeeded #TheDifferenceWeMake #RelateBradford

Hayley

Head of Service Delivery and Development, Relate Bradford

Communication…

If you go down to the woods today…you may notice how many acorns and seeds are about. That’s because 2020 is a “mast year” where the trees coordinate to produce bumper crops, which they do every few years.

They do this through communication, but how they communicate – across sometimes thousands of miles – is a bit of a mystery. It seems to be through a variety of cues of chemical signals, underground communications, and the right conditions. The theory of this incredible communication is they need, and accept, some help from the weather and from fungi: just the same as how humans may need a bit of help with their signals, communications and conditions from outside agencies, therapists or mediators, to get things just right.

Tabitha

Therapist, Relate Bradford

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog and any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of Relate Bradford.

Becky’s Blog – Parenthood…

(When it comes to parenthood) Get him involved as much as possible, or the resentment will fester… 

When I look back to when I first discovered I was pregnant, my husband and I were overjoyed, but deep down, I could sense my husband fear that he was soon to become second best to the baby.  

You see, my husband has two older children from a previous marriage so he had prior knowledge to how hard it can be to sustain a loving and strong relationship when children are involved.  

I was determined it would be different this time around though, and I would not let the baby affect our relationship.  

Of course that was not the reality of the situation… 

Once our baby boy was born, I went in to super mum, organisation mode, and always had to be two steps ahead of my game (i.e. attending to the baby, cleaning the house, cooking the dinner, working part time…etc).  

I wanted to prove to everyone that I had everything in order – and I wanted to do it all with a smile of my face!  

My husband moved further and further down my list of priorities.  

To make him happy, I told him to go out with his friends, attend as many football matches and drinking sessions down the pub as he wanted (something he hadn’t done for so many years).  

I thought I was being a relaxed wife, but behind closed doors, the cracks in our marriage were beginning to show.  

Fast forward a few years and we had lost that connection we once had, I’m not even sure we liked each other half the time.  

Everything just ran on auto pilot and once our little boy started having sleepovers and having more of an interest in seeing his friends at the weekend instead of days out with us – the reality of what our relationship had become really hit me.  

I was constantly being taken for granted.  

But who was I to complain – I helped to create this mess we were in! 

He on the other hand felt unloved, unwanted, and rejected – so just went about his daily life thinking about himself! 

That’s when the penny finally dropped… 

I was trying so hard not to be a nagging wife, but I had gone completely the other way and had implemented no boundaries whatsoever.  

With no boundaries there is no respect, and with no respect, there’s no love.  

There had to be a healthy middle ground where we both felt happy and content – and I was determined to find it!  

Fast forward another few years (our son is now 7), and I’d like to think we are in a pretty good place. 

It certainly hasn’t come overnight – and it’s taken us a good year or two to finally feel strong and united as a couple again.  

But it was worth the journey – and we have both learned so much and appreciate each other so much more now.  

So how did we get here… 

Well… 

It’s all about the small steps!   

i.e“Don’t run before you can walk” 

If I had my time over again, or I could give any advice to the new mothers out there – these are the three main points I would tell them 

  1. Never stop having date nights(just once a month or every two weeks if you can). 

This is so important because, this is where you finally get to be just you two again, and to fully communicate without the kids being around.  

Looking back, we should have never stopped having date nights, but I told myself that our relationship was fine, refusing to acknowledge the cracks that were beginning to surface.   

The reality is, if you constantly chose the kids over your relationship, your relationship will suffer, and once the kids are grown up, you may not even know where to begin to find some kind of connection again – so chose to part ways. 

Try and catch it early – don’t push the problems aside, hoping they will just get better on their own…NEWSFLASH – they never do!  

Never lose yourself in parenthood.  

  1. Have the difficult conversations.  

I know I know it’s scary – you are worried that they will react badly so you convince yourself it’s better to just keep the peace and not say anything at all. But this is exactly how resentment starts! 

And the thing to remember about resentment is that it festers, and will sit and reside within your body.  

Over time, the resentment will then affect the intimacy between you. 

If you have something to say or you feel hurt in some way by something your partner has said or done – it is so important that you speak up and release it.  

Women need to communicate and feel listened to, in order to feel loved.  

Men on the other hand need the physical touch in order to feel loved.  

One will not work without the other. 

What I found is…when I sat down to have the difficult conversations (i.e. I felt that he wasn’t doing enough around the house for example) – it’s best to always start a conversation with, “I feel.”  

“If you keep it in first person it will never be offensive. 

Also, acknowledge your part in it all– don’t just shift the blame onto the other person.  

Make sure the kids are not about when you have these conversations and try to sit down and discuss it properly (i.e. not just shouting at each other across the room for example). 

I found that the more and more we did this – the less stressed and tactile we became with each other.  

Keep confronting your fears and eventually they will disappear. 

We began to let our barriers down, and he finally understood how important it was for me to be able to communicate my anxieties to him without being shut down or being told I’m, “over sensitive.” 

Also explaining to your partner that you just need them to listen, they don’t need to rescue you or give you solutions or advice.  

My husband would often feel like he had to come up with all the answers and that just put more pressure on him. All I needed was for him to be the sounding board.  

  1. Don’t try and do it all. 

Make sure he is involved no matter how much you are both struggling at first.  

I remember when we first had our son, every single time I would get in the bath or lay my head down for half an hour’s sleep – our son would always start crying.  

This was brought on by my husband’s anxiety and fears that I wasn’t there to help him, so I would automatically jump up from my rest and rush to the baby. 

Try not to do this… 

He must learn to figure it out for himself. 

True happiness in life comes from knowing we can stand on our own two feet and work things out for ourselves  

If we try and take the responsibility away from another person they will never learn to cope on their own!    

Becky

Relate Bradford Counsellor

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog and any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of Relate Bradford.

Relationships Week Blog…

It’s Relationship Week and despite being a chatterbox and a therapist I’m going to tell you that sometimes talking isn’t enough – and sometimes it’s even too much!  One of the things that lockdown and continued social distancing has shown us is how important touch is, that human beings need more than words, that there’s things that Zoom can’t provide.

How can you connect with your loved ones physically today? Sometimes things come easily like hugging and sex…and sometimes they don’t. But there are other ways, even across physical distance, that we can communicate and bond in shared bodily experience. A teenager that may not want a parental cuddle may be up for a dance-off in the living room together, or a game of frisbee in a park.  A far away relative may be able to share a yoga video online together so you can breathe in sync, or cook the same meal together. A friend you go on a socially distanced walk with can still touch the bark of a beech tree together, or dip hands in a river. A partner exhausted from work may want a silent foot massage more than to talk it through.

Touch boosts the immune system, lowers stress and strengthens our attachment to each other: Let’s Get Physical! 

Tabitha

Therapist

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog and any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of Relate Bradford.